2016-17 NEC First Look: Robert Morris

RMU had their worst season under head coach Andy Toole in 2015-16. Will they rebound in 2016-17? (Photo: Bob Dea/BHJ)

RMU had their worst season under head coach Andy Toole in 2015-16. Will they rebound in 2016-17? (Photo: Bob Dea/BHJ)

2015-16 results: 10-22, 8-10 (NEC), Eighth place.

Impact Losses:

Rodney Pryor (G) – 18.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season – transferred to Georgetown as a graduate transfer
Elijah Minnie (F) -12.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG – kicked-off team mid-season, transferred to Eastern Michigan

Who’s In:

Dachon Burke (G)
Clive Allen (G)
David Cole (F)
Braden Burke (F)
Roberto Mantovani (F) – JUCO transfer
Lorenzen Wright Jr. (F) – JUCO transfer

What Went Right:

Unfortunately for the Colonials, not much went right for them last season although it was no fault of All-NEC first teamer Rodney Pryor who had a terrific season for RMU. Also, guard Isaiah Still emerged as a solid contributor as a freshman.

Twice last season RMU had stretches in NEC play in which they won four of six games.

RMU did enough to qualify for the NEC tournament for the thirteen consecutive season with an eighth place finish.

What Went Wrong:

A lot went wrong for a team that was picked to finished second in the NEC a season ago. They played a challenging non-conference schedule and came out of it just 2-11.

In mid-season, forward Elijah Minnie and his 12.0 PPG, who had helped them win an NEC title the season before, was dismissed off the team for disciplinary reasons.

Freshman Matty McConnell dealt with a shoulder injury that hamper his shooting all season. Senior Aaron Tate played in only three games due to a lower-body injury.

RMU finished tied for last in the NEC in scoring offense at 65.1 points per game and was the worse three-point shooting team in the NEC, making just 27.6 percent of their three-point attempts.

Potential 2016-17 Starting Five:

Senior point guard Kavon Stewart is coming off his best season at RMU. (Photo: nycbuckets.com)

Senior point guard Kavon Stewart is coming off his best season at RMU. (Photo: nycbuckets.com)

Kavon Stewart (G) – Finished w/ a career-high 9.2 PPG & 4.7 APG last season

Matty McConnell (G) – 6.8 PPG last season with a bum shoulder. Shot only 31.2% FG & 26.6% from three.

Isaiah Still (G) –  Top returning scorer at 9.9 PPG.

Aaron Tate (F) – Missed nearly all of 2015-16 due to injury.

Billy Giles (F) – Top returning rebounder at 5.1 RPG.

2016-17 Non-Conference Schedule:

11/11 (Fri) Penn
11/13 (Sun) @ DePaul
11/16 (Wed) @ Bucknell
11/20 (Sun) @ Richmond (part of Barclays Center Classic)
11/22 (Tue) @ Kansas State (part of Barclays Center Classic)
11/25 (Fri) vs Hampton (@ Towson – Barclays Center Classic)
11/26 (Sat) vs Stony Brook or Towson (@ Towson – Barclays Center Classic)
11/30 (Wed) Youngstown State
12/6 (Tue) vs Duquesne (@ Consol Energy Center)
12/10 (Sat) Oakland
12/17 (Sat) @ Virginia
12/21 (Wed) vs Buffalo (@ Consol Energy Center)

Early Outlook:

Probably no team in the NEC has lost their top two players via transfer the last two seasons like Robert Morris has with Marquise Reed and Rodney Pryor. Now RMU will have to establish some new go-to guys as they look to rebound from the worst regular season under head coach Andy Toole.

If RMU to surpass expectation this season, it is going to need to get strong seasons out of senior point guard Kavon Stewart and sophomore Isaiah Still in the backcourt and hope their can find a big up from to establish some form of front court dominance.

RMU’s trademark defense dropped off last season and if RMU are return to the top half of the NEC standing this upcoming season, they are likely going to need to rely on the defensive play and hold teams shooting percentages down and gain control of the boards which was something they also struggled with a season ago.

It is rare RMU goes through two straight under .500 seasons after being the winningest program in the NEC over the last decade so it will be hard to imagine RMU struggling as much as they did last season but I think there at least a handful of teams in the NEC that are probably better on paper than what the Colonials will enter the season with in 2016-17. If they develop one or two go-to guys in non-conference play, they can be quite a good team but if they have issues once again scoring which did a lot last season, it could be a struggle for wins once again.

Missed any of the previous 2016-17 NEC First Looks, find them here:
Central Connecticut
Mount St. Mary’s

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