Homestand halfway done; RMU faced brutal week

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Photo courtesy of Robert Morris Athletics

Losing arguably your best player to the COVID protocol then losing him for good when he decided to leave the program altogether is not how Andy Toole and the RMU Colonials imagined their week going. Rasheem Dunn, the catalyst for a struggling Robert Morris squad, missed some action due to COVID protocol, then made the stunning to decision to leave the program last week, leaving yet another program.

Coming that abysmal game against Youngstown State, RMU faced Horizon League power Cleveland State on Friday and fellow league newcomer Purdue Fort Wayne on Sunday. How would things shake out post-Dunn? What would the temperature of the team be, I mean things could not get any worse, right.. RIGHT?

Expectations for the Cleveland State game were obviously tempered, I was curious to see how they would come out after the previous couple of days. To the surprise of many, I feel, the Colonials came out with some great energy, great fire battling Robert Morris to a 37-35 lead at halftime. The Colonials finished the first 20 minutes shooting 17-of-29 from the field, 2-of-8 from three and forcing Cleveland State into 10 turnovers. No way would I ever have imagined them coming out quite like that, but now the question was, could they finally finish a game and play a clean 40 minutes.

The final 20 did not go RMU’s way, losing 78-77 but there were so many encouraging signs, it was hard to be too depressed considering everything. Kahliel Spear lead the way, which was more than a welcomed sight, with a game high 24 points. Now, I am not one for moral victories at all, but hard to not feel slightly positive after this one, considering everything.

Sunday, Robert Morris welcomed fellow league newcomer Purdue Fort Wayne to the UPMC Events Center where they looked to carry over the effort from Friday; it simply was not there again. The effort Friday would mean little to nothing if things didn’t carry over to Sunday, and early on, it looked like the same old stuff; lazy defense allowing way too many open looks. Defensive effort comes down to heart and “want to” and far too often on Sunday, RMU showed very little of both.

Robert Morris closed the first 20 minutes facing a 39-30 deficit, allowing Purdue Fort Wayne to shoot 15 of 30 from the field, but with way too many good looks. RMU saw Michael Green III step up scoring a game high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Turnovers, which have been a big issue, was yet again Sunday with the Colonials turning it over 16 times while only forcing a total of 8 the whole game; 12 assists to 16 turnovers, negative turnover to assist ratio yet again. RMU would again find a little something with 5 minutes left, cutting the lead to 4, but not able to get that big basket when they got a few stops. The Colonials remained winless in Horizon League play, falling 76-70 and will welcome Wright State in game 4 of a five-game homestand on Thursday.

It has been a trying week, let alone season for RMU, but there are some things they can hang their hat on. Green III and Spear look to be emerging more and more, hopefully they continue their rise and can bring RMU some wins in the near future.

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