Colonials, with some fresh faces from the portal, look to become mainstay in Horizon League
Having finished the 2022-23 season with an Horizon League record of 10-10, marking their best league record in the brief three seasons in the league, the Robert Morris Colonials will have their eyes set on might loftier goals.
Yes, RMU will be losing all league talent in Kahliel Spear, but are returning three starters from their 2022-23 roster. Josh Corbin, Jackson Last and Stephaun Walker will be leaned on heavily this season as coach Andy Toole needs his program to take that “next step”.
With previous conference records of of 3-12 (2020-21), 5-16 (2021-22) and the previously mentioned 10-10 (2022-23), it is time for Robert Morris to make its mark in the Horizon League. Last season, they advanced to the Quarterfinal round of the conference tournament, losing a hard fought battle with Cleveland State 75-70. As a Colonial fan, you left that game and that season thinking, oh, what could have been. RMU would struggle mightily closing out games and putting teams away, and you kind of get the sense they wasted some terrific play from Spear.
Can head Toole finally take his program to that next level and not just be a middle of the pack team? Boy, they sure had the talent last season, but something just felt like it was missing, hopefully the Colonials find and do so quickly.
2022-23 saw Robert Morris be a very streaky team, they ran off a couple wins in a row, would then turn right back around lose three straight league games only to then follow it up with three straight wins. Consistency is a must this season, losing the talent they did is going to be tough to overcome.
Jackson Last – Last was the butt of MANY jokes in previous season, however, he is the ONLY Colonial who was a member of the starting lineup in all 33 games last season. He had a stretch mid-late February where he showed he can step up, but someone with the experience of Last, he needs to show more. One eye opening stat, Last would hit the double digit points mark in six contests, with RMU going 5-1 in them. However, if Robert Morris has dancing aspirations, they are going to need way more than the 5.8 points per game he averaged.
Josh Corbin – Coming into this season, Corbin is the Colonials’ active scoring leader with 640 NCAA points, 345 of them coming in a Robert Morris uniform. Corbin started 32 of RMU’s 33 games last season, averaging 10.5 points per game while knocking down 93 three pointers. Corbin is the “money ball” shooter for Robert Morris, and if he can get hot, the Colonials can run with anyone. Toole and staff will be looking for more consistency from Corbin this season, less of a streaky shooter, more of the burden needs to fall his way.
Stephaun Walker – Walker appeared in 31 of RMU’s 33 games last season, earning a starting role in 30. Walker is a weapon that coaches dream of: he can shoot, score, rebound and defend both ends of the floor. For an Toole team, which typically prides itself on being able to defend all areas of the floor, Walker is going to be looked at as a lockdown force this season. He can play numerous spots on the floor and likely will draw opposing teams best athletes, he will have to be a force on the glass again this season. Walker gathered 185 boards last season, 102 on the defensive end.
Markeese Hastings- Hastings, joining Robert Morris as a transfer from Western Michigan, should be a mainstay in the lineup for the Colonials. He appeared in 31 games for WMU previously, starting in 29. In four Division I seasons, Hastings has totaled nearly 550 points and 585 boards, and he has the reputation of a tough, hard nosed defender, which if you know anything about Toole, that’s his MO. Owning 27 career games reaching double figure in rebounds, he could likely be a catalyst to get RMU going in transition.
Justice Williams – Another newcomer to the Colonials for the 2023-24 season, Williams will join as a transfer from LSU, having appeared in 23 games for the Tigers, starting in 7, and looking to be a mainstay for RMU this season. Coming to the Horizon League from the SEC, Williams should be able looked as a voice of leadership in the locker-room as well. As a freshmen for LSU, he would appear in 20 games, coming off the bench in all of them. Williams should hope to earn his starting role pretty early in the season, but will need to again be a source of consistency for the Colonials.
TJ Wainwright – Entering his second season with RMU, Wainwright will need to build off year one. He came in with what he would call high, but realistic expectations, but to most, it does not feel as if he was remotely close to the player he is. While he did appear in all 33 games for the Colonials in year one, he averaged 2.0 points per game and would not see a game in double figures. Scoring his career best 9 points in a win over Pitt-Greensburg, Wainwright will need to take a huge step to keep his role in this rotation.
Chris Ford – Another Robert Morris player who would appear in every single game last season after transferring from Davidson, Ford would average less than 2 points and 2 boards per game. If Ford is going to set a career high in minutes (17), he will need to also take a huge leap.
Trey James – James saw himself battle the injury bug in 2022-23, and looks to have a bounce back season. James showed he can be an force for RMU on both ends of the floor. Staying healthy is going to be key for James this season, it will be tough for him to find a large amount of minutes, but showcasing consistency will help make him a mainstay for Toole.
Ben Krystkowiak – Missing the entire 2022-23 season with injury and using a medical redshirt for the season, Krystkowiak, who joined RMU in 2022 from the IMG academy, has the early reputation of being a “gym rat.” Averaging a tad over 14 points per game 4 assist per game at IMG, Toole will look to find valuable minutes for Krystkowiak, provided he can remain healthy.
Alvaro Folgueiras – An incoming freshman for the Colonials this season from Spain, Folgueiras will look to work his way into the lineup early. Long, athletic build will allow him to be a force on both ends of the floor and hopefully provide Robert Morris would more depth. Folgueiras comes in averaging just under 9 points and 8 boards per game for DME Academy last season, showcasing touch around the basket, which allowed him to shoot 56% from the floor in the FIBA U17 World Cup for Spain.
As someone who remembers when RMU was a total force in the NEC, watching them just at best, a middle of the pack team at times in the Horizon League, it is time for that next step. Yes, they lost a large amount of who they are when Spear graduated, but there is some potential talent coming in to pair with what is returning. The biggest question will remain for RMU is: can they consistently close out games? Can they defend for 40 minutes? Last, who again shoulder a large amount of criticism last season, and yes, a large portion of that came from me. What did they see in him to give him this role? I look for Last to make a big step this season and be leader on the floor for Toole. If the Colonials are to take that next step, it all must start with consistency. The “win three, lose three” streaks have to stop and the Colonials need to be better at end of games. While not a league favorite, or anywhere close for that matter, I look for them to be in the mix for a majority of the season.
HoriZone Roundtable Prediction
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:
Preview Week Recap Part 1 | Preview Week Recap Part 2