Well, so much for the thought that the 2023-24 RMU Colonials would give us a glimmer of hope to open league play this season.
The 2023-24 Colonials opened the league slate this past week when they traveled Northern Kentucky to face off with the Norse who were armed and ready. Robert Morris, coming off a victory at home against FDU, would yet again come out of the gates sluggish and find themselves digging out an early hole yet again. Markeese Hastings would open the scoring with a quick dunk, but that would be all the Colonials would see for over a 3 minutes stretch. Hastings would tally the Colonials first 8 points, however RMU would not crack double figures until the 7:40 mark when Josh Corbin knocked down a long range three.
The Norse, on the other hand, took every opportunity they could to try and bury Robert Morris early, as NKU standout Marques Warrick would knock down an early three to put NKU ahead and seemingly, they never looked back. Warrick again would knock down a jumper, 2 more of his game high 25 points on the day and put the Norse back up by double figures at the 6:40 mark. RMU would fight back a tad to need the half, heading to the break trailing 29-23, but boy, that 6-point deficit felt like 26.
The second half would yet again begin with a glimmer of hope by Hastings, who seemingly for a while, appeared to be the only Colonial who cared to show up, as he knocked down an early jumper. Hastings would only se 24 minutes of action, but would lead RMU in scoring on the day with 14. However, Warrick and NKU would see to channel their inner NBA Jam in the second half.
If you thought shooting almost 50% from the field in the first half was solid, the Norse had something video game-esque up their sleeve for the latter part of the contest. After allowing RMU to get the game to as close as two earlier on in the second half, NKU’s Cade Meyer, Sam Vinson and of course, Marques Warrick took over for good.
The trio would go on to blitz RMU the last 15 or so minutes and honestly, felt like I was watching myself take care of my younger siblings in NBA Jam. Basket after basket, “He’s on Fire” and “Boom Shakalaka” just felt like the most appropriate phrase as a Warrick jumper would put NKU up 15, followed by a Cade Meyer layup to bring the contest to 54-37. The Norse would go on to shoot 72% (yes, you read that right) in the second half and close out RMU 77-59. I swear after the last Meyer lay up, he had flames coming from his hands.
RMU would gladly head home to open the Horizon League home slate against a somewhat local foe in Youngstown State. Markeese Hastings would yet again be a standout for the Colonials, but just like it was against NKU, it was not enough on Saturday.
Stephaun Walker would lead RMU in scoring with a game high 20 points, but just as they did throughout the league opener, RMU just looked out classes and outmatched. After pulling even at 15 around the midway point of the first half, YSU would turn up the heat with a 12-0 run to bury RMU early and for good. DJ Burns would leave YSU with a team high 18 points on 7-12 shooting and a game high 13 rebounds.
The most worrisome part of this young season for RMU is that they have looked more competitive against a power 5 team in Wisconsin than they have against two of their league foes, not really sure what to make of that.
RMU will have a few days off before heading up north to Buffalo to face off against Canisius on Wednesday. It’s early in the season, but as far as league play goes, it could be a long winter for RMU.