The Robert Morris Colonials have work to do, plain and simple. Some will say, "a loss is a loss". Sometimes those people are right. Tonight they're wrong. Losing by 27 points to the Lafayette Leopards in the season opener is a little more than just a loss, especially at home. RMU still has work to do.
Returning last year's entire starting lineup usually translates to high expectations for an upcoming NCAA basketball campaign. This rings truer than most when talking about Lafayette and their expected return to the upper half of the Patriot League standings. Though not the best in Philadelphia, the Leopards from Easton PA are bringing back Seth Hinrichs and company (and Hinrichs' preseason 1st-team All-Patriot League selection) with hopes of starting the season in the win column.
RMU struggled to find an offensive solution early in the game. A combination of long baseline jumpers hitting the backboard and air-ball three-pointers showed either a lot of rust from the off-season or a frightening sign of things to come. Head coach Andy Toole experimented with a bevy of lineups and used 10 men from his roster. Freshman guard Marquise Reed proved to be the only bright spot as he accounted for 8 or RMU's 16 first half points.
Lafayette spent much of the first half securing rebounds on both ends of the court, thanks to Hinrichs and fellow returning senior, Dan Trist. The two forwards also accounted the majority of Lafayette's offense using a high-post/low-post rotation, a classic answer to the Robert Morris 2-3 zone defense. By the halftime buzzer, Lafayette held a comfortable 36-16 lead.
Only the remarkably active hands of RMU's perimeter defense (5 first-half steals) kept the Colonials within range of making a run in the second half. Unfortunately, that run forgot to show up and Lafayette kept on cruising. Led by Dan Trist mastering just about every aspect of the high and low post, along with the exceptional shooting by Joey Ptasinski (3 of 6 from deep), Lafayette just rolled through RMU.
Said Lucky, after the game, "At the end of the day, we just didn't play hard," and, "We just didn't make shots." You certainly had the familiar combination of frustration and dissapointment, in his voice, that accompanies any tough loss. Coach Toole had a similar take on the energy level when he commented on the mindset of his players, "They allowed our offense to affect our defensive effort."
If there is one thing that RMU fans can take from today's game, it would probably be summed up by Toole's reaction to Lucky Jones leaping for a ball over the scorer's table when the game was already out of reach, "You find out a lot about certain individuals when your down." The new faces on the RMU roster certainly have a leader in Lucky that they can learn from.
Dan Trist maintained control of the post all night. As he flashed to the free throw line, the rest of the team knew exactly how to execute. The end result was usually Hinrichs making a baseline run to the basket and converting the easy bucket or Trist would bury the jumper himself. Trist's numbers ended with 21 points, 7 rebounds and the argument that Trist should've been considered for 1st-team All-Patriot League instead of Hinrichs.
Stats to remember
Lucky Jones: 10 points on 2-14 shootings makes for a night that he will hopefully forget.
Seth Hinrichs: 15 points, 7 boards and a team-high 4 asssists.
RMU Shooting: 13-52 from the field and 5-22 from long range. And that should tell you everything you need to know about tonight's game.
I'm Just Saying
Nick Linder of Lafayette looks like John Malkovich. I'm just saying.