COVID-19 struggles continue to keep Colonials off the court

Men%27s+basketball+has+had+a+season+clouded+in+doubt+after+a+wave+of+cancellations+and+reschedules.+Photo+Credit%3A+Ethan+Morrison

Men’s basketball has had a season clouded in doubt after a wave of cancellations and reschedules. Photo Credit: Ethan Morrison

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– This truly has been a season like no other for Robert Morris, as with the cancellation of the series against IUPUI, this will now be the third game this week that has been canceled due to the positive test in the program that was announced last weekend which resulted in the series finale against Milwaukee getting axed as well.

This season has definitely been challenging for the NCAA, but it has been especially challenging for the Colonials. Overall on the year, the team has had to “pause” all basketball operations due to COVID concerns and/or cancel games due to a positive COVID-19 test. This has now happened on three separate occasions.

Their first set of cancellations came on November 19 when the team announced that games against Point Park University, Central Michigan University, and Saint Francis University were canceled.

The second wave of cancellations came on December 8th, when the school announced their road game against West Virginia University was canceled due to COVID concerns. The “mystery game” against Binghamton was also canceled later that week. Then the Horizon League announced that the Colonials’ first series against Cleveland State was canceled due to travel restrictions that would affect the Vikings program. That resulted in Robert Morris scheduling two non-conference games against Bowling Green and Marshall on short notice.

The third wave of cancellations came this past week which was the second game against Milwaukee and their road series against IUPUI.

As of now, ten games on the Robert Morris schedule have been postponed or canceled.

With the season quickly progressing, Robert Morris has struggled to stay on the court this season. This has affected their play when they can lace up their shoes and hit the hardwood.

Excluding the contests against Bowling Green University and Marshall, which were scheduled on short notice, the team has only had one full week of practices and games that weren’t affected due to COVID-19.

After the team’s pause on November 19, the team resumed all basketball operations on Wednesday, December 2, giving them roughly just three practices before their opening game of the season against Point Park University on December 5.

The second time that the team paused they had just one full-team practice before their game against Bowling Green.

The Colonials struggled coming out of their second pause of the season, having problems taking care of the ball. The team turned the ball over a total of 23 times against Marshall University on December 20 which was way over their average turnover margin last season, which was around 12 per game.

Also, another facet of the game that Robert Morris struggled in was their defense. Robert Morris gave up 80 points or more in their first four games after that second pause. To put that into perspective, last season the Colonials gave up 80 or more points in four games all season.

Obviously, head coach Andy Toole was not happy giving up that amount of points in four straight games since he stresses the importance of defense to his squad year in and year out.

Looking at the team’s performance last Friday against Milwaukee, it seemed as if they were finally starting to hit their stride after having a full week of basketball activity with their full team, with the exception of Jon Williams, Dante Treacy, and Charles Bain, who were held out due to COVID precautions or injury. Was everything about the Colonials game perfect last Friday night? Absolutely not, but it was a complete game played by the team and they fought for forty straight minutes and were able to come out with a three-point victory.

But now once again the team is forced to cancel games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team that was on the verge of breaking out and poised to go on a run and work their way up to the upper echelon of the conference.

Robert Morris will once again go without practicing and playing a game for yet another week. Their next two games are scheduled for January 15-16 at 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. respectively, at UIC. The Flames have also been dealing with their own COVID-19 problems over the past couple of weeks.

It will be interesting to see what the Horizon League plans are in rescheduling these games as this will now be Robert Morris’ fifth Horizon League game that has been canceled.