OPINION: Breaking down the top men’s basketball rosters of all-time, #3: 2009-10


Ethan Morrison breaks down the 2009-10 roster and why it’s one of the best in RMU history. Photo Credit: RMU Athletics

Ethan Morrison

*Editor’s Note: Opinions are of the writer and not Colonial Sports Network as a whole. This is part two of a four-part series of Ethan Morrison’s top RMU basketball teams of all-time. Check out the last part here.

In 2009-2010 Robert Morris fielded one of its most dominant men’s basketball teams of all-time, but one wouldn’t know that by looking at the team on paper.

When you first take a peek at the roster and the statistics, there is nothing mind-boggling that jumps out. Along with that, the team lacked in size, as the tallest player on the roster was listed at 6-foot-8, but where the Colonials lacked in size, they made up for with heart and intensity on both sides of the floor.

Freshman Karon Abraham led the way in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game, Rob Robinson averaged 9.8 PPG and right behind him was Mezie Nwigwe, who averaged 8.3 PPG. After redshirting his freshman season, Velton Jones averaged eight points per game to round out the top five.

Current assistant coach Jimmy Langhurst hit the hardwood in his senior season, averaging 7.6 points per game. Russell Johnson, who played a majority of games off the bench, averaged 7.3 points. Dallas Green started 31 out of 35 games in the 2009-10 season, averaging 6.6 points. Finally, Gary Wallace averaged just below six points per game.

Overall, the Colonials averaged 68.5 points per game, which was just under what they averaged in NEC play. They were ranked fourth overall in scoring offense in the Northeast Conference, scoring 69.3 PPG.

Robert Morris has always been strong defensively, and in the ’09-10 season that was the same. The team ranked second in the conference, allowing a scarce 60.9 points per game, just behind Mount St. Mary’s 58.3 PPG allowed. RMU was also extremely effective defending shots, ranking top in defensive field goal percentage, holding teams to a 38-percent clip from the field.

After a rough start to the non-conference slate, dropping games to Syracuse and Penn State, the Colonials opened NEC play with two wins. They then rounded out the non-conference schedule in December and early January.

Mike Rice’s squad went on to go 15-3 in conference play, winning the Northeast Conference title in a thriller at Hamden, Connecticut, taking down top-seeded Quinnipiac 52-50. For the second straight year, forward Dallas Green had the game in his hands. After blocking a shot and hitting two consecutive free throws, Robert Morris was the first team since Rider in 1994 to defend the NEC title successfully.

The Colonials went onto the big dance as a 15 seed and made it to the tournament for just the second time in 16 seasons. They drew Villanova in the first round and almost upset the two seed in Providence. RMU led in the game by eight points with four minutes remaining but failed to hold onto the lead as ‘Nova defeated the Colonials in overtime.

In the last seconds of the overtime period, Mezie Nwigwe hit the rim and if that ball had fallen, RMU would have tied the game. Freshman Karon Abraham scored a team-leading 23 points in the loss.

The thing that sets this team apart from the dominant teams that have hit the hardwood at “The Chuck” was not just the stats on paper, but how the team competed down the stretch. Defeating an extremely talented Quinnipiac squad on the road and then taking one of the top programs in the Big East to overtime is nothing to scoff at. That was the team’s defining moment and that is why it is one of the best basketball teams to hit the floor in Robert Morris history.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series when I break down the no. 2 team in Colonials history.