OPINION: Breaking down the top men’s basketball rosters of all-time, #2: 2012-13


Ethan Morrison breaks down the 2012-13 men’s basketball team and why it could be the best roster 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 three of a four-part series of Ethan Morrison’s top RMU basketball teams of all-time. Check out the last part here.

After former Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice fled to Rutgers after the 2009-10 season, former assistant Andy Toole had some big shoes to fill. Rice had taken the Colonials to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in years past, and even though Toole was an assistant coach on both of those teams, he was looking for his signature moment as the new head coach at Robert Morris.

Even though the 2021-22 roster is still my top choice for the greatest roster of all time, the roster that took the court this season is at the top of my list. They stand as one of the trademark teams to play in one of the final years at the Charles L. Sewall Center, affectionately known as “The Chuck” on campus.

Karvel Anderson, Lucious “Lucky” Jones, and Russell Johnson. All of these names bring you back to one of the most dominant stretches in RMU basketball history. Four of the top five scorers on this year’s squad had three or more years of collegiate basketball under their belt and four of the five top scorers on the roster averaged double figures.

A total of eight different players had over seven starts during this season and the top six scorers on the team reached double figures in starts in the 2012-13 season.

Looking at the roster, Anderson was in his junior season and led the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game. Right behind him was Lucky Jones, who averaged 11.6 PPG while redshirt seniors Johnson and Velton Jones filled out the rest of the lineup, averaging under 11 points per game.

This season, Robert Morris dominated on both sides of the ball. The team once again was tops in the NEC in defensive points allowed, only allowing 65.7 points per game. RMU also had the best scoring margin in the NEC with a +5.1 scoring margin. The closest team to that mark was Bryant, who only had a +2.6 margin on the year.

The Colonials also dominated in the perimeter game, shooting the ball at a 38-percent clip, which was best in the Northeast Conference. They also did an excellent job guarding the perimeter, holding teams to shoot just 32-percent from beyond the arc.

Coming off of a rough NEC Championship game in the 2011-12 season, RMU was given an invitation to the College Insider Tournament where they made it all the way to the quarter-finals, falling 67-61 against Fairfield.

After starting the season 3-4 in the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Colonials caught fire and rattled off five straight wins before losing their final non-conference game of the season to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

After losing their first two NEC matchups to Bryant and Central Connecticut State, RMU went on a six-game winning streak before losing to St. Francis Brooklyn. The Colonials then went onto finish the NEC slate 8-1 and brought home another NEC regular-season title to Moon Township.

Unfortunately, Robert Morris could not reach the NEC finals after they lost their NEC semifinal matchup to Mount St. Mary’s 69-60, but due to Robert Morris’ impressive record in the regular season and being crowned the regular-season champion, losing their NEC semifinal matchup might have been a blessing in disguise.

The team was given an automatic berth for the NIT tournament and RMU drew none other than the top-seeded, but disappointing, University of Kentucky. Due to Rupp Arena being used for the NCAA Tournament, Robert Morris got to host the Wildcats at the Sewall Center in Moon Township, home of Coach John Calipari.

Robert Morris started off the game with a 7-0 run. Kentucky head coach John Calipari called a time-out to try to stop the bleeding and put a cap on the Colonials’ run, but that timeout did little to help the Wildcats as RMU continued to hang around in the contest until late in the first half. RMU trailed only twice in the contest and led by 13 late in the game. Kentucky made a late push, but the Colonials held on for the Colonials’ biggest win in franchise history.

Jones and redshirt senior Johnson scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the win while Jones scored eight. The RMU defense was also stout, holding the Wildcats to shoot just 52-percent from the field and just 20-percent from beyond the arc.

The team would make the return trip to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island for the first time since the NCAA tournament in 2010, but this time to take on the Friars in the second round of the NIT. Providence was too much for the Colonials to handle as RMU fell 77-68, ending their historic Cinderella run.

Overall, this has to be the second-best roster ever fielded in men’s basketball history. Even though the team stalled out in the NEC Tournament, they regained their composure and pulled off a program-defining win at home, stunning Kentucky. The grit and tenacity that were put on display during the course of the whole season are unmatched.

Stay tuned for the next episode in this series where I determine why I think this year’s team is the best in Colonials history.