Mr. Morrison’s Classroom: men’s basketball five-game non-conference report card

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By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

* EDITOR’S NOTE: Opinions are of the writer and not Colonial Sports Network as a whole. Mr. Morrison’s Classroom is a new multimedia segment that seeks to break down a team’s performance throughout the season by giving letter grades to particular categories.

With Saturday’s matchup against Davidson in the rearview mirror, the first leg of the men’s basketball non-conference schedule is complete as they start Horizon League play this Thursday in Green Bay and then Milwaukee on Saturday.

They finish out their non-conference slate with four more games to round out that portion of the schedule.

With that being said, let’s take a look a look at the team’s report card through the first five games of the season.

Shooting (D)

Shooting has not been Colonials’ strong suit over the first five games of the season. Overall they are shooting just 41-percent from the field and just 30-percent from beyond the arc.

It is not just the shots they are missing, but it is how they have been taking them. A large majority of their shots that they have been taking have been contested looks and it seems at times that they are forcing up shots and not looking to find the open man.

In the season opener, the Colonials shot just 32-percent from the field and an abysmal 17 percent from beyond the arc just making four out of 23 looks from the outside.

Shooting improved just a tad against Kentucky, shooting 37-percent from the field and 31-percent from outside. It’s the same story with their final game of the road trip where they shot 49-percent from the field against Ohio.

Those numbers took a dip against Mount Saint Mary’s and most recently against Davidson.

Ball Control (D)

Another area where the Colonials struggled in the first stretch of games was ball control. In just five games, the Colonials are averaging 14.2 turnovers per game and an assist to turnover ratio of 0.9 which is good for 211th in the nation.

If Robert Morris wants to improve on the offensive end of the floor with shooting, they are going to have to do a much better job with handling the ball.

Rebounding (D)

For a team that struggled with size last season, RMU did add some pieces in which some might think that rebounding would have improved slightly this year; but that is just not the case as the team averaging just 32 rebounds a game, an abysmal rebounding margin of (-6.2.)

The Colonials have gotten punished on the glass on both ends of the floor this season and it looks as if there is not much urgency grabbing boards this year.

They are getting some much-needed help down low to hopefully help boost the rebounding margin as Brandon Stone made his team debut on Saturday against Davidson after missing four games due to an ankle injury.

Defense (F)

Where do I even begin with the defensive effort? It has been horrific for the first five games of the season.

For the first 11 years of the Andy Toole era, he has stressed the importance of active defense. We have seen none of that this season.

Players not hustling back on defense allowing easy three-point buckets in transition, not closing out, not boxing out, none of it has been there.

Yes, I know that the team has played a ton of high-level mid-major talent over the first stretch of games but… oh my goodness there’s just no effort on the defensive end, and it shows.

Robert Morris is allowing opponents to shoot just below 50-percent from the field and 35-percent from beyond the arc. This is probably the most important part of the Colonials’ game that they need to improve because just like in years past, Robert Morris’ strong defense has always led to bunches upon bunches of points off of turnovers.

As my band director once said… “wake up and smell the coffee”. It’s time for Robert Morris to wake up and show some effort on the defensive end.

Star Student – Kahliel Spear 14.2 ppg 8.2 RPG 45% FG

Now, not everything is a struggle for Robert Morris basketball over this rough stretch, as Kahliel Spear is having himself a nice start to the young season. He is averaging 14 points per game and just above eight rebounds a game, picking up right where he left off last year.

Homework

There is some good news for Robert Morris. Most of their Horizon League counterparts have struggled mightily during the beginning of the season but there are a ton of things that Robert Morris has to improve upon heading into Horizon League play.

One of them would be just being more active on the defensive end of the floor and showing some more heart on that side of the ball that in turn could hopefully jump start this offense, especially if they can force some teams into some turnovers and get some points in transition off of turnovers.

It also helps that they are facing off against Green Bay this Thursday who have a very young roster and were picked at the bottom of the Horizon League standings in the preseason poll.

It might be even better news on Saturday as Milwaukee may still be without five-star recruit Patrick Baldwin Jr. who has missed their past two games with an ankle sprain.

If the team can complete their homework assignment they will be in much better shape heading into their final stretch of non-conference games starting next week.