Horizon League wide open as conference play resumes

Mens+basketball+talks+during+their+game+against+Lancaster+Bible.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Men’s basketball talks during their game against Lancaster Bible. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

At this point of the season, many teams in the college basketball landscape start to find their identity as many conferences either begin or resume conference play in late December. For many of the Horizon League schools, however, that can not be said, as a good bulk of teams have struggled in non-conference play.

The league is still up for grabs as teams not named Oakland, Cleveland State and Youngstown State have struggled for the most part for the first two months of the season.

Robert Morris is one of those teams that are searching for an identity, as conference play resumes after mustering just two wins in their non-conference slate.

Robert Morris played a tough non-conference schedule, facing off against UCF, Kentucky, Davidson, Ohio and Florida Gulf Coast who are all expected to make deep runs in their conference tournaments.

They struggled against those top mid-major schools, having trouble with rebounding, defense and offensive efficiency.

The team also suffered a plethora of injuries throughout the non-conference slate, losing Brandon Stone and Jaron Williams for multiple games. Point guard Kam Farris was also injured for several games as well.

Heading into their final non-conference game of the year, those injury woes mostly subsided and we finally got a real look at the full roster.

With multiple injuries in the frontcourt, that opened the door for JuCo transfer Matt Mayers, who earned substantial playing time over the past several games and he made the most of the opportunity, posting double figures against Bowling Green and Saint Francis (PA).

Guard play has also slowly improved as Rasheem Dunn, who struggled from the field early on in the season, has shot 40-percent or better in five of the past six games, including a 21-point effort in Loretto.

Getting center Brandon Stone back from injury also will help with the team’s frontcourt presence and will be a big help with rebounding the ball as well.

In RMU’s game against the Red Flash on December 22, there were a lot of positives to take away from that game. The team was active on the defensive side of the floor the team moved the ball smoothly on the offensive end as well.

If this Robert Morris team can remain intact and healthy for Horizon League play, things will continue to click as the rotation is solidified with players returning from injury over the past several weeks.

As conference play resumes, Cleveland State currently sits atop of the conference standings, followed by Oakland who has had an outstanding start to the season knocking off Oklahoma State and Toledo earlier this year.

Youngstown State has surprised many as they currently sit in third place in the conference. After that, there is a massive drop as Purdue Fort Wayne is the only team that holds an above .500 overall record in the conference.

These next couple of months will be interesting, to say the least, as teams are still trying to find their footing, and league play will open eyes to see who will be competing to #ReachTheHorizon in March.