WICKLINE: It Is Time to Fear the Colonials


Kyle Le

The Colonials will face the IUPUI Jaguars after they have lost to them on Thursday night

Cam Wickline

Halfway through January, the Robert Morris University men’s basketball team appeared to be on their way to yet another lackluster season in the Horizon League, as they sat at a 3-6 record in conference following a three game losing streak.

Life has not always been this way for the Colonials however. Going back to the 2019-2020 season, the Colonials’ final year in the Northeast Conference, they dominated the regular season finishing with a conference record of 13-5. Entering the NEC Tournament as the one seed and carrying a mixture of momentum and swagger, the Colonials dominated the competition to become tournament champions.

While championship winning teams are always special, being a good team was the norm for the Colonials in this era. While under Head Coach Andy Toole, the Colonials finished under .500 in conference just once, and made the NIT Tournament and NCAA Tournament twice each.

Then Robert Morris made the move into the Horizon League. The transition was expected to be hard, going from a guard-dominant league in the NEC to the much more physical Horizon League. What was not expected was the extreme struggle that lay ahead for the Colonials.

In their first season, RMU finished dead last in the conference by a wide margin with a conference record of 3-12. The struggles continued in 2021 as Robert Morris finished 10th in conference, only in front of Green Bay and a historically bad IUPUI team (which Robert Morris lost to on their home court).

Now back to January of 2023, RMU was staring down yet another bad season in what appeared to be the new norm for the program. That was until the Colonials decided to go on a run. Behind spectacular team defense, where Robert Morris held teams to 60.2 points per game in their winning efforts, the team went on to win seven of their final 11 games, including winning four of five to finish the year while knocking off Youngstown State and Milwaukee, the one and two seeds in the conference respectively, by a combined 39 points.

All of this culminated into the Colonials going from the bottom feeders of the Horizon League yet again to finishing the regular season as the sixth seed in the conference, and being a team nobody in the Horizon League wants to go up against.

Going into the Horizon League Tournament, Robert Morris faces off against IUPUI, who again this year is one of the worst teams in the country according to the NET Rankings, being ranked 360 out of 363 teams. Given what should be an easy draw in the first round, and the red-hot basketball they have been playing, the Colonials feel primed to make a run.

People who have not been paying attention may feel the Colonials have had a fluke good year and will return to their usual spot in the basement of the Horizon League next season. Those who look a little deeper will know the normal for this Robert Morris program is to be a good team, not a bad one.

After a two and a half year adjustment period, the Colonials are back where they belong. With the current studs in Kahliel Spear and Enoch Cheeks, along with young guys filled with potential like Stephaun Walker and TJ Wainwright, the Colonials’ presence feels like it is here to stay.

A message to the rest of the Horizon League, it might be time to fear the Colonials.