Although Robert Morris was unable to walk away from the Wellness Athletic and Recreation Center on the campus of LIU-Brooklyn with a victory on March 7 and advance to its eighth NCAA tournament, the Colonials have a lot to be proud of after completing one of the best seasons in the teams’ 36 year status as a Division one program.
“It’s disappointing,” explained guard Velton Jones after the Colonials’ 17 point loss to LIU. “We felt like we wanted this game.”
While finished third in the final NEC standings, the club totaled 24 victories, which tied a record for the second best finish in school history.
Despite the fact that the Colonials were unable to claim its third Northeast Conference title in four years, Robert Morris did accomplish a feat that has been duplicated by only two other teams in NEC history. RMU made its fourth straight appearance in the championship contest, tying Fairleigh Dickinson and Rider as the only other programs in league history to make four consecutive trips to the title match.
In the two other conference tournament games that RMU participated in this season, the Colonials played lock-tight defense, holding its opponents to shooting under 45% from the floor in both contests while lighting up the scoreboard on offense.
Coron Williams and Velton Jones tallied 36 and 35 points respectively in the quarter and semi-final games and as a result, both players were named to the NEC’s all-tournament team, while freshman Lucky Jones was voted to the NEC all-rookie squad.
“I don’t know how to explain [what he does],” stated head coach Andy Toole of Jones’ ability to dominate the glass. “He definitely has a knack for being involved in the action.”
In the Colonials first round matchup against Monmouth, RMU knocked down 16 shots from beyond the arc, which tied a program record for most treys in a game and put Robert Morris over the 200 three pointer plateau in a season for the eighth time in the past nine years. Part of the reason the Colonials were able to convert so many three’s was due in part to Williams’ stroke. The native of Midlothian, Virginia hit eight trifectas against the Hawks and, in the process, set a new post-season league record.
“Every time he pulled up, I was like, ‘That’s money,”’ Monmouth rookie head coach King Rice said of Williams’ shooting against the Hawks in the NEC quarterfinals.
Because of redshirt junior Velton Jones’ 29 point performance against Quinnipiac in the final contest of the regular season, the native of Philadelphia became just the seventh Colonial ever to surpass the 500 point mark in a season. Jones also set a new RMU record for free throws in a season with 197 and tied the free throws record of 386 for a career set by for Robert Morris great Myron Walker.
Despite the fact that the Colonials fell one game short of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, Toole was pleased with his team’s overall performance throughout the year. “We got better and better as the year went on,” the second year head coach said. “And we are a really good team. But we didn’t play our best when we had to.”