Eight is enough . . . for the basketball gods

In a matter of days, due to absences and suspensions, Andy Toole’s roster shrunk from 14 players down to eight able-bodied student athletes.

So, in an effort to unify the remainder of his team, the 33-year old head coach is adopting the title of a 1970’s sitcom and applying it to his crew.

In Toole’s mind, “Eight is Enough” for a Robert Morris program that, in at least the past two games, has had the basketball gods on its side.

“We did a sign on Friday morning [Jan. 24] with the cast from ‘Eight is Enough’ and we put their pictures on it so when they came in the locker room, we have a 70 inch smart touch screen and it says ‘Eight is Enough’,’’ said Toole, who said he watched the show on rerun. “We looked at some of our better performances this year, whether it was at Alabama, at Mount St. Mary’s, at Bryant, and we said ‘the eight guys that are in this room are basically responsible for those performances.’ And we constantly talk to them about what we have in there is enough.”

While the statuses of Mike McFadden and Desjuan Newton are still up in the air, the Colonials are also without Jeremiah Worthem, Britton Lee, Shaire Tolson-Ford, and Evan Grey indefinitely for violation of a university policy. 

With that being the case, Toole and his staff needed a way to unite its remaining players throughout the remainder of the season.

And they found it through the use of ABC’s classic comedy, which lasted for five seasons.

The series, which was centered on a California family with eight children, was the perfect fit for the group.

“We just started trying to throw things out there with the number eight and that was kind of the one that came up and it was a little bit goofy,” Toole said. “They had the little kid and Kavon [Stewart] was the little kid and so it was something just to kind of lift everyone’s spirits a little bit. Maybe it’s something they can buy into.”

Although having a lack of depth can be a burden, Anthony Myers-Pate believes that he is closer to his teammates as a result.

“I think it [having eight players] has brought us together tremendously. We know what was going on on campus and us losing our players,” he said. “We just stick together, with the eight guys we got, we’re going to go to war no matter what. Our sense of urgency went up, knowing that we’re down guys. We want to keep this going for them.”

According to Lucky Jones, eight was more than enough in RMU’s four point victory over Wagner.

“Coming into this game, you know, we just continued to tell ourselves that we have a lot of fight in us, even though people keep doubting us, even with the people we have on our team, we’re still going to get the job done,” he said. “It takes five vs. five and I think we did a good job with our five coming out with the win tonight.”

“We do a whole lot of running in the offseason and even a whole lot of running during the season. Our legs are used to this,” continued Jones. “We go up and down every day in practice and it’s longer than 30 plus minutes, so we just have to take care of our bodies and continue to fight.”

On that icy afternoon in late January, the basketball gods were indeed looking down on Toole’s energetic eight.

“As crazy as it sounds, we preach to our guys all the time about the basketball gods, and how, if you respect the game and do the right things, if you give the proper amount of effort, you give yourself the best chance to be successful,” the fourth-year skipper said. 

“I’m not the most religious person but I believe in the basketball gods and they might have been with us on that occasion just because of the effort and respect that our guys gave over a 40 minute period,” he added. “Everybody was on the floor, everybody was making plays, everybody was together, everyone was cheering for each other and sometimes, when you do those things, the ball bounces your way.”