Preseason conditioning not enough for Mount St. Mary’s against RMU


Kyle Gorcey

Aaron Tate contributed eight points, four rebounds and three assists in RMU’s 25 point win over Mount St. Mary’s Saturday.

Nick Buzzelli, Editor-in-Chief

After making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance last season, Mount St. Mary’s produced a video in the offseason.

But this wasn’t a film about the program’s Northeast Conference championship run or a profile on the team.

Rather MSM uploaded a five minute video to its YouTube channel depicting the rigorous preseason conditioning drills that each and every player performed in order to be ready for the 2014-15 campaign.

Though no matter how many weighted pushups the Mountaineers did, nothing was going to prepare them for a rematch of the 2014 Northeast Conference title game.

Robert Morris opened up not only league play – but 2015 as well – on a high note, downing its rival, 70-45, Saturday afternoon at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

“… I thought we were very active defensively in the beginning of the game and I thought we shared the ball very well on offense to get high percentage shots,” RMU head coach Andy Toole said. “From that standpoint, I thought it was a success and the biggest thing we talked about at halftime was not letting down, continuing to play and I thought we did about as well of a job as we’re capable of doing right now to kind of keep our focus and finish the game out the right way.”

The Colonials struck first courtesy of a Marcquise Reed layup and took an early eight point advantage at the 16:06 mark.

It took nearly five and a half minutes for Mount St. Mary’s to register its first tally and from that point forward, the Mountaineers didn’t stand a chance.

Four Colonials scored in double figures, including Lucky Jones – who paced his team with 17 points and eight rebounds – and RMU held MSM to a 13-52 shooting performance from the floor.

Despite holding the lead for the entire contest, RMU did not play an error-free game, coughing up the basketball 19 times, its second most this season.

However Toole did not attribute a majority of the turnovers to the Mount’s unique defensive scheme, but rather to ill-advised passes.

“That 1-3-1 zone they play obviously has great size and length to it and it’s something that you don’t see all the time, so sometimes your passing angles or areas that are going to be open on the floor are a little bit different,” he said. “But a lot of our turnovers came on sloppy, fast-break situations and kind of some miscommunications and so we obviously have to clean that up. … When we made simple plays, we got really good shots. When we tried to complicate it a little bit or do a little bit extra is when we got ourselves in trouble.”

Even though his squad may have surprised others around the league by trouncing the defending champs, Toole doesn’t envision that blowouts will become a trend with the NEC.

At least not yet.

“People might look and see that we shot the ball well and they didn’t shoot the ball well and it was a home game for us and kind of go from there and maybe not read too much into it,” he said. “A couple weeks, if you see some more scores like this, you may start to read into it. I think it’s really too soon to make decisions off of one 40 minute sample size.”