Toole, Colonials feel woes after third straight loss


RMU head coach Andy Toole is struggling to keep his team afloat after the Colonials dropped their third consecutive game with a 77-70 loss to Central Connecticut State Saturday night.

After relinquishing 84 points Thursday against Bryant and then surrendering 77 to Central Connecticut State two days later, the Robert Morris men’s basketball program is in the midst of a defensive breakdown, and as a result, head coach Andy Toole believes that his team has sunk to its lowest point all season.

“We have a lot of issues defensively. We hit rock bottom, but maybe that’s what we need,” said the third year skipper. “It’s almost like an addict who needs to hit rock bottom before they figure out there’s a problem.”

If giving up 29 points to Bryant sharpshooter Dyami Starks wasn’t enough, CCSU sniper Kyle Vinales eclipsed that mark with a 34 point performance while guard Matt Hunter added 11 tallies and eight rebounds en route to the Blue Devils’ fifth overall victory.

“He [Vinales] takes and makes difficult shots and the only thing we could really do is play the best defense we can and contest him,” said Karvel Anderson, who chipped in 15 points for the Colonials. “That’s all you can do with a player like that, contest him and pray he misses it.”

Central Connecticut State got on the scoreboard 11 seconds in and took a 3-0 lead courtesy of Adonis Burbage’s trey, but RMU senior captain Velton Jones answered with a three pointer of his own to knot the score. The Colonials then took a 12-9 advantage after David Appolon’s layup rattled in, but a 9-4 run by CCSU gave the opposing club a five point cushion heading into the half.

Although Robert Morris produced a late game surge to come within two with 54 seconds remaining, the rally was too little, too late as Vinales iced the contest with a steal and knocked down both free throw attempts on the ensuing possession to seal the victory.

Jones, who led RMU with 22 tallies, believes that the Colonials must fix their defensive blunders in order to remain a contender in the Northeast Conference.

“We have to find a way to start playing defense. That’s what Robert Morris basketball is based on, especially since coach Toole got here. If we don’t defend, we’re not going to win,” he said.

Despite his team’s gratifying play in the month of December, Toole has not been impressed with what he has seen on the court of late and criticizes himself for his club’s bind.

“Teams are a reflection of their coach and if your coach is soft, then you’re going to have a soft team. I’m frustrated because I can’t get through to them,” he said. “I can’t figure out a way to get a number of guys to buy into practice and it’s completely my fault.”

Despite the fact that Robert Morris has lost its two initial NEC contests for the first time since the 2004-05, Central Connecticut State coach Howie Dickenman thinks that the Colonials are one of the toughest team in the conference.

“Robert Morris is still the favorite to win this league, even though they’re 0-2 in conference,” he said. “There’re 16 more games that still need to be played and tonight, for whatever reason, we were just the better team.”

Although Toole’s primary concern is winning basketball games, he said he would be able to accept defeat better if his squad would improve upon their weaknesses in practice.

“I need to figure out a way to get them to defend because right now, it’s embarrassing,” he added. “I could take a loss if we would just work on some of the little things, the things that use to be trademarks of this team.”