Preview: Robert Morris

Preview: Robert Morris

West Virginia tries for its 33rd consecutive home win in December has it plays host to Robert Morris tonight at 7 p.m.

SCOUTING THE COLONIALS

Robert Morris, 3-4, is in a built of a building mode while starting three freshman and two sophomores. There's some scoring punch from forward Russell Johnson (6-6, 180 lbs.). The second-year player averages a team-high 15 points and almost eight rebounds a game and is by far the best outside shooter at 41.7 percent. He only takes about five a game, though, and isn't especially adept at getting to the line with just 13 free throw attempts this season. He also turns the ball over far too much. Fellow forward Yann Charles (6-5, 220 lbs.) hits for seven points and four rebounds per outing. The newcomer is entirely an interior player despite his short stature, and is good around the rim. Again, though, Charles doesn't get to the line much, and he will have trouble operating inside because of West Virginia's size and length. The duo didn't fare well against Pitt, a team with some similar defensive attributes to the Mountaineers, and there's little reason to think with tier height that they will be able to gain putbacks and battle effectively on the glass.

Guards Velton Jones (6-0, 170 lbs.) and Anthony Myers (5-11, 170 lbs.) handle well enough and have combined for 55 assists against 35 turnovers. Jones, a sophomore, averages nine points and four rebounds. He plays a team-high 30-plus minutes per game because of his ability to get others involved. Jones has struggled shooting this season, both from three-point range and the foul line, but that won't stop him from taking his looks against the Mountaineers. Myers, a freshman, is netting five points and four rebounds and is also struggling shooting at 37 percent from the floor, 12.5 percent from three. Head coach Andrew Toole simply isn't getting the production out of the spots that is needed, especially in converting field goals. Because the Colonials lack height and rebounding ability, missed shots are critical. RMU gets few second-chance points, and it needs to offset that with made buckets and getting to the line. It isn't doing either. Fifth starter Coron Williams (6-2, 170 lbs.), scores about six points a game. He's shooting decently, but sees just 16 minutes of game time and hasn't started three of the seven games played.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Tue. Dec. 7
7:00 p.m.

WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 5-2
Robert Morris 3-4
Series
WVU 18-2
TV
Big East Network
RPI
WVU - 13
Robert Morris - 41

Toole has gone to his bench in an effort to find more production and attempt to establish some depth. Problem is, all the depth is mostly newcomers as well. Guards Karon Abraham (5-9, 150 lbs.) and Roy Elton (6-2, 195 lbs.) are first and second year players who see 28 and 12 minutes a game, respectively. Abraham is more active, scoring 14 points per game and knocking down 84 percent from the stripe. He isn't shooting it that well from inside the arc, but is beginning to heat up from deep. He'll be a threat from the outside, but could struggle to get off good shots because of height and WVU's length even at guard. This is a good sixth man who has started three times this year. Elton is scoring about three points and is mainly inserted to steal minutes as needed. Gary Wallace (6-3, 200 lbs.), the lone senior on the team, plays 20 minutes a game. He averages three points and three rebounds and is yet another poor shooter at 26 percent. The best interior reserve is Lijah Thompson (6-7, 200 lbs.). The sophomore sees 19 minutes a game and can attack under the basket. He shoots 47 percent (no threes taken)and is excellent at the line. Perhaps the best fundamental player for RMU, Thompson averages six points and four rebounds and seems to have a good understanding of the game and how to play within his capabilities.

OUTLOOK

Robert Morris has a couple legit threats in Johnson and Abraham, but doesn't appear to have the talent around them to compete with West Virginia. The Colonials are excruciatingly young and not particularly adept from three-point range. Size is a major issue and they don't rebound as well as the Mountaineers. It will be very difficult for RMU to get second and third shot chances, meaning bad shooting compounds the problem. Robert Morris will need to force turnovers, and with West Virginia's added size and skill, it isn't likely that the home team will be pressed into the multitude of mistakes it would take for an upset. Bob Huggins is correct in that there are issues with this team of now – but it's not enough to warrant many worries in this game. West Virginia would have to beat West Virginia and get reasonable help from Robert Morris. The Mountaineers dominate the boards, hit from outside and smother the Colonials with length in a solid sixth win.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: None.

Robert Morris: None.

FAST BREAKS

Fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game will receive a coupon for free admission to an upcoming WVU women's basketball game.

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With a win, West Virginia would have 70 nonconference wins in the last seven years. The Mountaineers have 32 consecutive home nonconference victories.

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WVU assistant coach Billy Hahn's son, Matt, is in his first season as assistant coach at Robert Morris.

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The two teams have, surprisingly, not met since 2001. WVU won that game 102-86. They had played every year since 1988 until 2002.

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Huggins is 3-0 against Robert Morris. West Virginia is 32-5 against current Northeastern Conference members.

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