Busting Brackets

Robert Morris Basketball: 3 takeaways from Colonials 1-7 start in 2021-22

Nov 12, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Robert Morris Colonials guard Rasheem Dunn (3) drives around Kentucky Wildcats guard Kellan Grady (31) during the first half at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Robert Morris Colonials guard Rasheem Dunn (3) drives around Kentucky Wildcats guard Kellan Grady (31) during the first half at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

Robert Morris Basketball is still without a D-I victory to the 2021-22 campaign but is starting to get healthy. What are some early takeaways on the season?

When the schedule for Robert Morris Basketball was released, it was expected that the first 10 games were going to be rough. Almost all of them were on the road and against vastly superior opponents such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Central Florida. But the team also gave up a 17-point lead at home against a similarly talented team in Mount St. Mary’s in what ended up as a loss in overtime.

The Colonials followed that up with a pair of Horizon League Conference road losses to both Green Bay and Milwaukee, led by five-star freshmen Patrick Baldwin Jr. going off from deep. The good news is that the team isn’t winless anymore, coming off a 99-51 victory over D-III program Lancaster Bible.

At 1-7 (0-2), Robert Morris takes on a Florida Gulf Coast team (8-3) that is ranked in the top-200 according to KenPom. That’ll be a tough game at home but the Colonials have the chance to get some momentum to finish out December.

Here are some takeaways from the team’s first five games.

1. Rasheem Dunn getting it going

Among the many newcomers to the roster this offseason, St. John’s transfer Rasheem Dunn was the biggest name, averaging around double-figures in two years at the Big East program mostly as a starter. He was plugged in as a starter but really struggled out the gate against the bigger named opponents, averaging around 8.0 ppg.

But against the smaller schools, Dunn has seen his averages shoot up. He scored 18 points against Mount St. Mary’s and averaged 19 ppg and 5.0 apg in the games against Green Bay and Milwaukee. The 6’3 guard has been the only guard on the roster outside of Enoch Cheeks to play every game and is looking like the potential All-Horizon player many thought he could be once Dunn arrived.

Another positive is while he’s not shooting it much from deep, the 5th-year senior is 43% from deep. If he can improve his 36% shooting from inside the arc, Dunn’s numbers will take an even bigger jump.

2. Injuries plaguing team to this point

As an observer, it’s been frustrating to see Robert Morris having yet to play its entire roster. OK State grad transfer Ferron Flavors has left the team, while five other rotation players have been in and out of the lineup. Starting guard Michael Green (8.8 ppg and 3.0 apg) has come back from covid protocol, while wing Jaron Williams has missed the last three games with an ankle injury.

Kam Farris, who scored a career-high 27 points against Lancaster Bible and 14.3 ppg on the season in four games, has dealt with a leg and recent eye injury. And for a team that was lacking size last season, not having centers Brandon Stone and Mattia Acunzo for all but two games combined (still out) has been an issue. That’s put a lot of pressure on 6’7 forward Kahliel Spear (14.0 ppg and 8.3 rpg) to deal with everything down low, along with Justin Winston and Matt Mayers.

Even coming into Florida Gulf Coast this Saturday, the status of Williams, Stone, and Acunzo is still unknown, although none of their injuries have been viewed as longterm absences. Once they all cane come back and fortify the overall rotation, we’ll see how good they can be.

3. Zone answer the defensive issues?

One of the consequences of the lack of depth has been the ultization of a zone defense, something Coach Andy Toole hasn’t done in years. But there’s also another reason in that they haven’t been good all season in man-to-man defense, ranking in the bottom-20 nationally in points allowed and bottom-10 in field goal shooting allowed. Part of it has been a lack of size, lack of depth and also a lack of effort at times.

Moving to a zone forces more effort at minimum, while also protecting players such as Dunn and Spear from getting fouls. And while the competition was more their level in Green Bay and Milwaukee, there has been a noticeable improvement. There’s a chance that with more players back in the fold, Robert Morris could go back to a transitional defense. But at least, they can run the zone and be comfortable doing when when called upon.

Latest Horizon League power rankings. dark. Next

The Colonials are still without a D-I win on the season and have good teams such as Florida Gulf Coast at home, along with four straight road games, including two more in league play against Oakland and Detroit Mercy. The record could get ugly before it starts to look good but with reinforcements coming back, Robert Morris Basketball will can end up being a tough out in Horizon League play.