At 2-5 on the season, the Colonials don't look to be very strong this year. However, both of their victories are in conference play, so from their perspective the season is not off to a bad start.
Forward Tyler Bacon has been RMC's chief scoring threat at 11.3 points per game, but at 6-4 has problems battling taller opponents inside. The same is true for the rest of the Colonials' front line, which features senior Wesley Fluellen and center Matt Smith at 6-5 and 6-9, respectively.
Fluellen, who is recording only eight points and four rebounds per game, was expected to be a more potent force this year, but has been slowed by an eye injury, while Smith is a banger and rebounder who is not a big scoring threat.
The Colonials do have some depth in the backcourt with which to battle. Rick Richburg and DaMarcus Ellis have been solid, while guard Maurice Carter leads the team in scoring off the bench with almost 13 per game.
RMC's main problem is their shooting. The Colonials average only 62 points per game on 41% shooting from the field. Those totals just aren't enough against most uptempo teams. They will have to improve on that number to get a win at the Coliseum.
WVU's John Oliver vs. Robert Morris' Matt Smith
OK, this matchup isn't going to determine the game's winner or loser. However, it could be a big indicator of what WVU can expect out of Oliver as the meat of the schedule approaches.
WVU 0-0, 5-1
RM 2-0, 2-5
|Sat 12/15 7:00 PM|
WVU leads 17-2
|Line: WVU -17|
By success, we don't necessarily mean scoring, although that would be a nice bonus. What WVU needs is for Oliver to grab 7 or 8 rebounds, keep Smith off the boards, and also force Smith to play him honestly on the offensive end.
Opposing centers have been able to cheat off WVU centers and help against Chris Moss in the post as well as other Mountaineers who penetrate the lane, for the simple fact that West Virginia's centers haven't been a threat to receive a pass and score.
A couple of layups off dishes from Jonathan Hargett or Drew Schifino would go a long way toward stopping opposing centers from cheating, but so far that hasn't occurred. Oliver, as well as Chris Garnett, have to find an opening when their defender leaves them, be prepared for the pass, and then finish the play with a hoop.
RM: Wesley Fluellen (Eye) Probable
Once again, a contrast in styles seems to lean it's way in WVU's favor. RMC will have problems matching up with Moss on the inside - they'll either have to go short and quick (Fluellen) or bigger and slower (Smith). Don't be surprised to see a lot of subs Bobby Davenport and Aaron Thomas on Moss - both are closer to Moss in size and match up with him physically a bit better.
We expect WVU to go after RMC hard inside. The Colonials do have some weapons at guard to give the Mountaineers a few problems, so we look for WVU to run their offense "inside-out", especially early in the game.
One place WVU doesn't want to challenge the Colonials is in free throw shooting. RMC is fourth in the nation with a 79.8% mark from the line. West Virginia should play solid defense, but should avoid fouling at all costs and make the Colonials beat them from the field.
WVU made some improvements in their play last week against Florida International, but that trend needs to continue if the Mountaineers hope to be ready to face Tennessee on the road.
Both teams are coming off layoffs. WVU is playing their first game in seven days, while the Colonials have had a nine day break.
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WVU has never played at Robert Morris - every game has been on WVU's home floor.
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Most mid-major teams play a lot of non-conference games on the road, but that hasn't been true for the Colonials. Saturday's game with WVU will be only their second road trip of the season. Robert Morris' only other venture off campus has been a short jaunt to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers.
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Robert Morris is the only school ever to jump from junior college to NCAA Division I in the same year. That occurred in 1976.