Robert Morris (0-2) vs. Fordham (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Robert Morris 0-1, Fordham 0-0. Away Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Fordham 0-1. Neutral Record: Robert Morris 0-1, Fordham 0-1. Conference Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Fordham 0-0. Series Record: Robert Morris leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: Robert Morris and Fordham both go in search of their first win of the 2012-13 season, as the two teams square off at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh in a consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Robert Morris lost to Lehigh by a wide margin in its first game in this tournament, 89-60. The Colonials trailed by double digits for nearly three fourths of the contest, as they were never able to get closer after going down 22-11 at the 9:34 mark. The loss put the Colonials, who have posted 23 or more wins in four of the last five seasons, at 0-2 on the young season.
It has not been a particularly strong start to the 2012-13 campaign for Fordham. The Rams were blown out by an 86-51 final on Monday against host Pittsburgh. That loss was quite a bit worse than the Rams' season-opening defeat at Texas State (86-76). Still, defense has been virtually non-existent in the first two games with the team surrendering an average of 86 points per game while lagging behind at just 63.5 ppg itself.
Both teams will await the results of Tuesday's games in the regional finals to determine where they will play in the consolation bracket on either Nov. 19 or Nov. 20.
The Colonials took the only previous matchup between these two squads with a 72-66 win on the road back in 2007.
Turnovers and poor shooting hurt Robert Morris in its loss to Lehigh. The Colonials shot just 33.9 percent in the game, which included a 4-of-22 effort from beyond the arc and they also turned the ball over 21 times. All those giveaways added up to a 25-7 advantage for Lehigh in points off turnovers.
Offensive woes have been a theme early on this season with Robert Morris scoring only 57 points per game while shooting just 30.1 percent from the floor as a team. Velton Jones, last year's leading scorer, took a step forward offensively in the loss to Lehigh, After scoring only eight points in the season-opening loss to Rider, Jones got into double figures for the first time this season with a 12-point showing against Lehigh. The Colonials are still waiting for Coron Williams (10.8 ppg in 2011), who was the only other double- digit scorer on the team last season to get going. Williams has scored just nine points through the first two games after a two-point performance against Lehigh. Karvel Anderson struggled from the floor in the loss to the Mountain Hawks, connecting on only 2-of-9 shots for five points. Anderson was the only player in double figures (11 points) against Rider. The Colonials can take away a positive thanks to the play of Mike McFadden, who posted a 13-point, 13-rebound effort. McFadden was a fixture in the starting lineup last season but did not produce at such a high level (8.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg) as it was his first career double-double.
Offensive struggles again plagued Fordham in its recent loss to Pittsburgh. The Rams shot just 36.6 percent from the floor, primarily due to a shaky first half (6-of-23). The Rams were also guilty of 19 turnovers. All the giveaways were especially painful with the Panthers outscoring the Rams, 28-4, on points off turnovers. Fordham was also dominated inside, scoring a mere 12 points in the paint compared to 42 by Pitt.
Getting so beat up inside is not an issue that Fordham expected to deal with especially with forward Chris Gaston on the inside. Gaston was the leading scorer a season ago while averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game (9.9 pg). However against Pittsburgh, Gaston was kept largely in check scoring only four points while pulling down six rebounds. While those six boards were a team high, they were a far cry from the 14 he gathered against Texas State. With Gaston slowed, Bryan Smith and Jeff Short stepped into unfamiliar roles leading the team in scoring with 11 points a piece. Smith's scoring was a bit more expected after he tallied 16 points in the season opener after averaging 9.6 ppg a year ago. Short had only scored a single point in the opener and did not get into double figures at all last season. Like Gaston, Branden Frazier failed to duplicate his efforts from the opener and the previous season, as he finished with only four points. The junior scored 18 against Texas State and has averaged 11.4 points per game during his three-year career.
Each team has dug itself an early hole. For one of them to begin the climb out, improvements on offense need to be made. Gaston is unlikely to have another poor performance and should be just fine against the Colonials. If Gaston plays at the level he is capable of the Rams will roll.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fordham 67, Robert Morris 60
11/13 10:46:06 ET