Going to cover this from both sides of the equation. Because I know there are Mount fans who were curious about what Robert Morris would bring to the table last night.
But starting with the victorious Orange.
That was a much better performance than the opener. And I guess that is somewhat to be expected. But that performance was the type of the game I think this team can play. Be balanced offensively and really both some people on defense.
Once again there were five guys in double figures. Andy Rautins after not scoring against Albany was simply on fire against Bobby Mo. He scored 22 points in about 20 minutes of play after spraining his ankle in the opener. When he shoots like that it will open up other things for the interior players.
Onuaku, Jackson and Johnson are going to be a formidable frontline no matter who the opponent.
The key loss from last year is Jonny Flynn. At least in my mind, he was the guy that would be tough to replace. Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche are the guys tasked to do that. Last night the two had 13 assists in the first half alone. They finished with 16. There was just one turnover between the two in the first half. Things got a little sloppy in the second half and the duo ended with 4 turnovers. SU had 23 as a team and forced 28.
Wesley Johnson is as athletic at that size as they come. He had another good night for the Orange. The thing that has impressed me the most about him though is his defense. He had 4 steals again last night. He now averages 5 on the season. Plus he rebounds well and he can run the floor. He'll be a matchup problem for folks all year.
I think this team will be able to achieve an upper level finish in the Big East. It still has a lot of work to do to get there. But I think that the ability is there and the pieces seem to fit nicely. Two wins at MSG next week is going to be difficult. I think I'd settle for one, but at this point it certainly looks possible.
From the Robert Morris perspective, I think Mike Rice was surprised by the outcome. I'm certain he never thought he'd give up 100. However, let's not forget they were without Jimmy Langhurst who will be a key contributor. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with too much of what I saw.
I think that is the type of team that RMU will have this year though. A bunch of contributors, not sure where the goto guy is. Very similar to Pitt under Ben Howland and the first few years of Jamie Dixon. Ultimately, I think they need a goto guy.
Rob Robinson might be that. He was neutralized last night, but will be a force in the NEC. He has good moves inside and a level of quickness above many.
I also like Karon Abraham a lot. He has a nice jump shot and looks like he can get into the lane a little bit as well. Watching him develop over the next few years will be a nightmare for NEC opponents.
Velton Jones seemed rusty, but flashed a little bit of some potential. How quickly he gets bact to game speed remains to be seen.
Russ Johnson seemed lost. I know RMU is expecting more and possibly that will come. But when all you've seen of him is last night, its tough to be too complimentary.
Ultimately, I think this team will get better. I don't think they'll beat Penn State over the weekend. But they should have a chance to win 2 or 3 games in Albany next week. I'm interested to see those results.
I think they will develop. But right now they seem to be a mish/mash of players. Talented at some areas, no doubt, but lacking any sort of identity. I'm sure that will come. And come February and March, they will be a factor in the NEC.