The Citizens United ruling has reared its ugly head in the form of the Koch brothers who plan to dump nearly a billion dollars into the 2016 campaign. They will essentially be buying the election they want. So much for democracy.
Even as his Robert Morris team won four consecutive games and raced to a tie atop the Northeast Conference standings, Andy Toole knew all the pieces didn’t quite fit together.
On a roster that features a combined 10 years of Division I experience, one flaw was particularly glaring – immaturity. Toole’s players weren’t necessarily immature individuals, but they had trouble maintaining a certain level of focus over time, particularly with all of their recent success.
While that shortcoming was largely concealed over the past several weeks, it became all too apparent Saturday afternoon, as a cold start ultimately foiled a spirited comeback attempt in a 71-68 loss to Bryant at the Sewall Center.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult to deal with adversity, but it’s also sometimes difficult to deal with success,” Toole said. “When you’re not the most mature [team] and you win four games in a row, you feel like all you have to do is show up. And that’s the furthest thing from the truth. That’s what we tried to do – just show up and play.”
The loss snapped a season-high four-game win streak for the Colonials (11-11, 7-3 NEC) and dropped them into a second-place tie in the conference with the victorious Bulldogs (10-10, 7-3).
That lack of energy that Toole referenced was most obvious in the game’s first 20 minutes, when Robert Morris came out flat and almost dazed in one of its biggest games of the season. It missed 17 of its first 24 shots and averaged just 0.83 points per possession, well below its season average of 0.99. In the final 9:18 of the first half, they were limited to one made field goal.
It trailed by seven at halftime and by as many as eight with 1:38 remaining, but it found a spark late. Six consecutive points from freshman Marcquise Reed got the Colonials within two and a 3-pointer from Lucky Jones made it a one-point game with 12 seconds left.
Following two made free throws from Bryant’s Joe O’Shea, Jones missed a potential game-tying 3 after a long inbounds pass from forward Aaron Tate. Rodney Pryor collected the rebound, but could not find an open teammate behind the arc as time expired.
The Colonials trailed by 10 points on two different occasions in the second half and though they were able to claw back both times, they were never able to tie or take a lead.
“We didn’t come out like we were supposed to and for the rest of the game, we were playing catch-up,” Tate said. “We couldn’t get over the hump.”
Reed finished with a team-high 20 points while Jones added 19 points and eight rebounds. Fewer than 48 hours after scoring 28 points on 10 of 14 shooting, Pryor went two of 14 for seven points.
For all of Robert Morris’ offensive failings, it allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 54 percent from the game, including a 62.5 percent clip in the second half.
Those numbers were yet another sign to Toole that his team still has steps it needs to take before it arrives at any kind of a destination.
“It was a disappointing loss, but sometimes you get what you deserve,” he said. “I think that’s what we deserved today.”
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Robert Morris saw its season-high four-game win streak come to an abrupt and somewhat unexpected end in a 71-68 loss to Bryant Saturday afternoon, dropping it into a second-place tie with the Bulldogs in the Northeast Conference standings. Here are the key points of how it went down:
Turning point: It'd be easier (and maybe make more sense) to say it was when Lucky Jones' potential game-tying 3-pointer didn't fall home with four seconds remaining, but I'll go with the dunk from Dan Garvin that gave Bryant a 65-57 lead with 1:38 remaining, a play that came late in the shot clock after Robert Morris' David Appolon had missed a 3 on the other end that would have cut the Bulldogs' advantage to three. It's not at all feasible to try to come back from eight points down in 98 seconds and that was proven yet again on Saturday.
Game ball: Marcquise Reed was the leading scorer, but Jones gets the honor tonight. He scored 19 points, only one fewer than Reed, and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. After struggling for much of non-conference play, Jones has been a different kind of player entirely against NEC competition. He showed as much today.
What it means: Though it wasn't an emotional gut punch -- their last lead was with 8:52 remaining in the first half -- this one undoubtedly hurts the Colonials, at least in the short term. It drops them out of first place in the NEC and into a second-place tie with Bryant, which owns the tie-breaker between the two. In a game where it could have gained some kind of separation, Robert Morris instead fell back into the pack, with the setback coming at home, no less. But with eight regular season games remaining, there's a TON of time for things to get sorted out.
What's next: If there is a time to bounce back from a loss, it's now. As things stand now, Robert Morris' upcoming five-game stretch is undoubtedly kind, with two games against 8-13 LIU Brooklyn (which is 4-6 in conference), a contest at Fairleigh Dickinson, which is beat by 22 last Thursday, a road game against last-place Central Connecticut State and a Feb. 19 tilt against Sacred Heart (3-7 in NEC play). After that? A road rematch against Bryant.
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With defensman Christian Ehrhoff sidelined due to a potential concussion, the Penguins switched around their defensive duos and paired Simon Despres (above) and Kris Letang in last night's 2-1 win against the Devils.
While each have been used sporadically over the last few seasons, each said it was the first time they had played an entire game together.
Earlier today, assistant coach Gary Agnew, who oversees the defense, talked about Despres and Letang.
What did you see out of them last night?
I like them. I thought they complimented each other well. We've experimented with it before to see how it would look. They've got a little bit of synergy or chemistry there so I think we're going to continue to play with it but I'd like to keep them together for tomorrow as well.
Beyond Christian Ehrhoff being injured, what led to wanting to team Letang and Despres together?
"Partially, Christian going down but we had experimented with it earlier. We're trying to find out, as we move along here, how we can sort of get a shutdown pair going [and] freeing [Letang] up to be maybe more of an offensive role and help us generate. Last night, we used [Rob] Scuderi and [Paul] Martin in that shutdown role and I thought it worked well. That kind of freed Kris and [Despres] to move the puck and get up ice and try to create some offense. It's going to vary game to game depending on the line combinations that the other teams are throwing at us but I thought for last night, that sort of experiment worked well."
With Despres leading the team in hits this season with 146, does having him on a pair with Letang spare some wear and tear for Letang?
"You're not going to take the physical play out of Kris Letang because he's a high, competitive guy. You see the penalty he takes the other night [Wednesday in Washington] when he takes the other night with the two hander to the back of the guy's leg. He's a competitive guy. He gets involved physically. But with the number minutes that he plays, you're right. We've got to be careful with how hard those minutes are from a physical standpoint and probably, [Despres] being out there with him does alleviate a little bit of that because he can hang onto the puck and protect it and certainly take away some of the pressure on the forecheck that other teams may get on us."
How instrumental were Despres and Letang on the shift which led to Despres' goal?
"We're trying to get our defense to be more active on the blue line without having too much disregard for the defensive side of the game. [Coach Mike Johnston] really likes an active blue line so we're bobbing and weaving and moving in and out but within reason and at the right and the right place. I thought that both those guys last night in that particular shift did a great job of finding a seam, getting out, coming in, getting out. So they were finding open space. And four-on-four [play in overtime] is a little bit easier obviously because there is more space but I thought it was great movement by them. [Center Brandon] Sutter makes a great play to [Despres]. Then, [assistant coach Rick Tocchet] been talking to the forwards about getting some traffic in front of the net. Despres did a great job of getting the shot off quickly before anybody got in the lane."
How much more likely are you in using that pairing in the future regardless of anyone's health or other factors now that you saw them in action last night?
"I'm not sure. I think we're still in that sort of experimental stage and you need sort of a bigger body of work to make that call. I think we're going to stick with it until we get more evidence of what we need from not only that pair but the other two pairs that are playing in the game. For now, we're going to go with it."
(Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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Central Catholic defensive back Johnny Petrishen today "tweeted" a photo of himself holding a Penn State jersey, with Penn State coach James Franklin and assistant Terry Smith at his side.
Next football season, Petrishen will wear a Penn State jersey for real.
Petrishen, one of the top defensive backs in the state, announced on his Twitter account that he had made a verbal commitment to Penn State.
Petrishen had narrowed his choices to Pitt, Penn State and Virginia. He visited Penn State last weekend and Pitt two weekends ago.
Petrishen is yet another top Pennsylvania landed by Penn State. It is not considered a great year for talent in the state, but Penn State gobbled up most of the top talent. The Nittany Lions have 10 high school recruits from the state. Rivals.com ranks six players in Pennsylvania as 4-star prospects. Penn State landed four of them.
Petrishen is rated as a 3-star prospect. He was an outstanding all-around player for Central Catholic, making all-state and the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22. Known as a talented defensive back, he also played running back/quarterback for the final two games and rushed for 381 yards in those two games, often taking direct snaps in the wildcat formation.
Maybe Petrishen will also return kicks for Penn State. He was one of the best kick returners in the WPIAL in decades. As a junior and senior, Petrishen returned seven punts for touchdowns and one kickoff. As a senior he returned four punts for touchdowns and also intercepted four passes.