A huge sign hanging in Robert Morris’ locker room reads, “If the force is greater than the resistance, motion will result.” It’s the definition of momentum, or rather, MO-mentum, the team’s catchphrase.
“It’s really clever,” coach Andy Toole said. “Our guys never read it.”
Despite a rare strong start in the first half and a 12-0 comeback run in the second, the Colonials still lost 68-57 to Saint Francis on Thursday at Sewall Center. Robert Morris dropped to 5-8 in the Northeast Conference (7-19 overall) while one of the No. 1 teams in the league, Saint Francis, improved to 9-4 (13-11 overall).
The momentum wasn’t just lacking this game — it’s been a season long struggle. After bouncing back from sophomore forward and second leading scorer Elijah Minnie’s departure from the team to beat Bryant with Robert Morris’ best offensive performance of the season Feb. 6, the team had to play without freshman guard Isaiah Still for the first of three games Thursday.
Still, a consistent starter who had averaged 22 points throughout the past three games heading into the Saint Francis matchup, will miss three of the last six games of the conference season for violating athletic department policy.
Toole said Still’s absence at a time when the coach finally felt he had a pretty solid 10-man rotation is just another setback in a long line of obstacles this season — most of which have been self-inflicted.
“That’s all we ever do is provide resistance for ourselves,” Toole said. “You get resistance from your opponent. You get resistance from officials. You get resistance from injuries. You get resistance from opposing fans. You get all this resistance from everybody outside your locker room, and the force, the positive force, is supposed to come from inside the locker room.
“We get just as much resistance from inside the locker room,” Toole said. “So it’s really hard to have success.”
Without Still on the court, senior guard Rodney Pryor led the team with 14 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Red Flash senior forward Ronnie Drinnon scored a game-high 17 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double.
Saint Francis, the best 3-point shooting team in the league, shot 9-for-19 from beyond the arc while Robert Morris, the worst 3-point team in the league, was 4-for-21.
“We do a lot of hoping and wishing instead of executing and making things happen,” Toole said. “And that’s offensively and defensively. We gamble on a lot of stuff and hope that a guys are going to miss. … Or we hope that we’re going to make a shot.”
Playing without Still, who plays a lot of minutes in a lot of spots and is generally an offensive spark, will be a “huge blow” for the team, according to Toole, as Robert Morris attempts to finish in the top-eight and make the conference tournament.
Freshman guard Matty McConnell, however, seemed unfazed by yet another roadblock.
“We’ve just got to stay together as a team,” McConnell said. “We’ve just got to keep staying positive, and guys just have to step up and do their job. … And I think we’ll be fine.”