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Providence 77, Robert Morris 68

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Robert Morris’ season ended Monday night with a loss to Providence in the second round of the NIT. What happened in the game that contributed to that final result?

RMU-PC Pic

(Anthony Myers-Pate drives against Providence. Photo credit: Stew Milne, AP)

*** There can sometimes be a large gap between perception and reality, and I don’t think any group of people is more aware of that than sportswriters – not because we’re enlightened (we’re not), but because we’re so often wrong about predictions that we can’t help but notice it.

Heading into the Kentucky game, there was so much talk about the Wildcats’ size and length, but it was almost a non-existent factor in the game’s final result. Against Providence, however, there wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about it and it turned out to be maybe the biggest reason why the Friars’ season is extended by at least another game.

Providence out-rebounded Providence by a whopping 40-16 margin, including a 14-3 advantage on the offensive glass that helped the Friars get a 10-0 advantage on second-chance points. It’s simplistic to say that Providence won because had a 10-point advantage in a statistical category (had none of those points been scored, RMU would have won by one), but it obviously made a difference.

The Friars entered the game with the 22nd-best offensive rebounding percentage in Division I (37.6) and it was able to take proper advantage of that strength against a Colonials team that lacked a truly dominant rebounder. They didn’t have the length of a team like Kentucky, but they played with a certain physicality that the Wildcats did not. Whether that’s a product of playing in the Big East is up for debate, but it was certainly evident Monday night.

*** Even with that significant edge on the offensive boards, Providence actually had two less field goal attempts for the game than Robert Morris. Interesting little nugget, I guess.

*** Officiating can often be an elephant in the room and fans almost always think that the other team gets more breaks from the referees. The free throw disparity in last night’s game (36-15 in favor of Providence) has led some to believe that Robert Morris got the proverbial short end of the stick from the officials.

Any time there’s that kind of a difference in free throw attempts, it raises some questions (and eyebrows), but from what I saw in that game, it’s more indicative of style of play. Nearly half (25 of 51) of the Colonials’ shooting attempts were from 3-point range, where players are far less likely to draw contact and get to the line. Providence, on the other hand, saw 71.4 percent of its shots come from inside the arc, with its guards routinely penetrating to create offensive opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that 22.6 percent of the Friars’ points this season have come from free throws, the 61st-highest mark in DI. This is a team that knows how to get to the line and once there, convert.

Were there questionable calls against RMU? Yes, but the same can be said for any team in any game, including for Providence last night, as well.

*** Karvel Anderson’s shooting performance was impressive on its own, but the fact that he did it with a broken scaphoid bone in his shooting wrist is even more incredible. He finished the night 6 of 11 on field goals and 4 of 7 on 3s, finishing with a team-high 18 points.

Aside from the obvious pain factor (I’ve had a broken wrist before. Spoiler alert: it hurts a lot), an injury like that can throw off your mechanics and at the very least, it’s in the back of your mind as a shooter.

Anderson’s used to playing injured going back to his junior college days and he’s proven time again that it doesn’t impact him as much as it would other players.

*** After Russell Johnson’s made 3-pointer gave Robert Morris a one-point lead with 6:20 left in the game, the Colonials made just one more field goal for the rest of regulation (on a very nifty low-post move by Mike McFadden). In that span, the team missed six field goals and three free throws, with the team’s shot selection seemingly taking a dip in the process.

If people want to zero in on another reason why the team lost, going cold in the game’s final minutes is never a bad place to start.

*** Vincent Council finished 1 for 9, a pretty putrid shooting day, but his aggressiveness was rewarded with 13 free throw attempts (of which he made 10). He really, really looked like a senior who didn’t want to be playing his last game.

*** Speaking of important seniors, last night marked the last game of Jones’ and Johnson’s career at Robert Morris. Both were obviously valuable contributors to the Colonials over the years and I really think the argument can be made that Jones is one of, if not the best player in program history.

I’m new to these parts so make of that declaration what you wish, but if you look through the program’s record books, he’s at or near the top of a number of statistical categories. Not to mention he’s been there for arguably the most successful stretch of the history of the school.

*** One of the most impressive things about Velton is that this season, he did more by taking a step back. The ball was in his hands less, he did not shoot the ball as frequently as in years past, he was more instrumental in creating open looks for teammates and because of this, the team benefitted tremendously.

As the table below shows, a large product of the team’s balanced offense was from Velton having the ball a little less and becoming a more incorporated part of the team’s attack.

%Possessions %Shots Assist Rate Team Pts/Possession Assists/Game Pts/Game
2011-12 31.6 30.7 36.2 1.04 4.5 16.0
2012-13 28.5 25.2 43.9 1.09 5.1 10.6

Did his scoring go down? Absolutely, but he improved in most of the other valuable metrics of the game.

To have his team succeed, he shot less and for someone playing their last college season, that’s pretty admirable.

*** Going against the seventh-ranked 3-point percentage defense in the country last night, Robert Morris made 11 of 25 shots from beyond the arc (44 percent). Not a bad night for what was obviously a large part of the team’s game-plan.

*** Personal note: With the regular season over now, I’ll try to stay as active as possible on the Bobs Blog. There will be statistical reviews and analysis of what transpired this season, previews of what to expect next season and for the daily paper, there will be some features I’d like to do on the team and its players.

We got a late start with the blog, but I want to thank everyone for following along during the season. Hopefully this can be the start of a nice, long-term online product for the P-G.

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