If it were up to coach Andy Toole, the lesson would have been passed down in a different way. At several junctures this season, his Robert Morris team has squandered large second-half leads and, even if the Colonials won, Toole would yell at them afterward about how the victory almost got away. Ideally, he would have done the same thing Saturday after a Colonials loss against Central Connecticut State. As it turned out, he didn't get the chance. Despite leading by 16 points with 10 minutes remaining, Robert Morris lost to the Blue Devils, 74-73. In a season in which his team has lived dangerously at times, building comfortable leads only to see them crumble, the loss was a painful reminder of what can happen when players lose focus. What could have been a scolding, however, has turned into a lesson and a situation Toole would have preferred to avoid. "It's a shame things had to happen that way, and the only thing we can do now is learn from it and try to be better next time," Toole said. "But I don't think it should get to the point it got to, unfortunately. That's the disappointing part." As they generally do, Toole and his staff went over film of the game Monday with the team. By the time they turned the lights back on, they saw what he described as a lot of wide-open eyes from players who didn't grasp how lackluster they looked until they saw the tape. Though the loss was noteworthy for how it played out, it was far from the first time that the Colonials have let a late lead slip the past three weeks. It was especially noticeable in their past two games, ones in which they only had three players on the bench. In those games -- the loss to Central Connecticut State and the Jan. 30 win against Bryant -- Robert Morris was outscored in the final eight minutes, 53-26. Defensively, the late breakdowns have been glaring. The Colonials have allowed their past two opponents to shoot 74.1 percent from the field (20 of 27) in the final eight minutes. In the final eight minutes of the loss Saturday, the Colonials gave up 29 points after allowing 45 in the first 32 minutes. If the Blue Devils scored at that rate for the entire game, they would have finished with 145 points. While the lack of depth and conditioning issues might be reasons for such underwhelming finishes, some players attribute them more to a lack of urgency. "This is a problem we've had for a while, and it finally really came back to bite us where it hurts," guard Karvel Anderson said. "It's something we have to focus on fixing. We just get complacent.
Toole hopes his Colonials learned big lesson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Feb 7