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November 25, 2011

Game Day: RMU at La Salle

Robert Morris' second game at the Palestra in a week will have even more of a Philadelphia feel to it, as it will likely develop into a showdown of two Philly natives at point guard.

Don't be surprised to see this become the Velton Jones vs. Tyreek Duren show.

Duren, a sophomore out of Neumann-Goretti, and Jones, a redshirt junior out of Northeast Catholic, are no strangers. The two played Philadelphia Catholic League ball, and in the close-knit Philly hoops community, it's hard not to be a point guard and be very familiar with the rest in the area, even if they're a couple years apart.

Game 5: La Salle Explorers (A-10)
WHEN: Nov. 25, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Palestra, Philadelphia, Pa.
TV: The Comcast Network (188 on Comcast Cable in Moon)
HISTORY AGAINST LA SALLE: Inaugural meeting
REALTIMERPI.com RANKINGS: La Salle 74, Robert Morris 148
KENPOM RANKINGS: La Salle 154, Robert Morris 88
LA SALLE COACHING STAFF: Head coach - Dr. John Giannini (9th year). Assistants - Horace Owens, Harris Adler, Will Bailey
LA SALLE PROJECTED STARTERS: F Jerrell Wright (6'8, 230, Fr.) 8 ppg/5.8 rpg; F Devon White (6'8, 240 Sr.) 8.8 ppg/6.5 rpg; G Earl Pettis (6'5, 215, Sr.) 16.3 ppg/5.8 rpg; G Sam Mills (6'2, 180, So.) 14.8/2.3 rpg; G Tyreek Duren (6'0, 180) 18.3 ppg/4.8 apg
PROJECTED ROBERT MORRIS STARTERS: F Lijah Thompson (6'7, 200, Jr.) 7.5 ppg/2.5 rpg; F Lawrence Bridges (6'5, 225, Sr.) 3.3 ppg/3.3 rpg; F Russell Johnson (6'6, 180, RJr.) 8.3 ppg/5.3 rpg; G Coron Williams 6'2, 170, RSo.) 15.5 ppg/2.3 rpg; G Velton Jones (6'0, 170, RJr.) 20.8 ppg/5.3 apg

Neither comes off the floor. Duren is among the Atlantic 10 leaders in minutes played, and like Jones, he's equally adept at scoring and dishing to his teammates. La Salle has scored in bunches early on, including 92 points against James Madison.

The Explorers have been very good early despite being young. La Salle lost by nine to Villanova in overtime, and lost by four to Pitt on Tuesday. They've won their other two games, and they've been very good despite a strong mix of underclassmen.

Like Robert Morris, La Salle is young. The Explorers have seven freshmen and sophomores on the roster, including three in the starting lineup. That includes their prolific sophomore backcourt of Duren and Sam Mills, as that duo is second in scoring in the nation behind UConn.

La Salle will also get some help in the return of junior guard Ramon Galloway, who is returning from a concussion and expected to play Friday. Robert Morris should also have a healthier Anthony Myers and Russell Johnson after they played through a hamstring and eye injury, respectively, against James Madison.

The James Madison game might be a good comparison for Robert Morris when it comes to taking on La Salle. Though the Explorers are very different in style from James Madison, they have some of the same tendencies. The Colonials have matched pace with La Salle's offense so far through four games (La Salle is at 77 points per game, RMU 73), but the difference might be defense.

La Salle's allowed 71.2 points per game and has a minus-4 rebound edge. Robert Morris has allowed just 63 points per game, and has a plus-4.8 rebound edge.

If the Colonials can tap into those two elements, they might be able to slip out of Philadelphia with a win and an impressive 4-1 record.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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