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February 2, 2013
Jones, RMU gut out victory over LIU
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As Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson worked his way back from ACL and MCL tears in his knee, noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews said Peterson 'defied all odds'. Peterson's knee didn't have any wear and tear, stunning Dr. Andrews.
The good doctor might want to make Robert Morris guard Velton Jones his next study. A game-time decision because of a painful shoulder injury suffered Thursday night against St. Francis-Brooklyn, Jones dropped in the game-winning floater as Robert Morris topped LIU-Brooklyn 60-57.
"I'm exhausted and I can't even imagine how these guys feel after the effort they put out. So proud of the way they stuck to our game plan and continued to work together," Andy Toole said on his post-game radio show. "We've had some very sharp, smooth performances in some games. We've had some explosive performances. We've also had some poor performances. But that's probably the guttiest effort that we've had all year."
Jones has made the floater and his toughness the hallmarks of his career. The senior hadn't missed a game until sitting out one game with a concussion in January despite taking a beating that most basketball players would never envision. And with just 36 hours to heal before he had to prep for the LIU game, few around Robert Morris could have possibly thought Jones would play after barely being able to move his shoulder Thursday night.
"Adrenaline is a hell of a drug," Toole said. "I talked to Velton for the game and he said he was thinking about wrapping it. And I said, "V, I don't want you doing anything if you're not going to be comfortable and you're not going to be effective.' All of a sudden I'm getting ready to do pregame and (trainer Jason Daley walks in with Velton and said, "I think this kid is Wolverine. He just regenerates himself somehow.' They wrapped him up. He had some limited movement, which is why he couldn't take outside shots, but he was huge on both ends of the floor."
Jones' floater came with 12 seconds left and came after Robert Morris got several good looks at the basket to take the lead in the final two minutes. Twice Jones passed up a drive to the basket with good looks for others, and twice Robert Morris got another look off those misses. They still couldn't convert until Jones knocked his shot down. Robert Morris also shut LIU down in that stretch, forcing C.J. Garner to take a 3-pointer late in the shot clock.
Finally, with LIU needing a bucket to take the lead back, Jason Brickman passed the ball to Troy Joseph on the wing. Joseph lost the ball, Karvel Anderson picked it up and was fouled. Anderson hit two free throws with two seconds left and a desperation 3-pointer by Jamal Olasewere was off the mark.
"I think even if you had split there and gotten into the lane, Karvel was in great defensive position and that's why he was able to get to the ball on the deflection," Toole said.
The frantic finish capped a game that was decidedly slower-paced than previous RMU-LIU match-ups. Toole had Robert Morris hold the ball on offense, as the Colonials often didn't run a play until 15 seconds remained in the shot clock. After Brickman penetrated the Robert Morris man defense several times in the first half, Toole also went to a 2-3 zone almost exclusively in the second half.
"Other than one or two breakdowns, I think we did what we had to do: Control the tempo and get some stops," Toole said. "They're so effective with their ball-screening and they do a nice job of creating advantages. Jason Brickman is so good at reading the help and getting the ball to the right spot, I just felt we needed to, especially with only one day of prep."
The changes were enough to flummox LIU-Brooklyn. Robert Morris wasn't perfect on offense, hitting just 37 percent of its shots, but the Colonials were 10-of-24 from 3-point range. Anderson led RMU with 13 points, while Russell Johnson scored all 12 of his points in the second half and Lucky Jones provided 11 points and nine rebounds. Each came up with crucial plays, including Johnson's jumper that stymied a 9-2 LIU run with 6:48 left and Anderson's contested 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock that gave RMU a 56-55 lead with 2:29 left.
"If you keep putting yourself in position to win the game, eventually you're going to take control of one," Toole said.
Velton Jones finished with nine points, three assists, and just two turnovers in 26 minutes. He didn't start, but he proved to be a calming presence for RMU on both ends of the floor. That was all the Colonials needed to survive a game in a gym that's been a bit of a horror show for them the last few years.
Robert Morris' win, coupled with losses by Sacred Heart and Wagner, put the Colonials in sole possession in second place in the NEC with eight games to go.
"Eight games to go now and who knows what's going to happen or who's going to win," Toole said.
Officials: Guy Pagano, Douglas Hooper, Tom Courtney
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