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November 6, 2013

Healthy Anderson ready for new challenges

It has been a long time since Karvel Anderson didn't feel any pain when he shot a basketball. As best as Anderson can recall, the last time he began a season without some sort of wrist problem was his senior year of high school in Elkhart, Indiana.

He averaged almost 25 points per game at Glen Oaks Community College in 2011-12 while playing on a surgically repaired wrist, where the pins in the broken bone occasionally locked his wrist up so he couldn't shoot. He played through the pain last fall at Robert Morris when the pins were taken out, and he played through the pain when he re-fractured the wrist during the Northeast Conference slate. He scored 24 points against Bryant in late February, his wrist howling with every jumper.

Broken wrist and all, Anderson immediately became one of the more dangerous shooters in the NEC. Now, he's a senior and one of the leaders at Robert Morris. And now, for the first time since he last pulled on the Elkhart uniform, Anderson doesn't feel any pain when he shoots.

"I'm kind of excited about that," he said.

Robert Morris has to be pretty excited, too. Anderson led the team with 12.5 points per game last year while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, including a blistering 43.9 percent from 3-point range. That mark was second in the league and highest among anyone with at least 120 3-point attempts. He scored 28 points on perfect shooting against Ohio, and scored 19 straight points in the first half of a win over St. Francis (PA).

With a variety of weapons next to him, teams often couldn't stop him if he got hot.

"It was kind of hard with the amount of talent we had offensively on that side of the floor last year," Anderson said of teams trying to key on him. "I still got open looks from players like Russell (Johnson) and Velton (Jones) last year. It was kind of hard for them to just take me out of the game."

That doesn't mean they didn't try. Anderson said he started feeling extra attention after his blistering performance against Ohio, where his perfect performance included eight 3-pointers.

"People started to take some notice of my shooting ability and what our offense was trying to do," he said. "After that they kind of keyed on me a little bit."

Opponents will be keying on him quite a bit more this year. With Velton Jones, Russell Johnson and Coron Williams all gone, Anderson and Lucky Jones are the top two known commodities at Robert Morris. They will likely be listed as 1A and 1B on opponent scouting reports as the players to shut down on offense.

"There are certain things that we have to help him with," head coach Andy Toole said. "And he has a natural ability, obviously, to shoot and score. We have to make sure we're putting him in good situations where he's going to have the opportunity to score. That's something we're going to have to work on every day."

The key might be an overall aggressiveness from Robert Morris. Once again, Toole wants players to drive the lane to either create opportunities for themselves near the basket or free up space to kick the ball out to someone on the perimeter. Anderson was able to find room that way last year, and Toole said if he's aggressive in hunting shots and pulling the trigger when he gets the opportunity, he'll be in good shape.

"There are always times when you can create opportunities for yourself," Toole said. "He's got to be aware of those situations and he's got to be able to read each of those situations so that he can find a good opportunity for himself or continue to have the defense be behind and we end up getting a good shot for the team anyway."

Anderson became known for his 3-point touch, but he's always had more to his game. He could hit jumpers in transition, drive to the basket for lay-ups, and find more creative ways to score. Toole said that diversity should help keep teams off balance.

"I don't care if you're a great shooter, a great penetrator, a great post-player," Toole said. "There are well-coached teams that we play all year long and people are going to try to take away your strengths. You have to have some diversity and be able to mix it up."

Now he's healthy, although he's not quite where he wants to be. Anderson had surgery in the offseason to fix the rest of the damage to his wrist, and now it's all a matter of strength and endurance to find his touch again.

"Right now I'm still in the recovery stage. I'm not 100 percent at all. But there are no setbacks. It's all moving forward. I can't hurt it anymore," he said. "So everything's just growing pains and breaking through scar tissue, doing those little things to get better."

It'll be a little bit of a work in progress. Anderson was just 1-of-9 from the floor in the exhibition game last Monday against California (Pa.). But with no pain, it's just a matter of time before the stroke returns.

"I'll get the shot back," Anderson said. "As long as there's no pain, I'll work through the rest."

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

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