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November 13, 2013

Appolon steps into back-up point guard role

As the Colonials hit the road for their first contest away from the Sewall Center Tuesday night to take on the Lafayette Leopards, Robert Morris turned to an unsuspected source to back-up Anthony Myers-Pate as the primary ball handler.

Hudson Catholic grad Kavon Stewart handled the backup point guard duties in the opener, and is expected to be the number two guy behind Myers Pate, but was suspended prior to the game.

"He's serving a suspension for a violation of team rules," head coach Andrew Toole said. "He's doing everything that we're asking him to do so he can be back as soon as possible."

With Stewart out who would Toole turn to? None other than Philadelphia native David Appolon . The junior - seen more as a wing than a guard - hadn't played point guard since his days at Imhotep Charter in high school, but you wouldn't have known that based on his performance Tuesday night.

"I used to play back in high school and AAU, with one of our key guards out, I knew I had to pick up that role," Appolon said.

The junior used his jump shot, going 4-for-5 from the field and 2-for-2 from three, opening up the floor to find his teammates. Early in the game, Toole took out his entire starting lineup after a slow sloppy start that included a lazy 10 second violation on starting point guard Myers-Pate.

Toole turned to Appolon, Desjuan Newton, Charles Oliver, Jeremiah Worthem, and Stephan Hawkins to gain some control. Not exactly a lineup many saw as a group that could gain control of a game, but with the standout play of Appolon, they did just that. The junior found Oliver for a big 3-pointer, and a few possessions later he drilled one himself.

"I knew if I could make a shot, I could get my teammates open. It allowed me to drive and kick," Appolon said.

In the second half, Appolon continued his steady play and continued to hit big shots. With Lafayette grabbing their biggest lead of the game, Appolon calmly stepped up and hit his second three of the night, cutting an 11 point deficit to eight.

Minutes later, Appolon found Lucky Jones alone in the corner, and Jones buried a 3-pointer to get the Colonials within two at the 7:25 mark.

The junior continued his good play late into the game, orchestrating the offense, and grabbing key rebounds, while playing good tight defense on the perimeter. The Colonials held Lafayette to 9-for-30 from behind the arc, a telling stat against a Lafayette team that finished in the top 20 in the country last year in 3-point percentage (38.4 percent).

Toole said afterword that, "To hold them to 30 percent from three for the game is pretty good. There were a handful of shots that we would have liked to have contested better, but I thought we did a good job of contesting a majority of their shots."

Appolon led the charge, contesting shots as well as anyone in blue.

On a night where the backup point guard was suspended and the starter Myers-Pate had one of the worst games of his collegiate career - no points, two turnovers, no assists, one rebound - the Colonials were saved by Appolon's contributions.

"[Appolon] was locked in. Dave's a guy who we know is very talented and he's gotta find his way. We've talked about it with him for two years now about continuing to buy in to what we're doing, continuing to understand what we need of him, and I think we've come together a little bit in terms of what we need him to do and what he wants to be able to do," Toole said, "Once he figured out and did a good job of what we need him to do, then some of those things that he wants to do can follow that."

With Stewart likely out a few more games, and a daunting schedule upcoming - including that trip to Kentucky - Appolon will likely continue to serve as the backup point guard. If the junior delivers a performance much like the one Tuesday, one would expect him to continue to hold down that role.



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