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December 4, 2013

Game Day: Robert Morris at Youngstown State

The way Anthony Myers-Pate sees it, Robert Morris' woes of late come down to two major issues.

"Everything comes down to defense and rebounding," the senior point guard said. "Sometimes we'll play good defense and defend for 33 seconds, they'll shoot it and get a second chance shot. That's the biggest thing so far."

Robert Morris will try to rectify those two issues when it takes on Youngstown State on Wednesday in Ohio.

Game 9: Youngstown State
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WHEN: December 4, 7:45 p.m.
WHERE: Beeghley Center
TV/RADIO: Video - http://www.horizonleague.org/live/9604, WPIT 730 AM (Radio)
YAHOO! SPORTS RPI RANKINGS: Youngstown State 57, Robert Morris 252
KENPOM RANKINGS: Youngstown State 170, Robert Morris 196
PROJECTED YOUNGSTOWN STATE STARTERS: C Bobby Hain (6'10, 235, So.), F Kamren Belin (6'7, 235, Sr.), F Ryan Weber (6'6, 200, So.), G Kendrick Perry (6'0, 175, Sr.), G Marcus Keene (5'11, 160, Fr.)
PROJECTED ROBERT MORRIS STARTERS: C Mike McFadden (6'8, 220, Sr.), F Jeremiah Worthem (6'6, 215, Fr.), F Lucky Jones (6'5, 195, Jr.), G Karvel Anderson (6'2, 190, Sr.), G Anthony Myers-Pate (5'11, 170, Sr.)

It's more of a mental battle than a physical issue for Robert Morris right now.

"We're not that far off, but those little things make a big difference," Myers-Pate said.

Another major difference for Robert Morris has been a slow acceptance of the new foul rules. Myers-Pate said the emphasis on calling hand-checks and other touch fouls has flustered the Colonials a bit, even though they know exactly what they have to do.

"We have to do it in a disciplined way now," Myers-Pate. "The past game, I started off with two and the rest of the game I was timid to play defense because every little touch is a foul. You have to slide your feet and do it the right way now. That's what they're trying to prove and make us do."

Robert Morris may be doing it with fewer bodies, or at least, with not as many bodies playing as many minutes. Myers-Pate's dealing with a finger injury but seems likely to play. The rest, though, could see minutes cut as Andrew Toole starts to lean on only those who are fully buying in to what RMU has to do on both ends of the floor.

One of those players should continue to be freshman guard Kavon Stewart, who had a rash of turnovers against Delaware after returning from a six-game suspension. Toole attributed the turnovers to a freshman trying to do too much in his second NCAA game.

"He's in the game for 26 minutes and we scored 50 of our 67 points because he's in the lane and attacking," Toole said. "Obviously his decision making has to improve a great deal and his defense has to improve a great deal, but he's making things happen which is something we need somebody to do."

Stewart might be able to ease another area of issue for Robert Morris, and that's the reliance on the big three of Karvel Anderson, Lucky Jones and Mike McFadden to score points. Stewart's ability to create issues on the offensive end might lead to a few easy baskets.

"People are going to try to take away Karvel and people are going to try to take away Lucky and they're going to defend Mike," Toole said. "At some point in time we have to be able to get a bucket on the cheap. So far this year we haven't been able to get a lot of cheapies."

Of course, the priority is still on the defensive end, and Robert Morris will have its hands full with senior guard Kendrick Perry, who is scoring 18 points per game and has the Penguins off to a 6-3 start.

"He does everything for them. He's a huge part of it," Toole said. "He's absolutely terrific in every aspect of the game."

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

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