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December 18, 2013

Game Day: Campbell at RMU

Opportunity is knocking at the door for Robert Morris.

In many ways, opportunity has been impatiently knocking at the door for several weeks now. Even against a tough schedule, Robert Morris had several opportunities to grab quality road wins. They couldn't pull off the feat until Saturday, when a trek downtown to Duquesne gave RMU its first win since November 21.

Game 12: Campbell
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WHEN: December 18, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Sewall Center
TV/RADIO: Video - NECFrontRow, 970 ESPN AM (Radio)
YAHOO! SPORTS RPI RANKINGS: Robert Morris 220, Campbell 251
KENPOM RANKINGS: Robert Morris 184, Campbell 303
PROJECTED CAMPBELL STARTERS: Darius Leonard (6'9, 225, RJr.), Leek Leek (6'6, 215, Sr.), Reco McCarter (6'6, 195, RJr.), Andrew Ryan (6'5, 200, Jr.), Quinton Ray (6'1, 180, 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.)

Now a new opportunity is knocking. Robert Morris has four non-conference games remaining, and the next two could be considered very winnable. Few would expects wins at Oklahoma State or Alabama, but a win Wednesday at home against Campbell followed by a win Sunday on the road at Oakland is very feasible.

It's up to Robert Morris to execute. The Colonials are coming off their best defensive performance of the season against Duquesne and face a more offensively challenged Camels squad Wednesday night. Campbell is an excellent 3-point shooting team, but they are among the worst teams in the nation in offensive efficiency, turnover percentage, free throw rate, free throw percentage, and steal percentage.

Campbell's also had an inconsistent schedule, as they've already played three of the four sub-Division I teams on their roster, even losing to Chowan in overtime. With a new head coach in Kevin McGeehan and a new system, Campbell is the type of team that Robert Morris would sprint past in years prior.

This year is a different scenario. No team can be overlooked, but each game can be a step forward if Robert Morris can start playing consistent basketball. Andrew Toole is on the record as saying he liked what RMU did in the tight loss to Toledo, and even more of what the Colonials did against Duquesne.

The formula is pretty straightforward. Three of their best four defensive efficiency performances have come in wins. The only one that didn't was against Eastern Michigan, a game Robert Morris likely should have won. In every single win, Robert Morris has had a better offensive efficiency than better defensive efficiency. Logic stands that if a team is efficient on defense and holding opponents to lower percentage shots, that team will need to score fewer points to win.

Robert Morris has traditionally leaned on a defense with an efficiency in the 99-101 range. Prior to this season, Robert Morris was 49-9 when its defensive efficiency was in 101 or lower, 19-27 when it is 101 or higher. They are 2-1 this season when they perform at that level, 2-6 when they are worse than that mark.

The formula for success is there, and Robert Morris found it against Duquesne. Toole would love for Robert Morris to show additional signs of progress Wednesday night against Campbell.

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

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