Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday at the Palace

The men (3-6) will face Robert Morris (5-5) for the second straight season, but this time, it comes at the Palace of Auburn Hills at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will be followed by Michigan against Oakland at 4 p.m.

Some news:

-Senior forward Chris Kellermann is out indefinitely with a foot injury suffered in practice. He's had some trouble with this in the past, which caused him to miss 12 games during his sophomore year (2006-07). This puts more pressure on senior forward Marcus Van, who is averaging 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in his four games. In Wednesday's 72-69 loss to Illinois State at Rose Arena, the starting five (Van, sophomore guard Jeremy Allen, junior forward Jacolby Hardiman, sophomore guard Antonio Weary and junior guard Robbie Harman) played 81.5% of the minutes, with only Jordan Bitzer (who scored 10 points in his return) playing more than six minutes off the bench. The team is most definitely feeling Kellermann's absence, especially with junior forward Marko Spica still out with a knee injury.

-Speaking of Bitzer, although he only shot 2-for-10 from the field in his return Wednesday (maybe feeling some nerves), he will be able to either start for Weary or come off the bench and be instant offense. His shooting ability is second-to-none on the team and obviously, CMU needs scorers with Kellermann out.

Scouting Robert Morris:
CMU beat RMU 83-72 last season in Moon Township, Pa., behind Bitzer's career-high 18 points. The Colonials are led by Jeremy Chappell, a 6-foot, 3-inch shooting guard from Cincinnati who averages 16.6 points per game. Look for #21 to come out fast after missing last year's game because of academic suspension. The Colonials' top two scorers from the Dec. 5, 2007 game (Tony Lee - 18 points, and A.J. Jackson - 15 points) have graduated. Spica added 17 for CMU last season. RMU is coming off an 83-70 win against Lafayette.

A list of RMU's games thus far:
Shippensburg 69-34 W
at St. Bonaventure 62-72 L
Delaware 86-75 W
at Rutgers 55-69 L
vs. Marist 55-72 L
Youngstown State 74-72 W
at Iona 70-62 W
St. Francis (N.Y.) 79-87 L
Long Island 81-70 W
at Miami (Fl.) 62-70 L
at Lafayette (Pa.) 83-70 W

Coach Mike Rice, in his second season at RMU's helm, was impressive in his debut last season as he guided the Colonials to a 16-2 Northeast Conference record and a regular-season championship. However, the Colonials lost in the conference tournament to Mount St. Mary's and lost to Syracuse in the first round of the NIT. RMU finished with a 26-8 overall record, and at one point won 14 consecutive games. Rice has previous ties as an assistant at Fordham (1991-94), Marquette (1994-97), Niagara (1997-98), Chicago State (1998-2001), Saint Joseph's (2004-06) and Pittsburgh (2006-07).

Watch out for RMU's defense. The Colonials had 11 steals in their loss to Miami (Fla.) on Dec. 14, with Chappell finishing with six. Also, down low, the teams match up pretty well — like CMU, RMU is small. The team has no player taller than 6-8, while CMU has just one active — Brandon Ford, who is averaging just 0.4 points per game in 11.2 minutes.

I will be there blogging from the Palace, and will stay for the Oakland-Michigan game as well. Should be a good day of basketball. Stay tuned for more as I will be posting more in coming days.

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