MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA)- The Robert Morris University men’s basketball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
After losing the Northeast Conference championship game three times in the past four years, the Colonials finally came out on top. They defeated St. Francis (Brooklyn) in Brooklyn, 66-63.READ MORE: Study Finds Pennsylvanians Love Their Peach Pie
“It’s been a long time coming, happy for these guys,” said head coach Andy Toole. “It’s gratifying to see them cut down the nets and hoist the trophy, it’s what this is all about.”
Toole said his friends started comparing him to Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy, who lost four Super Bowls.
“Yeah, it’s great, a lot of my friends have called me Marv Levy. It’s nice to call them back and say I finally won,” he said.
Toole also joked that most of his players didn’t even know who Marv Levy was.
The Colonials had to survive a last-second heave by St. Francis. Toole had a perfect view of the attempt and thought it was going in for a brief second.
“It hit the back rim square and looked like it bounced straight up and I just said, ‘Please don’t fall in the basket because I’m not sure I can handle any more of this.’ And, thank God, it didn’t,” Toole said.
Rodney Pryor led the way for Robert Morris with 17 points and 4 steals. He was named the NEC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
This is the Colonials’ first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. They lost to Villanova in the first round of the tournament that year.
Robert Morris was actually an under-.500 team just three weeks ago. But, they kept fighting.READ MORE: Steelers Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler Announces Retirement
“Through ups and downs, we’ve been through so much,” said forward Lucky Jones. “You know, Coach Andy and I have been here for a long time together, it took a while to get over this hump, but we finally did it.”
“In the last three weeks we’ve really played our best basketball, guys have really come around, guys have fallen into their roles much, much better in the end of the season,” Toole said.
After falling short the last couple of years in the NEC tournament, making it to the dance will certainly be special for the seniors.
“Lucky Jones had the two free throws last night before the three-quarter court heave and he’s a great free throw shooter – he misses them both. After the game we’re walking back to the hotel and I said, ‘What happened on those free throws?’ He said, ‘Coach, I had tears in my eyes, I couldn’t shoot,’” Toole said. “The emotions, they get so raw. Especially, when you’re in a mid-major league, where everything is riding on a 40-minute game.”
There is a good chance Robert Morris will be a 16 seed at the NCAA Tournament, and they may have to play one of the two play-in games in Dayton, Ohio.
Are they looking ahead at all?
“No, not at all. We haven’t even got that far yet, our guys were so excited after the game yesterday. They’re just thankful to be a part of this thing,” Toole said.
Listen to Toole’s full interview with “The Fan Morning Show” this morning below:
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