Colonials-Blackbirds a natural matchup

NEC Tournament I Championship
March 7, 2012 12:00 am
  • Matt Freed /Post-Gazette
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole.
    Matt Freed /Post-Gazette Robert Morris coach Andy Toole.
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NEW YORK -- After Robert Morris' 71-64 victory Sunday against Wagner in the Northeast Conference semifinals, Velton Jones was asked about his thoughts on a potential rematch with Long Island.

Tipoff in the other semifinal was still three hours away, and Quinnipiac gave the Blackbirds all they could handle before falling, 78-75.

In the end, though, it seemed as if it was always going to be Robert Morris and Long Island.

"It'd mean a lot," said Jones, a redshirt junior guard. "They beat us last year at their place. It'd be a fun experience to be able to go back there."

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Robert Morris (24-9) vs. Long Island (24-8), 7 p.m. today, Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. NEC championship.
  • TV, radio, Internet: ESPN2, WPIT-AM (730),
  • Robert Morris: Beat Wagner, 71-64, in NEC semifinals. ... Third team to appear in four consecutive NEC title games. ... Velton Jones is averaging 19.8 ppg in his past five tournament games, dating to last season. ... Beat Long Island, 75-66, Jan. 26 at Robert Morris.
  • Long Island: Beat fifth-seeded Quinnipiac, 78-75, in semifinals. ... Looking to be fourth NEC program to win back-to-back conference titles. ... Has second-longest active home winning streak in the NCAA at 26 in a row.
  • Hidden stat: Long Island ranks first in the NEC in scoring offense (81.6 ppg). Robert Morris leads the league in scoring defense (63.0 ppg).

Long Island won the NEC championship game in overtime last year against Robert Morris, a fact Jones and his teammates certainly haven't forgotten. The Blackbirds denied the Colonials a chance at their third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

The two will meet again at 7 p.m. today on ESPN2 at Long Island's Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center with the NEC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.

Coming into the season, the two teams were picked to finish one-two in the NEC standings, Long Island first, Robert Morris second. Wagner and Quinnipiac made noise in the regular season, but experience matters in the playoffs, and the Colonials and Blackbirds have it.

"I know our guys are excited to compete for a championship," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "I know that, having been here last year and playing against a really good LIU team, they have an idea of how difficult it's going to be to win the game."

First Published 2012-03-06 23:02:44

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