Robert Morris relishes moment of madness
When Robert Morris senior Dallas Green was a freshman, he almost transferred.
But he decided to stay when Mike Rice became the team’s coach, and he’s glad he did.
The senior forward was part of three Northeast Conference regular-season titles, and he played a pivotal role in helping the Colonials win back-to-back NEC Tournament titles.
Green hit the game-winning shot against Mount St. Mary’s in 2009, and last week, his blocked shot and two free throws in the final 10 seconds helped defeat Quinnipiac in the conference championship game.
So, when Robert Morris (23-11) tangles with Villanova (24-8) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Providence, R.I., Green will be looking for more magic.
“When I came here, I didn’t think we’d make the NCAA Tournament my junior and senior season,” Green said. “I was really thinking about leaving my freshman year. Me and coach (Mark Schmidt) didn’t see eye to eye. I’m happy I stayed and got two championship rings.”
Green said tough early season schedule probably will benefit the Colonials.
“We played Syracuse, and it is in the Big East. We played Penn State from the Big Ten, and we also played Pitt from the Big East,” Green said. “Coach Rice did that for right now.”
Rice said he likes the matchup against Villanova because the Wildcats play an up-tempo style.
“It’s not a bad matchup,” Rice said. “I hope our experience from last year helps.
“We’ve made history here. We want everyone to know the history by winning. We want to shock the world.”
Senior guard Mezie Nwigwe said the Colonials definitely improved as the season progressed.
“We glued up together,” Nwigwe said. “I knew it was going to be hard at the beginning of the year, but we weren’t selfish.
“No one is averaging 20 points per game; the stats are similar. We play together, and that’s why we made it back (to the NCAA Tournament).”
Senior forward Rob Robinson, who averages 9.9 points per game, said playing in the Big Dance is a dream come true.
“There is nothing like it,” Robinson said. “You dream of this growing up playing basketball at the boys and girls club. You take what’s worth and live for the moment.”
Robert Morris (23-11) vs. Villanova (24-7)
When/where: 12:30 p.m. Thursday/Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, R.I.
TV/radio: KDKA-2, WTAJ-10; WPIT-AM (730)
Favorite: Villanova by 18.5
Series record: First meeting
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .