The Philly Hoop Group tournament is one of the early season exempt tournaments that have become commonplace in college basketball. However, it is a little bit different in the fact that it is put on by a group that promotes basketball all the time. The Hoop Group sponsors all sorts of youth camps, showcases and puts on several high school tournaments/events during the course of the year. But this is definitely their largest event in terms of national publicity. They do a nice job of getting regional teams to play in the event and its obvious that the has become a major player in mid-major basketball and beyond in the mid-atlantic region extending out from it's base in the Philadelphia area.
In the middle game, 18 of the players on the rosters had participated in either Hoop Group camps, Clinics or Tournaments. So not only does the event do a good job of showcasing the talent that the Hoop Group has produced.
As a follower of Mount Saint Mary's, I was excited to see the second game as it involved NEC conference mate Robert Morris. The Colonials and the Mountaineers have become heated rivals. This would be my first look at the group from Moon Township this year.
As quickly as it became evident that the first game would be full of points, it became evident that points would be tough to come by in this one.
Shortly after the start, my buddy Travis decided that the total points in this game wouldn't exceed the 86 that James Madison had hung in the opener. I quickly took the bet, but became more and more worried as the first half wore on that I'd be on the losing side.
So I've got to throw out the numbers. And let me preface all of this by saying, it was obvious that the defensive intensity in this game was something else. And Robert Morris plays that switch on everything defense that Jamie Dixon made famous at Pittsburgh. I was a little surprised that La Salle didn't handle it better since their previous game had been against the Panthers. So maybe you have to say that the Colonials are the better defensive team.
Anyhow, Robert Morris shot 28% from the field and never made a three. In the end, the Colonials would win by seven. After the three-point exhibition of the first game, these two teams combined to make 3-of-28.
In the end, Velton Jones and Russell Johnson were enough to push Robert Morris to the victory. Jones finished with 14, while Johnson added 12 in the win.
Robert Morris led for most of the second half, after the teams were tied at 19 at the break. But the game wasn't decided until the closing moments. Down just 3 points, the Explorers forced a Jones miss with :30 left. Ramon Galloway was fouled on a fast break opportunity before he could get the shot off. Galloway missed the front end of the one-and-one and Robert Morris rebounded and was able to make its fouls down the stretch and come up with the win.
Sam Mills led all scorers with 15 points in defeat.
So with two teams from Philadelphia competing in this tournament and two teams from Pittsburgh competing and two games having already been completed at campus sites, Robert Morris gave Pittsburgh the edge at 2-1, with Penn and Pitt to follow in the nightcap.
ROBERT MORRIS 51, LA SALLE 44 11/25/2011
ROBERT MORRIS 4-1 (0-0) -- C. Williams 1-5 3-4 5; R. Johnson 3-9 6-8 12; V. Jones 4-15 6-10 14; L. Thompson 2-7 3-4 7; L. Bridges 1-4 2-4 4; L. Jones 1-3 2-2 4; A. Myers 0-2 0-0 0; K. Armstrong 2-4 1-2 5; B. Herman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-50 23-34 51. LA SALLE 2-3 (0-0) -- T. Duren 2-9 1-2 5; S. Mills 6-13 1-2 15; E. Pettis 1-11 3-5 5; S. Zack 0-0 3-4 3; J. Wright 1-3 3-4 5; R. Galloway 4-7 0-1 8; T. Dunn 1-4 0-0 3; D. Peterson 0-0 0-0 0; D. White 0-0 0-0 0; M. Lopez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-47 11-18 44.
Three-point goals: RMU 0-6 (V. Jones 0-3; C. Williams 0-2; R. Johnson 0-1), LAS 3-22 (E. Pettis 0-6; T. Dunn 1-4; R. Galloway 0-2; T. Duren 0-3; S. Mills 2-7); Rebounds: RMU 42 (L. Bridges 7), LAS 24 (J. Wright 7); Assists: RMU 7 (V. Jones 2), LAS 9 (T. Duren 3); Total Fouls -- RMU 16, LAS 23; Fouled Out: RMU-None; LAS-D. White.