Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nec Tournament: Robert Morris Unrelated Joneses Key to Postseason Success

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nec Tournament: Robert Morris Unrelated Joneses Key to Postseason Success

Article excerpt

For Robert Morris' opponents in the NEC tournament, this week will be all about keeping up with the Joneses.

Redshirt junior guard Velton Jones and freshman swingman Lucky Jones aren't related, but both will play crucial roles in how far the Colonials advance in the NEC tournament. Robert Morris faces Monmouth at 7 p.m. today at home in the quarterfinals.

Velton, the team's unquestioned leader, averages 16.5 points and 4.3 assists per game, both tops on the team. He can score when he needs to, evidenced by eight games with more than 20 points this season. Against Sacred Heart Feb. 23, with the Colonials trailing by one, he made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team the win.

The point guard is equally effective, though, when he helps his teammates get easy baskets. In a late-season six-game winning streak, Velton averaged just 12.3 points per game, but had games with eight, seven and six assists.

"In a lot of ways it's important because college basketball comes down to guys making plays and making shots," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "He's a guy who can either get his own shot or make a shot for somebody else, so that's a really important aspect to any college basketball team."

Off the court, Velton plays the role of elder statesman. He has the most experience of anyone on the roster -- the lone senior, Lawrence Bridges, transferred in last year. Velton's role this week has been preparing younger players for what it will be like playing in the postseason.

That's where the younger Jones comes in. Lucky, along with fellow youngsters Brandon Herman, Anthony Myers and Mike McFadden, will have to perform under the bright lights if the Colonials hope to return to the NCAA tournament after missing out last year.

"To be successful in the NEC tournament, everyone's going to have to play well," Toole said. "Everyone's going to have to bring the defensive energy that we talk about. Everyone's going to have to bring the decision-making we talk about. It's everybody."

Lucky averages 8.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game but has been up and down this season. He has one double-double this season and has flirted with several more. …

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