Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anthony Myers making a name for himself

When you think of the Robert Morris Colonials team, you probably think of the players who garner the most attention, including undisputed leader and veteran guard Velton Jones, sharpshooting star in the making Coron Williams, and forward/center Lijah Thompson who is capable of throwing down some impressive dunks.  But it's time that people start paying attention to do everything guard, sophomore Anthony Myers.

Conference games on the road in college basketball are never easy. You have to factor in unfamiliarity with the environment the players are staying, hostility from opposing fans, and often times long hours of travel. It is no different for our very own Colonials who just finished up a road trip to New Jersey to take on Northeast Conference opponents Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson.  Never mind the fact that these two teams are bottom dwellers in the conference this season, the Colonials headed into Jersey banged up. Coron, despite showing great toughness and playing through the pain of a badly sprained ankle is still hurting, versatile swingman Russell Johnson is still out with a broken thumb, and Lijah is still recovering from the effects of his fractured foot.  They needed somebody to step up and fill that void.

After being down to FDU by as many as 6 on Thursday night, Lucky Jones, thrust into a starting role with the injury to Johnson, provided a spark and led the Colonials to a 12 point victory. However last night against the Monmouth Hawks, the Colonials were in an even bigger hole, finding themselves down 15 with 11:34 left in regulation. Enter Anthony Myers.  Myers came off the bench and knocked down back to back to back 3's.  He than drove the lane and made a layup to tie the game at 61.  The Colonials traded baskets with the Hawks and after a last second miss by the Hawks headed into overtime tied at 67. In overtime Myers was still feeling it as he scored 5 of the Colonials first 7 points and the team cruised to an 81-73 victory.  Ant finished the night a perfect with 16 points including, 5 for 5 from the field, 4 for 4 from 3 point range, 2 for 2 from the free throw line, and threw in 3 assists, 2 steals and a block for good measure.

This isn't the first time he's shined.  Earlier this season against Duquesne, Myers came off the bench for 10 points and 6 rebounds and helped lead a Colonials comeback victory over the rival Dukes. Just last week, after Velton had a couple of off nights in a row, Myers was inserted into the starting lineup and had 7 assists, helping the Colonials pick up a key victory over Sacred Heart to snap a 2 game skid.  If Robert Morris is going to contend for their 3rd conference title in 4 seasons they need to rely on Myers more down the stretch.

Competition makes everybody better.  Velton has returned to the form of the All-NEC guard he truly is during Ant's emergence. Velton deserves a lot of credit for last night's impressive comeback as well.  He delivered 35 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals.  In the process he also scored his 1,000th career point as a Colonial.  As one of Monmouth's announcers put it "tonight Velton was Superman."

Back to Ant though. This kid is humble, hardworking, energetic, and he is well liked by all of his teammates.  Last season Ant showed promise as a freshman. You could see his athleticism, his quickness, and his excellent court vision, but his shot wasn't where he would like it to be.  I saw his maturation as a shooter right before my eyes. It didn't happen overnight though. He consistently and intensely worked for it all off-season, and all summer long.  This season he has improved his field goal percentage from 34% to 44%, his 3 point percentage from 24% to 50% and his free throw percentage from 63% to 75%.  He is talented, a great team player, and versatile enough to fill any role.  But I know Ant well enough to say that he wants to let you know he's just getting started.

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