Andy Toole: New King of the Colonials

It was a milestone eight-plus years in the making for Robert Morris men’s basketball head coach Andy Toole.

In their 52-49 win over St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night, in front of a national television audience, Toole passed former head coach Jarrett Durham who coached the Colonials from 1984 to 1996, with his 158th victory at Robert Morris.

When Toole took over the head coaching duties at Robert Morris before the 2010-11 season, there was immediate pressure to continue the winning ways the Colonials were experiencing.

He was an assistant coach for three seasons under previous Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice, and from 2007 to 2010, Robert Morris won 73 games and won the Northeast Conference regular-season title three straight seasons and went to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2009 and 2010.

When Rice left Robert Morris to take the Rutgers head coaching job and Toole was promoted to the head coach, he kept the wins coming through his first five seasons in which the Colonials averaged 22 wins a season including a 26-win season in 2011-12 which matched a program high.

Also, through his unprecedented first five-year run at Robert Morris, he won the NEC regular-season title twice in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014 and took his teams to postseason play in the CIT (2012) and NIT (2013 & 2014).

One of Toole’s most memorable wins came in the 2013 NIT, in which the Colonials defeated the previous season national champions and one of the country’s blue-blood programs in Kentucky, at the RMU’s Sewall Center in front of a capacity crowd and in front of a national television audience and defeated Kentucky 59-57 in what many consider to this day, not only the biggest win in Robert Morris’ program history but also biggest win in NEC history.

The next season, in the 2014 NIT, Toole took his RMU team on the road and defeated St. John’s for their second straight postseason upset.

In 2014-15, Toole finally broke through and his RMU team won the NEC Tournament title, doing it in upset fashion against home favorites and top-seeded St. Francis Brooklyn at the Pope Athletic Center in Brooklyn.

In the 2015 NCAA Tournament, RMU defeated North Florida in their First Four game in Dayton, Ohio before succumbing to the eventual national champs Duke in the first round.

Since becoming the head coach of the Colonials, Andy Toole’s teams have had tons of success against NEC opponents. Of his 158 wins, 94 of those came during NEC play and he currently has a 94-51 NEC record including a 3-0 start to this NEC season.

Toole has coached eight All-NEC players in his time as Robert Morris’ men’s basketball head coach including NEC Player of the Year Karvel Anderson, first-teamer Rodney Pryor, and all-time RMU great and two-time first-teamer Velton Jones.

In many of his 158 wins, Toole has drawn up and seen some remarkable plays, especially in postseason play. Three of his most memorable are:

1. Velton Jones game-winner in 2011 in the NEC Tournament semifinals against Quinnipiac.

2. Jones inbounds pass to Russell Johnson which ends up in Mike McFadden’s hands for a foul which lead to the game-winning free throws in RMU’s upset 2013 NIT win over Kentucky.

3. Kavon Stewart’s floater to beat LIU Brooklyn in the 2017 NEC Tournament quarterfinals in Brooklyn.

It’s been a tremendous eight-plus year stretch for Andy Toole at Robert Morris and with a second-straight season with a 3-0 start to NEC play, who knows how this season might turn out for the Colonials.

Toole’s successes in Moon Township, along with the recent success of the RMU women’s basketball team, has helped paved the way for Robert Morris to build and soon open their brand-new UPMC Events Center on campus.

This is all why Andy Toole is now the new King of the Colonials.

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