Robert Morris is back in the NCAA tournament after winning the Northeastern Conference tournament over St. Francis (NY). The Colonials will play North Florida for the right to a 16th seed and to play Duke in the second round of NCAA tournament. Robert Morris has not made the tournament since it scared Villanova as a 15th seed in 2009-2010, taking them to overtime before losing 73-70.
Here’s what you need to know about Colonials coach Andy Toole:
1. He’s Been With Robert Morris for the Past 8 Seasons
Toole was an assistant coach at Lafayette College during the 2006-2007 season and then came to Robert Morris for the 2007-2008 season as assistant. He took over as the head coach when Mike Rice took the head coaching job at Rutgers after the 2009-2010 season.
It is fair to say that Toole is the most successful coach in the history of Robert Morris basketball, as the Colonials made eight postseason appearances in their 34-year program history before Toole and have made five straight postseason appearances under Toole. He has won at least 18 games in each season at the helm of Robert Morris and their five straight postseason appearances is two better than the three straight postseason berths that Rice had to end his tenure. (2008-2010).
2. He Made the NCAA Tournament Twice as a Player at Penn
After transferring from Elon University, Toole went to the NCAA tournament twice as a guard for the University of Pennsylvania. He averaged 12.3 points per game between Elon and the University of Pennsylvania.
No players for Robert Morris have NCAA tournament experience, so they will look to Toole’s experience, both as a player at Penn and as a coach under Rice at Robert Morris.
If for no other reason, Toole has the experience of being on the Colonials’ bench as an underdog against Villanova in 2009, when Robert Morris nearly knocked off the second-seeded Wilcats.
Guard Marcquise Reed told the Asbury Park Press: “Coming behind a coach that has a lot of experience just motivates us and knows what it feels like, and he’s going to prepares us the best so we can come out and get a victory”.
3. He’s the 6th Youngest Coach in Division I Basketball
Toole is 34 years old and was hired at 29, making him the youngest coach in the NCAA at that time. Dana Ford of Tennessee State is now the youngest coach in men’s college basketball. Another Northeastern Conference foe, Wagner College, has a 30-year-old head coach in Bashir Mason, who was hired at 28.
He is not Phog Allen, who learned from James Naismith and took over Baker University at 20, but Toole’s success at a young age is impressive. For reference, the average age of the other head coaches of the Northeastern Conference, removing Toole, is 45.
CBS Sports Analyst Doug Gottlieb even had a good time talking about how young Toole looks:
4. He Has a 109-65 Record as the Coach of Robert Morris
In Toole’s time at Robert Morris, he has 66-23 record in the Northeastern Conference and has led the Colonials to four straight postseason berths. For three straight seasons, Robert Morris has either won the NEC regular season or postseason tournament. Most famously, a Toole-led Robert Morris beat defending national champion Kentucky in the first round of the 2013 NIT.
From the beginning of Toole’s time at Robert Morris, he has been breaking records. His first win as the coach of the Colonials was a 55-30 win over St. Peter’s on November 13, 2010, setting the Robert Morris record for least points allowed in a game. Toole got to 100 victories quicker than any other coach in Robert Morris history and has established the Colonials as the team to beat in the NEC.
The Colonials are on a six-game winning streak coming into the tournament and are one of the only teams in the country with three players that average more than 14 points per game. They also rank 10th in steal rate at 12.7 percent.
Toole signed a three-year extension in May 2013 that extends him to the end of the 2017-2018 season. Robert Morris dodged an opportunity for Toole to leave when the head coaching job at Penn was available, but the Quakers named Steve Donahue head coach on Tuesday.
5. He’s Married & Has 2 Children
Toole and his family are very involved in the Pittsburgh community. In an article from the Mount Pleasant Magazine in 2013, J.W. Stehle spoke about how the Toole’s frequent a lot of local hotspots. He lives outside of Pittsburgh, in Mount Pleasant, with his wife Brooke and sons Ryan and Colin. Brooke is a corporate recruiter for Dick’s Sporting Goods.
For more about the Toole family’s passion for Robert Morris basketball, see his son Ryan at the Northeastern Conference championship game: