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Full Time Out: Robert Morris' Andy Toole

We sat down with Andy Toole, the head coach at Robert Morris, to discuss the upcoming season and how the loss of senior leadership may (or may not) hurt his team headed into this season.

Wesley Hitt

Mid-Major Madness: Has the summer gotten off to a good start for you?

Coach Toole: I think we had a very good spring and summer, and there are some guys hungry to establish themselves and move the program forward. I think last year we fought ourselves in terms of becoming a good team, the guys said 'oh, we'll be good, teams will fear us since we were good last season,' and they really took that for granted.

MMM: Will you be looking to Karvel Anderson to step into more of an expanded role on offense, as well as a bigger role overall?

CT: Without a doubt. He played the last 6 weeks of last season with a broken wrist and still shot 48% from three point range. This is the first time in about two years where he's had a spring and summer where he could just lift, get stronger and get healthy, so we hope he takes a leap forward. We know about his ability to score - he had some huge games last year, and we're going to rely on him heavily to be consistent night in and night out.

MMM: Is there anyone in particular of the new guys you'll be looking to contribute right away?

CT: The guys we brought in will definitely compete for minutes. Our philosophy has always been that every position is open and you've got to fight for your position again, and we'll hold those new guys to a high expectation just like the returners. Obviously we'll look to Karvel... (Anthony) Myers-Pate is a guy who has played a million minutes in his three years and has started games at the point, Lucky (Jones) started every game but one... plus Mike McFadden has started about every game since he's been here. I would expect to see those four in the lineup to start the season, but I think it would be a good problem for me to have if they did get beat out (for a starting spot).

MMM: How difficult will it be replacing the production you've lost from last season?

CT: I think when you thought about Robert Morris basketball over the past handful of years, Velton (Jones) and Russell (Johnson) were a big part of that - I think they were big personalities for us in a lot of positive ways, and once in a while in a negative way, but those guys were the personality of our team and without them we have to fill that void, aside from what they produced on the court, since they both had a lot of big games and big moments in their careers. That's one of the exciting things about this team, that they're excited to try and fill that void. I don't think they understand how difficult it will be at times, and we'll just have to go through that together as the season goes along.

MMM: Was last season's success with shooting threes a plan you intend to carry forward into this season?

CT: It's always good to have shooters, but I think we became a little too reliant on the three, to be honest. It's not something we talk about, taking and making threes, it just became something we became good at and we went with it. I would rather have a good balance of paint touches and outside looks, since that means you're getting better outside looks of that collapsing defense, but as long as guys meet our criteria of being open, being ready to take the shot, and the shot being one you make at a high percentage, we're o.k. with you letting it fly, and we don't care where on the floor or when in the shot clock it happens.

MMM: What are you hoping to see from this team in the coming season?

CT: We hope Mike (McFadden) stays healthy all season long, and I think he'll be somebody who can be a consistent low post threat along with Stephen Hawkings. (Stephen) had a great summer in terms of adding strength and I think he'll be more comfortable out there, so I'm hoping he makes the jump this year and is able to contribute down there. I hope we continue to play the way our teams have played in the past six years I've been here, continuing to be unselfish and out-work people.