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Robert Morris Colonials at Pittsburgh Pro-Am: Frontcourt Additions

Will the addition to the Robert Morris Colonials frontcourt impact their chances of repeating as NEC Champions?

Paul Vladuchick

Yesterday, I wrote an article about the true freshman guards for the Robert Morris Colonials - Jafar Kinsey and Marcquise Reed - and how they performed at the Pittsburgh Pro-Am.  Today, I am turning my attention to the frontcourt players - Lionel Gomis and Andre Frederick.  Again, nothing should be taken too seriously from summer league play, and all stats are based on the regular season portion of the event.

There wasn't very much known (amongst the media) about Gomis, the Cloud County Community College (Kansas) transfer.  It didn't take very long during the Pro-Am for Gomis to show the kind of potential that clearly piqued the interest of Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole and his staff.  Gomis could easily be one of the most versatile players on RMU's roster.

The first thing that struck me about Gomis was how active he moved without the ball.  Any time someone would drive from the strong side, he moved to the short corner on that side.  It opened up a wider driving line while putting his defender in a position to either help or leave Gomis open for an uncontested 12-footer.  If the driver attacked the basket and Gomis was on the weak side, he moved to the high post, moving into the vision of the driver and taking a big body away from the rim.

Good basketball players know how to move without the ball, and Gomis' activity rewarded him with a touch on a bulk of his team's offensive possessions.  The second layer in all of that was the fact that he moved to spots where he was comfortable.  Gomis does appear to have three-point range, albeit he missed all eight attempts from beyond the arc in five games.

But just because he has range on his jumper, he didn't just set high screens only to flare to the three-point line.  Often times, he would set a screen and dive towards the block to get deep position and seal his man to allow for an entry pass.  There were possessions when he caught the ball on the block, pivoted and faced the basket, realized the shot wasn't there, and proceeded to try and back down his man.  That's not necessarily unique, but that isn't something the incumbent Colonials frontcourt players generally don't look to do.

There were a few times that I thought he looked to slip the screen before the ball handler made a decision, and the defenders never actually got screened.  Still, it's the summer league and a lot of that seemed to be because of how unfamiliar every player is with each other.

He snared 10 rebounds in four of the five games he played, and posted a double-double in two of those.  I can't emphasize enough that stats from the Pro-Am shouldn't be taken very seriously.  Gomis may not be able to secure a lot of rebounds in traffic with a lot of other big bodies, but he'll beat most bigs to loose balls and the rebounds that come off the rim/glass at awkward angles.

Lastly, he showed a willingness to defend, even on the perimeter.  His lateral slide was impressive for a 6'8" forward, and he was able to maintain it for the first two strides or so.

Overall, Gomis is perhaps the one new face that may push to be in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.  I don't know if anyone would be completely shocked if he started the season at power forward.  Regardless, he'll bring a diverse skill set to the Robert Morris lineup on the offensive end with a commitment to defend on the other.

Frederick on the other hand may take a little bit more time to develop.  For starters, he was wearing a knee brace in all seven games that he participated in.  Second, he is a true freshman that is going to have to adjust to playing D-I basketball.  That doesn't mean there weren't glimpses of what he might become at the Pro-Am, however.

Other than junior forward Aaron Tate, RMU doesn't have a true post player - at least in terms of mentality.  Frederick is most certainly going to make his living while wearing a Colonials uniform in the paint.  On the plus side, I saw him try backing down his man on both blocks.  Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal, but some young players can't even begin to use both hands, let alone try backing someone down with both.  Granted, he was only able to take two dribbles, didn't move his man, and was forced to attempt a hook shot or pass out.

He also flashed some potential as a shot blocker.  At 6'9", he'll be a relatively tall player in the NEC.  The timing on his shot blocks in help situations wasn't bad, and he got his arms extended to defend his man in one-on-one situations.

The biggest thing with Frederick is going to be gaining some confidence.  Obviously, that is something that comes with time once he gets acclimated to Toole's system.  It's going to be very hard to crack the rotation come NEC play, but he'll get a chance during the non-conference schedule more than likely.

I didn't have a chance to see true freshman Elijah Minnie or Ryan Skorvanko play.  VCU transfer guard Jairus Lyles didn't participate in the Pro-Am and will sit out this season due to transfer rules.  Lastly, Rodney Prior, another transfer from Cloud County Community College, didn't play as he is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in October of last year.