Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defining Colonials Could Take Time Newcomers Are Constant Challenge for Coaching Staff

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defining Colonials Could Take Time Newcomers Are Constant Challenge for Coaching Staff

Article excerpt

Entering last season, Robert Morris coach Andy Toole had a fairly good idea of who some of his top players would be. With experienced seniors such as Kavon Stewart and Aaron Tate in the fold, along with up-and-coming players such as Matty McConnell and Isaiah Still, there was more certainty as far as who the biggest contributors would be from week to week.

Things are less certain this year. With McConnell and Dachon Burke being the lone returning starters, Toole will spend a lot of time early in the season figuring out which lineups click the best. Nine of the team's 10 new scholarship players - Akron transfer Josh Williams will sit this season out because of NCAA rules - are hoping to see the court.

Toole doesn't have a set date as far as when he wants his rotation settled, but he's encouraged by the variety of options the roster presents. The Colonials have seven players who stand 6 feet 6 or taller, an increase from last year's five. And they all bring something a little different to the table.

Robert Morris will kick off its regular season at 7 p.m. Friday at Ohio State. The next month, at least, could see Toole experimenting with lineups as the Colonials forge a new identity.

"I'd like to be able to get as many guys out there as possible," Toole said. "Guys are playing the way they need to play, playing with the intensity they need to play. Sometimes guys, when those lights come on, guys take a little time to get adjusted. Unfortunately we don't have a ton of time for them to go out there and do that. If guys prove they can be in the right spot and be in a position to help us win, we'll go as deep as we can go."

Freshman Jon Williams will likely join McConnell as a starter Friday night. Burke has been slowed by a lower body injury, but if he's cleared to play he'll be the third player in Toole's three-guard lineup. It's tougher to predict who the two starting forwards will be.

Freshman forwards Koby Thomas, who is potentially one of the best athletes in the Northeast Conference, Charles Bain, and Chris Coalmon are more perimeter-oriented. Thomas also is a candidate to lead the team in rebounding. …

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