Greetings all! As we near the end of June, basketball related activities begin to pick up. Today marked the beginning of the Pro-Am summer league played at Montour High School. All 14 members of the Robert Morris basketball team are on one of the eight teams. There are four games each night, two of which happen at the same time in separate gyms. I caught a half of each game.
This was my first summer league experience. It was… something. The style of play was similar to how you would play a video game. The pace is frantic but free flowing with little defense and lots of three pointers and alley-oops. I definitely feel like I could bang some three pointers and impress the crowd. Anyway, some observations:
-The first game featured big man Lionel Gomis, point guard Jafar Kinsey, and former colonial Karvel Anderson going against shooting guard Marcquise Reed and Aaron Tate.
Reed was absolutely the most impressive person I saw play. The JUCO transfer averaged a measly 31.2 points per game at Capitol Christian and has a sweet looking jump shot. I wasn’t so much impressed with him offensively as I was defensively. I expected Reed to get buckets, but what I didn’t expect was for him to hound Karvel Anderson the way he did in the first half. He showed some active hands and overall good positioning.
There is a lot up in the air in regards to who will be the starting shooting guard. I think Chuck Oliver certainly has an advantage going into the season but isn’t a slam dunk by any means. Toole is going to want to go back to his man-to-man defense, something Oliver struggled with last year. If Reed can show consistencies with his jump shot and bring it on the defensive end he’s going to see the floor a lot.
-Watching Jafar Kinsey play for the first time was pretty cool. I think he was Toole’s first commit in the recruiting class. Kinsey has a Velton Jones-ish build to him and also ramped up the intensity on the defensive end grabbing a few steals off cross-court lob passes. He seemed pretty articulate off the pick and roll, identifying when to get to the rim but usually looking to pass first.
-The big men didn’t look too bad. Lionel Gomis is a big guy. Definitely has more muscle to him than most big men we’re accustomed to (which isn’t saying much). He was a little hesitant around the rim early, often fading away off his spin move in the paint. You can tell he throws his weight around rebounding though. Speaking of throwing weight around, here is your Aaron Tate update: still strong as a bull. I got a good chuckle out of watching his defender leave his feet on one of his patented pump fakes. Tate actually looked good offensively though: he finished with his left hand twice and scored off a nice low post possession.
-The other game being played featured Chuck Oliver, Lucky Jones, and Stephan Hawkins. The only notes I wrote down for the game was “shit ton of three’s.” Chuck and Lucky had some decent one-on-one battles and Chuck shot the ball well (and often). Hawk hit his baseline jumper but didn’t see any low post touches, which was kind of disappointing. Oh well.
-Game three featured two of the bigger names with one team having forward Elijah Minnie and guard Ryan Skovranko facing off against forward Andre Frederick. Minnie was fairly aggressive with his outside shooting and certainly has a nice shot for someone his size. His shot has a nice arc to it. He had a few nice drives to the rim as well. The biggest takeaway I had about Minnie was how he plays above the rim. RMU has very few guys who do that. It’ll be an adjustment period for him but you can certainly see the promise.
Not a whole lot doing for Skovranko who was not very aggressive and is definitely not the 6’7” he’s been listed as. Frederick seems to have a pretty good idea of what to do with the ball in the low post.
-Did not participate: David Appolon (foot), Rodney Pryor (ACL), Kavon Stewart, Jairus Lyles (undisclosed).
-Reminder: All of these observations are coming from the 20 minutes I watched in the first summer league game of the year. Don’t take anything too seriously.
Games are played every Monday and Wednesday. I will not be at the next two sessions due to previously committed activities. Follow Andrew Chiappazzi and Craig Meyer for updates.
Until next time!