Countdown to tip-off: How will the Aaron Tate-Billy Giles frontcourt work?

Robert Morris basketball opens their season Nov. 11 against Penn. Over the course of the next month, we’ll post about the things we’re looking forward to leading up to the season.

Yesterday: Can RMU fix their 3-point shooting woes

3. Aaron Tate and Billy Giles, together at last

Nothing brought me as much sadness as playing an entire season without Aaron Tate. Nothing gave me more joy than watching Billy Giles.

Is this the year we see the two senior forwards on the floor together?

Giles demanded a lot of respect last season. He finished last year 49th in the country in effective field goal percentage and 192 in true shooting percentage. Both were tops on the team. He was fourth on the team in scoring (8.8 ppg), third in rebounding (5.1 rpg), third in blocks and fifth in minutes played.

I always appreciated that Giles played within himself. He knew exactly what his strengths and weaknesses were. 75 percent of his shots came from around the rim last season. His field goal percentage of 71.8 percent at the rim was best on the team.

Unlike some other big men of years past, Giles was competent enough defensively to stay in games. I don’t think he’ll ever be confused with an elite rim protector but he will make you work. He’s a pretty good rebounder too.

Giles was probably the most efficient of all offensive players last year. Of course, he didn’t have the work load of a Rodney Pryor or Kavon Stewart, but he made his touches count.

Robert Morris is going to need more of that. They struggled from three point range last season and could do the same again this season. The offense will have to play inside out, meaning Giles should get touches.

How does Aaron Tate fit into this? I think they’ll complement each other very well.

Tate missed all of last season with a leg injury. Although undersized, Tate is the best low-block defender and defensive rebounder on the roster.  Robert Morris was one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country last season. Tate will be a big help.

I don’t think the two will clash much offensively. Tate isn’t much of an ISO player on offense. He’s usually running around the perimeter setting screens then crashing the glass for a rebound. Giles should have plenty of room to operate with his back to the basket.

It’s worth noting that when both players do have the basketball, their best options are working with their backs to the basket. Giles shot just 28.9 percent on jumpers last season, according to hoop-math. Tate shot 23.3 percent on jumpers in 2014-’15.

Last year, Robert Morris shot 641 three pointers last season. That’s 56 more than 2014-’15. Even if the Colonials want to go bananas from three, they’ll have to force defenses to respect their inside game.

More than anything, it’s about attitude. Tate has a toughness and work ethic on the floor that none of his teammates really have. His defense and rebounding will help, but his attitude will be even bigger.

–Chris Cappella




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