RMU’s most important player heading into ’18-’19 season barely played last year

Just admit, you forgot about Malik Petteway, didn’t you?

Yes, Malik Petteway, the 6-foot-8 big man. The same guy who averaged 6.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 13 games last season. The same one who shot 43 percent from the field.

Malik Petteway might just be Robert Morris’ most important player heading into the 2018-19 campaign.

At quick glance, I was surprised to see Petteway’s scoring total was only 6.2 ppg last season. He’s strong with a sweet touch around the rim and provides the Colonials something they desperately need: an inside presence to collapse the defense.

After a brutal 0-5 shooting night to open last year against Ohio State, Petteway settled in nicely. He struggled at times, but that was to be expected. He was Robert Morris’ lone big man who could put his back to the basket and bully a defender to score. RMU was also in the midst of non-conference play against solid opponents with skilled big men.

There’s still no denying Petteway’s talent. He shot 50 percent or better from the field in seven of 13 games. He is a true low post, I’ll-get-you-a-bucket big man. It’s a nice wrinkle for Robert Morris, which is reliant from creating offense with high pick-and-roll and 3-point shooting, even from the forward positions.

Petteway missed 20 games last season with an undisclosed injury. Pettway’s injury was serious, which is obvious considering he missed the end of non-conference play and all but one NEC game. My understanding of Petteway’s injury was that it nearly ended his career and was just very recently cleared to play this season but will be monitored closely. It’s something the medical team will have to stay on top of.

So it wouldn’t be surprising if Petteway was on a pitch count to open the year – or if he was on a pitch count all season. It’s tough to say, and something even the staff might not quite have a full grasp of yet.

If Petteway can play to the same level he did last year – and by that, I mean somewhere around the 19 minute range – the Colonials will be in solid shape. Skilled big men are like dinosaurs in the NEC, and that’s where it really matters. It would be nice if Petteway came out on fire to open the year, but really the Colonials need him healthy and in rhythm when NEC play begins.

RMU will once again enter the season without its leading scorer from last season. That’s what makes Petteway so important. Matty McConnell has not proven to be a guy who can lead an offense. Koby Thomas, while extremely talented, must prove he can put it together on offense. Jon Williams was an efficient scorer but wasn’t someone who created his own offense. Josh Williams should make a huge impact on this team, but we have to see it in game action. The sum of all those parts are pretty good, but Petteway can elevate it by working inside.

There’s something to be said about a reliable inside presence. Robert Morris was already a good rebounding team in conference play last season, and that was by piecing it together with David Cole, Ronnie Gombe, Charles Bain and Chris Coalmon (along with McConnell and Thomas in the backcourt). Petteway was the team’s best rebounder last season and blocked shots at nearly the same clip as Gombe. When it comes to matching up against some of the top teams in the NEC, Petteway is another piece opponents have to game plan for.

Article written by @C_Cappella.

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