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Robert Morris

Robert Morris basketball team rebuilding around new faces

| Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, 3:25 p.m.

BROOKLYN — Are the kids all right?

The answer to that question will determine just how successful the Robert Morris Colonials can be.

“I think we have the ability to become a good team, but it's got to be a collective effort from players, coaches, everybody involved in the program,” coach Andy Toole said Tuesday during his media availability at Barclays Center for Northeast Conference media day.

“The more guys will allow us to coach them, the more they'll absorb and the more they'll let us push them, I think the better our team will be.”

Conference coaches voted the Colonials to finish third in the NEC, despite not receiving a first-place vote. St. Francis Brooklyn (six votes), Central Connecticut (three) and St. Francis (Pa.) (one) earned first-place votes.

Senior swingman Lucky Jones was voted to the conference's preseason team.

Coming off a 22-14 season in which it advanced to the second round of the postseason NIT, Robert Morris enters 2014-15 with eight new players, seven of whom should receive playing time. The eighth player, sophomore guard Jairus Lyles, is ineligible to play this season, as he transferred from Virginia Commonwealth. Lyles will practice with the team.

The newcomers could provide Toole with unique skill sets to create matchup problems.

Andre Frederick (Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn.), Lionel Gomes (Cloud Community College in Kansas) and Elijah Minnie (Lincoln Park) all have size; Rodney Pryor (Cloud Community College) and Ryan Skovranko (Lincoln Park) are swingmen; Jafar Kinsey (Jamesville-Dewitt High School in Syracuse, N.Y.) and Marcquise Reed (Capitol Christian High School in Landover, Md.) could spell the starting point guard, sophomore Kavon Stewart.

While pleased with the depth and talent the new Colonials possess, Toole stressed their most important characteristic is how quickly they can learn what's being taught.

“The details of winning with seven, eight new guys, having those guys understand how important each and every possession is, the little details that go into those possessions (are things) we've talked about extensively in our early practice,” Toole said. “In certain aspects of that I see guys improving, (but) in other ways I wish they would improve quicker. Those are two things I think will really determine how good a team we can become.”

Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.

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