Tuesday Takes: Thomas's Return, Roster Management and More...

Rhody fans' questions answered

(Courtesy URI Athletics)

We been off and running for about a week now at College Chalktalk— and it seems like a good time for a Q&A with Rhody fans with Twitter (still can’t call it X) as the intake highway. Here we go —

Q - What are your expectations for Sebastian Thomas with his return to Kingston? (via @rhodyrams12)

A - Sebastian showed during his first two years that he was plenty capable of pushing pace, which Miller wants. He had gaps in other areas including his ability to finish in traffic and, of course, shooting it consistently. This said, Miller’s first team of which Thomas was a part was largely void of offensive firepower and he was consequently exposed as a younger player. He returns to a different group. One with plenty of teammates who can score it, but yearning for a pace-propelling guard who can put defenses in reactive positions.

His job offensively is to score within the tempo he helps set (not to hunt 19.6ppg a night as he did for the Great Danes), turn up the pace, and make veteran decisions with the ball. If he shoots free throws anywhere near his 77.5% clip of last year (he was 65% the previous season at URI) that will be a welcomed sight.

Defensively, I expect to see a kid with the body and brains after a few years experience to pester at the point of attack well enough, even though he’s re-elevating leagues and facing A10 talent again.

The year at Albany did him good, particularly in the confidence department. He returns as a local kid with a chip and something to prove. He doesn’t need to be magical. He needs to play with dual-end grit, smarts and steadiness.

Q - Have you heard any nonconference news on MTE (multi team event) tournaments? (via @KeaneyBlueBlood)

A - The staff is actively determining an MTE and looking at a handful of options, whether its a traditional MTE (all at a neutral site) and/or co-hosting or being a secondary host on campus. It will be two years in November since the Cayman Islands Classic and it would be great if URI could snare another destination type tourney of at least that caliber. Wins and program trajectory factor into invites, of course, so improvement in the win column goes a long way towards securing invites to more appealing tourneys. Rhody has work to do there… yet optimistically are hoping for a good MTE fit to become available this season.

Q - Do you think Archie would use all of the available roster spots or would he leave one open? Especially with the way the portal has been going, the end of the bench roster spots seem like immediate turnover [year to year]? (via @rsevegny)

A - It’s a great question and I believe the staff will leave one open, absent some extraordinary circumstance. That’s my own gut, not based on intel. There are three spots left currently and I expect we’ll have another commitment soon. That (I know, great math, Chris) leaves two… I think one gets filled in time and with exercised patience — and then the last one remains open for a while, again, absent an unexpected surprise.

Q - Why doesn’t Archie use social media or leverage local media to promote the program and recruit players? (via @PhillyBeeCPA)

A - I won’t speak for Archie. But as a marketing communications executive I’ll offer this…

Beyond wanting someone to be active in a medium, as you know what’s most important on any social media platform is the authenticity of the messenger and messages. Plenty of coaches, many successful ones, use social media. Just as many successful ones do not. Chris Mooney of Richmond has done really nice recruiting work early in the portal era and is not a rah rah social guy. Arch is a fierce competitor and laser intense guy. He’s not the promoting type. If social ain’t you, forcing it synthetically is less favorable than just passing on the medium.

People can fairly debate whether such social savvy and the enthusiasm to connect with various audiences on these platforms should be prioritized by AD’s when hiring a head coach, how much it should be weighted, etc. If the coach wants to largely keep it within the 94’ and administration of his/her program, however, then so long as the school develops a strategy to reach and engage its audiences, there are multiple ways to promote your program no matter where the head coach’s strengths, comforts or tendencies fall within the external comms spectrum. Win and nobody questions if you’re on or not on X (there, I called it X, finally) or Insta.

Q - Which newcomer will have the biggest impact? (via @KeaneyBlueBlood)?

A - We already discussed Thomas… and point guards are always critical, so he’s off the consideration list. It’s also way too premature having not even seen many of these newcomers play to plant a flag for anyone. For fun… I’ll do it anyway.

Let’s go with Jamarques Lawrence. Immediately after the news popped he was heading to Kingston, one source told me several Big10 coaches proactively reached out to tell URI they got a good one in the 6-foot-3 guard from Plainfield, New Jersey. He averaged 7 points, 3 boards and 2.5 assists and - most importantly - a shade under 25 mins per night for an NCAA Tournament team which finished tied for third in the Big 10. We’re not talking about a spot minute kid, but significant contributor. He needs to continue improving in the assist/turnover department after making strides last year, as I expect he’ll be a high usage guy for Rhody. The Rams have depth in their guards corps, yet I have every expectation Lawrence plays many minutes that matter — and makes his mark.

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