When I set out to look at who was returning next season for Robert Morris, I did so with the assumption that the roster would remain intact from the time that I wrote it moving forward. Not even a few hours after I did a post on Karvel Anderson and Coron Williams, I talked with some Wake Forest folks on Twitter who informed me that he was close to transferring to the Demon Deacons. After a week in which it was confirmed that he visited the Winston-Salem, N.C. school, Williams' transfer became official.
The move is one that took a while to register for most people that cover Robert Morris, but it's one that makes sense. By transferring, Williams (a Virginia native) will be closer to home and he'll be provided with a chance to get some major minutes on a team with a thin backcourt that plays in what's probably going to be the best conference in the country next season. Plus, what kid that grows up in that region of the country doesn't dream of playing in the ACC?
(Photo: Northeast Conference)
Williams started a good portion of the Colonials' games this season and put up respectable numbers: 9.1 points per game, 1.2 assists per game, 42.4 field goal percentage, 41.6 3-point percentage.
As I mentioned in my post on him (and Anderson) last week, Williams' role as an offensive threat can be boiled down pretty simply -- he was something of a 3-point specialist, as 69.2 percent of his shots came from beyond the arc. He was third on the team in 3-point percentage, behind Anderson and Lucky Jones (Mike McFadden's 1-for-1 line notwithstanding), and aside from Anderson, he probably had the best and most consistent shooting stroke on the team.
Some have mentioned his skill as a ball handler, but I never really saw it. In some stretches, he was forced to be more of a point guard when others were in foul trouble, but he wasn't much of a creator when he had the ball and I'm not really sure backcourt depth will be much of a problem for Robert Morris next season, given the recruits it has coming in. There will be plenty of warm bodies to be thrust into the games.
More than anything, I think this move will really alter the identity of the team going into next season, one that will force it to become more balanced.
Last season, the Colonials made their living beyond the 3-point arc, a dual marriage of aptitude and necessity that saw five players shoot better than the NCAA average (about 33 percent) from 3-point range. With Williams' departure, three of those players are now gone. Two of the team's returning guards -- Anthony Myers-Pate and David Appolon -- shot 25.4 and 22.9 percent, respectively, from deep last season.
If there's a crux to all of this, it's that Robert Morris won't be the same team that can shoot and make 3-pointers at will next season. Yes, Anderson and his 43.9 percent shooting clip are obviously back. But the next-best shooter is Jones, who is frankly too athletic and verstile to spend so much of his time hanging on the perimeter.
Where the Colonials have lost someone in the backcourt, they will get much stronger down low next season as Lijah Thompson (7.3 points, 4.2 rebounds per game in 2011-12) comes back from an ACL injury next season, Mike McFadden comes back after a solid junior year, Stephan Hawkins will look to build on a freshman campaign that showed signs of promise, particularly on the defensive end, and Keith Armstrong will still get some reasonable minutes. That's a pretty solid group to have, one that doesn't even include junior college forward Aaron Tate.
Don't get me wrong: Robert Morris will likely be led in scoring by Anderson and Jones, but by losing a player like Williams (along with Velton Jones and a more perimeter-oriented big like Russell Johnson) takes away from the pure 3-point depth that defined RMU last season. Whereas the team had one viable true post presence last year in McFadden, it will have a few more next year. Not really good or bad news, just how I see things playing out.
The loss of Williams isn't what I would call monumental, but it's also not something that can be dismissed as small or trivial. It's something that I think will put a lot more pressure on Anderson as a shooter and will shift more attention to how he responds from his wrist surgery, which happened today. The departure lessens what was a big strength of the team (3-point shooting), but it's still hard to scoff at a team that returns two players that made over 40 percent of their 3-point attempts.
Ultimately, Williams leaves behind a void that will have to be filled, but it's not one that's so large that it can't be overcome.