The stage set for Romaro Gill’s career outing against Georgetown was a bit poetic.
An ironically overlooked seven-footer not known for his offense goes up against the Hoyas, a program not only recognized for their centers but coached by one of the very best, Patrick Ewing.
On top of that, Gill is up against someone who can see eye-to-eye in Turkish big Omer Yurtseven, who has put up 19 and 9 against Syracuse and Oklahoma State, 21 and 5 against Duke, and 16 and 10 against Penn State — the four best opponents Georgetown has faced.
But after losing perhaps his first opening tip all season, it was all Romaro Gill (17pts, 8rebs, 4blks) from then on.
Yurtseven, who was bullied in Wichita by Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo as an N.C. State player, morphed into the young player seen that day when up against Gill.
Gill neutralized Yurtseven on the glass in the first half and held him to several mid-range attempts and just two points before Gill’s first of four blocks came in the opening minutes of the second half after a flurry of four Seton Hall turnovers.
The block of course came against Yurtseven, who would score just four more points in minutes that mattered while Gill tallied ten more, added eight rebounds, and three more blocks in the second half.
“What I’m proud of [about] Ro’ is the consistency,” commented Kevin Willard.
“Back-to-back games — the second half at DePaul and now this game — we’re trying to get him the ball a little bit more around the rim so we can reward him for all the stuff he’s doing defensively, and I thought the guys did a good job of looking for him tonight.”
The native of Jamaica’s performance left Kingston-born Ewing to heap rare praise upon him.
“Gill affected the game, he blocked four shots,” said a usually short Ewing.
“He’s playing great, he does everything that he needs to do. He protects the rim, he fights for everything, he does a great job of defending in the post, blocking shots, in pick-and-rolls, when they lob it up to him he catches it and finishes.”
Gill didn’t directly hear Ewing, but it was made sure that he heard third-hand.
“That’s an honor, because Patrick Ewing is one of the best players to have ever played and he’s also a Jamaican too so for him to say that about me that’s a big honor and I appreciate that,” said Gill, his usual humble self.
“Think about it, he’s a Hall of Famer so if he’s saying he’s that good, it’s got to mean something,” remarked a grinning Myles Cale of the exchange.
“I’m sure Ro’ didn’t hear that yet but when he does he’s going to appreciate it,” added Myles Powell.
“Ro’s a great kid, I really hope he gets a chance [in the pros]. To the NBA guys: you guys should take a good look at him. He’s going to work hard, he’s going to do everything you ask, he’s a great player, a great person on and off the court and if I had a team, that’s someone I would definitely want on my team.”
Gill’s lateral quickness and ever-improving lack of clumsiness when defending guards has really ramped up the post defense Ewing commented on, something Quincy McKnight has also mentioned at least twice now.
“When you’re able to pressure the ball like I do and not worry about guys getting lay-ups when they do get past me, that’s something that worried us a lot last year and why I fouled a lot last year because I was trying to stop lay-ups,” explained McKnight.
“But this year with Ro’ and Ike [Obiagu] back there it’s a blessing for all of us, we just let guys go by us. All you hear from us is ‘Block party! Block party! Let’s get it, we’re out of here!’
“It’s great, Ro’ and Ike are coming along and are used to battling each other in practice every day and you don’t see a dunk out of those two in practice, they’re both always going after each other, making each other better and making us better as a team.”
While Patrick Ewing’s compliments were a little out of the ordinary for his press conference track record, it was Myles Powell’s post-game gesture that won the night.
Powell was tapped by FOX Sports to be interviewed on the court after the win, but feeling like there were other better players on the night, he made sure to procure a headset-less Gill to soak up some of the fame.
Don’t forget: Gill spoke of just how grateful and surprised he was to be at Big East media day — a bit of a fluke after McKnight was held home — let alone national TV.
“That feels good,” said Gill of his roommate’s gesture. “For him to do something like that I feel like whatever I’m doing out there, they actually appreciate it, so it feels good for him to do that.”
“I think Myles Powell is starting to become a smart man, because I think he understands how much Ro’ does and how much he’s protecting all those guys down there,” half-joked Willard.
But why did Powell do it?
Just another one of his class acts.
I’ll let him do the talking, this one was too wholesome to boil down.
“Ro’ is my roommate, he’s been my roommate the last three years. Me and Ro’ are really close. Sometimes, that’s what you need to do as a leader as I realized throughout the game how great he was playing. All week the only thing everybody was saying to him was ‘We need you to do this, we need you to stop this seven-footer.’ You go on social media, [Omer] Yurtseven that’s the only seven-footer they’re talking about, this and that.
“He took that on the chin. Last night we’re in the room and he couldn’t sleep and I’m looking at him like ‘Bro you alright?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah bro, I’m just ready to go’ and when he said that, I knew.
“This is the Ro’ that we’ve seen [in practice] and this is the Ro’ that we know that can be one of the best big men in the country. When it was my opportunity — to bring him with me — I felt like it was time, man. I love Ro’, he knows that I love him and the spotlight that I get I want him to come too.
“When you have a man like that who is just working, and working, and working as hard as he does in the classroom, on the court, off the court you just want the best for those type of people and he’s the guy that reminds me of Mike [Nzei]. Me and Mike were so close and our bond is based off of that. We have the same bond.
“I, I don’t know how to say it, fade toward people like that. I’m kind of speechless, getting emotional just talking about Ro’.”
The fact of the matter is that Powell, Willard, the nation, and perhaps even Patrick Ewing will have a lot more to say about Romaro Gill if he puts in more performances like this one.