Silas And Gomis Ready For Opportunity

They may be from the same continent but Imoh Silas and Lionel Gomis hardly grew up together. It is a long way from Lagos, Nigeria to Dakar, Senegal. It’s about a 43 hour drive, over 2,000 miles or greater than the distance from Loudonville to San Antonio, Texas. But the quest for an education and opportunity through basketball is what brought these two Siena Saints together.

Silas is a Computer Science major who likes to play drums and is a fan of the San Antonio Spurs. Gomis is a Finance major with a talent for drawing who likes the Miami Heat. But, for these two sophomore roommates, this season represents an opportunity for a new beginning. After being forced to sit out last year due to an NCAA eligibility ruling concerning their educational transition to the U.S. Silas and Gomis are ready to take the court.

“It was very devastating at first.” said Gomis. “The news kind of shocked me cause I never had to sit out and not play for a full year. It was very stressful.”

His desire to be ready for this season and the support of those around him is what got him through.

“I had Coach B and my team backing me up and supporting me so I thought I’m going to just learn from it; learn the game and get better. While they were going to away games I’d be in the gym here with Imoh getting shots up or doing some drills. That was a motivator for me.”

As the season opener approaches, Gomis has shown noticeable improvement in preseason practices. His improved ability to run the floor has been evident in early practices and Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro sees a more developed player.

“He’s got a very good upside. Very good rebounder, runs the floor well, blocks shots. Also a guy that can score inside. We’re working with him on his perimeter game a little bit. Certainly, he’s going to add depth and athletic ability to an already stocked frontcourt.”

Silas has also made the most of a difficult situation. It was not easy. His frustration, caused by a strong  desire to be on the court, was channeled into becoming a better player.

“It was really tough but I got over it. I learned a lot last year so I’m looking forward to this year. I learned about the system, how you conduct yourself on the floor and rotations, to post up the  right way to be able to seal your man and get the ball in the post, little things that a lot of players ignore but those are things that make you better. I think it was a good learning experience.”

Silas, a more developed player in terms of strength and athleticism, is likely to contend for a starting role. His natural talents combined with a year of learning are sure to pay dividends.

“I think he’s a player that’s going to make an immediate impact.” said Buonaguro. I expect him to come in and rebound and score for us and be a guy that’s certainly going to make us a better team. He’s practiced well. He’s got a great attitude. Works hard every day.”

His improved footwork, explosiveness to the basket and versatile post moves displayed in preseason practices are evidence of his development over the last year.

For both players this season is about opportunity. The opportunity to continue their education and to play the game they love. That’s what brought them together.

“What ever Coach B wants.” said Gomis. “If he calls me and says Lionel, it’s ShowTime I’m gonna go out there do my best, play hard and do what the team needs me to do.”

Despite mention by the coaching staff of a possible starting role, Silas is humble. After being denied the opportunity to play at all last season, he takes nothing for granted.

“Right now it’s all about the team whatever Coach wants me to do to help the team, I’m ready.”

One Comment

  1. Mouhamadou tall

    April 5, 2014 at 5:09 am

    I do know Lionel, he'll never stop fightin!!!

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