What Does Romar Dennis Bring to the Redwoods?

By Jerome Taylor | Aug 12, 2023

After several iterations of Redwoods’ lineup, Nat St. Laurent made his biggest roster move of the season on Monday, trading Myles Jones for Romar Dennis

As Lauren Merola pointed out in the trade recap, physically, both players are very similar. Both stand at 6’5, with Dennis being about 30 pounds lighter. 

Neither player met expectations, at least so far this season. Jones, a five-time all-star, only had 3 points this year and was benched following the Archers game. On the other hand, Dennis stormed into the season fresh off winning the Golden Stick in the 2023 Championship Series, where he scored 38 points, more than any other player in the tournament.

Dennis made waves during the Championship Series for burying 15 2-pointers from the shortened 13-yard arc. While expectations were high for him to carry over some of that success to the regular season, the results have been mixed. 

He's notched two 2-pointers this season, tied for the third most in the league, but he’s needed 11 more attempts (25) than the next closest player with a 2-point goal this season to accomplish it. 

Dennis has been a volume shooter this season, but someone whose scoring reputation can create space and opportunities for his teammates, so let’s look at the film to see what Dennis brings to his new squad. 

Dennis an Elite Dodger with Impressive Range 

One reason for optimism that Dennis can mesh well with the Redwoods is his previous synergy with offensive coordinator John Grant Jr. In 2018, Dennis and Grant Jr. won a championship with the Denver Outlaws, with Grant Jr. leading the offense. 

“I think bringing in a new guy, generally, I’d be worried about it,” Grant Jr said. “But the fact that he’s played in this [offense] before he fits everything the offense needs… at this late stage in the season, his immediate impact is going to be very important for this offense right when the rest of our midfield had their most productive week [agaisnt Chaos].”

During the 2018 season, Dennis tallied career-highs in goals (14), 2-point goals (4), and assists (4). 

Those stats came during longer MLL seasons, but the assist number is the one that pops out. Despite never posting lofty assists numbers in his career, Grant Jr believes Dennis’ playmaking sometimes isn't quantifiable.

For example, because he’s such an explosive dodger, he’s generally going to force a defensive rotation, and his pass may not be the assist to the shooter or even the second assist. Sometimes it sets up a favorable matchup for a second or third dodge in a possession that results in a goal.

Other times, however, you can see and quantify his playmaking, like in the play below. 

Atlas is in the middle of their substitution, so the Whipsnakes essentially have an extra defender. Dennis splits and sweeps across the field, where he not only draws the ‘hot’ defender from crease but the excess defender as well, and through three sticks, he finds Bryan Costabile for a goal.

“He’s pretty much unguardable up top, he has probably one of the best shots on the run, but I think what people don't know about Romar is how incredible his vision is, his ability to feed, and his ability to draw attention for hockey assists,” Grant Jr. explained. 

Because the trade was one-for-one, it’s hard not to compare Dennis to Jones, mainly because they are both powerful downfield dodgers. But how they get to their final destination is different. Dennis explodes out of his dodges and usually has his hands free after one move. And that’s when he shows off the elite shot on the run Grant Jr. is talking about.

In the play above, after the split, he turns on the afterburners, blows by the defender, and since no slide comes, he gets further downhill before cranking one by the goalie. 

But other times, he just needs a slither of separation off a roll dodge, and then he lets his powerful shot do the rest. 

Whether he does it from inside the arc.

Or what makes him unique is the fact that he can do the same thing from outside of it too.

Again, so far this season, the biggest gripe against Dennis is that he’s been an inefficient shooter. 

But if the secret to fine-tuning his output is pairing him with Grant Jr., while the rest of the midfield continues to trend upward, then Redwoods have a chance to improve their offensive efficiency as they march toward the playoffs.