Post and Courier
December 31, 2011
It's a long way until March Madness, but the College of Charleston's road to a possible at-large berth in the NCAA tournament got a lot tougher Friday night.
In a battle of mid-major powers, George Mason senior forward Ryan Pearson led the Patriots (9-4) to an 84-76 win over the Cougars before a disappointed sellout crowd of 5,008 at TD Arena. The Cougars, who now almost assuredly must win the Southern Conference tournament to get to the NCAAs, had no answer for the 6-6 Pearson, who scored a career-high 35 points and collected 14 rebounds.
The loss ended a 15-game home winning streak for the Cougars, who last lost at TD Arena to Clemson in December 2010.
George Mason also improved to 1-3 overall against the College of Charleston. The Cougars won by two points two seasons ago at George Mason in an ESPN BracketBusters game. Going into the game, the College of Charleston (10-3) was ranked No. 13 in the College- Insider.com Mid-Major Top 25, while George Mason (9-4), which received an at-large bid to last year's NCAA tournament, was No. 18.
The Patriots overcame a sluggish offensive start in which the College of Charleston jumped to an 8-0 lead. But the Patriots eventually led by as many as 11 points in the first half and were up by 11 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the game. The Cougars finally got their offense clicking and closed the gap to 74-72 with 3:09 to play. But George Mason would not be denied and pulled away for the victory.
"It was a tough night for us," College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins said. "George Mason did a great job. They stymied us with their on-ball defense. You have to give the big kid (Pearson) credit. He put on a show."
Post and Courier
December 31, 2011
"Don't be sad because it's over," Dr. Seuss said so smartly. "Smile because it happened."
And if you thought 2011 was a fabulously busy year in Palmetto State sports, wait until you dip your toe into the hot brackish water of 2012.
January alone might be enough to carry most years, but not the upcoming 12-month stretch that includes the two biggest sporting events in Charleston sports history and greater college football expectations.
Stock the freezer. Get new Frogmore Stew recipes.
What a start! South Carolina edges Nebraska, 28-27, in the Capital One Bowl, arguably the best bowl invitation ever mailed to Columbia. The Gamecocks celebrate a record 11 wins.
Clemson scores early and often to hold off West Virginia, 48-44, in a dazzling Orange Bowl. The Tigers finish 11-3.
LSU defeats Alabama, 17-16, to claim the sixth consecutive national title for the SEC.
Oklahoma State big-bucks booster T. Boone Pickens, citing the Cowboys' 65-21 victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, offers LSU a $1.7 billion winner-take-all game at a neutral site: Ames, Iowa.
College of Charleston basketball bursts into the top 25 polls. Bobby Cremins signs a five-year contract extension. "It's crazy," Cremins says. "But my hair looks younger than when I got here."
Clemson takes advantage of late de-commitments and chalks up another sensational football recruiting class. "The key," Dabo Swinney says, "is every one of these kids is all-in all the (darn) time."
It's the toughest ticket in Charleston since front-row Battery seats for the outbreak of the Civil War at Fort Sumter: Clemson upsets defending College World Series champ South Carolina at The Joe in Game 1 of a three-game series.
The Gamecocks take Games 2 and 3 at the on-campus sites to take the series. Again.
The College of Charleston doesn't make the NCAA basketball tournament.
But wins the NIT.
North Carolina, avenging a regular season loss, defeats Kentucky to win the NCAA basketball championship in New Orleans.
No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki dominates on Daniel Island and wins a second straight Family Circle Cup ... on the same day her boyfriend, Rory McIlroy, wins the Masters.
The College of Charleston baseball team squeaks by The Citadel to win the SoCon tournament (in Greenville) and lands a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament thanks to national home run leader Daniel Aldrich.
Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is ejected from a game at Fenway Park, but reappears in the dugout disguised as Curt Schilling.
December 30, 2011
Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins knew he was going to miss Andrew Goudelock this season.
But it wasn’t until Goudelock returned to practice with the Cougars during the NBA lockout that Cremins realized what he was losing.
“He put on a couple of shows,” Cremins said by phone. “I said to myself, ‘Wow, I forgot how good he was.’”
Goudelock ended his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer, averaging 23.7 points during his final season. He also led the Cougars to an average of 25 wins over his last three seasons in Charleston.
Without him – and the rest of its top three scorers – everyone expected Charleston to take a step back. That sentiment was cemented even further when Willis Hall, a projected starter, tore his ACL before the season started and was lost for the entire campaign. Yet the Cougars currently sit at 10-2 heading into Friday night’s game against George Mason.
“This team has surprised me,” Cremins said. “We’re not where I want us to be yet, but the potential is really there. We are playing well. Right now we’re definitely in the mix.”
Charleston looks a lot different than a year ago. Senior Antwaine Wiggins – Goudelock’s best friend – has taken a huge step forward, averaging 18.1 points and 6.8 boards per game. Wiggins teams up down low with Trent Wiedeman (11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg) to form one of the best inside tandems in the conference. Junior point guard Andrew Lawrence was named to the Bob Cousy Award candidate list, and he’s been a playmaker for the Cougars.
Two freshmen have also been keys for Cremins. It starts with guard Anthony Stitt, who is averaging 13.3 points and shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range in his last seven games.
“He’s a point guard, but he comes off the bench, so when he’s in the game, we play two PGs,” Cremins said. “He has been good for us.”
6-foot-9 forward Adjehi Baru was the highest-rated recruit in school history. The Ivory Coast native originally chose the Cougars over North Carolina, Maryland Virginia Tech.
While not dominating, Baru has certainly shown flashes of his potential. He had 14 points and seven rebounds in a win over UNC-Asheville, and 11 points and eight boards against Holy Cross.
Post and Courier
December 30, 2011
College of Charleston men's basketball fans last season were excited to receive a bid to play in the National Invitation Tournament, a bid that saw them travel to Cleveland State for a second-round NIT game. But the Cougars would have given anything to swap places with George Mason, tonight's opponent at TD Arena.
While the Cougars were beating Cleveland State, George Mason was just a few blocks away competing in the NCAA tournament. The Patriots received an at-large bid and upset Villanova before losing to Ohio State. George Mason is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, a mid-major league that sent three teams to the 68-team NCAA tournament last season, including Virginia Commonwealth, which made it to the Final Four. And it wasn't the Patriots' first trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 2005-06, the Patriots also earned an at-large bid and made it to the Final Four.
The College of Charleston is a member of the Southern Conference, and multiple bids don't happen. The only route for SoCon teams is to win the league tournament, something Cougars coach Bobby Cremins would love to see change.
"I'm jealous of (the CAA). I tip my hat to them. To get three teams in last year and have one of those teams go to the Final Four. Are you kidding me?" Cremins said. "I'd love to see the Southern Conference become something like that. That should be the goal of our conference. We use them as a model."
Cremins said his team will face an enormous challenge against George Mason. Charleston is No. 13 in the most recent Mid-Major Top 25, while George Mason is No. 18. The Cougars are 3-0 in the all-time series, including a two-point win over the Patriots two seasons ago in Fairfax, Va.
December 29, 2011
It’s the holiday week, and as the first half dragged on for the Tulane women’s basketball team against the College of Charleston at the Doubletree Holiday Classic, a long layoff was wearing in. Tulane overcame 11 first-half turnovers and a miserable shooting performance to defeat the Cougars 57-42, thanks to a 7-0 run to start the second half. The Green Wave will play Hampton, which defeated Central Michigan 77-51 in the championship tonight at 8 p.m.
“We came out with not as much energy as we needed. In the second half it was a little bit of a different team,” Tulane Coach Lisa Stockton said. “This has always been one of those times when you just have to keep your focus. I think it was probably a five-day layover and trying to get back in it.””
Junior guard Olivia Grayson led the Green Wave (10-2) with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“I just did what I needed to do to help us get the win,” Grayson said. “We were struggling a little bit shooting the ball; we have been off for a couple of days and worked to get the rust off a little bit.”
When the second half opened, the Green Wave called on center Brett Benzio, who scored two successive layups. Tyria Snow added a layup and a free throw as Tulane took a 30-23 lead in the first 2:04.
“Our press got going, and we got some steals off our press,” Stockton said. “We tried to create some offense from our defense, and that really helped a lot. Getting those easy baskets and getting to the free throw line early in the second half really gave us the lead, and we were able to hang on.”
After the first half, the Green Wave had to feel fortunate they were tied at 23 at the break. Tulane went 7:01 without scoring, from 14:17 to 7:16. College of Charleston went through a period of 6:22 without scoring either.