Post and Courier
July 20, 2012
MANCHESTER, England — Deron Williams was in, Carmelo Anthony out, and both were better for it.
Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered what lineup the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team used against an inexperienced and overmatched opponent.
Williams and Anthony responded to a lineup change with 19 points apiece, and the Americans beat Britain 118-78 on Thursday in an exhibition.
LeBron James added 16 points and Russell Westbrook had 15 for the Americans, who built a 40-point lead early in the fourth quarter and every basket from there seemed to be a dunk.
College of Charleston star Andrew Lawrence came off the bench to score six points, to goalong with three assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes for Great Britain. Lawrence’s scoring came on 2 of 3 shooting from 3-point range.
Chicago Bulls All-Star Luol Deng scored 25 points for Britain against his former college coach at Duke.
“He said they just had never faced that speed and quickness, so you can’t practice that,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “You can’t simulate that, so I thought it was a great experience for them. And us.”
Krzyzewski inserted Kevin Durant for Anthony, and Williams for Chris Paul, and both Anthony and Williams flourished in their new roles.
Williams, who couldn’t scrimmage with the Americans when they opened camp because he hadn’t signed his $98 million extension with the Nets yet, made 7-of-8 shots, going 5 of 6 from 3-point range and adding five assists.
“I feel I adjusted pretty well,” Williams said. “I was a little worried about my conditioning, just because I hadn’t played 5-on-5, but I just trained really hard coming in so I’d just be in the best shape possible, and I feel like I’m there.”
Britain’s home game was similar to the Americans’ opener against China in the Beijing Olympics, where plays for both teams were loudly cheered. The boos were brief, when a light “USA!” chant broke out in the fourth quarter.
Basketball has little place in British sports, but with the national team returning to the Olympics this year as the games’ host, the sport got some attention with a visit from the powerful U.S. squad.
In an unusual pregame scene, the crowd didn’t seem interested in the home team’s strange set of pregame warm-up exercises, choosing instead to watch the Americans’ practice dunks, oohing and aahing along the way.
The rules of the game were then written shown on the overhead video scoreboard and explained by the public address announcer before play began.
The British, also including the Portland Trail Blazers’ Joel Freeland and coached by Houston Rockets assistant Chris Finch, hung with the Americans for 10-plus minutes before the visitors’ athleticism ran them off the floor.
July 19, 2012
Great Britain may not be known for its basketball teams, but one College of Charleston cougar is trying to change that. Senior Andrew Lawrence is getting the opportunity of a lifetime as he was chosen to represent his country in the 2012 London games.
The cougar only started playing basketball at the age of 16, saying soccer - or football - is obviously the bigger sport in his hometown of London. "I played football, or soccer right up until the age of 16 and then I switched to basketball. I just preferred it, and had a passion for it. Just started playing and loved it."
Years later, Andrew has gotten good enough to play in a Great Britain uniform on the biggest stage there is. "I think that is the biggest honor you can have in basketball and in life, playing for your country."
It's a huge opportunity as well. Andrew is suiting up against some of the biggest and best stars in the NBA. College of Charleston new head coach Doug Wojcik is excited about the potentially game altering opportunity for Andrew. "We may not even recognize him when he comes back here. I think he will improve that much. Just playing against those pros around the world will just be invaluable to him."
His senior year still far-away, Lawrence is trying to focus, and take the Olympics game at a time. But he is looking forward to the moment when he steps on the court for the first time and hears fans cheering for him, and waving his flag. "That'll probably be one of the biggest games of my life and one of the proudest moments for me, suiting up against the world's best."
And he isn't the least bit intimidated by the opportunity. "I don't back down from anyone so I am ready to go."
Post and Courier
July 19, 2012
The question would be almost unimaginable in the United States.
“Who’s No. 6?” a reporter asked a U.S. official.
Yes, even LeBron James isn’t recognized everywhere in Britain, where soccer is king and basketball is hardly an afterthought.
That will change at least briefly today (2 p.m., ESPN2), with James and the U.S. Olympic team bringing it some rare attention with a game against Britain.
It’s only an exhibition, so the result doesn’t matter. But the event does, to those who want to see basketball gain a place in Britain’s sports culture.
“This is a massive opportunity for British basketball to get some oxygen, to breathe life into the sport in this country,” said Chris Mitchell, who calls Britain’s games for BBC Radio. “Team USA being here is arguably the biggest-ever game this country has hosted. It’s arguably bigger than any game they’ll play at the Olympics, because they’ll only face USA if they get through their group and perhaps meet them in the quarterfinals. So this, this week, it’s almost the climax to the history of British basketball. It’s huge.”
And part of that history is point guard and College of Charleston star Andrew Lawrence. He was recently named MVP of a two-game series against Portugal, where he played more than 23 mins a game and scored 6.0 points per game.
“I really appreciate it because I wasn’t necessarily the highest scoring guy on the team but I feel like I did other things to contribute which has been recognized in the MVP award,” Lwrence told the media. “I just come in and try and play my role so I am just happy with the two wins.”
Lawrence is the lone current college and youngest player on the squad at 22.
Today, Manchester Arena is expected to be full, many fans familiar with Kobe Bryant but with no clue how to pronounce the name of U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. It probably won’t be very competitive, but it will give the Americans the opportunity to play in front of the opponent’s fans for the first time during their preparations for the London Olympics.
“They will represent their country, they will cheer on their team and hopefully we can just play well in front of them,” James said.
The Americans met the media Wednesday before practicing at the arena, getting occasional questions about the Xs and Os of basketball and the people who play it: James asked about injured teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler about departed one Jeremy Lin.
And this being soccer country, of course there was that. Bryant is the most popular NBA player outside the U.S., but far from the most famous athlete in Los Angeles for the British.
So what about David Beckham not making the host’s Olympic soccer roster, Kobe?
“I would love to have seen him have some type role on the team,” said Bryant, a soccer fan who lived outside the U.S. as a child. “Just his leadership and his intelligence could have helped the team out.”
Basketball has such little presence in Britain that FIBA, the sport’s governing body, didn’t immediately award the hosts the traditional automatic bid into the Olympic tournament. It wanted to be certain that there would be a legacy beyond the London Games, that support for the home team’s program would spark interest in watching, playing and following the sport.
FIBA was eventually convinced, helped by the British performing respectably last year at the European Championship. NBA All-Star Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls is the team’s leader and Joel Freeland has signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. (Charlotte’s Ben Gordon, born in England before moving to New York, was expected to be on the roster but passed on playing).
That’s probably not enough to challenge the U.S., which will be looking for a strong performance after having a tough time with Brazil in an 80-69 victory Monday night in Washington.
“I think this will be tougher than most people expect because it’s their country. They’re playing here,” Krzyzewski said. “Luol, I know Luol, I coached him. They’ll play real hard. They can shoot the ball and they play a little bit unconventional in that actually their two bigs I think are their best shooters, and so they’ll spread you out. So it’ll be a different type of game for us to defend, different type of team.”
The Americans don’t garner the same attention here as they did four years ago in China, where basketball is massively popular. But their visit gives a sorely needed boost to the Brits who want to see the sport matter at home. Mitchell has been covering basketball for more than a decade, calling it a “niche” sport which sometimes draws only a few hundred fans and no press to its domestic league games.
“Basketball is an unknown quantity in this country,” he said. “People don’t understand it. They don’t know the rules. They don’t read about it in the newspapers because it’s not in the newspapers, it’s not on the news. It’s not part of our social fabric if you’d like, like it is in the States.”
The Americans are glad to do their part. They’ll see a more traditional basketball atmosphere in a few days, when they face Argentina and Spain in Barcelona.
For now, they’re trying to help create one.
“We’re happy to be in England, in Great Britain, and you start even getting even more of a flavor for the Olympics,” Krzyzewski said, “and we’re anxious to play Great Britain tomorrow night.”
Post and Courier
July 18, 2012
College of Charleston baseball coach Monte Lee announced the promotion of Brandon Sizemore to a volunteer assistant coach.
Sizemore, who served as a graduate assistant coach for the Cougars last season, played for the College of Charleston in 2008 and 2009 where he was a NCBWA first team All-American, All-Southern Conference selection and Second Team ACBA All-Region honoree. In 2009, Sizemore led the team with 74 RBIs, while his 82 RBIs in 2008 ranked seventh nationally.
College of Charleston head volleyball coach Jason Kepner announced the hiring of Katelyn Bishop as the program’s new assistant coach. Bishop comes to College of Charleston after coaching for four years with the Triangle Volleyball Club in North Carolina.
Post and Courier
July 17, 2012
With officials at the Southern Conference and College of Charleston not talking, the news that the Cougars have been invited to join the Colonial Athletic Association had to come from Statesboro, Ga., of all places.
When Georgia Southern athletic director Sam Baker let slip to the hometown paper that the CAA had issued invitations to SoCon members College of Charleston and Davidson, the news surprised few.
After all, CAA commissioner Tom Yeager had already warned his SoCon counterpart, John Iamarino, that his league would come calling on SoCon schools in an effort to replace departing members Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and Georgia State.
But Baker’s comment, and Yeager’s prediction last week that the CAA would introduce new members for 2013-14 by the end of summer (Sept. 21, in case you are wondering), confirmed that wheels are turning on George Street, where College of Charleston officials face a big decision.
Do the Cougars stick with the SoCon, the league it joined in 1998 after rising from the NAIA to NCAA Division I? Or do they jump to the Colonial, a league that until recently had been viewed as a clear step up from the SoCon in the flagship sport of basketball?
Rumors on Monday had College of Charleston announcing a decision as early as this week. But that seems unlikely, given that the school’s Board of Trustees is not set to meet again until Aug. 2 (their last meeting was June 11). According to a school official, the Board of Trustees has yet to discuss a potential move to the CAA.
Off-the-record conversations with sources in the SoCon and at College of Charleston on Monday indicated that there’s a real chance the Cougars could go. Some College of Charleston officials think that the nine remaining members of the Colonial are a good fit academically, and that the CAA footprint (stretching from North Carolina through Virginia to Philadelphia, Boston and New York) can be a fertile recruiting ground, particularly in basketball.
Further, some think membership in the Colonial might better position College of Charleston for whatever comes next in the shifting landscape of NCAA athletics, particularly in regard to basketball. Fear of getting left behind has driven much of the recent realignment in college sports.
On the flip side, CAA basketball isn’t what it used to be. And moving from the relatively compact SoCon to the far-flung Colonial will require a major commitment in travel dollars from College of Charleston.
Since 2000, the Colonial has received four at-large bids to the NCAA basketball tournament, which is four more than the SoCon has ever received, at least in the modern era. Last season, the CAA ranked 14th in conference RPI compared with the SoCon’s 23rd.
But with the loss of VCU, which made a run to the Final Four in 2011 and finished No. 34 in the RPI last season, and Old Dominion (No. 103) and Georgia State (No. 137), the Colonial seems to be sliding back toward the SoCon in mid-major status. On top of that, two CAA schools (Towson and UNC Wilmington) have been declared ineligible for the NCAA tournament next year due to poor Academic Performance Rate scores, leaving just seven teams eliglble for the CAA tournament next season.
Of course, the relative strengths of the SoCon and Colonial vary by sport. In baseball, for example, College of Charleston would take a hit by leaving the SoCon (ranked 7th in RPI last year) for the Colonial (18th). The SoCon landed three teams in the NCAA baseball regionals last year (including the Cougars), the Colonial just one (UNC Wilmington).
But some things that won’t change are the mileage numbers on the map. In the SoCon, the Cougars’ longest road trip is some 440 miles to Samford in Birmingham, Ala. In the Colonial, seven of the nine remaining schools are farther away, topped by Northeastern University in Boston (940 miles).
Cougar teams would almost certainly have to fly to some league contests in the Colonial, while the SoCon is strictly a bus league. And travel budgets for sports such as baseball and soccer could more than double in the CAA.
On top of that, the school would have to fork over $600,000 to the SoCon if it left with less than two years’ notice, although the Colonial might be prepared to help out with such fees. The penalty is $300,000 with more than two years’ notice.
A move to the Colonial would apparently not cost the Cougars a chance to compete for SoCon championships next year. The SoCon does not have in its by-laws a rule that prohibits exiting teams from competing for league championships, as the CAA does. In the past, teams such as Marshall and East Tennessee State have left without any such bans.
It’s a lot for College of Charleston athletic director Joe Hull, who just hired men’s and women’s basketball coaches, to think about. Maybe he’ll ask Sam Baker for advice.
When Sarah Schaidle cleans up, people tend to notice. It doesn’t take much – jeans and a T-shirt are usually enough to cause a few stares. After all, when your classmates and professors are accustomed to seeing you in grungy soccer gear every day, re-invention is easy.
Not that she has too many chances to ditch the workout gear. The senior midfielder and biochemistry major maintains a packed schedule, splitting time between the soccer pitch and science labs. Schaidle decrees that you must spend at least 20 hours a week to studying organic chemistry to keep your head above water. Oftentimes, this means cracking open her notes and a textbook on the team bus.
Beyond class, soccer practice, physical conditioning and games, Schaidle manages to squeeze in some volunteer experience with local students, too, as well an independent study course within the Honors College, performing neuroscience research at the nearby Medical University of South Carolina.
All of which, by the way, might sound absolutely exhausting for students without Schaidle’s tremendous stamina. Yet somehow she remains calm and steady.
“I get stressed, but I let it roll off,” Schaidle says of the demands on her time. “I don’t really think about it. I just do it and enjoy it.”
Last January, Schaidle was named to the Women’s College Scholar All-America Team, recognizing her academic success and her superior on-field performance that helped the Cougars to a 13-win season and an appearance in the Southern Conference final. Beyond that honor, Schaidle was the points leaders for Cougars women’s soccer and was named to the all-conference team, too. Schaidle’s roommate and teammate Maryam Buazza says Schaidle is someone who leads by example and is capable of taking charge during critical games, such as the time last season that Schaidle netted two goals against the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, helping secure a 3-2 win.
“She’s definitely the person to take it one on one,” says Buazza.
Ever modest, Schaidle credits Coach Christian Michner for encouraging her to hold onto the ball more often and to become a game changer. She hopes that this fall, the Cougars can again reach the Southern Conference finals again. This time, though, Schaidle won’t be happy unless they win.
And knowing Schaidle’s commitment, on and off the field, we know she’s certainly going to be busy trying.