Cougars Tip-Off ESPN Charleston Classic With St. John's
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (1-0, 0-0 SoCon) vs. ST. JOHN'S (1-0, 0-0 BIG EAST)
ESPN Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant
November 15, 2012 • 5:00 p.m. (ET)
TD Arena/John Kresse Court (5,100)
at Charleston, S.C.
Radio: College of Charleston Radio Network (ESPN Radio 910 AM)
Series History: First Meeting
Last Meeting: None
Internet: Free Live Statistics at www.CofCSports.com
College of Charleston: Doug Wojcik
First Year at CofC: 1-0 (1.000)
Eighth Year Overall: 141-92 (.605)
St. John's: Steve Lavin
Third Year at St. John's: 24-14 (.632)
10th Year Overall: 169-92 (.648)
RADIO (College of Charleston Radio Network)
Play-By-Play: Jeff McCarragher
Color Analyst: Everett German
Play-By-Play: Rich Hollenberg
Color Analyst: Tim Welsh
This week, eight teams will compete in the ESPN Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant, in the house that legendary head coach John Kresse built - the four-year-old, state-of-the-art TD Arena, which opened in 2008 - the last time the College of Charleston made an appearance in the home-hosted event. This year's field may be the strongest ever with the likes of NCAA Elite Eight and preseason No. 16-ranked Baylor out of the Big 12 Conference and last year's Cinderella team in Murray State out of the Ohio Valley Conference. Back in 1979, Kresse left Lou Carnesecca's coaching staff at St. John's to take over the reins at CofC. The native New Yorker from Ridgewood, Queens, who led the Cougars to unprecedented success in their NAIA and early NCAA heyday, never imagined 33 years later that his alma mater would play on the same court which bears his name today.
The Cougars (1-0) and Red Storm (1-0) both won their regular-season openers leading into their first-round matchup of the Charleston Classic on Thursday, Nov. 15 at TD Arena. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. (ET) at the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. It will mark a first-time meeting between the two schools. Having built the reputation as "Giant Killers" under the regimes of Kresse and former head coach Bobby Cremins, also a New Yorker from The Bronx, the Cougars are primed and ready to do the same under first-year head coach Doug Wojcik. Although he hails from West Virginia, CofC has stuck to some of the core values of coaching past with the added emphasis on hard-nosed defense under the Wojcik system. The Cougars held Towson to just 23.1 percent shooting from the floor (6-of-26) in the first half of play on Nov. 9 and 30.6 percent (19-of-62) for the game against USC Aiken in their exhibition tune-up on Nov. 3. CofC will play three tournament games in the course of four short days, prior to traveling to Baylor for a post-Thanksgiving matchup on Nov. 24 in Waco, Texas.
SCOUTING THE JOHNNIES
St. John's will enter the tournament with the quickest turnaround of all participating schools after opening the year with a close 77-74 decision over Detroit on Nov. 13 as part of ESPN's 24-Hours of College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon. The Red Storm trailed 37-29 at halftime in head coach Steve Lavin's return after missing the majority of the 2011-12 season recovering from prostate cancer. CofC will be one of two schools from the Palmetto State the Johnnies will face in their next six games including a home tilt with South Carolina on Nov. 29. Although it returns four starters from last year's 13-19 squad, the St. John's roster is still youth-driven with eight newcomers in the fold.
PROJECTED COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STARTERS
#22 Anthony Stitt, G, 6-1, 180, So. (9.7 ppg*, 1.7 rpg*, 1.9 apg*, 27.5 min*)
#4 Andrew Lawrence, G, 6-1, 185, Sr. (13.0 ppg*, 2.9 rpg*, 5.5 apg*, 35.4 min*)
#3 Anthony Thomas, F, 6-7, 207, Jr. (DNP)
#44 Trent Wiedeman, F, 6-8, 255, Jr. (12.1 ppg*, 8.7 rpg*, 0.9 apg*, 31.3 min*)
#1 Adjehi Baru, F/C, 6-9, 225, So. (7.8 ppg*, 6.3 rpg*, 0.6 apg*, 26.7 min*)
PROJECTED ST. JOHN'S STARTERS
#1 Phil Greene IV, G, 6-2, 182, So. (7.6 ppg*, 2.6 rpg*, 3.0 apg*, 31.4 min*)
#15 Sir'Dominic Pointer, G, 6-5, 198, So. (6.6 ppg*, 4.6 rpg*, 1.5 apg*, 30.0 min*)
#4 Christian Jones, F, 6-7, 222, Fr. (DNP)
#22 Amir Garrett, F, 6-6, 211, So. (7.4 ppg*, 4.0 rpg*, 1.3 apg*, 26.9 min*)
#14 JaKarr Sampson, F, 6-8, 204, Fr. (DNP)
AGAINST THE CLASSIC FIELD
Although it will be a first-ever meeting with St. John's in the 103rd history of the Charleston Basketball program, the Cougars have faced Auburn (0-2) twice in 2003 and 2004 and Dayton (1-0) in 2011 in the first round of the Postseason NIT.
COUGARS IN THE CHARLESTON CLASSIC
The Cougars last participated in the Charleston Classic during the inaugural season of the tournament in 2008. They went 2-1 with a 72-66 opening-round win over SIU Edwardsville on Nov. 14, 2008 - the first game ever played in TD Arena under former head coach Bobby Cremins, who is still the chairman of the event. CofC also defeated TCU, 86-75, in its final game of the tournament on Nov. 16, 2008, after dropping a five-point decision to Temple (70-65) on Nov. 15, 2008. Former standout and all-time leading scorer, Andrew Goudelock, earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
MORE ON KRESSE
Coach Kresse is the program's all-time winningest coach with a career record of 560-143 (.797). He retired in 2002 after 23 years at the helm of the program. His 560 career wins ranks among the top 40 on the all-time career coaching list and fifth on the all-time winningest percentage list in the NCAA record books. Kresse led the Cougars to four NCAA Tournament (1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999) and three NIT (1995, 1996 and 2003) appearances. After prepping at Holy Trinity in Queens, he went on to play college basketball at St. John's under former head coach Joe Lapchick from 1960-63. Kresse served two assistant coaching tenures with the Red Storm under his mentor, Lou Carnesecca, from 1965-70 and 1973-79.
"Coach Kresse has said this many times, 'who would have thought when he came here in 1979, his alma mater would be playing in Charleston.' That's a big statement there - to see how far our program has come since then. It's (our program's success) a real tribute to Coach Kresse." - Coach Wojcik
AGAINST THE BIG EAST
CofC is 0-7 all-time versus schools hailing from the BIG EAST Conference including past meetings with Georgetown (0-1), Louisville (0-2), Providence (0-2), Syracuse (0-1) and Villanova (0-1). Two of the Cougars' last three outcomes against a BIG EAST opponent were decided by seven points or less including a 69-62 (-7) setback at then No. 4-ranked Louisville last season on Dec. 20, 2011 and a close 69-64 decision (-5) at Providence in the NIT Second Round on March 22, 2003.
CHARLESTON CLASSIC SIDEBARS
• Coach Wojcik has never faced a BIG EAST opponent in his eight years as a Division I head coach. Ironically, this is Wojcik's second appearance in the tournament in back-to-back seasons after the Golden Hurricane posted a 1-2 record against Western Kentucky (W, 65-49), Northwestern (L, 69-65) and Saint Joseph's (L, 79-75) in the 2011 Charleston Classic. He is the only head coach to lead two different teams in tournament history.
• Dayton returns to Charleston for the second time in three years after a 94-84 loss in the first round of the Postseason NIT to CofC on March 15, 2011. Coach Wojcik's younger brother, Dave, served as an assistant for one season at Dayton in 2004-05.
• CofC assistant coach Amir Abdur-Rahim will reunite with Murray State head coach Steve Prohm. Both were MSU assistants under Billy Kennedy, now the head coach at Texas A&M. Abdur-Rahim served as an assistant coach for the Racers from 2008-11. This is also Abdur-Rahim's second-straight Charleston Classic appearance serving as director of player development for head coach Brian Gregory at Georgia Tech last season.
• CofC junior big man Trent Wiedeman, who is a native of Suwanee, Ga., played AAU basketball with Auburn freshman guard Jordan Price, who is a native of Decatur, Ga.
CofC 75, Towson 58
• The Cougars went with the starting five of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, sophomore Adjehi Baru and junior Trent Wiedeman. It marked Thomas' first career start in a CofC uniform as a JUCO transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
• With the victory, CofC now leads 2-1 in the all-time series with Towson.
• First-year head coach Doug Wojcik earned his first career coaching victory with the Cougars after taking over the reins of the program in April upon the retirement of former head coach Bobby Cremins.
• The Cougars have now won five consecutive regular-season home opening games since 2008.
• CofC held Towson to single digits until the 5:21 minute mark of the first half. Last year, the Cougars held Holy Cross in their regular-season opener to an opponent season-low 19 points in a half on Nov. 11, 2011 at TD Arena.
• Andrew Lawrence grabbed a career-high tying seven rebounds versus the Tigers. He last brought down seven boards against UNCG on Jan. 12, 2012.
• Redshirt junior Willis Hall scored his first points since missing the 2011-12 season with an ACL injury with a layup at the 3:49 minute mark of the first half.
• For the game, CofC shot 56.3 percent (27-of-48) and an improved 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from the charity stripe versus Towson. Last season, the team shot better than 50 percent on five occasions. The school record for highest field-goal percentage in a single game is 60 percent set twice against Furman in 1999 and versus Georgia Southern in 2008.
COUGAR SOUND BITES
"I'm glad to see Coach Lavin back (from his recovery from prostate cancer). He's a friend of mine and we have been coaching the same length of time. He has a good team. They beat a very good Detroit team yesterday. They are long, athletic and shoot it from all five positions. They blocked a ton of shots against Detroit and they have a big-time scorer in D'Angelo Harrison. We will have to take care of the basketball, get back into transition defense and not give up a lot of layups, to be successful on Thursday night." - CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik on opening the Charleston Classic with St. John's
"Being able to host the Charleston Classic is special and all due to the hard work Coach Cremins and (ESPN Vice President) Dan Shoemaker have put in to get it here. We hope the on-going support from our local community can continue to keep it here. This tournament is a great thing for Charleston and basketball in the state of South Carolina. The more we can promote our game in the state, the better. We will have a good atmosphere on hand on Thursday night. Our band, dance team, cheerleaders and students, really make it a great environment for college basketball." - Coach Wojcik on the success of the Charleston Classic the last five years and the support received by the fans and community
"We are pretty excited. It's always great to play a tournament in your own gym. It definitely gives us a little bit of an advantage. To play a BIG EAST team is a big opportunity for us to gain more exposure and make a name for ourselves." - Junior Forward Trent Wiedeman on hosting St. John's in the opening-round game on Thursday night at TD Arena
"It's nice to have Andrew (Lawrence) and I side-by-side on the court and as a cohesive unit. We have the ability to handle the ball and relieve the pressure off of each other. We have built good chemistry between the two of us, because we had the opportunity to play with each other last year and know each other's game well. It also helps us get out in transition, so we can get our offense started quickly." - Sophomore Point Guard Anthony Stitt on playing alongside senior point guard Andrew Lawrence and why they work so well together on the court