CHARLESTON, S.C. - On its recent four-day preseason foreign tour of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the College of Charleston men's basketball team faced tough competition against professional and college squads, while gaining valuable time on the road bonding in preparation for the upcoming 2012-13 season under first-year head coach Doug Wojcik.
Although the Cougars posted a 1-2 record on the trip, they were able to work on many facets of their game including on defense and rebounding. Aside from basketball, the team went sightseeing around the city with stops by the CN Tower and the Eaton Centre.
"The trip was everything I thought and wanted it to be for our team," Wojcik said. "The competition was a little stiffer playing two pro teams (Elite Phase One and A-Game Hoops) which ended up being better for us. If you go early to Canada, you play pro teams, and if you go later, you play college teams. Our guys traveled well and we accomplished a great deal while on the road."
The CofC travel roster included senior Matt Sundberg (Kennesaw, Ga.), senior walk-on Bart Benton (Monroe, Ga.), redshirt junior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.), junior Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.), junior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.), junior transfer Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.), sophomore Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.), sophomore Trevonté Dixon (Florence, S.C.), sophomore Pat Branin (Richmond, Va.), freshman Theo Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif.) and freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
"I think I have an idea of our depth and rotation after the trip," Wojcik said. "We certainly rebounded the ball well. Theo Johnson, as a freshman, was a bright spot for us. We learned a lot about our team, played everyone on the travel roster and know the things we need to work on. It's nice to have this kind of experience, before entering the fall."
Two players absent on the travel roster were senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England), who competed with the Great Britain National Team in the 2012 London Olympic Games, and sophomore transfer David Wishon (Concord, N.C.), who is sitting out a year in residency at CofC.
"Our strength, whether we went to Toronto or not, is really balance between our post play and perimeter play," Wojcik said. "We will be a balanced team this year. When school starts (on Aug. 21), we will start right away with four-man workouts and jump right in there with team workouts beginning on Sept. 15."
GAME 1 - Elite Phase One 71, College of Charleston 64
CofC Top Scorer: Anthony Thomas (20 points)
CofC Top Rebounder: Willis Hall (9 rebounds)
Additional CofC Stats: 57.1 3PT%, +11 rebounding margin (38-27)
Anthony Thomas scored a team-high 20 points as CofC fell 71-64 to Elite Phase One in its first exhibition game on Aug. 9 at Ryerson University's Kerr Hall Gymnasium. Thomas, a JUCO transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, went 8-of-20 from the field with two three-pointers in his unofficial Cougar debut.
Adjehi Baru and Willis Hall, who missed the 2011-12 season recovering from a preseason ACL injury, were the other CofC players in double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Denham Brown, a former standout at Connecticut, was the leading scorer for the Cougars' opponents comprised of Canadian professionals, who played collegiately in the U.S., with 17 points. The Elite Phase One roster also included NC State alum Alex Johnson (11 points) and former UCLA and Oklahoma standout Ryan Wright (15 points).
Wojcik recruited Wright when he was an assistant at Michigan State under head coach Tom Izzo and named his nine-year-old son, Denham Wojcik, after UConn's Brown.
GAME 2 - A-Game Hoops 86, College of Charleston 81
CofC Top Scorer: Trent Wiedeman (18 points)
CofC Top Rebounder: Adjehi Baru (12 rebounds)
Additional CofC Stats: 66.7 3PT%, +12 rebounding margin (35-23)
Returning All-Southern Conference Team performer Trent Wiedeman, who underwent ankle surgery in the off-season, knocked down a team-high 18 points as the College of Charleston lost a close 86-81 decision to A-Game Hoops on Aug. 10 at Kerr Hall Gymnasium.
The Cougars cut a 22-point halftime deficit to one, with two minutes remaining in regulation. However, A-Game Hoops was able to collect the victory on the shoulders of leading scorer Tut Ruach (20 points), who plays professionally overseas in Sweden, and Isaac Kuon (19 points), who plays in the National Basketball League of Canada for the Saint John Mill Rats.
CofC outscored their opponents in the third quarter, 30-11, and shot an improved 56.3 percent from the field (18-of-32) in the second half of play to get within reach of a comeback.
Anthony Thomas and Anthony Stitt added 17 points each.
GAME 3 - College of Charleston 94, George Brown College 49
CofC Top Scorer: Matt Sundberg (15 points)
CofC Top Rebounder: Adjehi Baru (12 rebounds)
Additional CofC Stats: 17 assists, 12 steals, +17 rebounding margin (51-34)
Matt Sundberg was one of four College of Charleston players who scored in double figures in a 94-49 rout of George Brown College in the team's final exhibition game in the Great White North on Aug. 11 at Alex Barbier Gym.
Sundberg registered a team-high 15 points followed by Willis Hall (12), Adjehi Baru (11) and Anthony Stitt (11). Baru also recorded a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds leading the Cougars to outrebound their third-straight opponent, 51-34 (+17).
As a team, CofC shot 56.7 percent from the floor (34-of-60) and led 49-24 at halftime. The Cougars also dished out 17 assists and made 12 steals versus the Huskies.