CofC Athletics Communications
"I probably wouldn't look very good in the shorts," said College of Charleston junior forward Willis Hall pondering life on a 1980s basketball court. "I have an old-school feel to my game. It's not pretty or flashy, but I just go in there and do what I gotta do."
It's that hard-nosed attitude that fits in perfectly with the philosophy of first-year head coach Doug Wojcik, whose formative years at the U.S. Naval Academy drove his belief in solid defense and rebounding. Of anyone on the Cougar roster, Hall exemplifies those traits the most.
"I work hard," Hall said. "I try to hustle and be where I'm supposed to be on the court. I try to give 100 percent effort and do what's required of me and make sure that we're all working together."
In Hall's mind, the team began to do just that during their preseason foreign tour to Canada in August.
"The Canada trip was great," he said. "It helped us build as a team and become a better unit. Especially with the new guys we added (in the offseason), you can never get enough time together before the games start. So, that's going to go in our favor and you'll see that it will help us in the long run."
For Hall, the trip marked the completion of his recovery from a torn ACL he suffered a year ago during the first week of preseason practice. Hall cut to the basket and awkwardly twisted his leg, tearing his ACL and shutting him down for the remainder of the season. In the process, the Cougars lost their third-leading scorer (8.4 ppg) and third-leading rebounder (5.9 rpg) as well as their most physical presence around the basket.
Fortunately, Hall was granted a medical redshirt and has two years of eligibility remaining. But, that doesn't mean the year away from the game wasn't difficult.
"The rehab was long and it was tough," said Hall, who went through six months of rehabilitation with the help and encouragement of Director of Sports Medicine Chris Horschel and Director of Sports Performance Steve Bamel. "Not being out there on the court; every day you're working out, rehabbing and getting treatment. It's all of the things players don't want to do."
The rehab itself was one thing. But for Hall, the rugged forward with an old-school game, the watching and the waiting was much worse.
"While you're rehabbing, your buddies are playing," he said. "And then while they're playing, you have to watch.
"I'm not the first person to go through this. It's something that you can't sit and sulk about and cry about. But, it's also something you can learn from and become better from. I looked at it as a positive instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for myself."
According to Hall, his knee is 100 percent and he is, "ready to rock-n-roll" in what he expects to be a banner year for the Cougars. Much of that success, however, will be on the broad shoulders of Hall - and, if his successful rehabilitation and determination is any indication, quite a year that will be.
AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE CHARLESTON FRONTCOURT
CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik will use a four-or five-man rotation as he attempts to fill out the thinnest part of the roster. He will need big minutes from his big men as the Cougars will have to stay out of foul trouble to successfully navigate a tough non-conference schedule and a difficult Southern Conference slate.
"Willis is probably 95 percent back right now, maybe even higher. He is a throwback kid, who should have played with me in the mid-80s with the shorty shorts. He is efficient and vocal on the floor and a great leader. He is great with kids and with our fans. We need him to do everything - providing leadership, making shots and helping manage the game."
"Trent is the best low-post presence on the team based on strength, weight and being able to hold his position in the post. He needs to develop a 'go-to' low post move, keep it simple and not make it complicated. He needs to make his free throws, because he is going to touch the ball."
"Adjehi needs to consistently score the basketball. He is a big-time athlete and is so long. I need him to play without fouling. With our lack of depth, if he can play without fouling, we have a chance. Off the court, he has a wonderful personality - he is very bright and engaging."
"Anthony is an unbelievably pleasant surprise. He is a humble kid with great work ethic. He is a very versatile player, who will go from playing the one at times, to playing the four. He is a player very similar in a sense to Antwaine Wiggins with his size. He is hard to guard, can be a good wing for us and play active defense. He can get the rebound, take the ball and start a fast-break off the defensive glass. Anthony is a very good team leader and a good role model. We were lucky to land him."
"David is the tallest player in school history. He is really working on his weight right now with our strength coach. We wish he did not have to take the year off as a transfer, but he needs to use this time to become a better athlete. He will be a great player for our scout team, because the better your scout team, the better your team."
"Judson is a big-time scout team guy for us. He can make shots and is a great student. He is a tough kid who can battle in practice. He and David Wishon grew up playing AAU basketball together in Charlotte and what they bring to the scout team is very valuable to us."
Brannan Lahoda is currently a graduate student enrolled in the College of Charleston's one-year global MBA program. He previously served as an editor for one of the nation's top college newspapers at his alma mater West Virginia University and was hired by The Associated Press after graduation. This is the third installment of a four-part series leading up to the 2012-13 CofC men's basketball season on CofCSports.com. To purchase men's basketball season tickets, please call the CofC Ticket Office at 1-843-953-COFC (2632).