Post and Courier
March 26, 2012
MOUNT PLEASANT -- The College of Charleston concluded the inaugural Charleston Sand Classic with a dramatic 3-2 win over North Florida on Sunday afternoon.
With the dual victory, the Cougars moved to 2-3 in dual competitions this season, and finished 2-1 on the weekend after defeating Mercer on Friday and losing to Pepperdine on Saturday.
College of Charleston went in a hole early as the opening four and five pairings each lost close matches to the Ospreys.
After a one-hour weather delay, North Florida won the first and second pairing, 21-13 and 21-11, respectively. However, the Cougars responded with furious rallies to force deciding sets.
As the top pair, Elyse Chubb and Lizzie Theesfeld's victory of 13-21, 21-16, 15-11 was crucial to sealing the dual victory. Chubb notched 11 kills in the second game and finished with 23 for the match. Theesfeld made eight digs and 10 kills.
The College of Charleston was crowned the Szambecki Team Race champion in Norfolk, Va.
Charleston, which finished a couple of points short of Georgetown a year ago for second place, defeated the eight-team field with a 6-1 record after the final round.
The College of Charleston (18-13, 5-4) won its Southern Conference series over Western Carolina with a 7-0 win in the rubber game in Cullowhee, N.C.
Stephanie Saylors (11-6) threw her third consecutive complete-game shutout and struck out three hitters without surrendering a walk.
Post and Courier
March 26, 2012
MOUNT PLEASANT -- The College of Charleston earned its fourth shutout of the season with a 6-0 win over Davidson to garner a series sweep over the Wildcats. It marked the third straight SoCon series sweep for the Cougars and fourth sweep of the season.
Charleston (18-6, 10-2) scored runs in the first inning for the third straight time over Davidson, while the Cougars pitching staff continued to build on its league-leading ERA of 2.28.
Matt Pegler (5-0) earned his fifth win of the season and lowered his season ERA to 1.69. He pitched seven innings and scattered five hits while striking out three batters with no walks. Dre Watts and Kyle Owings pitched the eighth and ninth innings to shut the door on the Wildcats (8-13, 2-7).
Senior Marty Gantt continued his stellar season with a two-run homer and two stolen bases, while Brandon Murray went 2 for 2 with two RBIs and three walks. Bradley Goodson tallied two hits and Jimmy Holton hit his first career triple.
Danny Mooney (1-1) suffered the loss for the Wildcats, giving up four earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
The Cougars put together consecutive hits to lead off the first inning for the third time this weekend. With two outs and runners on the corners, Murray singled through the right side to score Jackson. Rob Harding ripped a single to right center to score Watts and make the score 2-0.
Charleston added a run in the second inning after a triple from Holton landed fair in deep right field. Goodson grounded out to the right side to score Holton and bring the score to 3-0.
Davidson loaded the bases in the fifth inning with no outs, but Pegler induced infield popouts from Chris Dyer and Jake Berman and then Gunnar Heidt made an outstanding diving catch on a blooper to short center field to keep the Wildcats off the board.
Post and Courier
March 26, 2012
Natasha Adair, an associate head coach at Wake Forest, will be introduced Tuesday as the new College of Charleston women's basketball coach.
Adair, 39, replaces Nancy Wilson, who retired this season. Wilson spent 17 of her 30 years coaching at the College of Charleston, amassing a 542-365 record. She was 311-215 at the College of Charleston.
"The College of Charleston is very excited to have Natasha Adair as our next women's basketball head coach," College of Charleston athletic director Joe Hull said Saturday.
"Natasha has spent the last eight years at Wake Forest, competing at the highest level in the Atlantic Coast Conference. On a night-in and night-out basis, she has competed against the very finest basketball programs and players in the country."
Adair has been the associate head coach for five of her eight years at Wake Forest where she also was the recruiting coordinator. Wake Forest finished 20-12 this season and competed in the Women's NIT. Before coming to Wake, she spent six seasons as an assistant at Georgetown. Adair told the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal her contract at the College of Charleston is a five-year deal.
Adair is a native of Washington, D.C., played two years at Pensacola Junior College and graduated from South Florida in 1994 with a degree in communications.
"This is a dream come true," Adair told the Winston-Salem Journal. "To get a chance to be a head coach for the first time is really exciting and I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life.
"Nancy was a pioneer in coaching and she really fought for a lot when women's basketball was not getting exposure and was trying to find its niche," Adair added. "So to come to College of Charleston and follow her is just an honor."
Adair and her husband, Aaron, have two children, Aaron Michael, 14, and Allyssa Michelle, 6.
Her formal introduction to the College of Charleston will come at 3 p.m. Tuesday at TD Arena.
March 25, 2012
Befitting a southern hospitality welcome, the revered College of Charleston opened-up its sand court doors to four very appreciative universities for its inaugural Sand Classic this weekend.
Sand volleyball teams from Pepperdine University, Mercer University, the University of North Florida, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham trekked to the picturesque Charleston, SC area to compete along with the Cougars squad in this three-day event.
Held on three man-made courts at the Creekside Tennis and Swim Center, five doubles teams competed for their school in a series of 45 well-run duals matches at this inland facility the Cougars call their home.
The five universities gathered at this mid-season competition represent a fitting sample of the overall set of 16 schools who are fielding teams in this inaugural NCAA Sand Volleyball season.
The Malibu-based Pepperdine squad brought its California powerhouse beach game eastward. Its 16-member unit, comprised of 14 athletes from its indoor NCAA 2011 Indoor Championships Elite-Eight team and two beach volleyball specialists, dominated the weekend.
The Waves, led by the legendary indoor coach Nina Matthies, swept all of its 20 matches to add four more duals wins to its impressive season record. Its top pairing, junior Caitlin Racich and freshman Summer Ross, relied on their strong beach experience to sweep their four matches against the other school’s top seeds.
“I feel like the luckiest person. Who would think we would be in Charleston playing sand volleyball against some great teams?” said Racich.
The UNF Ospreys showcased their talent in winning two of its duals match-ups, including a narrow defeat of the UAB Blazers by a 3-2 match margin. Their recently hired coach, Steve Loeswick, utilized his extensive indoor and outdoor volleyball leadership experience to guide all his teams during the pre-season. “It took a while for the girls to get their sand legs, and they were a little skeptical at first.”
Yet, his top tandem of juniors: Emily Strack and Dagnija MedIna transitioned easily from the indoor game. "I am so excited going from indoor to the beach. I like the beach game better because you get to touch the ball most every time,” said Strack.
The Mercer Bears contingent, comprised of all indoor players, traveled from Georgia to compete in its first large-scale NCAA event. Assistant Coach Dan Follett said, “They put on a fantastic tournament. It was a great atmosphere.”
The host College of Charleston, which defeated Mercer on Friday, was lead by Coach Jason Kepner and Assistant Coach Jake Elliott. Looking back on the weekend, Kepner said, “I think everyone enjoyed it. It has been a lot of fun.”
Live 5 News
March 25, 2012
March 25, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Like tens of thousands of youngsters watching this year's NCAA tournament, Jermel President once dreamed of an NBA career. And while the star guard for the College of Charleston in the late 1990s came close, he never quite made it.
But for the past decade he has used that sometimes painful experience along with basketball and the foundation he founded to teach hundreds of student athletes in his native Charleston that life is more than dreams of going pro.
During the years President was on the court, power conference schools were wary of playing the Cougars. During that time, Charleston went to the NIT once, the NCAA tournament three times and ended two seasons ranked No. 16 in in the final Associated Press basketball poll.
Looking back, he said, the dream of making an NBA career wasn't always a good thing.
"I had that dream, and it's a horrible dream to have because it's just such a long shot," said President, whose number has been retired and whose picture hangs on a banner from the rafters of the TD Arena where the Cougars play.
"A lot of kids just fall by the wayside because they are trying to get the unattainable dream. If they don't go to a Division 1 college, they feel there is no chance they can make it," he said.
President, who with his foundation staff works with athletes from middle school through high school throughout the year, trains kids in basketball but adds life education as well. That includes proper nutrition, decision-making, teamwork, loyalty and other off-the-court skills.
Now the DAE Foundation — the name has initials of President's family members — will offer an exposure camp for high school players from around the state in July to give players who might be overlooked a chance to be seen by coaches from smaller schools. It's a logical extension of what President has tried to teach students for years.
If students don't get recruited by a big school, "in their minds it's all over for them. But that's not the case. We tell them here's another way you can redirect your talent," he said.
Students can get a scholarship from a smaller school, play ball and get an education. Some could go on to play overseas, said President, who never made it to an NBA team but did play on an NBA summer league team in New Jersey coached by former NBA star Rick Barry.
The odds of a player already on a high school team making a pro team at any level approaches 3,000 to 1. The odds of making the NBA are even slimmer. A college player has one chance in 75 of making any professional team, he said.
And professional careers are short — the average for a professional athlete is only five years — because of injuries and a new class of players arriving each year. Also, because players tend to concentrate on their sports year-round, they have few other job skills or work experience on their resumes.
After his eligibility at Charleston ended, President left school to play for Barry. But he later returned to Charleston, worried about keeping a place on the team and about facing a future without a degree. He graduated and then chased the dream of a pro career by playing in Canada and Mexico before returning to Charleston for good in 2004.
"Skillfully, I just wasn't good enough and that was tough to accept," said President, who refused for years to even watch basketball on television. He only recently started watching games again.
John Kresse, who coached President during his years at the college, said what President is doing is "one of the proudest things one of my players has ever done. People say he's a great player, but he's a greater person."
While there are thousands of basketball camps and programs, President said his foundation is different because he can relate to kids about having that dream but not quite realizing it.
He said teaching kids to play, have life skills and realize success isn't only spelled "NBA" is important.
One of the students he works with, 17-year-old Michael Byrd, is one of those players who always dreamed of the NBA. Now, he said, President has shown him there are opportunities to play, perhaps for a smaller school and perhaps then play overseas.
"As I've gotten older, I've seen that making it to the NBA may not be a possibility, but Jermel telling me I can make it in other areas" is encouraging, he said. "I look up to him a lot. He didn't play in the NBA, but he played overseas and look where he is now."
Berry said President has a great story to tell because he wanted to make it the NBA and didn't quite make it, so kids can relate to him.
"The idea is to change the minds of these kids and change the approach," President said. "It's only going to benefit themselves and their families instead of trying to sell them a big dream that’s mostly unattainable.”
March 24, 2012
Sun, sand, and music – all are must-haves for any college student on spring break. Several dozen athletes welcomed the chance to enjoy these extracurricular pleasures, all the while competing in the sport they love.
The largest NCAA Collegiate Sand Volleyball event to date, hosted by the College of Charleston this weekend, attracted four other schools from across the nation.
This “Sand Classic,” organized by the Cougar coaching staff, has firmly planted the stakes in the sand for this newbie collegiate sport that barely fought off vigorous opposition two years ago. Soon after a January 2010 NCAA convention, where objecting petitions were filed by over 60 schools, this sport took flight as several universities roded a wave of momentum towards establishing programs for this kickoff year.
Despite the school’s proximity to the South Carolina beaches, Coach Jason Kepner conducted the three-day event at the posh Creekside Tennis and Swim Facility - the school’s home court which is a ten-minute drive from the downtown campus. "We have had this on our radar now for a while,“ said Kepner, who pulled double-duty in both managing the event along with his team.
For this competition that began on Friday, teams from Pepperdine University, Mercer University, the University of North Florida, and the University of Alabama–Birmingham competed against each other in a series of duals contests.
Among the three courts resting on a bed of soft sand about a foot in depth, five doubles teams from each school battled each other in “best-of-three set” matches. As music blared across the courts, the sun-drenched fans and teammates cheered their favorites from courtside bleachers and from a balcony overlooking the action.
Through Saturday’s play, the Pepperdine Waves (3-0) ripped through the ranks blanking all five pairings from three other schools. Paced by its top-seeded team, beach specialists Summer Ross and Caitlin Racich, the Waves proved their dominance.
“Our goal is to be the top school this year, and have the best five teams at the championships,” said Nine Matthies, the legendary indoor coach who is now focused on the beach game. The season-ending championship tournament will be held in Gulf Shores, AL from April 27-29.
Post and Courier
March 20, 2012
Bobby Cremins is stepping down as the College of Charleston men's basketball coach, but he's not abandoning the school.
Cremins has agreed to remain with the College of Charleston in a relationship-building and fund-raising capacity, school president Dr. George Benson said Monday after Cremins announced that he was retiring after six years as the Cougars' head coach. Benson said financial terms for his new role have not been reached.
Cremins, 64, began a medical leave of absence for exhaustion on Jan. 27, and in the interim was replaced by associate head coach Mark Byington, who guided the Cougars to a 7-4 record. The team finished 19-12 after losing in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament.
"Sometimes our body sends us signals, so we have to listen," Cremins said Monday at TD Arena. "The silver lining is that my staff, led by Mark Byington, my team, my school, they had my back and responded in a special way."
The search for Cremins' replacement will begin immediately, said director of athletics Joe Hull. He said Byington will be one of the finalists.
Byington said he expects all of the players to return next season because "every player on our team loves their teammates, they love the city and they like playing basketball here."
Hull did not identify any other candidates for the job, but several
names are already being mentioned. Among them are former Cougar standout Anthony Johnson, former Boston College coach Al Skinner, current Clemson assistant and North Charleston native Earl Grant and current Wofford head coach Mike Young.
There were several coaches in the crowd at TD Arena on Monday. Former College of Charleston coach John Kresse, former Citadel and N.C. State coach Les Robinson, and former Clemson and current Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis were there to show support for their colleague and friend.
Cremins had been out of coaching for six years when he was approached about the College of Charleston job.
The school had gone through a tumultuous four-year relationship with Tom Herrion.
Former College of Charleston assistant Gregg Marshall, who was coaching at Winthrop, accepted the College of Charleston job and then called on his way back to Rock Hill to say he had reconsidered. Cremins, who was living on Hilton Head Island and doing basketball commentary, was contacted and accepted the job.
His contract paid him $246,385 per year and ran through the 2013-14 season.
Everything except ...
During Cremins' six seasons at the College of Charleston the Cougars compiled a 125-67 record. The Cougars played in the 2011 NIT and participated in the College Basketball Insider tournament in 2009 and 2010.
"In six years, short of an NCAA bid, we have accomplished everything we wanted," Cremins said. "We've been to the (SoCon) finals three times and I look forward to the day when we win it all."
Before coming to the College of Charleston, Cremins coached at Appalachian State from 1975-81 and at Georgia Tech from 1981-2000. He retires with a career record of 579-374.
"Being able to come back to coaching here at the College has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life," Cremins said.
"In 2006, after being out of coaching for six years and assuming that I would never coach again, I came here not knowing what to expect. It didn't take my wife, Carolyn, and I long to fall in love with the College, our incredibly city and the wonderful people who live here."
Feelings of sadness
Junior point guard Andrew Lawrence, whose father Renaldo played for Cremins at Appalachian State, said it is hard to see Cremins leave.
"I'll miss him dearly, but I'll still be in contact with him. I hope all the best for him," Lawrence said.
Carolyn Cremins said the finality of the decision made the day emotional.
"We would be walking, even early in the season, and he'd ask: 'How much longer do you think I'll coach?' I'd say, 'At least until you're 70. We're having the most fun we've ever had.' He would not comment. He was not having fun any more."
She promised to continue baking cakes for the players on their birthdays and other special occasions.
While there were tears shed by Cremins and Benson during the announcement, a number of people pointed out that the mood should be upbeat.
"We should celebrate everything he did over 30 years of coaching. He's one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He's done so much for basketball. And he won a ton of games," Byington said.
Dwight Johnson, who chairs the athletics committee for the College of Charleston Board of Trustees, said he was ecstatic the school will still be able to utilize Cremins.
"I can't say enough about the fact when Bobby came in he restored credibility to the basketball program at the College of Charleston," Johnson said.
"It's an emotional day, but it's not a sad day. We are very happy for Bobby and we're ready to take the next step."
Post and Courier
March 20, 2012
A smart man scanned the crowd at Bobby Cremins' farewell news conference Monday. He noticed, among others at TD Arena, former ACC head basketball coaches Les Robinson and Cliff Ellis paying homage.
"Our next coach," College of Charleston President George Benson said, "has a tough act to follow."
There were tears before, during and after Cremins made official what most realists have suspected since he took medical leave on Jan. 27, that the "exhaustion" and health concerns are enough to force the personable 64-year-old to retire.
But there were two things for Cougars fans to smile about.
Wisely, athletic director Joe Hull and his to-be-named search committee will patiently do the "national search" thing in looking for Cremins' replacement.
Shrewdly, Benson plans to keep Cremins around in some kind of part-time gig designed to raise funds. It's possible that much of the lifting will be done around the Charleston Classic basketball tournament.
Pace yourselves, Cougars fans.
Hull was asked if he has a short list of candidates.
"More like a long list," he said.
The short-term, long-list plan: Expand, then "narrow it back down" and get serious. Hull is
scheduled to go to New Orleans next week for the Final Four, a traditional Coach Search Zone.
There is no timetable.
Or annex CSU
"We want to be as quick as is reasonable," Hull said. "But to be honest with you, I can't let a timetable drive the process. We have to make sure we're thorough and we hire the right candidate. So I don't want to start with artificial limits. But, of course, the sooner the better."
New coach support factions will break strongly for current assistant Mark Byington and former College of Charleston and NBA guard Anthony Johnson.
Byington, Hull said, has earned the right to be "one of the finalists." Surely, Johnson will get a formal interview.
Of course, Hull, who is looking for both men's and women's basketball head coaches, could save a lot of time and money and try to hire Charleston Southern's overachieving Barclay Radebaugh and Julie Goodenough.
As for Cremins' future role, Benson isn't precisely sure.
"We don't have a contract yet," Benson said. "We don't know the details. We don't know what the salary will be. But it will definitely be in the area of building relationships, hopefully leading to some fundraising. We literally don't have a job description right now."
Big part-time role
This much is known: "It is unlikely to be full-time," Benson said.
Partly because legendary former College of Charleston head coach John Kresse has a full-time job with the school.
But Cremins is very valuable in the Charleston Classic department. He personally has recruited well-known programs to play in the November tournament run by ESPN, and in exchange gets plum holiday tournament assignments and TV slots for the Cougars.
"Exactly," Benson said. "With the combination of him and all his connections and this nice facility, we can bring in the good teams."
Cremins didn't get the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament; that hasn't happened since Kresse's last run in 1999. But he brought a fan base back together after the odd fractures within the Tom Herrion years.
Importantly, he more than maintained interest at TD Arena; Charleston in Cremins' sixth season led the Southern Conference in attendance even with an injury-riddled team that didn't make a postseason tournament.
He leaves the next guy with the best young talent in the league.
Tough act to follow?
March 19, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Bobby Cremins said this time he is stepping down for good.
Nearly two months after taking a medical leave of absence from the College of Charleston men's basketball team, an emotional Cremins announced Monday he was retiring from the game.
But he struggled to get the words out.
The coach's voice cracked and he fought back tears as he addressed players, friends and administrators on the floor of TD Arena, the Cougars' home court.
"With the blessings of my family, my team, staff, friends, and the College of Charleston, I have decided to retire as our coach," Cremins said.
The 64-year-old Cremins announced on Jan. 27 that he would miss the rest of the Cougars' season and later said he was physically exhausted. Cremins went on an indefinite medical leave of absence but said his condition was not life-threatening.
College of Charleston athletic director Joe Hull said at the time that he planned to speak with Cremins over the next few weeks to determine it the coach will be out even longer.
"It was unfortunate what happened to me in late January. I didn't like what happened and I'll never know why," Cremins said. "Our bodies sometimes send us signals, so we have to listen. The silver lining is that my staff, led by Mark Byington, my team, my school, they had my back and they responded in a special way."
Ten days after his initial announcement, Cremins said on Feb. 6 that he "had no gas" and that his players knew. "They could feel it." He added that while his energy level wasn't where it needed to be, he was "definitely feeling a lot better" at that time.
Under Byington, the Cougars finished the season 19-12 and were knocked out of the Southern Conference tournament in the first round for the first time since joining the league in 1998.
Cremins was in his sixth season with the Cougars when he stepped away in January after spending 19 years coaching Georgia Tech. He has led Charleston to 20 victories in each of his seasons.
The Cougars started this season 10-2 with wins over Clemson and Tennessee, but had lost six of their last eight when Cremins took his medical leave.
Cremins is 579-375 in 31 seasons of coaching, and the Yellow Jackets named their home court for him before he returned to coaching in 2006. He grew up in the Bronx then came south to play for South Carolina and fellow New York-transplant Frank McGuire.
"I loved coaching in the state where I began my college playing career," Cremins said. "I'll never be able to thank the late, great coach (Frank McGuire) for bringing me to Columbia in 1965. I loved playing for the Gamecocks."
Cremins got his first head coaching job at Appalachian State, leading the Mountaineers to the NCAA tournament in 1979.
Three years later, he left for Georgia Tech and the Atlantic Coast Conference. He led the Yellow Jackets to nine NCAA tournament appearances and reached the Final Four in 1990. He also won three ACC tournament titles and two regular-season crowns before the program tailed off and he was let go after the 2000 season.
"Coaching at GT in the ACC conference, coming back to the SoCon where I began my coaching career at Appalachian State was something special," Cremins said. "Incredible journey for me and my family."
Cremins spent the next several years as a college basketball analyst, playing tennis on Hilton Head, until deciding to come back to coaching at the College of Charleston.
The coach acknowledged feeling "burned out" while at Georgia Tech and sought to re-energize himself when he accepted the head coaching job with his alma mater, South Carolina, in 1993. Cremins, though, reneged three days later and returned to the Yellow Jackets for seven more seasons. Cremins has said he sought a psychiatrist's help recovering from that flip-flop.
"Now, I know why I waited six years to get back into it," Cremins said in February.