Not only is Charleston Southern not in Charleston, it’s not south of Charleston, either (unless you’re talking about the Charleston in West Virginia). CSU is in Ladson, about 18 miles northwest of the Holy City. Ladson is not exactly a suburb of Charleston.
That doesn’t prevent the school from emphasizing its connection to Charleston, however tenuous that connection may be. The media guide, for example, has this fine example of glossing over the fact the school really isn’t in the city:
“the University is strategically located near Charleston, South Carolina, in the center of the modern growth patterns of the tri-county area. Students take advantage of the cultural, historical and recreational opportunities the city offers. Charleston is a city famous for its well-preserved colonial houses, famous gardens and plantations, miles of wide sandy beaches, and major fine arts events…”
CSU has been CSU since 1990. The school was originally founded in 1964 as Baptist College, but as it got larger, the powers-that-be decided to change its name. Part of this had to do with people confusing it for a seminary. CSU (as Baptist) had been an NCAA Division I member for 15 years at the time of the switch, which occurred around the same time the College of Charleston became a full-fledged member of the division, leading to occasional confusion when the likes of ESPN or the AP reported scoring updates, as people mixed up the two schools regularly. More than once a reference to “College of Charleston Southern” was made as well. The national befuddlement has largely subsided now, however.
(I was a little amused to notice, though, that in CSU’s game notes there is a breakdown of the school’s alltime record under each of the school’s names. The school recorded 285 wins as Baptist College, and has 207 so far as Charleston Southern.)
Charleston Southern (the school teams are nicknamed the Buccaneers, or the “Bucs”) has won the Big South tournament twice, but the first time the conference did not have an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. CSU did go to the tourney in 1997, when it won the league tournament for the second (and to date, last) time. Charleston Southern lost to UCLA that year in the first round. Probably the most well-known CSU hoopster, at least in the Lowcountry, is longtime Charleston TV personality Warren Peper, who played basketball at Baptist College in the 1970s.
Although The Citadel and Charleston Southern are less than twenty miles apart, the two schools have had stretches of not playing each other that have lasted for several years at a time. There were no games between the Bulldogs and Bucs from 1987 through 1992, from 1999 through 2001, and again from 2003 through 2004. Part of this has been due to personality conflicts between various individuals, and part of it has to do with CSU’s home court situation (there is a chicken-and-the-egg aspect to the conflicts/court issue).
Charleston Southern’s on-campus “arena” is the CSU Fieldhouse, which according to a Wikipedia entry (why is there a Wiki entry for the CSU Fieldhouse?) seats 790 fans, and is reportedly the smallest home gym in Division I. Now, to be honest, I think it can seat more than 790 (the announced attendance for the Bucs’ home opener against Furman was 846), but it is a really small gym. Thus, CSU plays select “home” games at the North Charleston Coliseum, which seats over 13,000 in its basketball configuration.
As you might imagine, the Bucs never draw close to that many people for any of their home games, no matter the opponent (Clemson played CSU at the Coliseum about a decade ago; the game drew less than 4,000 fans). I once went to a game at the Coliseum between CSU and Furman that could not have had more than 200 spectators in attendance, and that was counting the operations staff. Tonight’s game should be a little better than that, but I would be surprised if more than 2,500 people are at the game.
However, the Coliseum is a selling point for the Bucs when recruiting (“see, if you’re good we’ll fill this arena with thousands of screaming fans!”). What CSU really needs is a place to play bigger than its current home gym but not as gargantuan as the North Charleston Coliseum. An arena with around 5,000 seats would do the trick.
The Citadel leads (!) the alltime series with CSU 18-13. The Bucs have won five of the last six games in the series, but the one loss came last year at McAlister Field House, 76-73. That game was typical of The Citadel’s season (poor defensive statistics across the board, heavy reliance on the three, etc.) except that The Citadel shot 50% from behind the line (11-22) and attempted (and made) a lot more free throws than normal. Those two elements contributed to one of the Bulldogs’ two wins last season against Division I competition (late in the season, The Citadel notched its only conference victory, over Western Carolina).
Zach Urbanus went 5-6 from three-land, scoring 21 points, and the Bulldogs also got good games from Cameron Wells (15 points, 7 assists) and Demetrius Nelson (12 points, 8 rebounds in one of his last games before taking a medical redshirt). Phillip Pandak made three 3-pointers, finishing with 11 points. For CSU, Jamarco Warren was a force, scoring a game-high 22 points while making six 3-pointers and dishing out 5 assists. Omar Carter added 17 points. All of those players return for Tuesday night’s game.
This season, CSU is 2-2, with losses at Iowa (by 68-48; The Citadel lost at home to the Hawkeyes 70-48) and to the College of Charleston (at the North Charleston Coliseum). The Bucs have defeated Toccoa Falls (a non-Division I school) and Furman, both at home. The game against the CofC was an up-and-down affair, while the Iowa and Furman games were slower-paced. I think CSU would probably like to play a little faster against The Citadel than it did against the Hawkeyes and Paladins. CSU takes care of the basketball and shoots fairly well from behind the arc (and was 8-12 from that distance against Toccoa Falls, so it comes into tonight’s game confident in that respect). The Bucs are only shooting 46.7% from inside the 3-point line, though, thanks mainly to a poor night against Iowa. CSU has not been particularly good defensively (especially inside).
Warren is averaging 23.5 points so far this season and is red-hot from outside (64.5% from 3-land). Carter is averaging 16.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. Freshman Kelvin Martin is a 6’5″ forward pulling down 9 rebounds per game. He’s also in double figures in points (11.5). The Bucs also have a 6’10” center, Billy Blackmon, who is shooting 68% from the field while averaging 7.5 boards.
Charleston Southern has lost a combined 42 games the past two years and would like to reverse that trend. Losing again to The Citadel would be a bad sign, especially considering the Bulldogs have yet to show sustained improvement on defense and (except for the game against Cincinnati Christian) have been much more turnover-prone than they were last season. That’s not to say the Bulldogs aren’t better than they were last season. It’s just that it may be later in the year before The Citadel starts demonstrating that overall improvement by winning games.
However, if Nelson and Wells have good games, which I think is quite possible, and at least one other Bulldog chips in offensively, The Citadel has a decent chance of making it two in a row over CSU. For that chance to become reality, though, the Bulldogs must control the game’s pace (in part by avoiding turnovers), do a better job defending the three, and contain the Bucs (especially Martin) on the glass. Easier said than done.
Filed under: Basketball, The Citadel | Tagged: Baptist College, Billy Blackmon, Cameron Wells, Charleston Southern, Cincinnati Christian, Clemson, college basketball, College of Charleston, CSU Fieldhouse, Demetrius Nelson, Furman, Iowa, Jamarco Warren, Kelvin Martin, Ladson, McAlister Field House, North Charleston Coliseum, Omar Carter, Phillip Pandak, The Citadel, Toccoa Falls, UCLA, Warren Peper, Zach Urbanus |