Taking names, and talking names

The Citadel 84, Georgia Southern 75.

I enjoyed watching this game.  I wish John Brown had made both of his last-second free throws, so The Citadel could have won by double digits, but considering the team has already won more games in this campaign than it did all of last season, it’s all good.

Speaking of John “Abolitionist of the Glass” Brown, where did he come from?  He started the season opener, played nine minutes, then played a total of five minutes until last Saturday, when he suddenly started the game against Bethune-Cookman and contributed solid defense and rebounding over 20 minutes.  Last night he came off the bench and snatched 11 boards in 26 minutes.  Brown is a long-armed 6’4″ redshirt freshman from Savannah who Jeff Hartsell had tipped on his blog during the preseason as a possible contributor, but I was not prepared for his productivity (and it was rather obvious that Georgia Southern wasn’t either).  If he turns out to be a rebounding maven who can play some D, which last night certainly appeared to be the case, Brown will fill a much-needed role for the Bulldogs.

Besides Brown’s performance, The Citadel got 38 combined points from the  two-headed post monster of Demetrius Nelson and Bryan Streeter, who combined to shoot 12-18 from the floor and also got to the line a gratifying 22 times (Streeter needs to shoot better than 50% from the stripe, though).  The Citadel never trailed after making a nice run at the end of the half, this despite a mediocre night from beyond the arc (6-19) and shooting only 43% from the field, all while playing at a much faster than normal pace (84 possessions, although part of that was due to the end-game fouling by GSU).

Defensively The Citadel held the Eagles to 41% shooting from the field, 29% from three-land, and outrebounded Georgia Southern by five.  The Bulldogs also committed one fewer turnover than GSU.

Also, I’m guessing that Ed Conroy had a chat with Austin Dahn after the game that went something like this:  “Austin, when we’re up nine with 1:11 to play and have the ball in the frontcourt, and there are 30 seconds left on the shotclock, do me a favor and don’t take a three-pointer, even if you’re open.”   I could be wrong, but I suspect that conversation happened.  I sincerely hope that conversation happened, anyway…

The Citadel’s two conference victories this season have come against teams that in four games last year outscored the Bulldogs by an average of 23 points per game, including two 30-point losses.

The Stephen Curry circus comes to town on Saturday.  It’s been almost 50 years since the Southern Conference had a star of Curry’s magnitude in the league.  Back then, it was Jerry West.  McAlister Field House was jammed to the rafters with people when The Citadel hosted West Virginia and its star, and I suspect that close to a full house (if not an actual sellout) will be on hand for Davidson and its main man.  Obviously if The Citadel were to somehow beat Davidson it would be one of the bigger wins in school history.  It’s hard to see that happening.  I think Davidson has a good chance of going 20-0 in the league for a second year in a row.

20-0 in the league would presumably mean that even a SoCon tourney stumble would not keep Davidson out of the NCAAs, but Wildcat fans should not count on an at-large bid being a given.  The last SoCon team to get an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament was North Carolina State, in 1950.

Okay, I want to wrap up this post with one of my biggest pet peeves.  This is the first time I’m mentioning it on this blog, but you better believe that it won’t be the last.  Here is my plea to Larry Leckonby, all the coaches at The Citadel, General Rosa, anyone and everyone who has some say-so on matters pertaining to Bulldog athletics:

Get the name of the school right on the uniforms, for God’s sake!

If you look at the game notes for basketball, you will see a little blurb inserted by the good folks in the athletic media relations office that reads:

“DON’T FORGET THE … THE
We ask that when referring to the Bulldogs, please use The Citadel. We are The Military College of South Carolina,
but we are referred to as The Citadel. The the is part of our name. Thank you.”

I would like to personally thank whoever it was that put that in the notes.  I just wish whoever it was would remind our coaches and other administrators that the school is called The Citadel, because some of them seem unaware of it.

The Citadel, for such a tradition-laden place, has gone through a lot of uniform changes in a lot of its sports over the years.  (The football helmet design has been changed so often, it’s a joke — although the current design is one billion times better than the Ellis Johnson-era gray helmet disaster.)

Right now we are sporting football uniforms that say “Citadel” on the front instead of “The Citadel”, and basketball uniforms that say “Citadel” on the front instead of “The Citadel”.  Is it too much to ask that we get the name of the school right on our own jerseys?  Every time I see the ESPN “Bottom Line” sportsticker, it says “Citadel” on it, and I am momentarily annoyed with the network…and then I remember my own alma mater can’t get it right on its athletic uniforms, and I get even more annoyed with the school.

Fix this, and fix it now.  It drives me crazy.  I know that I’m not alone in complaining about it, either.

(And if anybody in the department needs some advice on a decent and at least semi-permanent football helmet design, drop me a line.  I have a couple of ideas.)

Verdict on the non-conference results: Not bad

After Saturday’s come-from-behind-then-almost-blowing-it-at-the-end 58-57 victory over Bethune-Cookman, The Citadel is 6-7 overall, with a 5-6 record in non-SoCon matchups.  For the rest of the year, the Bulldogs will only play Southern Conference foes, unless The Citadel receives an unprecedented bid to either the NCAAs or the NIT.  (Unprecedented doesn’t begin to describe that possibility, of course.)

Let’s compare this season’s non-conference results to non-conference games from the 2007-08 campaign…

Last season:

— Four home wins over non-D1 competition, including a near loss to Webber International (66-63); a 61-point loss at South Carolina; a televised beatdown at the hands of Washington State (67-45, and it was a lot worse than that); a 27-point home loss to Southern California (O.J. Mayo’s first college road game!); a 16-point loss in The Palestra to Penn; and a narrow home victory over Charleston Southern.  Nine non-conference games, a 5-4 record, but only 1-4 against Division I competition.

This season:

— Two home wins over non-D1 competition; a 14-point loss at South Carolina; a televised 14-point loss to Michigan State in which The Citadel held its own; a 22-point home loss to Iowa; a 23-point loss at Virginia Commonwealth; a split of two neutral site games in Cancun (loss to Central Arkansas, win over Grambling State); a dismal home loss to UC Davis; a road victory over Charleston Southern; and a one-point home win over Bethune-Cookman.  Eleven non-conference games, a 5-6 record (3-6 against Division I competition).

Not that it’s the resume of a Final Four team or anything, but this season’s non-conference results were much better than those from last year.  Only two of the games could be considered true disappointments (the home losses to Iowa and UC Davis).  Winning a road game of any kind would have bettered last season’s 0-fer away from home, and the Bulldogs already have two (one in conference play) plus a neutral-site win.  I think only having only two non-D1 games (instead of four) is also a plus.

So while last year’s team was 5-7 on this date in 2008, and this year’s team is 6-7, the improvement is obvious.  Last year’s 5-7 start included an 0-3 mark in SoCon play, while this year’s team is currently 1-1 in the league, with a win and a narrow loss, both on the road.  The Citadel is actually safely out of the 300s in the RPI right now (269).  Last year’s team, of course, would only win one more game the rest of the way and finished 6-24 (1-19), with an RPI of 334.

Total wins for The Citadel, last six seasons:  8, 6, 12, 10, 7, 6

This year the Bulldogs already have 6 wins with 18 games remaining (yes, SoCon teams are again playing 20 conference games, which is ridiculous).   According to Ken Pomeroy’s projection system, The Citadel is projected to win 7 of those 18 games.  That would result in 13 wins on the season for the Bulldogs, the most in seven years.  I wouldn’t mind if the team got a little greedier, though.

The next step in the pursuit of respectability comes Thursday at McAlister Field House, when the Bulldogs face a Georgia Southern squad that is already 2-0 in the conference, and which also has a neutral-site victory over Houston.