CAA Preview: College of Charleston

By Ben Goossen

Head Coach- Earl Grant (1st Season)

Last Season- 14-18 (6-10, CAA)

Losses- Johnathan Burroughs-Cook , Chad Cooke, Judson Hall, Willis Hall, Theo Johnson, Nori Johnson, Anthony Thomas

Newcomers- Evan Bailey, Cameron Johnson, Nick Harris, Donovan Gilmore, John Eck, Tim Branin II

First year coach Earl Grant has his work cut out for him as he attempts to lead his College of Charleston team to a better finish in 2015. The Cougars went 6-10 in conference play last season, en route to a sixth place finish in the CAA.

Grant steps in to lead a young team that experienced a great deal of upheaval over the summer. In August president Glenn McConnell announced his decision to fire head basketball coach Doug Wojcik. The decision came after a month long investigation into allegations from players and coaches that Wojcik was verbally abusive. Grant spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach under Brad Brownell at Clemson. During his time at Clemson, Grant was key to recruiting and player development for the Tigers, personally signing 10 of the 15 players recruited by Brownell’s staff.

Grant inherits a squad that looks largely different from the team that took the court last season. The Cougars lose seven players total and two of their top five scorers from last season in Willis Hall (12.3 ppg) and Anthony Thomas (7.0 ppg). With only two seniors on the roster, the incoming freshman class will have a chance to make an early impact.

The team will look to lean on seniors Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt. Named to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team for the second year in a row, Baru had great success during his 2013-2014 campaign. The forward from the Ivory Coast averaged (9.0 ppg) and ranked seventh in the CAA in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and fourth in blocked shots (1.4 bpg). The defensive stopper will look to take his game to another level in order to make up for the lost offensive production of Hall and Thomas. A preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention in 2013-2014, Stitt was one of two Cougar players to start all 32 games last season. As the second leading scorer (10.0 ppg) and the leader in three-pointers made (55), Stitt will be the main offensive threat for the Cougars.

Anthony Stitt and Canyon Barry should provide a significant deep threat this season. However, unless the team can establish another knockdown shooter early on, the Cougar’s offense may stagnate as opposing defenses lock down on Baru close to the basket.

Bottom Line- The team has been projected to finish sixth in their second season as a member of the CAA. Coach Earl Grant has great pieces in Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt, however the team’s depth remains an issue. This team has the talent to compete, but youth and inexperience could hold them back in 2015. Expect another middle of the pack finish for this Cougars in 2014-2015.