College of Charleston Cougars (24-11 overall, 14-4 Southern Conference)
Projected starting five:
Jr. G Anthony Stitt
Fr. G Canyon Barry
Sr. F Anthony Thomas
Jr. F Adjehi Baru
Sr. F Willis Hall
G Andrew Lawrence (13.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg) is the only starter gone from last season’s team, and key reserve F Trent Wiedeman (8.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is also gone.
67.5 percent of scoring and 76.9 percent of rebounding
Fr. G Canyon Barry
Fr. G Joe Chealey
Fr. G Jonathan Cook
Fr. F Terrance O’Donohue
Fr. F-C Glen Pierre, Jr.
So. C David Wishon (transfer from Tulsa)
The Cougars’ non-conference slate includes eight home games, highlighted by visits from Charlotte, Miami and Kent State, with the first two coming in a four-game home stretch in November. The biggest road games are at Louisville, Davidson and three games in the Wooden Legacy starting with San Diego State and either Creighton or Arizona State. CAA play features a stretch with four of five on the road, ending at Delaware and Towson, followed by three straight at home starting with Drexel.
Projected finish and outlook:
The CAA’s new kids on the block should contend right away, as they return a lot from last season’s team although the two key contributors they lose were hardly bit players. The Cougars have a lot of continuity in their personnel and good class balance, and they have bought into what head coach Doug Wojcik is trying to do. They became a much better team defensively and on the glass last season, something he tried to improve immediately, and remained a good offensive team. While Lawrence will be missed, Stitt will basically slide right into that role, including from a leadership standpoint, and Wojcik likes what he’s seen from the newcomers, in particular Barry and Chealey, so both could press veterans like Nori Johnson for the second starting guard spot. Baru looks ready to break out after progressing well last year, and Anthony Thomas could see time at both forward spots although there is good depth up front. The Cougars have a good homecourt advantage and will get eight home games in a tough non-conference slate, so they will be ready to contend when conference play gets under way.