Charleston Classic Preview

2013 Charleston Classic Preview

11/21/13 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

In its 7th season, the Charleston Classic has become one of the more enjoyable early-season tournaments, bringing together a nice mix of schools from the Carolinas with some national programs. This season’s version includes one of last season’s best regular season teams in New Mexico, who returns almost all of their key players, as well as programs on the rise in Clemson, UMass, Nebraska and UAB.
Play starts on Thursday, November 21, with Nebraska-UMass, UAB-New Mexico, Georgia-Davidson, and Temple-Clemson.

February 2, 2013; Chestnut Hill, MA USA; Clemson Tigers guard Jordan Roper (20) dribbles the ball during the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Silvio O. Conte Forum. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsClemson
Coach Brad Brownell’s squad is off to a 3-0 start including a decisive win over in-state rival South Carolina. Athletic forward KJ McDaniels looks to build off a solid sophomore season and is averaging 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and over 4 blocks per game. Junior guard Rod Hall and sophomore guard Jordan Roper have done a great job protecting the ball, totaling 22 assists and only 3 turnovers in 2 games. The Tigers’ defense has been tough overall, allowing 48 points a game and holding opponents’ shooting to 33%.

The Wildcats have played a tough early schedule, and have a 0-3 start to show for it. Coach Bob McKillop’s defense, which is normally quite strong, has been a problem giving up almost 1.3 points per possession. The offense also hasn’t been as balanced as in recent years. Senior forward De’Mon Brooks, a former SoCon Player of the Year, is leading the team in scoring and rebounding, as expected, but he will need more help. Senior guard Tom Droney has been an efficient scorer so far, and one of the Wildcats’ few deep-ball threats. Sophomore guard Brian Sullivan is averaging 14 points per game, but is only 8 of 26 from behind the 3-point line. Distributing the basketball has also been tough, with Davidson only averaging around 9 assists per game.

The loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the NBA was expected to be rough, but some younger players are trying to help fill the void. Sophomore guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines, as well as sophomore forward Cameron Forte, have all showed that they can put points on the board. Junior forward Nemanja Djurisic is skilled and tough around the basket. Senior Donte Williams is making the most of his court time by hitting the glass well. It will be important for Coach Mark Fox to push this group and see who emerges as his go-to guy, because he is going to need one once conference play starts.

Tim Miles’ squad is off to a nice 3-0 start to the season, including a win against media darling Florida Gulf Coast. Deverell Biggs returned from missing the first 2 games of the year due to suspension to put up 17 points in 24 minutes against South Carolina State.  Senior Ray Gallegos also returned from suspension against SC State and scored 18 points. Their return will be a nice boost to the Cornhuskers. Sophomore wing Shavon Shields has the makings of a breakout star with great athleticism and size, and Florida transfer Walter PItchford is already making a difference on the defensive end. Junior forward Terran Petteway is a versatile scorer who can also hit the offensive boards.

New Mexico
Craig Neal has taken over for Steve Alford, but the Lobos should still be considered the best of the Mountain West. The veteran core of Hugh Greenwood, Mountain West Player of the Year Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk, and Cameron Bairstow knows how to win games and each player is capable of leading the team. Williams is capable of scoring in bunches and having Greenwood handle the point allows Williams to find spots to score. Kirk is a skilled big who can score inside and out. Bairstow is tough to stop around the basket and can wreak havoc on the offensive boards. Freshman Cullen Neal¸ son of the coach can provide scoring off the bench. They haven’t faced a real challenge yet this year, but should be ready to go in Charleston.

Fran Dunphy’s streak of 6 straight NCAA appearances with the Owls may be in jeopardy this season after the graduation of 3 of their 4 leading scorers last year, including Khaliff Wyatt. The scoring is more balanced this season, led by juniors Anthony Lee and Will Cummings. Lee has been a beast around the basket early on this season and is averaging a double-double. Senior guard Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey are both capable scorers, but need to be more reliable from behind the arc. It’s not a very deep team, with Dunphy only using 8 players in the first 3 games, so players will need to stay out of foul trouble.

Jerod Haase’s Blazers are off to a 3-0 start, including a win against Rutgers. Forwards CJ Washington and Rod Rucker and senior center Fahro Alihodzic have done a great job controlling the boards (all are averaging over 8 rebounds per game). Washington is a versatile scorer and is a good compliment to the more aggressive Rucker. Junior guard Chad Frazier uses his size well at the point position and is also capable of getting to the basket.

The Minutemen are led by one of the most dynamic point guards in the country in Chaz Williams. Lightning-quick with the ability to score anywhere on the court, Williams is tough for any defender to keep tabs on alone. The frontcourt of Cady Lalanne, Raphael Putney, and Sampson Carter has been impressive in the Minutemen’s 3-0 start, including wins over LSU and Boston College. Williams will look to push the pace all game long, so it is imperative that any opponent try to dictate their own pace and force Williams into mistakes.   
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