Davidson might be the favorite to win the Southern Conference this season, but the College of Charleston Cougars will not crown the Wildcats until the final second of conference play has terminated—as UNC has taught us, don't declare the champ until the championship is ACTUALLY won.
The Cougars are younger than the Wildcats and don't have the postseason experience—not a single Cougar has played in an NCAA Tournament game— but this CofC team is definitely a threat to Bob McKillop's squad.
Here is why:
Unlike Davidson, who lives and dies off of Stephen Curry's offensive production, CofC "shares the love." Andrew Goudelock, Tony White Jr., Antwaine Wiggins, and Jermaine Johnson are all averaging double-figures in the scoring category; and, Dustin Scott is two-tenths of a point from joining his teammates.
Goudelock is only a sophomore, but he is averaging 17.6 points per game and can shoot the lights out of a gym. For a guard, he shoots for a high percentage of 48.1 percent. The best aspect of Goudelock's game is his three-point shooting—of all the players who have connected on 48 or more three-pointers, only four shoot higher than Goudelock's 46.6 percent.
Seniors Johnson and Scott collect the bulk of the boards. Johnson, at 6'7", averages 8.2 rebounds per game, and Scott, at 6'8", corrals 6.2. Wiggins is also 6'7" but other than these three, the Cougars don't have many threats on the glass.
In their four-point loss to Davidson, the Cougars were out-rebounded by six. A margin of six rebounds isn't too big, but in a four-point game, every lost rebound could change the outcome. As a team, CofC averages 34.1 boards per game, which leaves them near the middle of the conference.
Rebounding will not be their biggest problem come SOCON tournament time.
We saw Memphis collapse in the final minutes of what would have been a victory in the National Championship game. The reason behind the collapse... none other than foul shooting.
This CofC team shoots a repulsive 66.6 percent from the charity stripe. Goudelock and White Jr., who have shot a third of the team's foul shots, are around the 85 percent range. However, the rest of the team cannot hit the free ones.
Wiggins is the biggest liability at the stripe, where he shoots a terrible 48.3 percent, but he is not solely responsible for the low percentage of the team. Three other key Cougars shoot under 60 percent.
In the loss to Davidson, it was the Wildcats who suffered from the line—the Cougars actually transcended their season percentage. Nonetheless, CofC was still below 70 percent.
Coach Bobby Cremins was strategic and planned a non-conference schedule that was demanding but winnable. His team won eight of their 10 non-conference games—the two losses were by five against Temple and 38 at UNC. One of the wins was a nail-biting, down to the wire overtime defeat of South Carolina, who is currently 15-4.
In the conference, the Cougars have only lost to Davidson and the Citadel—the two other teams in the top three of the conference.
A rematch against Davidson will be played on Feb. 7, and the outcome will help to define CofC's legitimacy. As far as making the Tournament goes, they'll need to defeat Davidson, which would make them a feared opponent.
If they don't beat out Davidson for the title this year, you can expect that the Cougars will be back to prey on the Curry-less Wildcats next season—assuming that Steph bolts for the draft.