Friday, February 8, 2013

College of Charleston Preview: A Chance to Start Their Own Legacy

The Mocs Legends Weekend is this weekend, which means that the Mocs will be playing Saturday's game in front of plenty of former Mocs. The Mocs have had a lot of championship seasons over the years (ten NCAA tournament appearances in their Division 1 history of 35 years, even though it is just two in the last fifteen years) and some of those players have lived on in the minds of Chattanooga fans. Many of those players will be present on Saturday night which this young Mocs team.

This is a chance for this Mocs team to start building their own legacy. This is a chance for this Mocs team to start turning into legends themselves. This is a chance for this Mocs team to start making their own mark in the Chattanooga record books.

Beating a very good College of Charleston team in their last trip to Chattanooga as members of the SoCon gives the Mocs just that kind of opportunity. The Mocs sit just one and a half games out of the fourth bye right now, which is a critical position to get to. The Cougars, on the other hand, sit just two games behind Davidson for first in the SoCon, and get the Wildcats in TD Arena next Thursday. In other words, both teams need this one to keep their goals as close as they can.

The Cougars have won five straight games since back to back losses at Georgia Southern and at Davidson three weeks ago.

Andrew Lawrence is averaging just 12.0 points per game in his last five games, which were all wins for the Cougars. He leads the Cougars on the year with 13.7 points per game and 4.2 assists per contest. He is shooting 38.1% from three point range. This is the most important thing for the Cougars- getting Lawrence hot from long range. He also averaged 2.7 turnovers per game.

Anthony Stitt is averaging 10.8 points per game, along with 3.0 assists per game and 2.8 turnovers per contest. He is shooting 39.4% from three point range. Stitt's shooting is equally important to the Cougars.

Adejhi Baru is the Cougars other double digit scorer. He is shooting 51.7% from the floor to average 10.2 points per game, along with 8.5 rebounds. He also comes up with 1.3 blocks per game. He is a defensive force, one of the leagues best rebounders, and his offense has come around nicely. Baru's inside presence is probably the most consistent thing the Cougars offense has had this year.

Trent Wiedeman is still not back to his old self. He is averaging just seven points and five rebounds per game in conference games this year. He has just not been healthy. Wiedeman is one of the best inside players in the league when he's healthy, but he just hasn't been able to pull that off this year. His best game was against UNCG last Saturday, when he scored fourteen points and had twelve rebounds. He followed that up with four points and two rebounds in just fourteen minutes.

Willis Hall is second on the team in rebounding with 6.1 per contest. He is shooting 52.3% from the floor and averaging 7.5 points per game. Hall, Baru, and Wiedeman (along with Anthony Thomas) provides so much presence inside that they can do a lot of really good things for the Cougars.

So what chance do the Mocs have against a team like this? The Mocs played a full court press defense for much of the night against The Citadel and forced them into turnovers. That has been the Cougars offensive downfall this year. When their opponent can force them into a bunch of turnovers, the Cougars offense becomes very mediocre. That is probably the Mocs best chance to win the game.

The Cougars have played some of the best defense in the SoCon. The Mocs offense has been surprisingly effective at times this year. Gee McGhee is getting better each and every night on the floor. You can almost literally see him growing up and taking a bigger role on this team. Z Mason has always been very good, and is continuing to impress. Drazen Zlovaric had his best night of the year against The Citadel, and looked much better against Georgia Southern.

Zlovaric and Mason will have to have big nights and stay out of foul trouble. McGhee and Rico White will need to have big nights as well, while limiting turnovers. It wouldn't hurt it Martynas Bareika, Farad Cobb, or some other Moc had had their best night of the year. Bareika has been playing well lately, so it is possible.

With Lance Stokes playing defensive stopper, it will be interesting to see which player Coach Shulman puts him on. We'll wait and see.


--The Cougars will outrebound the Mocs. Ouch.
--The Mocs, if they play the full court press throughout, will reek havoc on the Cougars offense, causing quite a few turnovers.
--McGhee and Mason will continue to impress.
--Wiedeman has his best game of the year to date.
--College of Charleston 80, Mocs 68. The Mocs will be much better than they were a few weeks ago in Charleston, but it won't be enough. They will need the breaks to go their way, but they just won't be able to stop the Cougars once they break the press. The Mocs offense will make some plays, and there will still be hope for the future, but Rome wasn't built in a day. The Mocs legends will go home disappointed in the outcome.


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