The College of Charleston Cougars have been featured in this space many times of the last three years. Now, the Cougars are off to the CAA, and their time spending quality time in this space is limited. But they are back, for at least one more time this year. The Cougars are off to a 1-3 start, including some very disappointing performances. Take away eight minutes against Charlotte, and this team would be 0-4.
Probably many Cougars think that their opponent on Saturday is a pushover, because the opponent is a familiar one- the Furman Paladins, a team that really has struggled for much of the Cougars time in the SoCon. But the Paladins are playing better this year. After nearly beating Florida Gulf Coast last week and beating Gardner-Webb, the Paladins have proven to be a better team with Niko Medved as the new head coach.
Kendrec Ferrara is averaging 8.0 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. At 6-9, he can control a lot of games on the inside. Larry Wideman is the second leading scorer with 13.0 points per game, but has just averaged 7.0 points per game against D1 opponents. William Gates Jr. is the opposite. The frehsman has averaged 14.5 points per game in the games against D1 opponents.
The Cougars present major match-up problems with Adejhi Baru. He is a big man that has just gotten better and better throughout his career. He is averaging 8.0 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 61.9% from the floor. The Paladins may need to double team him. Ferrara will be trying to guard him, I imagine.
Willis Hall and his 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds will provide a challenge to the Paladins as well. He is only 6-6, but he plays bigger than that.
Anthony Stitt has been struggling more than he ever has before. Stitt is shooting 21.6% from the floor. He is the leader in minutes for the Cougars and averages 2.3 assists per game, along with 5.5 points per game.
Freshman Canyon Barry is averaging 15.5 points per game. He is shooting only 56.3% from the free throw line. The Cougars have been struggling from the free throw line. Joe Chealey is a freshman and is shooting 50% from the free throw line. He is the Cougars second leading scorer, averaging 12.0 points per game.
The Cougars really need Stitt to get going. Desperately. Right now, they are relying on Barry and Chealey to lead them, and counting on freshman to be the team leaders can lead to growing pains. That being said, Baru is a handful. It is hard to imagine the Paladins containing him. Can the Cougars contain Croone? I'm going to guess....NO! But I'm also going to guess that it's not going to matter. It will be a battle, but the Cougars eek one out. College of Charleston 76, Furman 70.