A five-game homestand to open the season was designed to build confidence for a young Citadel basketball team.
How well the strategy worked will be thoroughly tested over the next month, as the Bulldogs (3-2) play their next six games on the road. The first of those six road games, and the Bulldogs’ Southern Conference opener, is tonight at UNC Greensboro, the preseason favorite to win the SoCon North Division.
The homestand ended on a sour note with a 74-61 loss to Radford last Saturday, as the Bulldogs committed 24 turnovers and fell behind by 22 points in the first half.
The Citadel is averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, second-highest in the SoCon, and can ill afford those numbers on the road against teams like Charleston Southern, St. Bonaventure, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
“Turnovers are really a big key for us in helping our defense be better,” said coach Chuck Driesell. “Against Radford, we held them to 41 percent shooting from the field, which is admirable. But it was turnovers and offensive rebounds in the first half that really hurt us.”
The Bulldogs actually lead the SoCon in both field goal percentage defense (allowing foes to shoot 39.6 percent) and field-goal shooting (50 percent, led by center Mike Groselle’s league-best 63.8 percent).
But turnovers and offensive rebounds are allowing too many extra chances. Opposing teams are taking an average of 5.4 more shots per game, including 6.2 more 3-pointers.
“We gave up a lot of second-chance points against Radford,” said guard Ashton Moore. “We didn’t box out, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
UNCG is off to a disappointing 1-5 start under Wes Miller, who replaced fired coach Mike Dement in midseason last year. Miller rallied the Spartans from a 2-14 start to the SoCon North Division title.
UNC Greensboro, coming off a 90-79 loss to North Carolina A&T on Wednesday, has two of the top six scorers in the SoCon in guards Trevis Simpson (20.2 ppg) and Derrell Armstrong (16.3 ppg), but is allowing foes to average 82.5 points, worst in the SoCon.