One thing Citadel coach Chuck Driesell is thankful for this holiday season: His players are sharing the basketball. A lot.
The 3-1 Bulldogs racked up 31 assists on 35 baskets in their last game, a 92-50 win over Union College a week ago, the second-most assists by a Citadel team since 1989-90.
A similarly sharing attitude in today’s 2:05 p.m. game against Radford (3-3) at McAlister Field House could help the Bulldogs to their best start in nine years.
“We had 31 assists against just 10 turnovers (against Union),” Driesell said before practice Friday. “We had been struggling not to turn the ball over. Most of our turnovers have been unforced, and that’s something we’ve really talked about and focused on.
“Other parts of the game will come along, but we can’t afford to turn the ball over 19, 20 times and expect to win. We did a really nice job of sharing the ball, moving the ball and being confident, and of not turning the ball over.”
Sophomore guard Marshall Harris went for nine assists and no turnovers against Union, and is averaging 6.5 assists per game. Backcourt mate Lawrence Miller, also a sophomore, chipped in seven assists and is averaging 4.5 dishes. In four games, The Citadel has had three different leading scorers, with only freshman Matt Van Scyoc topping the team twice.
Taking care of the ball will be key against Radford, which likes to play a high-pressure style that coach Mike Jones learned during his days as an assistant to Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth.
“They are going to be up-and-down, they are going to try to pressure us and run us out of our stuff,” Driesell said. “They are going to try to create some turnovers, so it will be a really good test for us in being composed, handling the ball and running our offense.”
The Highlanders are 1-3 against Division I competition thus far, defeating Kennesaw State and losing to Wake Forest, Towson and Eastern Kentucky. But Radford has a couple of high-scoring sophomores in 6-4 Javonte Green (15.5 ppg, 7.3 rebounds) and 6-0 guard R.J. Price (14 ppg, 2.8 assists).
“We’ll have to play good defense,” Driesell said. “Their top scorer is an inside guy, and the other is a perimeter guy, so we’ll have to be solid inside and out.”
A win today would give the Bulldogs a 4-1 record and their best start since the 2004-05 team won seven of its first eight games.
• The Citadel has made it easy for fans to make it to today’s game, scheduling tip-off at 2:05 p.m, to avoid conflict with tonight’s Clemson-South Carolina game and offering tickets for $1.
“It’s a smart move to play in the afternoon,” Driesell said. “And I feel like we’ve got a good, exciting team this year and we hope to continue to play well. We just need people in the stands to see us play, have a good time and hopefully come back.”