No SoCon? So what? College of Charleston-Citadel basketball rivalry can grow with a town tournament
Making progress out of basketball chaos, Trent Wiedeman beat The Citadel's zone defense Thursday night with a textbook bounce pass that Adjehi Baru converted for a rim-rattling dunk, an uplifting moment in the College of Charleston's 69-54 Southern Conference victory at TD Arena.
Steady roars from a crowd of 4,118 eventually gave way to golf claps as the Cougars pulled away at the end of an era.
And that's all, folks. The Cougars are moving to the Colonial Athletic Association next season.
No more home-and-home SoCon arrangement that began when the College of Charleston, with The Citadel's help, joined the league in 1998.
From here to eternity (or more conference realignment) the schools are verbally committed to just one game per season, at the most.
Unless they agree to get creative.
Town tournament, anyone?
Simple format: Four teams, two days, two games per team.
The College of Charleston, The Citadel and Charleston Southern are locked in every year. S.C. State makes for a fine fourth, or rotate that spot with other state schools.
“It's a good idea,” said The Citadel's standout senior Mike Groselle, who led both teams Thursday night with 17 points. “It would bring those rivalries between us and the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern together. It's really competitive basketball. It's really good basketball.”
Too good for watering down.
Spirit of '76
TD Arena and McAlister Field House are the obvious rotating town tournament sites.
Get a sponsor. Find a designated charity, design a trophy. Start a tradition of honoring prominent former Cougars, Bulldogs and Bucs.
This isn't a new concept.
For instance, the Cougars, Bulldogs, Baptist College (now Charleston Southern) and Presbyterian met at McAlister Field House in the McDonald's Invitational Tournament played Dec. 6 and 7, 1976. Former Citadel head coach Les Robinson was doing a big favor for the little non-NCAA guys, and Lowcountry basketball fans.
There were promotional posters all over town. Admission was $2 per game (but no ESPN3 live streaming).
From the 'Cheer Sheet'
College of Charleston students showed up Thursday night to find rivalry marching orders, leaflets left on each seat.
“Cheer Sheet — Citadel 2013” highlights:
“Boo their best player (Groselle No. 31) every time he gets the ball.”
“When someone on the other team fouls out say 'left, right, left, right' to sync with their footsteps. When the player is about to sit down yell 'Sit down!' ”
Love that enthusiasm!
“It was a good crowd tonight,” Cougars forward Willis Hall said. “Always appreciate the students coming out.”
Just think. If that single rivalry game next season is at The Citadel, the College of Charleston students will have to re-learn Cheer Sheet protocol.
Unless a town tourney takes off.
“I know I wouldn't be part of it,” said Groselle, the grizzled rivalry veteran, “but it would be great for basketball in this community.”
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.