Keeping a college kid, let alone a freshman, focused on a basketball game the day before Christmas break, is, well, a challenge.
Just ask College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik.
The Cougars (5-6) take on Kent State (8-2) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at TD Arena.
The game against the Golden Flashes will be the final contest before the Cougars take a four-day break for the Christmas holidays. The Cougars who are fortunate enough to live within driving distance of the Lowcountry will leave after the game, while others have flights scheduled to depart on Sunday.
Wojcik hopes the Cougars don't check out mentally and physically until after their game with Kent State.
"We talked about it some (Thursday) before we practiced," Wojcik said. "The bottom line is that they're going home Saturday night or Sunday, and that's what they need to focus on. They are coming home, but they have a task in front of them for the next 24 hours, so let's make the most of it and focus on trying to get a result against Kent State."
Beating the Golden Flashes would be difficult at any point in the season, let alone a game right before the holidays when the students have already left for home. Three of the five Kent State starters average in double figures and all five averaged at least nine points a game.
"They have a very balanced team, so they have plenty of options," Wojcik said. "They have a tremendous assist-to-turnover ratio and have very versatile guys on the floor. They start three juniors and two seniors, so they are a pretty experienced team and they know how to win."
One of the more difficult matchups for the Cougars will be trying to contain Darren Goodson, a multi-skilled forward who is the Golden Flashes' top passer and a solid 3-point shooter.
"He can step out and hit the 3-pointer, and he's a great passer," Wojcik said. "He has great floor vision. He's the guy that everyone kind of feeds off of."
Kent State has had a long layoff, even by December standards. The Golden Flashes' last game was 17 days ago (Dec. 4) against Bucknell and resulted in a 66-59 loss.
"I don't know that we'll know if that helped or hurt them until after the game," Wojcik said. "That's kind of the million-dollar question. That's a long time to go without playing a game, but they will be rested and ready to play."
Wojcik said he'll stick with the same starting lineup he used against Old Dominion when Adjehi Baru, Willis Hall, Anthony Thomas, Anthony Stitt and Jonathan Burroughs-Cook took the floor for the opening tip. Cook and Thomas took the place of Joe Chealey and Canyon Barry, who had started the first 10 games of the season.
"Joe had been getting into foul trouble in the first half, and we were trying to make sure he's on the floor as much as he can be," Wojcik said. "I just wanted Canyon to get back to enjoying the game again. He's got some added pressure on him because of who he is, and I didn't want him to feel like he's got to make every shot.
"Canyon hit a game-winning shot against Old Dominion and Joe played 31 minutes and had a 4-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, so I think it worked out for everyone."