Charleston Southern's men's basketball team may be shaken and wounded, but coach Barclay Radebaugh says his team is far from out.
BIG SOUTH BASKETBALL
Wednesday's first round
Winthrop vs. Liberty 12 noon
Radford vs. Presbyterian 2 p.m.
CSU vs Campbell 6 p.m.
Gardner-Webb vs. Longwood 8 p.m.
The Buccaneers open play in the Big South Conference tournament Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Campbell, a team that beat the Bucs 65-57 earlier this season.
Picked in the preseason to win the Big South Conference, Charleston Southern had a disappointing and under-achieving regular season. Breakdowns on defense, injuries and lack of execution late in games all contributed to CSU's 12-17 record. The Bucs finished 6-10 in the conference.
All that went right during Charleston Southern's run to last season's Big South regular-season title went wrong during the 2013-14 season. But Radebaugh says his team is not dwelling on the past.
"We realize we have had some disappointments this season, but the tournament is new life for every team," said Radebaugh. "As a team, we remain confident that we can compete with any team in this league. We competed in every game this season. When you look at our season, we were in just about every game. Several games came down to one or two possessions.
"We were not far from being a 10- or 11-win team in this league, and our players are confident they can go into this tournament and win it."
Eight of CSU's 10 conference losses were by eight points or less, including four by four points or less. Uncharacteristically, the Bucs lost four conference games at home after losing only one last season.
CSU has played the last six games without starting point guard and leading scorer Saah Nimley, who will also miss the conference tournament with a knee injury. Junior guard Arlon Harper also missed some time during the meat of the conference schedule.
Harper has averaged 12 points per game this season, just behind senior Matt Kennedy's 12.3 points. Senior point guard Sheldon Strickland and junior shooter Will Saunders also average in double figures.
Giving Radebaugh hope that his team can put together a successful run in the tournament is his team's never-say-die attitude.
"Through all of our issues defensively and with the injuries and the problems we have had late in some games, we have never been concerned about this team's desire to compete," said the coach. "This team will play hard every single night. There is no quit in this group.
"These guys have been extremely resilient. Each and every time we take the floor, we know this team will give us a great effort. This team has developed the type of mentality and toughness that will carry them long after they are done playing basketball."