The College of Charleston men's basketball team finished the season 14-18, posting its first losing season since 2007-08. In their first year as members of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Cougars went 6-10 in conference games. Head coach Doug Wojcik discussed the season that just ended and the future of the program with The Post and Courier's Andrew Miller.
Q: It was a roller-coaster season for the team. Now that it's over, what are your overall thoughts about the 2013-14 campaign?
A: "It was an inconsistent season and very demanding. We made some great strides defensively and in rebounding, but we were playing a much tougher schedule in a much tougher conference. I don't think people realize how young we were going into the season at certain positions and then how demanding the non-conference scheduled turned out to be. We had some injuries to Canyon (Barry) and Adjehi (Baru) and Joe (Chealey) that hurt us at certain points in the season.
Q: Looking back on it, would you have changed the non-conference schedule to make it a little easier going into your first season in the CAA?
A: "Maybe. I inherited some of that non-conference schedule. The ESPN tournament out in California was already set. We got a home game against Miami that we hoped we would play well in. I think at the end of the day, looking at the bracket right now, you've got to win 25 or 26 games to get an at-large bid in the NIT. So, what's best, do you want to win against a weaker schedule or do you want to prepare your team for conference play?
Q: Why did the Cougars have such a tough time closing out games?
A: "We were never able to throw the ball inside and get a bucket or get to the free throw line with any consistency. I think that hurt us. That put a lot of pressure on our outside shooters. We didn't get to the free throw line enough. Part of that is our inability to drive the basketball. A little bit of that was not having Canyon Barry in the lineup for a month. He's the best at getting to the basket, getting his shot off and then making free throws. Then you throw in the confidence factor and those things kind of conspired against us as the season went on."
Q: How do you build your team's confidence between now and next season?
A: "Canyon Barry and Joe Chealey are going to be sophomores and I think you're going to see a lot of growth from both of them. Over the last seven weeks of the season, I didn't have them together because of injuries. They have the size, the speed, the quickness to get their own shots. They have high basketball IQs to get it done, they just have to develop that confidence. ... You add Anthony Stitt and Adjehi Baru and I believe you'll see a positive progression next year."
Q: Was the CAA better than you expected?
A: "No question it was better. It challenged us with bigger, more athletic wing players that could really score. The league had seven guys average more than 20 points a game in the league and six of those were seniors. They were no easy outs in this league."
Q: There are always games you'd like back, what were the ones for you this year?
A: "Every game we lost, (laughing). I want every game back that we lost. UNC Asheville. Marist. Kent State. At Delaware and at Towson were games I would like to have back. Those two against Delaware and Towson were games we could have won and had won."
Q: You've said you need to develop a go-to guy in the future. Is there a go-to guy on the roster right now?
A: "I'm confident that Canyon can develop into that guy. It's just going to take him a little time. I've done it before at Tulsa and I know I can do it here. Having that guy is crucial. ... I also think an older, wiser Anthony Stitt will be a better player next year. I think a healthy Adjehi Baru will be more of an impact player next year."
Q: It seems a lot of CAA teams had success with transfer players this season. What is your philosophy on transfers?
A: "If it's the right fit, I'm all for it. Anthony Thomas and David Wishon are transfers. AT was a junior college kid who had two years and David transferred from Tulsa and has three years to play. So, different situations. If it's a good fit academically and athletically, then I'm good with it. I prefer to have high school kids and developing them over four years."
Q: Was the travel in the CAA more difficult than you thought?
A: "It was. But that wasn't the real issue for me. We played on every day of the week, which I didn't like. In Conference USA, for the most part, we played on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so you could get a rhythm going. I think we played a conference game every day of the week this season. That made it difficult. I'm not complaining, but it's what it is."
Q: Looking ahead to next season, where are the areas that you need to improve the most?
A: "We have to score. I want our fans to understand that I want to run. I do not want to coach every possession. That's exhausting. It's no fun for me or the players. We've got to score more in transition."
Q: Of the three freshmen you have coming in next year - Evan Bailey, Donovan Gilmore and Nick Harris - which one will have an impact?
A: "Evan Bailey for sure. He's smart, strong and he can shoot. He's going to play right away, especially since we lose Nori Johnson and Anthony Thomas. I think Nick Harris has a chance down the road to be a very, very special player. He's a guy we'll be able to throw it inside to and get some production, but he's not going to beat out Adjehi Baru next year. And Donovan is a very athletic player, a guy that can do a lot of things for us."