The sounds emanating from The Citadel's sideline at McAlister Field House on Tuesday night were a bit different than what the Bulldogs heard for the past three years.
"Push it! Push it! Run, Mike D, run!"
Thus urged new Citadel basketball coach Chuck Driesell and his assistants as the Bulldogs played for the first time in the post-Ed Conroy era. It was just a 76-47 exhibition victory over Division II North Greenville, but the game offered some clues as to how the new boss wants things done.
"We're definitely looking to be more aggressive on the break," said senior guard Zach Urbanus, who made five 3-pointers and led The Citadel with 23 points. "In the past, we'd push it on the break but were kind of careful about the shot we got. Now, if you have a good look, we want to get it up and score a lot of points. That's the main difference offensively."
Driesell, who came to The Citadel after four seasons as an assistant
under Gary Williams at Maryland, said the Bulldogs still are learning how to run.
"It's coming," he said. "It doesn't change in 11 practices like we've had. I know this team is capable of doing it; if it wasn't, I wouldn't play this way. It's a process, from the point guard to the five man, and I was encouraged by some of the action I saw out there."
The Bulldogs seem to like the new approach.
"Coach is big on pushing it and trying to score quick," said senior guard Cameron Wells, who had 11 points, nine assists and five rebounds. "His thing is, if you have a good shot off the primary break, take it. If you're open, try to make a move and score. That's a little different from last year, when we'd set up a little bit more. It's up-tempo, and I think the whole team likes it a lot."
On defense, the Bulldogs pressed a lot, and showed man-to-man and a 1-2-2 zone in the halfcourt.
"We're asking them to play really hard and to pick up fullcourt, three-quarter court, and to be really tough in the halfcourt," Driesell said. "And you've got to be in good shape to do that."
Said Urbanus: "In past years, we pressed every once in a while. Now, we're trying to press most of the game and then get back into our man defense. The halfcourt man is very similar to what we played in the past. The defense is more looking for steals and trying to get out and run."
The Bulldogs had 14 steals and forced 22 turnovers against North Greenville, scoring 22 points off turnovers and nine on the fast break.
Senior forward Matt Clark is one player who could benefit from the new system. The 6-8, 215-pounder played in only 11 games last year, but started Tuesday and scored 12 points with seven rebounds in 29 minutes. Senior wingman Austin Dahn also scored 12 points.
The Bulldogs also unveiled some new players. Mike Dejworek, the 6-11 transfer from Belmont, started and played 19 minutes with five points and four rebounds. Freshman wing Barry Smith was the fourth player off the bench and played 11 minutes. Freshman guard DeVontae Wright did not get in until the final minutes, but made two baskets and scored five points in just three minutes.
Morakinyo Williams, the 7-footer from Duquesne, did not play. He is awaiting final NCAA approval as a grad-student transfer, and Driesell said he expects Williams' case to be heard Thursday.
The Bulldogs open the season Nov. 12 at Richmond.
"We did some good things tonight," Driesell said. "There are also a lot of things we need to improve on."
NORTH GREENVILLE (47): Luke Lattimer 2, Johnathan Bozymowski 7, Drew Ridlen 6, Zach Shields 4, Phillip Brown 1, Chris Dean 2, Kyler Booher 4, Tyrell Platt 6, Paul Harrison 15.
THE CITADEL (76): Austin Dahn 12, Matt Clark 12, Mike Dejworek 5, Zach Urbanus 23, Cameron Wells 11, Cosmo Morabbi 3, John Reynolds 1, DeVontae Wright 5, Barry Smith 2, Mike Groselle2.
Halftime: The Citadel 35-21.