COUGARS DEN: CofC looking for second straight CAA road win

William & Mary's Omar Prewitt shoots the ball under pressure form Charleston's Nick Harris during the second half of their CAA match in Williamsburg. W&M downed Charleston 75-45.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s celebration.

When you’re as old as I am, you watch the ball drop at Times Square in New York City and go to bed. Thank goodness, the Alabama-Michigan State College Football Semifinal Playoff game was over by midnight. Could have been an ugly scene for the remote in the Miller household had it not been.

Anyway, I think we’re starting to see what this College of Charleston basketball team is made of.

This team has toughness and character and they proved that Thursday afternoon against James Madison. After they got a comfortable lead against the Dukes in the second half – a 10-point spread early on – JMU went to a zone and things started to kind of fall apart offensively for the Cougars.

The Dukes went on a 17-5 run and took a two-point lead midway through the second half. A year ago, that would have been enough and the Cougars would have folded their tents, started the bus, and gone to Williamsburg, Va., for their game against William & Mary on Saturday.

But this team is different.

They stood their ground and responded. Cameron Johnson was clutch down the stretch. He hits three shots – two from 3-point range – that either tied the game or gave the Cougars the lead. Cameron was a high school quarterback and I think that has made him mentally tough.

What can you say about Jarrell Brantely. He was a man-child out there. Twenty-nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. He made 13 of 14 shots from the floor and was a major reason why the Dukes went to a match-up zone in the second half. They had no answer for him.

Even Canyon Barry did his part, knocking down two free throws with 3.2 seconds to play. This was a game that Canyon would like to forget. He missed all 13 shots from the floor. I don’t think he took a bad shot all night. His shots all came within the offense, but nothing was falling for him.

What that proves to me and what it should show the rest of the CAA is that the Cougars can win when he’s having an off shooting. That’s a scary thought if you’re a CAA coach. You can’t just shut down Barry and expect to win.

I had a tough time picking among the top CAA teams in the preseason poll. William & Mary, Hofstra and UNC Wilmington were my top picks and very little separated them in my opinion.

Saturday’s match-up with William & Mary will be another tough game for the Cougars. Omar Prewitt (17.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg) is a special player and he’s getting help from Daniel Dixon (14.9 ppg. 3.7 rpg). Like James Madison, the Cougars have yet to win on the Tribe’s homecourt at Kaplan Arena.

Enclosed are some highlights from William & Mary’s 76-69 loss to Towson on Thursday.

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (9-3, 1-0 in CAA) at WILLIAM & MARY (8-4, 0-1)

When: Saturday.

Time: 4 p.m.

Where: Kaplan Arena (8,600) in Williamsburg, Va.

Radio: WTMZ 910-AM

Internet: Free Live Video at http://portal.stretchinternet.com/wandm/

Series History: William & Mary Leads, 3-2.

Last Meeting: CofC def. William & Mary, 80-72, on Feb. 5, 2015 in Charleston, S.C.

THE COACHES

College of Charleston: Earl Grant is 18-27 in 2nd season at CofC.

William & Mary: Tony Shaver, 164-218 in 13th season at W&M; 522-339 in 30th overall.

PROJECTED COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STARTERS

#3 Payton Hulsey, G, 6-5, 215, Jr.-Tr. (4.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 23.8 min)

#24 Canyon Barry, G, 6-6, 210, Jr. (20.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 33.1 min)

#12 Cameron Johnson, G, 6-4, 196, So. (11.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 30.1 min)

#5 Jarrell Brantley, F, 6-7, 245, Fr. (10.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 24.3 min)

#23 Nick Harris, F, 6-10, 245, RS-Fr. (4.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.5 apg, 14.0 min)

PROJECTED WILLIAM & MARY STARTERS

#0 Daniel Dixon, G, 6-6, 210, Jr. (14.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 30.8 min)

#4 Omar Prewitt, G, 6-7, 195, Jr. (17.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 31.3 min)

#34 David Cohn, G, 6-2, 168, So. (5.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 apg, 25.3 min)

#25 Terry Tarpey, F, 6-5, 210, Sr. (9.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 29.9 min)

#31 Sean Sheldon, C, 6-9, 252, Sr. (8.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 24.7 min)

APM