COUGARS DEN: Crucial match-up against Elon to stay out of CAA ‘play in’ game

Charleston's Payton Hulsey and James Madison's Ron Curry go for the loose ball during their game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 at TD Arena. Paul Zoeller/Staff

Sometimes statistics can be a little deceiving.

What’s the saying, there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics.

I agree with that sometimes. Take scoring defense for example. The Cougars lead the CAA in scoring defense and are 11th nationally, giving up an average of 61.6 points a game.

Now, scoring defense can be a funny thing. If a team plays slowly on the offensive end of the floor, it keeps the scoring down. So, a team’s scoring defense might be low, but it’s due in part to the offensive system they run. The Cougars do like to push the ball and with the new 30-second shot clock, it’s hard to hold the ball and keep possessions down.

The Cougars are flat out a good defensive team.

Just about every shot is contested and they certainly don’t make it easy on the opposition to get into any offensive rhythm. Now, the Cougars do like to shoot late in the shot clock because of the loss of Canyon Barry, Joe Chealey and Grant Riller, but don’t be fooled this team plays excellent defense.

For my money, Saturday’s game against Elon is crucial for the Cougars to stay out of that “play in” game in the CAA Tournament next month.

Winning four games in a conference tournament setting is nearly impossible. Elon trails CofC by two games in the CAA standings, but an Elon victory puts them just one game back with four to play and also gives the Phoenix the tiebreaker. The Cougars will play four of the final five games on the road and this a game they can steal on the road if they play well.

I was a little surprised to see Elon hang tough with UNC Wilmington – the Phoenix lost just 86-82 on the road against the Seahawks.

The Cougars loss to James Madison had to be disappointing for the players and coaching staff and for the fans. Not only did they overcome a poor start, they had control of the game with about 13 minutes to play up nine points. Then JMU’s Ron Curry, the league’s top scorer in CAA games, goes down with a knee injury and that game was there for the taking.

I thought they’d turned the corner in learning how to finish off games, but I guess there’s still things to be learned.

Got a feature on Joe Chealey and his “coaching internship” this season for the P&C print edition on Saturday.

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (15-9, 7-6 in CAA) at ELON (14-12, 5-8 in CAA)

When: Saturday.

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Alumni Gym in Elon, N.C..

Radio: WTMZ 910-AM

Live Video: http://portal.stretchinternet.com/elon/

Series History: : CofC Leads 15-6

Last Meeting: Elon def. CofC, 65-64, on Jan. 16, 2016 at TD Arena.

THE COACHES

College of Charleston: Earl Grant is 24-33 in 2nd season at CofC.

Elon: Matt Matheny, 106-112, in 7th season at Elon.

PROJECTED COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STARTERS

#21 Marquise Pointer, G, 6-0, 205, Fr. (11.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 29.0 min)

#12 Cameron Johnson, G, 6-4, 196, So. (11.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 32.0 min)

#3 Payton Hulsey, G, 6-5, 215, Jr.-Tr. (4.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 27.4 min)

#5 Jarrell Brantley, F, 6-7, 245, Fr. (11.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 27.3 min)

#23 Nick Harris, F, 6-10, 245, RS-Fr. (4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 19.2 min)

PROJECTED ELON STARTERS

#1 Luke Eddy, G, 6-1, 185, Jr. (11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, 26.3 min)

#2 Dmitri Thompson, G, 6-4, 205, So. (9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 24.9 min)

#3 Tanner Samson, G, 6-4, 205, Sr. (12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 28.8 min)

#00 Brian Dawkins, F, 6-8, 240, RS-So. (5.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 14.2 min)

#41 Tyler Seibring, F, 6-8, 225, Fr. (9.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 27.5 min)

APM