The College of Charleston certainly won’t ease into the 2013-14 basketball season.
Unlike a lot of programs that prefer to open the season against inferior opponents, the Cougars went in the opposite direction this year.
The Cougars open the campaign at defending national champion Louisville on Nov. 9 at the KFC YUM! Arena.
The Cardinals dismantled the Cougars, 80-38, a year ago at TD Arena.
“It’s a great way to start the season,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “It’s a huge challenge to take on the defending national champions on their home floor, but it’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to it. They will be hanging their national championship banner, so it’ll be a great environment and we’ll find out very early on a lot about ourselves.”
Less than two weeks later, the Cougars will host Miami, the defending ACC champion.
“It’s a two-for-one contract and Miami was nice enough to come to us for the first game,” Wojcik said. “Miami was one of the top teams in the nation last year.”
The Cougars, who went 24-11 last season, will face three Southern Conference teams in Davidson, Furman and The Citadel. The Cougars take on Davidson on New Year’s Day. The Cougars’ home opener is on Nov. 12 against Charlotte.
“Davidson has been a great rivalry for us over the years and (Davidson) coach (Bob) McKillop and I really wanted to make it happen,” Wojcik said. “It’s a great regional game and we were fortunate we could find a date to play. Charlotte has been a good team in the Atlantic-10 the last few years and they should be a very competitive team in Conference USA.”
The Cougars take on their cross-town rivals on Dec. 29.
A home game with James Madison begins the Cougars’ inaugural season in the Colonial Athletic Association on Jan. 24.
“We have a lot of ‘firsts’ going into a new conference that stretches from Boston down to Charleston,” Wojcik said. “We are looking forward to those new venues and are excited about the new conference.”
The Cougars named four captains — Adjehi Baru, Willis Hall, Anthony Thomas and Anthony Stitt – for the upcoming season.
“Leadership isn’t something you can always measure on a stats sheet,” Wojcik said. “It’s an intangible that every team needs to be successful. The average fan sometimes can’t see what leadership means to a team, but I can you that if you don’t have good leadership it’s pretty obvious on the floor.”
Willis and Thomas are seniors, while Baru and Stitt are juniors.
“All four of them bring something different to the table,” Wojcik said. “I have tremendous amount of respect for all four of them. They always put the team before themselves and that’s the example I want for the young guys in our program.”
The Cougars have wrapped up their recruiting for the 2014 class with the recent verbal commitment of center Nick Harris from Atlanta’s of St. Pius X High School.
Harris is joined by 6-6 swing man Evan Bailey from Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, and 6-7 forward Donovan Gilmore from Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C.
“To have the commitments that we’ve got at this point in September is a testament to the hard work our staff has put in over the summer,” Wojcik said. “We’ve been able to reach out into some areas where we haven’t had much success in the past and get some good players. The facilities, the tradition and support we’ve got has enabled us to have the kind of results we’ve had this summer.”