Preparing for his second season as The Citadel’s basketball coach, Chuck Driesell can’t shake this funny feeling.
“It almost feels like this is my first year,” Driesell said.
Little wonder. Driesell has eight freshmen among the 15 players on his roster, and lost 10 players from last year’s squad. The list of departed players includes the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in scoring and assists (Cameron Wells) and the top two 3-point shooters in school history (Zach Urbanus and Austin Dahn).
Despite the senior talent, the Bulldogs were just 10-22 overall and 6-12 in the Southern Conference in Driesell’s first season, another reason he might prefer to think of this season as his first.
“I inherited a program with so many seniors who were set in a certain way,” Driesell said. “And when they left, we lost some really good players. It’s like starting over.”
Driesell is not starting from scratch, however. He has a proven inside scorer to build around in 6-8 junior center Mike Groselle, who averaged 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, shooting 60.1 percent from the field. Groselle played 24.4 minutes per game last year, and should be prepared to play more this season.
Dogs’ Driesell: Almost feels like my first year
“Mike did a tremendous job this summer getting in great physical condition,” Driesell said. “He can play longer and harder at a position that he’s proven he’s pretty good at, and can be on the floor longer without getting fatigued.”
Groselle has also worked hard to expand his shooting range, which didn’t extend much farther than five feet or so last year.
“People will have to step out there on him from 15 feet and in,” Driesell said. “That will help him and help us offensively.”
Filling in around Groselle will be more problematic.
Senior guard Cosmo Morabbi and redshirt junior forward Bo Holston have the most experience, but were role players on the Wells-Urbanus-Dahn teams. Sophomores Devontae Wright (from Goose Creek High School) and Barry Smith also will have a chance to expand their roles.
“We’ve got some guys who were in the shadows of those seniors,” Driesell said. “Now is their chance to be in the spotlight.”
To sign a class of eight freshmen, Citadel brass told Driesell and his coaches it was OK to bust the recruiting budget.
“And we did,” Driesell said. Citadel coaches traveled from New Jersey (6-7 swingman Dylan Setzekorn) to New Mexico (6-8 forward P.J. Horgan) and even to James Island (6-8 forward C.J. Bray) to sign this class, and many freshmen will have to contribute right away.
Freshman guard Ashton Moore scored a team-high 21 points in the Bulldogs’ exhibition game, while freshman guard Lawrence Miller chipped in 12. Jordan Robertson, a 6-7 forward, had seven rebounds. Bray, guard Marshall Harris and Horgan were other freshmen who played in the exhibition.
The knobs will be tested early. The Citadel opens the season Friday against high-scoring VMI at the All-Military Classic at Air Force, then faces Clemson in the home opener Nov. 16 at McAlister Field House.