It was arguably the best game that the College of Charleston played all of last season.
It came in the College of Charleston’s season opener against Towson and in the first game of the Doug Wojcik era.
The Cougars shot better than 56 percent, led by as much as 33 in the second half, and cruised to a 75-58 victory over the Tigers in last year’s season opener.
But as Wojcik knows, a lot has changed since the last time the two teams met. Charleston will take on Towson Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m. at TD Arena. The game will be televised nationally by NBCSN.
The Tigers had the single biggest turnaround in NCAA history during the 2012-13 season in head coach Pat Skerry’s second season. Towson was just 1-31 in Skerry’s first campaign during the 2011-12 season and improved to 18-13 a year ago. With four senior starters, Towson was picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association in the preseason. The Tigers are already 2-0 in the CAA with an impressive road win against highly regarded Drexel earlier in the week.
“They learned how to win,” Wojcik said. “I knew when we played them last year that they were going to eventually be a good team. They were a big, physical basketball team and they had talent. They just had to learn how to win and they did that. It’s a credit to how good a coach Pat is what a great job he’s done there.”
Charleston senior Willis Hall remembers the game being more about the Cougars than the Tigers.
“It was our home opener, the season opener and coach Wojcik’s first game,” Hall said. “I know everyone was really hyped up for the game because it was the first game of the season. I think everyone wanted to put their best foot forward, and I think that was probably one of the best overall games we played the entire year.”
A sentiment shared by Wojcik.
“We shot the ball well, we defended and rebounded the ball, it was a good game for us, a good start to the season,” Wojcik said.
While some of the moving parts have changed for Towson, the Tigers still have senior forward Jerrelle Benimon, the reigning CAA player of the year. The 6-8 multi-skilled Benimon was one of the few bright spots for the Tigers in last year’s game. Benimon, who transferred from Georgetown, finished with 23 points and five rebounds. Benimon is averaging a double-double this season with 18.4 points and 11.2 rebounds every time he steps onto the floor.
“He’s a great player,” Wojcik said. “He’s a guy that can put the ball on the floor, get to the front of the rim and finish. He’s most dangerous when he takes the ball off the defensive glass and leads the break.”
Benimon is also a gifted passer, which makes him difficult to double-team. He leads the Tiger with 69 assists.
“He’s not going to sit in the low post and dazzle you with his moves,” Wojcik said. “He’s going to get on the wing, as far out as he needs to go, and get the ball. It’s hard to double-team someone 15 feet from the basket. We’ve only got so many guys, I think everyone is probably going to take a turn on him.”
Another key will be slowing down guard Macus Damas, the Tigers’ second-leading scorer and their best 3-point shooter at 40 percent. Damas was held scoreless in last year’s game.
“We did a really good job on Damas last year, so I’m sure he’s looking to play better in this game,” Wojcik said.
Four McGlynn, a transfer from Vermont, is another perimeter weapon for the Tigers. He has made the most three-pointers for the Tigers with 37.
“We can’t lose him in transition, he’s a great shooter,” Wojcik said.