You are not alone, though it might seem like it if you are sitting in an otherwise empty row at TD Arena for a College of Charleston basketball game. Other Cougar fans are frustrated with all the close losses.
With all the weekly weak shooting, too.
People weren’t asking for much this season, what with new head coach Earl Grant taking over in September after the Doug Wojcik mess paralyzed the program most of the summer. But they had a right to expect something better than last place in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is where the College of Charleston resides at 7-20 overall and 2-12 in CAA play going into a Wednesday night home game against Elon.
“It’s pretty simple,” Grant said Tuesday when asked what kind of measurable progress he wants to see. “It’s trying to play good basketball, fighting for wins, competing, playing with the right spirit.”
The Cougars probably won’t run the CAA Tournament table in Baltimore and crash the NCAA Tournament.
But a little healing over the last four regular-season games and Baltimore will go a long way toward brightening the outlook for next season and perception for the program.
The five signs of improvement the Cougars must show down the stretch:
The College of Charleston has six CAA losses by four points or fewer, but with 58 points or less in eight of the 12 conference losses, the Cougars can’t complain about bad bounces.
It’s more about sports psychology and clutch execution.
“Finishing games is a learned behavior,” Grant said. “The more you win, the more you believe you can win. The more you lose, the more you think you’re going to lose. It’s learning how to win, expecting to win.”
At least Grant is thinking positively. He says he “would love” more close game opportunities.
It’s not just marksmanship; the Cougars were outrebounded 51-35 in a 53-50 home loss to Towson on Sunday that essentially came down to one rebound. But second-to-last in the CAA in scoring isn’t acceptable with Adjehi Baru, Anthony Stitt, Canyon Barry and Joe Chealey in uniform.
“Offensively, it’s more about confidence and finding some rhythm in what we’re trying to do,” Grant said.
Just two chances left in the friendly confines of TD Arena: Wednesday against Elon and on Feb. 28 against Northeastern.
These are musts. The Cougars won last month at Elon, 66-50, and the Northeastern game is the same day legendary former head coach John Kresse enters the College of Charleston Athletics Hall of Fame.
It would be good to see seniors Baru, Stitt and Pat Branin go out in a blaze of glory; these guys have played for four head coaches in four seasons. But it’s inexplicable that Baru’s scoring average has gone down each of the last two seasons (from 9.8 to 9.0 to 8.1).
He is 6-9, has post moves, grasps the concept of inside-out passing and is healthier than in previous seasons.
Try getting the big man involved early.
One CAA Tournament victory would be one more than the Cougars got last March in their first trip to Baltimore.
Extra crab cakes are more than possible with the No. 10 seed opening against the No. 7 seed and No. 8 against No. 9.
Grant wants the College of Charleston “to control what we can control and go into Baltimore with high spirits.”
The Cougars can control five signs of improvement.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff