College of Charleston opens basketball season against rival Citadel

November 11, 2016 GMT

College of Charleston guard Cameron Johnson has heard all about Duggarball – The Citadel’s up-tempo, three-point shooting offense designed to overwhelm and wear down an opponent – nicknamed after Bulldogs head coach Duggar Baucom.

A year ago, Baucom preached “Embrace the Pace” to his players, but the new offensive system translated into just 10 wins. With nine new faces in the lineup, the Bulldogs appear to be more prepared to run the kind of system that Baucom had envisioned when he took over the program.

And that’s just fine with Johnson, whose team plays host to The Citadel on Friday at 7 p.m. in the season-opener for both teams.

“They’re going to do what they do and we’re going to do what we do,” said Johnson, who averaged 12.3 points a game last season for the Cougars. “They like to get up-and-down the floor and shoot a bunch of three-pointers. We’re going to defend and rebound. That’s what we do.”

The Cougars, who were missing Joe Chealey and Grant Riller last year due to injuries, figure to be a more up-tempo team this season with their return. While the Cougars will still lean heavily on their defense and rebounding, they will have more options and more depth this season.

“They are going to press and shoots threes,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “Obviously, we have to be prepared for their press defense. When you play against a pressing team, you have to be aggressive with your offense and try to attack them. They do a great job doing what they like to do and we have to be ready for that.”

Grant said the Cougars cannot get caught up in the contrast of styles Friday night.

“They want to play fast, we want to defend and rebound,” Grant said. “Everyone has a different style. We’ll take what the game tells us to take. If it forces us to play faster, we’ll play fast. If we need to slow it down, we’ll do that as well.”

Baucom said both teams will be tested because of the different styles they play.

“I think people can prepare for us and what we do, but might have a hard time preparing for the speed we do it at,” Baucom said. “It’s the same thing with them, we cannot mimic their physicality and their size in practice. It will be a game of speed vs. size a little bit.”

The Cougars will be without Canyon Barry, who transferred to Florida. He was the team’s leading scorer before suffering a season-ending shoulder surgery in January.

“They might be better this year without Canyon Barry,” Baucom said. “He tended to seek his shot and was a ball-stopper sometimes.

When the two teams were in the Southern Conference, they faced each other twice a year. Now, with the Cougars in the Colonial Athletic Association, they play just once. Grant said it’s important for the schools to continue to play each other.

“I think it’s really important for all of us in the city to play each other,” Grant said. “We’ve been able to keep these games going with The Citadel, but haven’t been able to get a common date with Charleston Southern. I think these games are important for the fans in Charleston.”