College of Charleston Preview
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel,  
Release: 11/09/2012
The final game of the 2011-12 season took place at the first round of the CAA Tournament on April 12. The Towson Tigers gave it their all but came out on the short end of a 72-65 loss to Delaware at the Richmond Coliseum.
That was seven months ago. The wait is now over for junior transfers Jerrelle Benimon and Mike Burwell, who sat out last year due to transfer rules but were allowed to practice. That probably didn't make the wait any easier as Benimon and Burwell had to sit through a very difficult 1-31 season.
But today's a new day with pretty much a brand-new team - three freshmen and four transfers with one returning starter.
The task is extremely difficult, though, for the Tigers who face the College of Charleston on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 1090 AM WBAL. The contest against the Cougars is the first of 10 road games that start the season. The Tigers return home to face North Dakota State on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. This Monday night, Towson has a rare in-season exhibition game against Goldey-Beacom at 7 p.m.
Towson has faced College of Charleston once before, defeating the Cougars on the road, 86-75, on Jan. 2, 2006 in TD Arena.
The Cougars are coming off a 19-12 season, including a 10-8 record in the Southern Conference. In the middle of last season, legendary coach Bobby Cremins took a leave of absence and then ultimately retired in the spring.
College of Charleston hired Doug Wojcik, the former Navy point guard who played with David Robinson. Wojcik was shockingly dismissed at Tulsa, despite going 140-92 during his tenure. Tulsa's loss was the Cougars' gain, and he inherits a team that returns four starters and is considered one of the favorites to win the South Division of the Southern Conference.
Last year's Cougars averaged 70.7 points per game (ppg) and allowed 68.3 ppg. They shot 34 percent from beyond the arc, 64 percent from the free throw line and 43 percent from the field. They allowed teams to shoot just 42 percent from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc. Rebounding was an issue as they were outrebounded 39.7 to 35.8 (-3.8).
The Cougars welcome back 10 letter winners who accounted for 71 percent of the team's scoring and 67 percent of the team's rebounding a year ago. The returners include three All-Southern Conference performers in Andrew Lawrence, Trent Wiedeman and Adjehi Baru.
Lawrence is a 6-1 senior who was selected to represent Great Britain in the Olympics and played alongside the likes of Luol Deng at the Games. Lawrence averaged 13 ppg and 5.5 apg last season, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 34 percent (60-175) from the 3-point line. In the Cougars' 68-52 exhibition win over UC Aiken, Lawrence scored 14 points and dished out three assists with just one turnover in 26 minutes.
Lawrence will be joined by sophomore Anthony Stitt (6-1, 180), who averaged 9.7 ppg last season and knocked down 45 percent of his shots from the field and 37 percent of his 3-point attempts as a freshman.
At small forward, Anthony Thomas (6-7, 207) is a junior transfer from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. He averaged 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds last season. Thomas had nine points in the exhibition game. He's likely to share the spot with freshman wing Theo Johnson (6-6, 195), a long, left-hander from California. Freshman Canyon Barry (6-6, 195), a Colorado native who signed under Cremins, is the youngest son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry. Cremins coached Rick's other sons Jon and Drew at Georgia Tech.
Up front, Baru (6-9, 225) averaged 7.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor.
Wideman (6-8, 255) is a powerful junior who is returning from off-season ankle surgery. He's an outstanding rebounder, grabbing 12 caroms in the exhibition game. He also averaged 12.1 points and 9.7 rebounds last season while shooting 48 percent from the field and blocking 27 shots to lead the Cougars.
The Cougars have a very deep bench led by junior Nori Johnson (6-5, 209), who averaged 6 ppg in 15 starts, while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc last season. Redshirt senior Matt Sundberg (6-8, 200) adds 6.2 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game.

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