Game #9-061: Saint John`s at Charleston CougarsNovember 15, 2012 5:00 pm
Carolina First Center
The College of Charleston and St. John's are two schools which are almost 14 hours apart by car. They have innumerable connections though which few schools have on the basketball end.
John Kresse has been a legend in college hoops circles at the College of Charleston. He had spent 11 seasons under coach Lou Carnesecca at St. John's. He had also spent three seasons with the New York Nets of the ABA under Lou. Kresse is from Brooklyn, and grew up wanting to be a basketball coach. In 1979, after St. John's had made the East Regional finals of the NCAA tournament (losing to Penn), he decided to look at CofC.
The job opened up. Seven candidates applied for the job at the college. The college was a shadow of what it is now. Games were played at Silcox Gym, a tiny arena in the middle of the CofC campus. CofC was in the NAIA, in a league with schools such as Lander and Erskine. The games were not covered by local radio, and crowds averaged a couple hundred a game.
Coach Kresse was named head coach in 1979. A year later, the school's 3,000 seat arena, the College Athletic Center opened. In 1979-80, Kresse won 17 games with his group. For the rest of the 1980s, he had a 20 win season every year.
In 1983, the Cougs won their only national championship, the NAIA title in Kansas City, back when it was still a big deal. Along the way, CofC beat Chaminade, the school that beat Ralph Sampson and Virginia that year. The day after beating Chaminade, they beat West Virginia Wesleyan for their first title.
The rest of the 1980s was a great time for the program. They made the national tournament every year, until they moved up to Division I in 1990. They officially gained Division I status in 1991, and in their very first game as a full D1 member won at UNC-Charlotte. The wins started to add up. In 1993, CofC won by 17 at 8 Georgia Tech, who had just upset Duke the week before.
1994 garnered a surprise NCAA Tournament bid for Kresse where he stood on the tables at a local restaurant because he was so surprised. The rest of the 90s was a very successful time for CofC. They had three more NCAA bids ('97, '98 and '99), upset Maryland in the 1997 tournament, plus two NIT bids in the years they didn't make the tournament. The improving SoCon got to him in his final few seasons; he won two division titles but couldn't win in the conference tournament.
In 2002, Kresse retired after a storied career. He still has a job with the college, and still taught classes until a couple of years ago. Strangely, the Cougs never played St. John's. Will Bryan, the Associate Director of Athletics Communications at CofC, is also a St. John's graduate. There were several connections between these two far-apart schools.
The game was an interesting one. Because students were charged for tickets for the first game, attendance in the section was down. At 5pm on Thursday, many students have classes or labs to go to, which held down the attendance. Still, there were about 3,500-4,000 in the crowd. The Cougars played hard throughout the game, but were held down by a St. John's team who was more athletic on this day.
CofC wore black uniforms for I believe the first time ever. Their main uniform colors are usually maroon on the road, and white or gold at home. The look in this game got a mixed reaction from fans.
CofC was down the entire game. They needed an Anthony Stitt layup to cut the deficit at half to ten at 36-26. PG Andrew Lawrence was under the weather, as he played while sick. The Red Storm were preparing to turn it into a real blowout in the second half. The Cougars were down by as much as 19 halfway through the second half, but they cut it back to 12 with about four minutes and change to go before Lawrence had a brutal turnover and Sir'Dominic Pointer dunked on a fast break.
The game was effectively over from there. The Cougars lost by 11 against this Big East team, who looked like a juggernaut in this game. They played very well from the opening tip, and Kresse's alma mater prevailed. Connections are worth a lot, but they didn't matter in this game.
SAINT JOHN`S 64, at CHARLESTON 53
SAINT JOHN`S 2-0 (0-0) -- D. Harrison 9-20 2-2 21; P. Greene 5-11 0-0 10; J. Sampson 2-7 4-6 8; A. Garrett 5-7 0-0 11; S. Pointer 1-5 0-2 2; C. Obekpa 2-3 0-0 4; C. Jones 3-7 2-3 8; F. Balamou 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-60 8-13 64.
CHARLESTON 1-1 (0-0) -- A. Thomas 3-7 1-2 7; A. Stitt 3-13 0-0 6; N. Johnson 4-9 0-0 11; A. Baru 1-6 1-2 3; A. Lawrence 3-7 0-0 7; T. Wiedeman 4-7 2-4 10; T. Johnson 2-4 2-2 7; W. Hall 1-3 0-0 2; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-56 6-10 53.
Three-point goals: STJ 2-10 (P. Greene 0-2; D. Harrison 1-7; A. Garrett 1-1), COFC 5-15 (A. Lawrence 1-4; N. Johnson 3-7; A. Stitt 0-3; T. Johnson 1-1); Rebounds: STJ 33 (J. Sampson 10), COFC 37 (A. Thomas 11); Assists: STJ 8 (P. Greene 4), COFC 11 (A. Stitt 4); Total Fouls -- STJ 12, COFC 13; Fouled Out: STJ-None; COFC-None.
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