Game #9-553: Virginia Military Institute Keydets vs. Charleston Southern BuccaneersMarch 9, 2013 12:00 pm
Myrtle Beach, SC
Charleston Southern entered this game as the favorite, 12-4 in the Big South against an 8-8 squad from VMI. But as I mentioned in their last game
, this is a new position for Charleston Southern. When you talk about places in Hoops Nation that have had a lot of struggling, CSU has to be near the top of the list. Kyle in all his travels never visited Charleston Southern's "Buc Dome", an 881 seat arena that has limited space for media and would not have been able to host this tournament even if we were going to the higher seeds. At just over $800,000, Charleston Southern spends less on men's basketball than anybody else in the Big South. And yet after the regular season they were now the favorites. They were the regular season champions after years of hanging back towards the bottom of the conference. And when you factor all of that in, CSU was the true underdog story regardless of their record. This was the story of the 2012-2013 Big South season.
Charleston Southern did not quite come out of nowhere, even though most of Barclay Radebaugh's tenure at CSU has been unsuccessful. They were picked to win their division at the beginning of the season after finishing fourth of 11 in the conference a year ago. And with defending champion UNC Asheville hurt by graduation as well as most of the rest of the conference, that gave the Bucs' high expectations. But high expectations do not always translate into wins. And that is especially true for a school like Charleston Southern, which has not won much since the 1997 Big South Tournament. Charleston Southern is a football school despite like High Point having few financial resources to pull it off. And quite often we see surprise teams like Charleston Southern go down quickly in the postseason. Growing up a South Carolina fan, I was dismayed to have the school finally put together two seasons where they were seeded in the top 3 of their NCAA Tournament bracket, only to lose in the first round both times with star player B.J. McKie who is now an assistant at CSU. Have you ever noticed how certain schools always find a way to win in the postseason, even after a weak regular season? Expectations of how a school is to perform before the season often means more than expectations after the regular season. Both Nate Silver and Ken Pomeroy have done studies that have found that to be true
. And while CSU was picked first, it was only because the conference as a whole was down and someone had to be picked first. And that also could describe Charleston Southern's regular season title as well. So if they were to prove themselves, the Bucs needed to beat VMI and make the Big South Championship.I had already seen the Bucs crush VMI before just a couple weeks prior in a game at the Buc Dome
. But the Buc Dome the HTC Center is not. This was a neutral court, and it would be a tough test against VMI. And as I have mentioned frequently in past VMI recaps, you can always count on Duggar Baucom to pull a surprise at least once every Big South Tournament. And the win over Longwood really did not qualify as such, so that surprise could easily happen here. Early on, it looked like we would be getting that surprise. Rodney Glasgow was hot early for the Keydets, which led by nine midway through the first half. And while VMI's offense was quited late in the first half, Charleston Southern's offense was slow to get going. VMI led 30-25 at halftime, and it looked as if we could see an "upset" over the long-time struggling Buccaneers.
But things began to change in the second half. Arlon Harper stepped his game up big time in the second half and began to take over to give the Bucs a six point lead five minutes into the first half after a 16-5 run to start. CSU could never find the superhoop like they did against the Keydets back in North Charleston, and that is what kept VMI in the game. Leading shooters Mathiang Muo and Jeremy Sexton combined for no points on the game, usually a bad sign for the Bucs. But behind Harper and point guard Saah Nimley the Bucs were able to their job in holding off the Keydets. Glasgow's big game for the Keydets made it closer than CSU wanted, but in the end Harper's free throws won sealed a 71-65 win for Charleston Southern. Behind 33 points from Harper, CSU would continue the journey from an arena that cannot handle a proper television crew to being nationally televised on ESPN2 in reaching their first conference final in eight years.
Charleston Southern with the win here showed that they were no fluke. They beat an wlways tricky VMI team, and were one win away from making the NCAA Tournament. Even with a loss in the next game CSU had already clinched the NIT based on their regular season results. And as much as the NIT and "ghost brackets" have been ripped on here before, it is still a big accomplishment for a school that has had little going for it in basketball. Credit is to be given to Radebaugh, who coached through some of CSU's lean years after leaving Gregg Marshall's highly successful bench at Winthrop. And credit especially goes to the core group of Harper, Nimley, Muo, and Sexton. These players have come together to form a team that has done more than what anybody else has done in recent history despite poor facilities and few resources behind them. These are the guys who represent the best in Hoops Nation, and they still had one more big step in front of them.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 71, VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE 65
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE 14-17 (8-8) -- R. Glasgow 12-23 3-4 31; B. Brown 0-9 0-0 0; D. Covington 7-12 2-2 16; S. Okoye 4-16 4-7 12; N. Gore 0-1 0-0 0; T. Marshall 1-4 0-0 3; D. Albritton 1-2 0-0 2; J. Carr 0-1 0-0 0; P. Anglade 0-0 1-2 1; J. Watson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-68 10-15 65.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 19-11 (12-4) -- S. Nimley 6-20 1-2 14; A. Harper 10-20 8-8 33; P. Gombwer 4-8 0-1 8; J. Sexton 0-7 0-0 0; M. Bernard 1-5 0-0 2; M. Muo 0-1 0-0 0; S. Strickland 2-5 2-4 7; M. Kennedy 1-3 2-2 5; C. Bowen 1-4 0-0 2; A. Fullah 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-74 13-17 71.
Three-point goals: VMI 5-28 (S. Okoye 0-7; N. Gore 0-1; R. Glasgow 4-8; B. Brown 0-7; D. Albritton 0-1; T. Marshall 1-4), CHSO 8-19 (J. Sexton 0-1; M. Kennedy 1-2; S. Strickland 1-1; A. Harper 5-8; S. Nimley 1-5; P. Gombwer 0-1; M. Bernard 0-1); Rebounds: VMI 44 (S. Okoye 14), CHSO 46 (S. Nimley 12); Assists: VMI 7 (S. Okoye 3), CHSO 10 (S. Nimley 4); Total Fouls -- VMI 15, CHSO 14; Fouled Out: VMI-None; CHSO-None.
© 2004-2014 The Mid-Majority. All content is the property of its authors.