An interview with Citadel coach Chuck Driesell to wrap up his third season. The Bulldogs went 8-22 overall and 5-13 in the SoCon, and are 24-68 overall and 14-40 in the league in his three seasons.
Chuck, what was your take on the season in general?
“I think we got a little better as the season went along. We were better in some respects than we were last year, so that’s a plus. But we are still a young team. We bring back a lot of minutes and a lot of experience for next year, and that’s something we can build on.”
Turnovers and defense were issues all season long. Was it frustrating that those areas never really improved?
“A lot of times, turnovers just come from a lack of confidence. I think with a good spring training, summer workouts and when we get going next year, with the minutes they had we’ll do a much better job. We’ll have some juniors on the roster finally, and I think we can correct some of those turnovers that really hurt us.
Will you visit with other coaches or programs in the off-season in an effort to improve the defense, to come up with a new or different philosophy or strategy?
“When I think I know it all, it’s time to get out of the business. You are always trying to learn new things. This game is all about taking and sharing things, and putting your own twist on it. I’ve seen a couple of teams where I like the way they play defense, and I’m going to visit with them and see if some of those things they do can fit our personnel for next year.
“You know, on offense we improved in almost every area – free-throw shooting, assists-to-turnover ratio, field goal shooting. We really did a nice job on offense in parts of the season. Our biggest problem was consistency, and I think a lot of coaches would tell you that.”
You have to be encouraged with what P.J. Horgan showed after taking off his redshirt, and having him back next year to sort of fill Mike Groselle’s shoes.
“That was a big decision by him not to redshirt and to make that sacrifice for the good of the team. I think part of that was that he wanted to show his ability to take over when Mike leaves.
“A lot of people don’t know that he played the last month with a lower back problem that made it hard for him to even sit down. The only way to fix that is to rest, and so he had to play with that pain for a majority of his season. He kind of lost a step there as the season progressed; he even had to stand up in class because it hurt to sit down. He showed he can score down low and rebound, and his best days are ahead of him.”
Forward C.J. Bray missed the season with ankle issues. Do you expect him back at full strength?
“He might be even better. He went to Charlotte for total reconstructive surgery on his ankle, and the doctor says it will be like putting on a pair of glasses for somebody who’s always had blurry vision. It should be a whole new experience for him (to play on healthy ankles).”
Matt Van Scyoc had a solid freshman year. What areas do you want him to improve on?
“Matt did a super job of being catch-and-shoot guy for us. But he’s at a position where he has to put the ball on the floor, defend a quicker guy, create his own shot. He has to rebound better, and I think Matt will get better because of his work ethic. His ball-handling, his passing, has to get better – his assist-to-turnover ratio was not good. He can be a “stretch four” for us, a power forward who can drive it and shoot it, sort of like Brandon Boggs at Western Carolina. But no matter where he plays, he can be a versatile player for us.”
You have 2 signees, 6-7 forward Brian White and 6-8 center Nate Bowser.
“Brian is very athletic at 6-7 ½ and took his team to the state championship game in Virginia. He has a great motor and is in tremendous condition. He can be a ‘stretch four” too and make an impact like Matt did as a freshman. Nate is 6-8 1/23, 230, had a solid year in high school in Dallas last season.
“We’ll have no seniors on the team next year. In a perfect world, you’d have 3-4-5 seniors and 3-4 juniors, and some of the close games we lost this year might go our way.”
Has it been harder to get things going at The Citadel than you expected?
“I feel great about where the program is going. I’m disappointed, we all are, that we haven’t won more games. It’s a process. This is not the kind of place where you walk in and sign a bunch of McDonald All-Americans or a bunch of junior-college transfers.
“You look at Towson this year, they did a great job of bringing in transfers this year and flipping their roster. We can’t do that here. We have to take baby steps, and I think we did that last year and we’ll continue to do that next year.”