The Citadel began basketball practice (again) for the 2013-14 season on Sunday. The Bulldogs got in nine days of practice last month before their three-game trip to Canada for exhibition contests.
Before we get into some Q&A with coach Chuck Driesell, guard Matt Van Scyoc and guard Marshall Harris, some injury updates:
- Forwards P.J. Horgan and C.J. Bray, both juniors, are both questionable for this season. Horgan, who 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19 games last year, is dealing with a bulging disc in his back and was not at practice Sunday. Doctors are trying to decide if Horgan needs surgery, according to Driesell, who said a verdict could come by Wednesday. Even if Horgan doesn’t need surgery, it’s not clear if he will be able to play. Bray ended up redshirting last season with ankle problems, but now has nerve problems in his shoulder. He was at practice Sunday, but Driesell also said his season is uncertain. Neither Horgan nor Bray made the trip to Canada.
- Freshman guard Warren Sledge was in a walking boot Sunday and has a stress fracture in his foot. He’s expected back in mid-October, Driesell said.
Now to the Q&A. One big task this season is to replace all-SoCon center Mike Groselle and his 15.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg during last year’s 8-22 season.
Driesell: “I don’t know if you can replace a guy like Mike Groselle and all he brought to this team, not just on the court but from a leadership standpoint, work ethic and all the intangibles. But our guys are excited about the season and to step into new roles and to get started.”
Van Scoyc: “It’s not as goofy in the locker room this year (without Groselle), that’s for sure. But we’re going to have to do some different things this year because we don’t have Mike down in the paint.We’ve got a guard-heavy team this year so we will be able to do some different things than we did with Mike, but he’s definitely a missing piece.”
Harris: “A lot of other guys will have to step up now, in leadership and on the court with Mike gone. He had a lot of scoring, so now other people have to step up and make plays.”
On how the three-game trip to Canada helped the team:
Driesell: “It allowed us to implement that we are going to do both defensively and offensively with our personnel. It gave me a chance to evaluate the personnel that we have and see what changes can be successful. It gave us a chance to really get to know each other, to bond and have an understanding of who can be our leaders this year.”
Van Scyoc: “It was a big additive for us. We got two extra weeks of practice that other teams didn’t get. It was an opportunity to learn our plays and get the down earlier so now we’re ready for it, understanding what coach wants us to do.”
On newcomers Tom Koopman (6-8 C) of Holland, Brian White (6-6 F), Warren Sledge (6-3 G) and Nate Bowser (6-9 F/C):
Van Scyoc: “Tom has been a great surprise to all of us. He’s just one of those Euro-dudes who is crafty around the hoop and knows what he’s doing. Brian is tough, he doesn’t look the part but he can get it in there and mix it up. We’re going to need both those sides, and me and Dylen Setzekorn, to get in there and rebound.”
Driesell: “That trip to Canada was very beneficial for those guys. We brought in size and those guys very aware how important they are to us down in the paint. They know how much rebounding we have to replace with Mike, and how much scoring we have to replace down there.”
On how 6-6 G/F Matt Van Scoyc can improve after averaging 11.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg last season as a freshman:
Van Scyoc: “I had a lot to work on after last year, when I was mainly a spot shooter. This year, I want to take my game to another level, so I worked on ball-handling, coming off screens and driving to the hoop. I feel very confident with that now and I’m hoping to have a big year. Last year, I was mainly a shooter and this year I’m going to have to do different things, because teams will try to defend me and take away that shot. I feel much more confident in shooting the ball and scoring the ball.”‘
Driesell: “He led our team in turnovers last year, so offensively his focus is to be a better ball-handler, to see things better and not put himself in positions where he will turn the ball over. So I think you will see his turnovers reduced tremendously, and we need those to. Defensively, he’s really focused on his footwork and his understanding of defense and his ability to move and not lose sight of his man. He fixes those two areas, and we know he can shoot, and you will see a much improved Van Scoyc from a year in which I think he was pretty impressive for us.”
The Bulldogs open the season Nov. 8 at VMI in the All-Military Classic on ESPNU.