An early look at the Cougars

I stopped by the College of Charleston’s practice on Wednesday and got my first look at the Cougars during a two-hour session.

I realize that this is only a limited sample size, but here are some thoughts on the Cougars as we get closer to their season opener on Nov. 9 against defending national champs Louisville.

Baru

Here’s your starting Five, well starting Four for the Cougars as far as I can tell.

C – Adjehi Baru

F – Willis Hall

F – Anthony Thomas

G – Anthony Stitt

Willis Hall

I know this isn’t earth-shattering news, but the battle for the second guard spot will come down to freshman Joe Chealey, senior Nori Johnson and redshirt-freshman Canyon Barry.

If I had to pick a starter now, my guess is that true freshman Joe Chealey will start at the point guard spot and that Anthony Stitt will be the shooting guard. That puts Stitt at the shooting guard where he’s probably most comfortable and gives the Cougars a true PG in Chealey.

If not, then Stitt will be the PG and Nori Johnson will be the SG, but those three, plus Barry will be used as the main rotation in the backcourt. And don’t forget about Jonathan-Burroughs Cook either, the kid just continues to impress the Cougars coaching staff during the preseason. The Cougars could also go to a three-guard lineup at times with either Thomas or Hall playing the power forward position.

I’ve seen on a few message boards and many are speculating that redshirt-freshman Canyon Barry will start at the SG spot. Canyon will definitely be in the rotation, he’s gotten bigger and stronger since his true freshman season and CofC head coach Doug Wojcik want Barry to become more aggressive offensively. Wojcik also wants to have a deeper bench this season. Wojcik said he hopes to play 9 or 10 guys each game. Again, I think Barry will be coming off the bench, but there’s still more than a month before the season opens.

Anthony Thomas

Anthony Thomas has looked great in the preseason. I thought AT had a solid season a year ago, but look for him to be more of a scorer this season. He’s been very aggressive going to the basket during the practices and workouts I’ve seen and he’s shooting the ball much better from the 3-point line (27.4% a year ago).

Joe Chealey

Chealey has impressed with me his maturity level. He doesn’t act like a kid whose never played a college game before. He’s quick, athletic and he’s tough. Will be a very good on-the-ball defender this year. Not sure it’s fair for him to make his first collegiate start at the KFC Yum Center in front of 21,000 screaming Louisville fans. That seems to me to be a little excessive, more than just your normal baptism by fire, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Nori Johnson start against the Cardinals because he’s a senior.

Tulsa transfer David Wishon (7-2) has improved dramatically since watching him in practice last year. He moves better, he has decent touch around the basket and he’s more skilled that he was a year ago. He can pass to the ball out of the double-team. He’ll be a solid back-up to Baru and a defensive force in the middle. He’ll need to improve his footwork and improve on his medium-range jumper (10 to 15 feet), but he’ll give the Cougars some valuable minutes off the bench.

The other freshmen – Jonathan Burroughs-Cook, Terrance O’Donohue and Glenn Pierre Jr. – are still learning the system.

I think Chealey is a little ahead of the other freshmen. But as I stated earlier, watch out for Cook, who just seems to have a knack for making plays. He has excellent quickness and has good range on his jumper, but not sure if he’s a PG or SG. I think he’s still trying to figure that out and like Stitt and Andrew Lawrence will probably play both before it’s all said and done.

O’Donohue will certainly see some PT this year. He’s a long, athletic SF or PF that can run the floor and score in transition. He’s got a smooth looking jumper, but like all freshman he’s still thinking too much.

My guess is that Pierre will redshirt this season. He needs to add some bulk and get stronger. He’s a good defensive player, just not sure he’s physically ready to play at this level yet.

Well, that’s all for now.

Will update when I see a few more practices.

APM

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