Ken Burger's article:
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006 8:05 AM
back in Cougarville
BY KEN BURGER
Like the veteran coach that he is, Bobby Cremins said Sunday's
home opener against UNC Wilmington was just another basketball game.
the College of Charleston's new head coach, he should know better.
in fact, a tingle of that old electricity in this building that has been witness
to the best years of Cougar basketball. The seats were filled with all those
familiar faces that have made this program tick and they all came to see if
things were really going to be different.
Different from the four years of
uncomfortable tension they lived through with Tom Herrion coaching the
Different from what many loyal Cougars fans considered a step backward
from the glory days of the John Kresse era.
Different from watching an
undisciplined offense, a lackadaisical defense and a general lowering of
standards within the program itself.
What they got was their first look at
what could be the most important team in the history of Cougar basketball. And
what they saw should leave them
thinking that things are, indeed, headed in
the right direction.
Team in transition
For those who just checked in from
outer space, this is a small-college basketball team in transition from what it
used to be to whatever it is going to be.
What it used to be was a giant
killer. Under legendary coach John Kresse, the Cougars became one of the most
dangerous teams in college basketball.
They routinely earned they way into
the NCAA Tournament and had a reputation for knocking off big-name schools with
When Kresse retired in 2002, he was replaced by Herrion, a former
Virginia assistant, who simply was a bad fit. Four years later he was
The soap opera that followed made a shaky situation even worse. Former
C of C assistant Gregg Marshall was wooed back from Winthrop, but flip-flopped
and changed his mind the next day.
Fortunately for the college, former
Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins was waiting in the wings, ready to give the
game one more run.
The euphoria and anticipation surrounding this change has
been palpable, with every moment chronicled and analyzed.
was the official unveiling of this team for the loyalists who can't wait for
better times to return. And, it seems everybody got what they wanted.
For starters, the Cougars won the game. While the 91-70 final score
doesn't clearly reflect the college's sketchy play in the first half, it does
indicate that this team has the talent and ability to blow out good teams when
it plays together.
UNC Wilmington was an NCAA Tournament team last year and
always gives the Cougars more than they bargain for.
In the first half, the
Seahawks were clearly the better team. Cremins admitted that his crew was
nervous, out of sync, uneasy, whatever. So was the home crowd of more than 3,100
that had hoped for a better showing. There was some squirming when the Cougars
trailed 30-29 at the break. And for good reason.
Cremins' club simply didn't
look good. Ball movement was awkward. Shot selection was poor. Nothing seemed to
be working. But a 62-point second half proved the circus was back in
The crowd roared with approval, sensing the good old days might be just
around the corner. And perhaps they are.
Because there is more to winning
than just winning.
Done well, it requires that special mix of a team's
ability to perform combined with its personality. In short, you not only have to
be good, you have to be entertaining.
Sunday's home opener, while no
guarantee of future success, went a long way toward showing those who care the
most that the circus is back in town.
Reach Ken Burger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5598.
This article appeared in The Post and
Courier and updated online at Charleston.net on Monday, November 27,