So my friend Tony Terentieff and I spent two days in Charleston after an overnight stay in Myrtle Beach. We had to leave early this morning so we missed the third day of action. Charleston is a terrific city and I didn't even see half of it. It has old southern charm with terrific architecture, great food and apparently a good night life. Its even a college town with the College of Charleston there.
So as for the tournament what happened. Well, we saw that Clemson is a legitimate NCAA tournament team and that Temple and the absolutely terrific Dionte Christmas are pretty close to that. Charles Jenkins is going to be a major force in the CAA and Jim Christian is already doing a nice job with TCU. The College of Charleston (CofC) should be a very solid contender in the SoCon, especially if they can straighten out their free throw shooting (they temporarily fixed it today going 13 of 14 from the line in a win over TCU in the 3rd place game. The Cougars won two games in the tournament mainly from the shooting of Andrew Goudelock and Marcus Hammond off the bench. With four starters that average double digits, if Hammond can continue to provide scoring off the bench, the Cougars are that much tougher. ETSU has a nice trifecta in Courtney Pigram, Mike Smith and Kevin Tiggs (but they need more help). Western Michigan has a terrific scorer in David Kool and SIUE's Nick Venovich is a nice small forward.
The Carolina First Arena on the campus of Charleston is really nice. This tournament was its grand opening. It has a very open floor plan with the concessions in between the levels and you can see the court from any of those areas. It was well thought and the place was rocking Friday night with all the Charleston students in the student section (but they must have tied one on after the game because the student section was much smaller for the next day's afternoon game vs. Temple). The one problem with the arena is that it has either a leak or a drainage issue. It was raining hard last night. Behind the home team bench, about six rows up in our row, right next to Tieff's seat, water started pouring down from above through a vent. It stopped, then it happened again about 20 minutes later. I am pretty sure it was a drainage issue because it only happened twice and didn't happen again.
I was probably a bit harsh on Hofstra Friday after losing by 29. Clemson is a very good team and Trevor Booker is a very good player. Clemson plays tenacious defense and outside of Charles Jenkins, the Pride didn't do much offensively. The Tigers continued their lock down defense in holding TCU's Kevin Langford, an all Conference USA third team selection to two points on 1 of 7 shooting (Langford had 10 points vs. Western Michigan and 27 vs. CofC today). Then Clemson held Dionte Christmas to only 14 points today on 4 of 12 shooting. Prior to today, Dionte had seemingly made the tournament Christmas time as he had 26 points in each of the Owls wins over ETSU and CofC, The Tigers with K.C. Rivers, Terrance Oglesby and Raymond Sykes are really solid on both ends of the court.
Hofstra came back from their Friday night beatdown with two wins over Western Michigan and ETSU by a total of four points. The impressive win was last night as Hofstra played several minutes in the second half without Charles Jenkins who was in foul trouble. Thus guards Tony Dennison and Cornelius Vines stepped up. They also had another solid game today as Jenkins led the way with 31 points. It looks like Hofstra has another trifecta of scoring guards. Now if they can just work it inside more. Today the Pride only had only ten attempts from their big men today and actually hit seven of them. Marcus Szabo had a solid debut today. The big JUCO transfer from Hungary had 11 rebounds today. Yesterday Hofstra had 58 rebounds in their overtime win over Western Michigan with 16 coming from Arminas Urbutis and 12 from Dane Johnson (along with 14 points). The Pride won despite shooting 4 of 27 in the first half.
All in all it was very good basketball. Hopefully the Charleston Classic will become a tradition, one which I would gladly go to again next season. Just next time, our other hotel will be a better one. Tieff did good with Best Western Carolinian in Myrtle Beach, but not so good with the LaQuinta Inn in North Charleston. Next time a stay in town is required!
Tomorrow a review of the weekend's CAA action and Tuesday night its updating my Baker's Dozen. A few teams are changing in there.