The College of Charleston played as an independent in 1991-92 before joining the Trans America Athletic Conference for the next six seasons. During its tenure in the TAAC, the Cougars made four trips to the NCAA Tournament with one win in 1997. Moving to the Southern Conference from 1999 until 2013, the program produced 12 winning seasons in 13 years.
The College of Charleston joined the Colonial Athletic Association ahead of the 2013-14 season and it made its first return trip to Big Dance last season as the conference tournament champion. The Cougars’ stay did not last long as a No. 13 seed with a 62-58 loss to Auburn closing as 9.5-point underdogs, but current head coach Earl Grant continues to build a program that can compete at a national level.
College of Charleston Team Overview
Grant is looking for bigger and better things this season in his fifth campaign at the helm. Last season’s overall 26-8 record followed 25 wins the season before. That fact that his team did earn a No. 13 seed coming out of the CAA shows the respect this program is starting to earn from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
The Cougars have also earned some recognition this year for stepping up the level of competition in the nonconference portion of the schedule. The team held it own in early losses to the Big 12’s Oklahoma State Cowboys and the SEC’s LSU Tigers. Charleston went on to beat VCU 83-79 in mid-December as a five-point underdog.
As the class of the CAA in the role of defending regular-season and tournament champion, Charleston will have a target on its back moving forward. However, that is exactly what this team expects in the quest for back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars know they have the talent, depth and experience to lengthen their stay this time around.
College of Charleston Season Outlook
One of the main reasons Charleston should remain on the radar screen come March is the ability to dominate games on both ends of the court. This is not the most potent offensive attack in the nation, but it has already proven it can come out on top in a shootout if its needs to. This team has also proven it knows how to play defense to post wins by shutting opposing teams down.
The dynamic duo of junior guard Grant Riller and senior forward Jarrell Brantley will take this team as far as their vast talents will allow. Both players are proficient scorers with the ability to each post 20 points or more at any given time. Riller put up 30 points in that earlier win against VCU and Brantley countered with a double-double (26 points and 17 rebounds). This performance was a prime example of how these two players can dominate a game when they are at their best.
The one Achilles heel that could be a issue come tournament time is the Cougars’ inability to effectively connect on shots from three-point range. Brevin Galloway has been their best option as the third-leading scorer on the team.
Charleston is definitely a program on the rise under Grant’s supervision and one team that will be on my watch list when March rolls around.