And now, we learn about an opponent that Marquette hasn’t played since 1992. I like new faces.
Name: Charleston Southern University
Location: North Charleston, South Carolina
Wait. Yes, Charleston Southern University is located in North Charleston. It is, hilariously, located 17 miles northwest of the College of Charleston.
So why in tarnation is is Charleston Southern? Well, it wasn’t named as such until 1990, when the South Carolina Baptist Convention voted to change it from Baptist College at Charleston. It had been named that since 1965 when the doors opened and the first classes were operated out of the First Baptist Church of North Charleston. I’d continue with general history notes about CSU here, but none of them actually explain the Southern part. Outside of “It’s in The South,” I’ve got nothing for you.
Enrollment: 3,724, or about half the size of Marquette’s undergraduate student body.
Why “Buccaneers?” Other than the fact that Charleston the city has been around since 1670 and as a coastal city has probably seen more than its fair share of pirates, I don’t have anything concrete to tell you here.
Notable Alumni: Tim Scott, the current junior United States Senator from South Carolina; Charlie Simpkins, Olympic silver medalist in the triple jump in 1992; and a smattering of Major League Baseball players.
Last Season: 15-16, with a 9-9 record in the Big South after starting out league action with a record of 1-6.. They lost to UNC Asheville in the conference tournament to end their season.
This Season: 4-2, although just 2-2 against Divison 1
Current KenPom.com Ranking: #219
KenPom Projection: 16-13, with a 9-7 record in the Big South Conference. That projects as a four-way tie for third place behind Radford and Winthrop.
Hey, isn’t the Big South.... The same conference that Presbyterian calls home? Yes. Good eye. It’s currently ranked #26 out of the 32 conferences according to KenPom’s system and habitually floats somewhere in the 20s.
Points: Christian Keeling, 20.2 ppg
Rebounds: Duncan LeXander, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Christian Keeling, 4.3 apg
Head Coach: Barclay Radebaugh, which almost sounds like he’s a Create-A-Coach character for a team based out of South Carolina and/or a character that I will meet any day now in Red Dead Redemption 2. He was a Division 1 assistant from 1986, starting at East Tennessee State, his alma mater, all the way through 2003, putting in time at five different schools before taking the head job at Division 2 Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He went 21-8 in one season there, then went back to being a Division 1 assistant when Frank Haith got the Miami job in 2004. Radebaugh took the Charleston Southern job the following year, and he’s been there ever since. He has a record of 179-224 in his 13-plus seasons and has two Big South Coach of the Year trophies. CSU has never made the NCAA tournament in his tenure, though, falling short in 2013 and 2015 after winning the regular season title.
What’s their whole deal, anyway? Look, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you all sorts of fancy X’s and O’s nonsense about how CSU handles ball screens or if they never double the ball in the post or something. I am staring at their KenPom page and ogling their #10 in the country ranking in Average Defensive Possession Length. On average, their defensive possessions last 15.2 seconds, and only nine teams have shorter possessions.
I have no idea what to make of this, other than there are two possible reasons for very short defensive possessions. Reason The First: They force a bajillion turnovers. This is a possibility, although CSU only ranks #114 in the country in Turnover Rate at 20.7% of possessions. That doesn’t seem quite as many as necessary to have such short defensive possessions. Reason The Second: They’re bad at defense. This seems to have a bit more credence to it. The Bucs are currently ranked #226 in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, although that still has a healthy dose of preseason ranking built into it. They are incredibly good at defending the three point line, as teams only hit 28% against them, but they are outright horrible at defending the rim, ranking #322 out of 353 teams in two point shooting defense at 57.6%. Perhaps that explains the short defensive possessions: Teams can get to the rack at will against the Buccaneers, and they do just that, shooting and usually scoring quickly.
Bigs? Not in your traditional sense. Duncan LeXander is a 6’8”, 200 pound freshman from North Carolina, and he’s the dominant inside presence both in terms of starting, minutes played, and the team lead in rebounds per game, too. Timmy Sellars, hailing from Georgia, has also started every game this season at 6’8” and 220 pounds, but he’s yet to play more than 18 minutes since putting in 25 in their season opener. Sadarius Bowser is 6’9”, 220, but his minutes have been inconsistent and sporadic. He’s not a “big,” per se, but Ty Jones is a rebounding machine even though he only plays half the time. He’s top 350 in rebounding rate on both ends of the court while standing 6’6”, so MU will have to account for the Mississippi native when he comes off the bench.
Shooters? Absolutely. Duncan LeXander is shooting 39% from long range on nearly six attempts per game in CSU’s four contests against D1 opponents. You’ll notice that we just talked about him a moment ago, so if you’re holding out hope for this being Matt Heldt’s big breakout game this season, it’s probably best to tuck that away for another time. Christian Keeling, a 6’4” 175 pound junior from Georgia is helping out his team scoring lead by attempting more threes than LeXander does, although he’s only knocking down 36% of them. There’s a couple other guys who might be “well, if they catch fire” varieties, but they don’t really have the shot attempts at this point.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 1-0. The two teams met for the first time ever back on December 7, 1992. Marquette got a 73-35 victory in Milwaukee.