CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern tipped off its preseason practice schedule on Monday at the Buc Dome. CSU went through an early morning session before holding its first full practice in the afternoon. The Bucs are looking to build on the success they enjoyed in Canada in August with a deep roster featuring seven newcomers.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said the Canadian tour, along with the ten practices the program was able to hold in preparation for the trip, put the Bucs in a good spot as they build toward the Nov. 12 opener at Florida State. Radebaugh has enjoyed being around a group that is taller, longer and more athletic than last year's club.
"This group has as good an attitude and as good a chemistry as any team I've been around in my 29 years of coaching," Radebaugh said. "They're a fun group to be around. They work hard everyday and have a great attitude so it's been mission accomplished as far as having a great offseason. We're excited to see where we can continue to make strides over this next month-plus."
Junior forward Javis Howard is one of CSU's top returners. Howard played his best basketball over the final month last year and has since added considerable bulk to his frame. He scored in double figures in all three games in Canada and was the Bucs' leading rebounder. Howard is hoping to be an instrumental part of a team that hopes to return to the form that saw the program capture Big South Conference regular season championships in 2012-13 and 2014-15. Howard was a freshman on the latter team.
"The biggest thing you want when you start the season is to have a great idea of what your team is and I think that's what it (Canadian tour) did for us," Howard said. "We're going to go into Florida State and the season with a lot of confidence. Just having that real game experience will catapult us into a better start when we start the season."
Canada trip a rousing sucess: Charleston Southern went a perfect 3-0 on its summer tour of Canada, defeating Windsor University and Humber College convincingly before edging the University of Toronto in a tight contest. Toronto defeated UNLV shortly after the Bucs handed them a defeat on their home floor. NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour once every four years. CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh previously took teams to Poland (2008) and the Dominican Republic (2012). •
Newcomers excel on Canada trip: CSU will lean heavily on contributions from seven newcomers (eight, counting redshirt freshman Antwan Maxwell) and several of those players stood out this August in Canada. Freshman guard Christian Keeling was CSU's leading scorer at 18 points per game, scored 24 points in a rout of Windsor and capped the trip with a 19 point, four rebound, four steal effort against Toronto. Cortez Mitchell, a transfer from Pearl River Community College, tallied a team-high 18 points in a thorough 83-63 win over Humber College. Antwan Maxwell recorded ten points and seven rebounds in the Toronto game. Jamaal David, Jordan Jones, Jamar Martin and Jamal Thomas all saw significant minutes as well and contributed to a pressure-filled defensive effort throughout each game.
Potter looking to build off big freshman year: Guard Armel Potter earned All-Big South Freshman Team honors after leading CSU in scoring, assists, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, steals and minutes per game. Potter led all Big South freshmen in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio and ranked third in scoring.
Howard developing as interior presence: Javis Howard played his best basketball of the season late last year, averaging 12.9 PPG and 7.0 RPG while shooting 57 percent over a six-game stretch from Jan. 23-Feb. 11. Howard has added at least ten pounds of muscle to his frame, and was efficient while reaching double figures scoreing in all three of the Bucs' games in Canada.