CHARLESTON, S.C. – Excellent guard play has been a key impetus for Charleston Southern's success under head coach Barclay Radebaugh. This year, CSU features one of the Big South's top returning freshman in Armel Potter and perhaps the league's top rookie in Christian Keeling. Below is a Q&A with the duo.
Potter went over the 20-point plateau for the second time in his last four games Saturday against Abilene Christian. Keeling leads CSU in scoring, is second in rebounding and ranks among the Big South's top ten in both categories. Bother Keeling and Potter are also scoring the ball efficiently, ranking sixth and seventh in field goal percentage.
CSU comes out of its final exam break to host Johnson & Wales (N.C.) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Bucs will conclude their non-conference schedule with a three-game road trip that tips off next Tuesday at VMI.
Q: How much of a difference have you seen this year to last year as far as talent level?
A: We've definitely got some more playmakers this year. It just adds versatility to the whole team and gives us a chance to spread the floor. It gives me some shots off the ball and now I'm able to move a little bit without the ball. It's actually a good thing. We're coming together more and more. I feel like we're adding a piece each game. We got Rae to knock down some shots now. CK and Cortez are playing great and that's the scary thing because there's still a lot more that can come together.
Q: How much fun was the 17-point second half comeback at Abilene Christian, which you led with 21 points?
A: That was real fun. I feel like we showed a lot of toughness. We were just ready. We came out with a lot of energy in that second half. It just felt good. It felt like everything was clicking in that second half and we feel like we can play like that more often.
Q: What has stood out most about Christian's game so far this year?
A: His scoring ability. He stays aggressive no matter what. He doesn't let anyone get into his head. He's gonna continue to do him and you know what you're gonna get out of him each game. That's just him being aggressive.
Q: Do you guys and Cortez and Rae and Patrick talk about trying to be the best backcourt in the Big South?
A: We have some short comments about it. That's definitely our goal. We want to be the best team, first and foremost, but we definitely want to be the top guards in the conference. We want to hold that down.
Q: How have you guys tried to learn from two tough losses early in the year?
A: To me, the season, it goes by fast. You really don't have time to keep your head down. You've just gotta learn from these games and keep it moving. If you put your head down and get negative, then you're gonna continue to fall down so we've just gotta keep our heads up, stay positive and learn from everything.
Q: You play at Georgia on Dec. 17. Being from the state, is that a game you're looking forward to?
A: I've got a lot of friends, family, old coaches coming to see me so that's gonna be a big game for me. I've just gotta stay confident, play my game and not get caught up in everybody coming to watch me play.
Q: What have the first seven games of your college career been like?
A: College is different from high school, obviously. The pace is kind of faster, the players are stronger, smarter. The first seven games, it's been kind of fun. We've had some adversity early but it's been fun.
Q: How is scoring in college different from scoring in high school?
A: In high school, I could just score over anybody whenever I wanted to. Here, you've just gotta let the offense work for you, let the game come down to you, have good shot selection. Know when to put the ball in the hole and when not to, when to pass it. You've just gotta pick your spots when to score and that's what I've done. They're trusting me and I trust in the offensive coaches and it just so happens I've been scoring the ball early.
Q: How have you enjoyed playing with Armel?
A: I watched him last year when I came and watched like five or six games and I knew he could score the ball. I knew he kind of needed help. He had a lot of pressure on him last year. This year, I'm just trying to help take a little bit off the load off of him. I realize that we can be two of the best guards in the conference. We just try to go out there, give our team confidence every game and win every game we can.
Q: How can the team continue to grow defensively?
A: We've got some weaknesses in our defense but we're growing every practice, every day. Our coaches stress defense every day so we work hard on defense and each player is showing growth there. Eventually, it's gonna click and it's gonna be scary.
Q: Excited for the Georgia game?
A: Yeah, that's a hometown game for both of us. I'm pretty sure, we're both gonna have a lot of people. It's like we've got something to prove to Georgia. It's another game but it's gonna be fun, very fun to play in our home state.