Towson outlasted Charleston 53-50 on Sunday afternoon as the Tigers won an ugly CAA game. The Tigers only shot 33 percent (19-for-57) from the field and turned the ball over 15 times, but they outrebounded the Cougars 51-35.
Timajh Parker-Rivera paced Towson with 12 points and chipped in eight rebounds while Charleston was led by 13 points from Joe Chealey.
After a long, drawn-out and fairly embarrassing coaching search, the Cougars not only have a head coach but they now have finally cut all ties with their former coach. On Tuesday, the Charleston Post and Courier reported that Wojcik and the university had reached a settlement that would pay him $400,000, or the equivalent on one year’s salary. He had three years and $1.2 million left on his contract.
We are now less than five weeks from the official start of college basketball practices, and Charleston is still without a head coach.
Because both of their leading candidates, Wofford’s Mike Young and Charleston alum and former NBA player Anthony Johnson, pulled their names from the search on Wednesday. Young was the first to withdraw from the search, leaving Johnson as the only potential candidate remaining until he, too, pulled his name from contention.
It was an embarrassing moment for Charleston — They couldn’t hire their most-famous basketball alum to run a good program in a better city? Yikes! — but it turns out that there really wasn’t much of a choice. Johnson took his name out of consideration after telling Charleston officials of a domestic dispute involving him and his then-wife back in 2011, the Post and Courier reported.
Johnson pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge in June of 2011. He and his wife divorced in 2013. The details aren’t exactly pretty, as he was alleged to have pushed his wife in the throat while she was pregnant in front of their son. Johnson spent 19 days in jail for the incident.
“I let a lot of people down who were really supportive of me throughout this entire process,” Johnson told the paper. “I let down my wife, my family and the College of Charleston and the Cougar community. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for this.”
As of now, both ESPN and CBSSports are reporting that UConn assistant Karl Hobbs and Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay, who both originally interviewed for the position, are currently the front runners.
Cremins coached at the program from 2006-2012, but left in January of his final season to take a medical leave of absence. He went 125-68 in his time with the Cougars, and was previously the head coach at Georgia Tech for 19 seasons.
The reason for the interest in Cremins, according to the report, is that Charleston wants to hire Anthony Johnson, an alum and a longtime NBA point guard, but they are worried about the fact that he has no coaching experience. Johnson would spend a season as an assistant on the Charleston staff, a de facto “coach in waiting”, before taking over for Cremins for the 2015-2016 season.
UConn did something similar a couple of years back when they hired Kevin Ollie as an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun. Ollie eventually took over for Calhoun when he retired. Fred Hoiberg was hired by Iowa State without any coaching experience as well. Both of those decisions have turned out to be quite successful.
The latest allegations against Doug Wojcik involve a physical confrontation
The College of Charleston has launched a second investigation into accusations of misconduct by head coach Doug Wojcik.
Last month, a 50 page report was released based on the school’s initial investigation into allegations that Wojcik verbally abused players. You can read through them if you would like, and while it’s not quite as bad as what happened with Mike Rice at Rutgers, it doesn’t exactly paint the greatest picture of Wojcik.
But the latest news, according to multiple reports, is more troubling as a 13th player has come forward accusing Wojcik of mistreatment. Trevonte Dixon, who played for the Cougars in 2012-2013 before transferring out of the program, was allegedly involved in a physical confrontation with Wojcik. According to Andrew Miller of the Post and Courier, that confrontation was during a game and is on film, which is why new Charleston president Glenn McDonnell is able to open a new investigation.
Wojcik has not yet been fired by the school, but he was punished initially as a result of the first investigation. Wojcik is smart, he’s not going to quit this job and walk away from the $1.2 million that he is owed over the next three years by the school. The school can’t afford to pay two coach’s salaries and since he’s already been punished, Charleston doesn’t necessarily have grounds to fire him with cause.
These new allegations and this new investigation could end up being enough to allow Charleston to either fire Wojcik or convince him to negotiate a resignation package. According to CBSSports, regardless of how it happens, Wojcik has very likely coached his last game at Charleston.
If you want to know which way the wind blows in the Colonial Athletic Association these days, open your ears. The league that rode Virginia-based schools like George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion to attention-grabbing Big Dance victories sounds very different these days.
For starters, Northeastern University pahked their cah in the yahd by winning 14 league games and claiming the regular-season crown. Right behind them at 13-5 was Maryland-based Towson, led by Massachusetts native Pat Skerry, who took a league doormat and turned it into a winner in one season. New guy Joe Mihalich hopes to work similar magic in his debut season at Hofstra, a pronouncement he delivers in the hard-bitten tones of a big city police detective.
“When I got here, there were four players on the team,” Mihalich told NBC Sports via phone. “That was the bad news and the good news. I had to go out and get eight guys all at once, but I was able to get my guys. The kind of guys you need to get this thing turned around.”
It’s common to hear a coach make upbeat noises when he takes over a moribund program, but that kind of confidence seems strangely warranted in the new CAA. Pat Skerry’s Towson team was built along similar lines, taking on players various and sundry in an attempt to improve on 2012’s 1-31 mark. Clearly, five wins would have counted as progress. Skerry’s team went out and won 18, despite the fact that APR missteps from the prior administration had his program on a postseason ban.
“It took a while, but they did a good job of buying in,” Skerry said, also via phone. “We didn’t talk about the ban, just about trying to get better each day. Maybe it wasn’t fair, but they handled it. Pride was the key piece.”
The Tigers are entering this season with much higher expectations, hoping to ride reigning CAA Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon to an NCAA berth. Skerry has surrounded his breakout star – a Georgetown transfer – with several complementary pieces.
“Jerome (Hairston) was on the All-Rookie team last year and he’s a lead guard who can score the ball,” Skerry said. “Timajh Parker will step right in for us this year, and our transfer from Vermont, Four McGlynn, is still a sophomore and he’s a very good shooter.”
In addition to the dramatic uptick in talent and team cohesion, Skerry is excited about the possibilities presented by SECU arena, the new $72 million home base for Tiger basketball. His team’s bright future was built brick-by-brick, quite literally.
To add a cherry on the sundae, the CAA tournament, long anchored in the Richmond Coliseum, has migrated to Baltimore this season. With Virginia-based founding members George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU realigned out of the conference, the shift makes some geographical sense.
Skerry acknowledges that the northern contingent: Towson, Delaware, Drexel and Northeastern in particular, stand to benefit from the changes. But he scoffs at the notion that the power will easily shift his direction.
“We added Charleston as well, and they beat our brains in last year,” Skerry said. “Elon’s going to be very good (in 2014), and James Madison are the reigning champs. We’ve got our hands full.”
Winning the league is, honestly, considered little more than a first step in the CAA, thanks to a rich history of giant-killing in the NCAA tournament.
“We had our coaches meeting a few months back and one of the other coaches said ‘Hey, we’ve seen teams come out of this conference and be incredibly successful, get to the Final Four,'” said Hofstra’s Mihalich. “‘Who’s going to be the next VCU or George Mason?’ I do believe that somebody can do that.”
It may not be Mihalich this year, though he made strong moves to stabilize the Pride’s roster in both the short and long term. Hofstra added graduate students Dion Nesmith (formerly at Monmouth) and Zeke Upshaw (Illinois State) to serve as one-year elder statesmen, signed three skilled freshmen and let his four holdovers show them the ropes. Another layer of known quantities will debut next season, when Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley – who followed Mihalich from his last posting at Niagara – and former SMU guard Brian Bernardi are eligible to suit up.
Neither coach thinks it will be easy to seize a title in a league that hasn’t seen an auto-bid issued from north of the Mason-Dixon line since before the turn of the millennium.
“As John Chaney used to say, for us to win this year, we need the two women in our lives to be there for us,” Mihalich joked. “Mother Nature and Lady Luck. We’ve got to hope a lot of things break our way.”
Skerry, in a decidedly better place than last year, concurred.
“Make no mistake about it, winning is really hard,” the Massachusetts native said with a chuckle. “I think Doc Rivers said that.”
That being said…
“We’ve got a chance to be good. We’re not hiding from that.”