|The team, in Canada, in its first year under Doug Wojcik. (College of Charleston Athletics)|
In our Trippin' series, we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Check here for all Trippin' related stories.
Doug Wojcik took his entire team to Canada last week. Well, except for one player who had another commitment. Andrew Lawrence, the team's leading returning scorer and also playmaker, had a valid excuse, though. He was busy representing his home country of Great Britain in the Olympics.
"It's pretty phenomenal," said Wojcik, who is entering his first season at the College of Charleston after spending the past seven years at Tulsa. "He worked hard to put himself in that situation. He's a great kid, so smart."
Lawrence averaged about 17 minutes in five games for Great Britain, which was unable to advance to the medal round. "Think about how incredible that is, being able to play in the Olympics, and do it in your host country in front of your family and friends. That's a once in a lifetime experience," Wojcik added.
Lawrence was just one of two college basketball players to play in the Olympics, with the other being Saint Mary's star guard Matthew Dellavedova, who competed with the Australian team. Wojcik said that because of the practice schedule, he wasn't able to watch all of Lawrence's games -- but the trip certainly allowed him to get plenty of much-needed information about everyone else on his new team.
What Wojcik learned: "Most importantly, I learned they have good chemistry -- but also I think they learned what the demands are from us. It goes both ways. I also feel like I have a good feel for the rotation heading into August of my first year here. We have identified how we have to work and where we need to be."
Who stood out: "Anthony Thomas. He played well and is our most versatile player. He can guard four positions, maybe even five."
What is the biggest concern: His concern was going on a lengthy overseas trip, which is why he raved about the three-day jaunt north of the border. "I didn't want to make the year longer," Wojcik said. "Sometimes these trips can be too much, but this was perfect. They went home after the trip, got a week off and will be back at school. … When I was at Navy, we went on one to Sweden in the 90's and it just felt like such a long year. I think rest of part of preparation -- to keep them fresh."
- The team went 1-2 on the trip, but played against the likes of pros such as Denham Brown and Ryan Wright.
- The difference between this Charleston team and the ones that were coached by Bobby Cremins is that Wojcik will stress defense, rebounding and toughness -- instead of attempting to outscore opponents.
- Lawrence played primarily the point for Cremins a year ago and also ran the team in a backup role at the Olympics. Wojcik said he envisions Lawrence playing both backcourt spots with both he and Stitt able to advance the ball and run the team. "A two-headed monster," Wojcik said. "He can handle the ball, play off the ball, come off screens and catch and shoot."
- With Lawrence unable to go on the trip, Stitt got most of the minutes at the point -- and junior college transfer Anthony Thomas also spent some time running the team. "We didn't have anyone else," Wokcik said.
- NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry's youngest son, Canyon, will sit out this year and redshirt. Barry is the third Barry brother to sign with Cremins, who had Jon and Drew at Georgia Tech. The other brothers who played were Brent (Oregon State) and Scooter (Kansas). "Canyon is 6-foot-7 and wants to redshirt -- like his brothers did -- so he can get stronger. He's going to be a good player once he puts on some more weight."
- Wojcik raved about the play in Canada and in practice of heralded sophomore big man Adjehi Baru, who hails from the Ivory Coast. "He's one of the best practice players I've ever been around. He's like a sponge. We challenged him to be a great rebounder on the trip -- and that's exactly what he did." Wojcik also said that Baru took on a leadership role in Lawrence's absence. "He stepped up in a big, big way."
- Redshirt junior power forward Willis Hall is back and played well after missing all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason, Hall started every game as a sophomore and averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 boards, but could wind up coming off the bench this year. "He's a great locker room guy, a foxhole guy. Really tough and just works."
- In addition to Barry, 7-foot-2 big man David Wishon will sit out this season after coming with Wojcik from Tulsa.
- Wojcik raved about his new job. "We have an opportunity to win here, there's plenty of history, we have a new building and a national preseason tournament (The Charleston Classic) in our own building each year. Plus, there's real American history here -- with world-class hotels and restaurants in a desirable climate." Sounds like somewhere I should consider moving.