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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Bobby Cremins will come right out and say it. "The bottom line is, in my blood, I still wanted to coach."
So after a six-year layoff, the former Georgia Tech coach is back in college basketball as the head coach at Charleston, which had a roller-coaster of an off-season. The school let coach Tom Herrion go after four years and an 80-38 record, negotiated with and then announced the hiring of former C of C assistant Gregg Marshall from Winthrop, then watched helplessly as Marshall changed his mind overnight and stayed at Winthrop.
It was, of course, the same thing Cremins had done 13 years earlier, leaving Georgia Tech for his alma mater South Carolina before changing his mind and returning to the Yellow Jackets. This time Cremins was the beneficiary rather than the one reversing things.
"It's crazy what happened here, with Gregg Marshall pulling a Bobby Cremins," he said. "It's incredible. But getting back into coaching was something I'd thought about since about a year or two after I left Georgia Tech. But nothing really moved me until this. It's a great opportunity."
It unites Cremins with fellow New Yorker John Kresse, the legendary former Charleston head coach who now serves as a fundraiser for the school. The basketball arena is named after Kresse, and he is working hard at getting a new arena built. He and Cremins have similar personalities, in some ways, with name recognition and the ability to charm a crowd or work a room.
So Charleston was the lucky recipient of such a prominent coach. Cremins had a 354-237 mark at Georgia Tech. He had spent much of his retirement as a broadcaster, which helped him stay connected to the game. Many of the games he worked were Southern Conference games.
Herrion perhaps suffered as much as anything from great expectations, following the ultra successful Kresse, but there was no doubt the program had taken a slight but steady decline since Kresse's tenure. From Herrion's first season (25 wins) to last year (17), victories had decreased each season, and the team's RPI had risen from 70 to 189.
Even more damning was the postseason performance -- one and done the last two seasons in the SoCon Tournament.
All this nearly overshadows the fact that Charleston returns a pretty darn good team, with four starters back, including a league player-of-the-year candidate Dontaye Draper (18.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg). Four solid and experienced post players return. There's no doubt Charleston is the favorite to win the league championship.
"We've got a good nucleus coming back," Cremins said, "so there wasn't pressure to bring in five or six new guys."