Both of these programs lost high-profile players to the professional ranks but it’s the Panthers who experienced the most turnover during the offseason. With former head coach Ron Hunter out of the picture and star guard D’Marcus Simonds gone, first-year head coach Rob Lanier has big shoes to fill with an inexperienced roster. Can the Panthers stun Charleston on the road at TD Arena on Saturday?
Panthers prepare for first test of Lanier-eraGeorgia State lost its head coach, its best player, and its top-four scorers in the offseason, so it’s going to be hard to ask Lanier to replicate the program’s recent success. Lanier hasn’t been a head coach since he was at the helm of the Sienna basketball program in 2005 but he’s spent time as an associate head coach at esteemed programs like Tennessee, Texas, and Florida.
The Panthers won their first game of the season on Wednesday, defeating Brewton Parker 104-35. Senior Damon Wilson scored a team-high 22 points to lead five Panthers’ players in double-figures on the night while sophomore Nelson Phillips added 17 off the bench in the tune-up for Georgia State.
The biggest newcomer for the Panthers will be three-star freshman Jalen Thomas, who should be a valuable contributor for this group. However, he’s not the kind of star that will immediately be able to replace the production from last year’s group. If the first game was any indication, that is going to be a collective effort, which starts from beyond the 3-point line. Georgia State shot 14-for-28 from deep in their season-opener and five different players attempted at least three 3-pointers.
Riller leads Charleston to first win of the seasonCharleston has won at least 24 games in each of the last three seasons but they will have to replace one of the best players in program history. It will be tough for Charleston to fill the shoes of forward Jarrell Brantley, who was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft. Still, the Cougars come into the season with high expectations.
Led by CAA Preseason Player of the Year Grant Riller, Charleston was picked to finish second in the preseason media polls. Riller returns for his senior year after scoring 21.9 points and handing out 4.1 assists per game last season. The 6-foot-3 guard saw his efficiency from beyond the arc dip though, as he shot only 32.9 percent from 3-point range as a junior after hitting 39.4 percent of his attempts the year prior.
Riller wasted no time in getting the ball rolling in Charleston’s first game of the season against USC Upstate, scoring 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting with four rebounds, three assists, and three steals to lead the Cougars to a 74-55 win. Junior Brevin Galloway scored 10 points while Sam Miller came off the bench to add eight points and 14 rebounds for Charleston, which won handily despite shooting only 3-for-18 from beyond the arc. Outside of Riller (2-for-3 3PA), the rest of Cougars made just one of their 16 3-point attempts (6.7 percent).
Charleston will have several chances to notch quality wins during their tough non-conference schedule, which features five Tier-B games, according to KenPom.com. Two of those games will come at home, including next Wednesday’s clash versus Oklahoma State.
- Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Panthers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Cougars are 2-0-3 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Sun Belt.
- Cougars are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.