Charleston college basketball teams have never figured large in March Madness 'bracketology.' But the Citadel shares the dubious distinction of being one of just a few that have never been to the Big Dance.
Sure, there was a long stretch when Coach John Kresse's College of Charleston Cougars were a consistently competitive squad on the national level, but the last time the Cougars played in the NCAA tournament was in 2009. And Charleston Southern's single appearance ever was in 1997. (Though Coach Earl Grant at CofC is showing signs of promise.
The Citadel, however is one of just five original Division I schools
in the nation that has never played in the NCAA tournament according to CNN. Northwestern, one of the other four schools, has the most wins in school history this year and could make that list smaller if it wins the Big 10 title this year. The others: Army, William and Mary, and St. Francis (NYC).
The lack of success out of Charleston has a bit to do with the small conferences the Citadel, CofC, and Charleston Southern belong to. Teams playing in the Southern Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, and the Big South Conference rarely get at-large bids to the NCAAs, usually sending only their championship winners as an automatic bid. And once a team has played competitively in a small conference long enough to build up quality national and NCAA wins, they often leave for a more high profile conference. Davidson is a recent example that comes to mind, which left the SoCon for the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2014 to play against other competitive mid-major schools, recruit better players, and continue to climb the ranks. Of those five teams that have never been to the tourney, Northwestern is the only one from a major conference.
Talking with the Washington Post
last year, after his first season at the Citadel, Coach Duggar Baucom was ready to continue grinding:
"It’ll take some time," he said. "I knew that coming in. I was taking over a team that won 11 games last year and lost its top four scorers. So I didn’t expect to turn it around right away. But I’m pretty optimistic about things."
Baucom's first college coaching work came at Davidson, it was a volunteer job. He also built his resume at Western Carolina and VMI.
The Citadel won't be dancing this year either after losing in the second round of the SoCon tournament to top-ranked UNCG on Saturday, but that doesn't deter Baucom. More from the Post:
"This is my last rebuilding job. It won’t be done until we hang a banner in the building with four letters on it: NCAA. It’s really that simple."