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The Citadel is short and fast and interesting, just not any good

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They do some stuff.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Duggar Baucom’s purpose in life is to make bad military school basketball programs at least look interesting while being bad, and y’know, there’s worse things he could be doing. Before Baucom got to The Citadel, he spent a lot of years at VMI, where his squads were regularly among the nation’s leaders in tempo while bombing threes at a crazy clip.

He brought that same approach to The Citadel. This is not a smart approach, mind you—about the last thing you want to do with a significantly under-talented team is speed up games so that there are more possessions and thus more opportunity for the better team to create separation.

Do I care that it’s unwise? Heck no, not when the alternative is being dull in addition to being terrible. Duggar Baucom licks a wide variety of exotic toads and creates offense out of a hallucinatory fever dream, and I’m good with that. There should be more coaches like this.

The Citadel Offense

2020 Bulldogs Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Bulldogs Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 98.9 (203) 52.1 (87) 19.7 (186) 23.7 (290) 30.9 (197)

The Bulldogs have been a bit less extreme this year, which is disappointing, but still they rank 21st in tempo and 47th in 3FGA/FGA. In the last four seasons, they haven’t finished lower than 10th in either category.

They combine all those three-point attempts with pretty good outside shooting, actually: their 36.8% three-point shooting ranks 57th nationally. So don’t be stunned to death (especially not around the holidays, geez, think of your family!) if The Citadel manages to hang around for a bit.

On the flip side, they’re likely to get buried quickly if they’re cold from the perimeter since they don’t do anything else especially well. This is one of the most vertically challenged teams in the country so hitting the boards or scoring in the paint are not strengths of theirs.

Starters

Tyson Batiste (6’3, 200) — This guy’s profile is wild. He’s one of those stubby/bulldog/forward-in-a-guard’s-body types but also has an excellent assist rate. Probably he should continue with the passing, in general, since he’s only made 43% of his twos and has yet to hit a three this season. Also he is a career 34.4% free throw shooter. It’s difficult to be that bad, and not in a small number of attempts (94 career FTA), either.

Fletcher Abee (6’2, 180) — Three-quarters of his shots have come from beyond the arc, where he is a 40% shooter.

Kaelon Harris (6’3, 225) — Harris is valuable to the Bulldogs for his ability to get to the free throw line—he is drawing about eight fouls per 40 minutes, and he’s making 77.6% of his free throws. He’s taken nearly as many free throws (49) as twos (51). Pretty good rebounder at the defensive end as well.

Kaiden Rice (6’6, 185) — Rice probably will be The Citadel’s main option, and with good reason, since he’s been the most efficient scorer on the team this season. He’s an excellent three-point shooter, and that’s where he’ll do most of his damage. Again, not a lot of twos are taken by these guys.

Eddie Davis (6’7, 255) — Davis has gone from Southern Miss to Hartford to The Citadel, all in a desperate search for some kind of talisman that will make him decent at basketball. Alas, no such luck yet, but as I am now picturing him as a modern day Indiana Jones, I wouldn’t count him out. Anyway he’ll probably grab some rebounds or whatever.

Bench

Rudy Fitzgibbons (6’0, 145), Alex Reed (6’3, 215). Reed is from Garner, so he is the best candidate for rando-who-takes-a-star-turn honors. He’s also just 2-10 from three, which is a sure indicator that he’s about to go 5-7 on Sunday.

Rudy Fitzgibbons is so small he makes Braxton Beverly look like a hulking presence out there. He’s a solid three-point shooter but has to be careful any time he leaves the floor, lest he be blown clear across the building by a current of air conditioning.

The Citadel Defense

2020 Bulldogs Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Bulldogs Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Defense 110.7 (343) 54.9 (321) 18.6 (227) 31.6 (292) 28.5 (115)

The Citadel has maybe the worst interior defense in the country. I’m being kind by allowing for a possibility that another team is worse. Forcing missed shots, blocking shots, and grabbing rebounds are the three main components of paint defense, and The Citadel ranks 353rd, 353rd, and 292nd in those categories. So dead last in two of three.

There are short but athletic teams and then there’s The Citadel. I would expect plenty of zone defense from the Bulldogs.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 24.