The first day of practice in a new season should be a day of optimism but for the 2015-16 Charleston men’s basketball team, the news from the first day of men’s basketball practice was depressing, thanks to the season-ending injury to Joe Chealey.
Chealey earned time in Charleston’s back court in his freshman campaign (2013-14), playing 20 minutes a game, before ascending to the role of scorer, averaging 12.4 points per game in 2014-15, second on the team to Canyon Barry (12.5). But, after tearing his Achilles in the first day of practice for the 2015 season, Chealey red-shirted to avoid losing a season of eligibility.
“The toughest part about last year was probably just how time consuming it was, how long it took,” Chealey said. “The rehab is a pretty long process. It got pretty tough when we played some tight games in conference we played against some pretty tough teams and I just hated not being out there with my teammates.”
Losing a year of your athletic prime is never going to be easy, but Chealey’s injury afforded the opportunity for newcomers to play major minutes last season. As a result, Payton Hulsey and Marquise Pointer saw an increase in minutes, providing two of the key reserves on this year’s team critical experience.
Since having to sit out last season with a torn Achilles, Chealey has reclaimed his role as the leading scorer in the Charleston back court, posting a team high 14.2 points per game through nine games. Showing no signs of ailment, Chealey has returned with great success to start the season.
“I don’t think about [the injury] too much. I’ve got to give a lot of that credit to our athletic training staff, Chris Horschel and Mark Braeuer. Man they work tirelessly all last year to get me back and I wouldn’t be here without them. So I feel good. I don’t think about it at all.”
Charleston faced a daunting early season schedule, participating in the Charleston Classic, as well as making a trip to Philadelphia for a match up with defending national champion Villanova.
“It was a good learning experience, obviously we wanted to pick up a couple of those wins but the thing that people don’t realize is it was early in the season. It was like in the first five games so it was going to be an adjustment regardless of who we played. It just happens we played the defending champs so it was part of the learning curve for us.”
The accumulation of early season lessons helped to spur a sizable second half comeback on Sunday (Dec. 4) against Davidson. Trailing 47-36 with 15 minutes to go in the second half, the Cougars went on a 25-4 run to take a decisive lead in the 76-61 victory. Chealey matched his season high total of 24 points in a game, set on opening night (Nov. 11) against The Citadel.
“I think this is the most talented bunch I’ve been with,” Chealey said. “Coach Grant brought a lot of good guys in. That’s what he said he was going to do. This year specifically, we have a lot of talented freshmen and all of the other guys coming back from last year so I think this is the most talented group since I’ve been here.”
The Cougars stout defense, which ranked in the top ten nationally in points against last year, is once again performing at an elite level. But the Cougars have struggled when they are mired in low scoring games. Having won all five games that the Cougars have cracked the 70 point threshold, Charleston’s success will rely on Chealey and others to maintain the scintillating scoring spat that struck them in the second half of the Davidson win.
Charleston will pursue a four game winning streak when they host Anderson University on Sunday (Dec. 11, 4 p.m.). Serving as a trial run for the upcoming CAA Tournament in March, the game will be played at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Editor’s note: In the weekly CisternYard News Yard Clippings sent to sent to students via email, it was reported that Chealey tore his ACL when in fact he tore his Achilles.