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As college basketball season comes into focus, Rutgers is causing a stir

There was an obvious setup Thursday night. Rutgers was coming off a stirring victory at No. 1 Purdue on Monday. It was facing a Maryland team fresh off a 46-point outing Sunday at Michigan.It was a perfect opportunity to trip up. Instead, the Scarlet Knights offered a hint of their staying power as a program under Steve Pikiell, limiting the Terrapins to 17 points in the ...

There was an obvious setup Thursday night. Rutgers was coming off a stirring victory at No. 1 Purdue on Monday. It was facing a Maryland team fresh off a 46-point outing Sunday at Michigan.

It was a perfect opportunity to trip up. Instead, the Scarlet Knights offered a hint of their staying power as a program under Steve Pikiell, limiting the Terrapins to 17 points in the first half of a 64-50 victory.

The old saw “defense wins championships” isn’t true most of the time. The ability to score is a prerequisite for title runs at pretty much any level of basketball. But darned if playing defense at a high level doesn’t elevate a program’s floor.

That’s what has happened for Rutgers (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten), which appears on course for a third consecutive NCAA tournament berth and might have its best defense yet in Pikiell’s tenure.

“We have tremendous versatility,” Pikiell said. “Paul [Mulcahy] can guard any position. Caleb [McConnell] can guard any position. Aundre [Hyatt] can, Mawot [Mag]. We’ve added Cam [Spencer], who’s as good an anticipator and has got great hands.”

The Scarlet Knights rank third in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, behind just Tennessee and Houston. They menaced Maryland into 20 turnovers on 59 possessions Thursday, disrupting passing lanes and never allowing the Terps to enjoy a bit of comfort.

Rutgers has won five in a row since a 45-43 loss to Seton Hall last month. Some of it is a function of getting McConnell and Mulcahy situated after both missed time in nonconference play.

“I think the adjustments Steve has made with the pressure defense has just made up for a lot of their offensive woes,” Maryland Coach Kevin Willard said. “They’re a very good basketball team. They’re not a great half-court offensive team. … The press, especially in this building, it just gives them an opportunity and puts a little bit less pressure on their half-court defense and gives them an opportunity to get easy transition points.”

The Scarlet Knights reached their peak — to this point, anyway — while holding Maryland without a point for 8:45 in the first half. The Terps also had a drought of 4:11 after the break, much to the delight of a fan base that has watched Rutgers evolve from a perennial also-ran into one of the toughest teams in the Big Ten in the seven seasons since Pikiell took over.

“We talk about five guys being connected a lot. It’s not just two guys in a pick-and-roll coverage,” said Spencer, a transfer from Loyola. “It’s five guys that are all involved for 30 seconds at that end of the floor.”

Texas coach Chris Beard is now former Texas coach Chris Beard because of his domestic violence arrest last month, fired for cause on Thursday. Acting coach Rodney Terry, who previously had stints at Fresno State and UTEP, will remain in charge of the No. 6 Longhorns (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) for the rest of the season.

That brings a semblance of stability to a team that had gone 5-1 since Beard’s initial suspension — though the loss came Tuesday when Texas surrendered 116 points to Kansas State. The reality of the Big 12, with its double round robin schedule and the absence of any pushovers, means the Longhorns weren’t just going to breeze through even if nothing had disrupted their season.

In the medium term, Texas will be one of the most high-profile jobs available in this cycle. It also means the Longhorns can try again to crack the code of becoming a consistent top-15 team. They haven’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and have earned better than a No. 6 seed just twice in that span (a No. 4 in 2011 and a No. 3 in 2021).

College of Charleston: The No. 23 Cougars (15-1, 3-0 Colonial) own the nation’s longest winning streak, a 14-game run extended Wednesday with a 92-79 victory at North Carolina A&T.

They earned a victory at preseason CAA favorite Towson on New Year’s Eve, and a gaudy nonconference run against NCAA tournament teams from a season ago was highlighted by a defeat of Virginia Tech in the title game of the Charleston Classic in November.

“We’ve been really good because our guys have been so darned consistent no matter what,” Charleston Coach Pat Kelsey said after the 76-74 overtime triumph over Towson. “They don’t get caught up in the winning streak. They don’t get caught up in the top 25. They don’t get caught up in that. They’re just a mature team.”

Oh, about the top 25: Charleston is the first CAA team to crack the Associated Press rankings since Navy did it in 1987 — David Robinson’s senior year in Annapolis.

The Cougars probably don’t have a future Hall of Famer on their roster, but they have a bunch of options. Guard Dalton Bolon (12.9 points per game) is the top scorer on a team with five players averaging in double figures and nine guys collecting at least five points a game. Charleston routinely goes 10 players deep.

What are the chances Charleston flirts with 30 wins? Pretty good. The Cougars have only three more road games against teams with winning records, and the next one — Wednesday at UNC Wilmington — could put Kelsey’s bunch in firm control of the CAA less than a third of the way into league play.

Creighton at No. 4 Connecticut (Saturday, Noon, Fox): The visiting Bluejays (9-6, 3-1 Big East) have won three in a row since the return of center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Now they have to deal with the cranky Huskies (14-2, 3-2), who are coming off consecutive losses.

Kentucky at No. 7 Alabama (Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN): The skimpiness of Kentucky’s nonconference résumé is underscored by how valuable Tuesday’s victory over reloading LSU looks. The Wildcats (10-4, 1-1 SEC) would get a lot more mileage beating the Crimson Tide (12-2, 2-0) in Tuscaloosa.

No. 25 Iowa State at No. 17 TCU (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPNU): Mike Miles ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring (19.9 ppg) and just dropped 33 points as TCU (13-1, 2-0) snagged a one-point victory at Baylor on Wednesday. Iowa State (11-2, 2-0) owns the ninth most efficient defense in Division I, according to KenPom.com.

Clemson at Pitt (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2): First place in the ACC is at stake when the Tigers (12-3, 4-0) and Panthers (11-4, 4-0) meet. No, really, it’s true. Pitt is showing life for the first time since Jamie Dixon left after the 2015-16 season, while Clemson is 4-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1996-97.

Kansas State at No. 19 Baylor (Saturday, 6 p.m.): Former Baylor assistant Jerome Tang returns to Waco at the helm of the surprising Wildcats (13-1, 2-0 Big 12), who are fresh off a 116-103 victory at Texas and are led by Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson (18.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg). The Bears (10-4, 0-2) are trying to avoid their first three-game slide since late in the 2018-19 season.

No. 13 Arkansas at No. 22 Auburn (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., SEC Network): Ricky Council IV (18.4 ppg) and the Razorbacks (12-2, 1-1 SEC) head to the Plains to face Auburn (11-3, 1-1), which has slogged its way past Florida and lost by 12 at Georgia to open league play.

College of Charleston vs Delaware 1/7/23 College Basketball Picks, Predictions, Odds

Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (9-6) vs. College of Charleston Cougars (15-1)The Line: College of Charleston Cougars -11.5 / Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens +11.5; Over/Under: +149 (Click here for latest betting odds)The Delaware Blue Hens and the Charleston Cougars meet in college basketball action from the TD Arena on Saturday.The Delaware Blue Hens will look to build on their 57-52 win over Elon last time out. Jameer Nelson Jr. leads th...

Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (9-6) vs. College of Charleston Cougars (15-1)

The Line: College of Charleston Cougars -11.5 / Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens +11.5; Over/Under: +149 (Click here for latest betting odds)

The Delaware Blue Hens and the Charleston Cougars meet in college basketball action from the TD Arena on Saturday.

The Delaware Blue Hens will look to build on their 57-52 win over Elon last time out. Jameer Nelson Jr. leads the Blue Hens in scoring and assists with 19.8 PPG and 3.1 APG with 5 RPG as well while Jyare Davis has 16.6 PPG with 4.9 RPG and 3.5 APG this season. L.J. Owens also has 10.5 PPG to cap off the trio of double-digit scorers for Delaware up to this point in the season while Christian Ray also has a team-high 9.6 RPG to lead Delaware in rebounding up to this point in the season. As a team, Delaware is averaging 71.5 PPG on 44.8% shooting from the field, 31.8% from three and 70% from the foul line this season.

The Charleston Cougars will look to build on their double-digit win streak after a 92-79 win over North Carolina A&T last time out. Dalton Bolon leads the Cougars in scoring with 12.9 PPG and Ryan Larson has 11 PPG also posting a team-high 3.9 APG to lead the Cougars in the assist department while Reyne Smith has 10.8 PPG. Pat Robinson III has 10.8 PPG and Ante Brzovic has 10.2 PPG to cap off the group of double-digit scorers for the Cougars this year while Babacar Faye also leads Charleston on the glass with 5.9 RPG so far this season. As a team, Charleston is averaging 81.2 PPG on 44.8% shooting from the field, 33.4% from three and 74.6% from the foul line this season.

Delaware is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games against a team with a winning home record and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games against a team with a home winning percentage above .600 while the over is 5-2 in their last 7 games overall. Charleston is 16-6 ATS in their last 22 games overall and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games against a team with a winning record while the over is 4-1 in their last 5 Saturday games.

I get the case to be made for either side here, as Charleston is the better team but this feels like a ton of points. Instead, I’m going to back the over. Both teams can score, and for Charleston it’s just a matter of how many points they give up coming back the other way as the Cougars tend to play a fast=paced and free style that doesn’t lend itself to tight defense necessarily. I think we have a track meet here. Give me the over.

The story of David Drake, an enslaved potter

In the First Hall of The Charleston Museum, a pair of stoneware vessels looms large.Positioned one atop the other in an illuminated glass case, their mass and heft begs a question: How were those behemoths turned, coiled and lifted, let alone lugged into some cave of a kiln to be fired and dragged out once more.Both inscribed with the date of May 13, 1859, the vessels, which were made by enslaved potter David Drake with the assistance of another enslaved man by the name of Baddler, are big. One comes in at a staggering 25&frac1...

In the First Hall of The Charleston Museum, a pair of stoneware vessels looms large.

Positioned one atop the other in an illuminated glass case, their mass and heft begs a question: How were those behemoths turned, coiled and lifted, let alone lugged into some cave of a kiln to be fired and dragged out once more.

Both inscribed with the date of May 13, 1859, the vessels, which were made by enslaved potter David Drake with the assistance of another enslaved man by the name of Baddler, are big. One comes in at a staggering 25¼ inches tall and 81 inches at its widest diameter; the other at 28½ inches tall. Both would hold 40 to 45 gallons.

“They’re huge,” said Chad Stewart, curator of history at The Charleston Museum.

He does not mean that as a boast, just an irrefutable fact. But the pieces certainly justify some chest-beating.

Enslaved in Edgefield

Pots the size David Drake was turning are not easy to make or to come by — particularly by this potter, who looms large in the pottery world and well beyond. The museum holds the largest known pieces by him. What’s more, his works are monumental in many other ways.

While enslaved in Edgefield, Drake, who was born around 1801 and lived until the 1870s, made and signed vessels with the name Dave. He was also known as Dave Pottery and Dave Potter, among other nicknames.

After emancipation, the potter took the surname of Harvey Drake, the Edgefield man who put him to work in an enterprise known as Pottersville that he owned with his business partner and uncle Abner Landrum, a local physician and Renaissance man. Drake was later enslaved and made pottery for others, among them Lewis Miles, for whom he did some of his most notable and signed work.

While details of David Drake’s life are lost to time, his work as a turner speaks volumes. Created for utilitarian purposes for the burgeoning pottery industry, the stoneware was created to sell for functions like storing food, benefitting from the availability of superior clay found in the area. It was then alkaline-glazed in a process likely gleaned from a similar technique used in China.

By all accounts, Drake was a large man, capable of lifting and making these massive containers. He possessed impressive intellect, too, manifest in the craftsmanship and artistry of his work. And, more telling still, his works were often graced with his poetry, whether pragmatic couplets relaying a jug’s capacity or elegiac verses reflecting on long-lost relations.

“It makes it really unique that you have a potter like Dave who not only has good handwriting, can write, can read, but can compose poetry, too, in addition to being skilled enough to make these utilitarian vessels,” Stewart said.

Drake was literate during times when it was illegal for an enslaved person to be so. The theory is that he learned to read and write while working at Landrum’s newspaper, The Edgefield Hive, with some historians speculating that Drake was a typesetter there.

That this verboten knowledge was then etched loud and proud on his pots, heading for places beyond the plantation, compels some, like Jori Finkel in a 2021 article in The New York Times, to characterize his efforts as an act of resistance.

Certainly it denotes a level of cultural nuance beyond the demands of his trade.

“Not only does he know how to write, but he’s composing poetry on these things, so it belies a certain sophistication that most White culture would have been very against in this period,” Stewart said.

Inscribed poetic verse adorns the side opposite the dates.

“Great & noble Jar hold/Sheep goat or bear”

“made at Stoney Bluff,/for making dis old gin enuff”

The Bragg era

As The Charleston Museum celebrates its 250th anniversary, a deeper dive into the provenance of its Edgefield pottery sheds light on its own history, particularly surrounding its trailblazing former museum director, Laura Bragg.

Progressive and feminist, the Massachusetts native cut a provocative figure in the Charleston cultural world, rubbing shoulders with Charleston Renaissance artists and writers and jumpstarting organizations like the first public lending library.

Bragg took the helm of the museum in 1920, becoming the first woman in that role at a publicly funded art museum. By 1921, she upended a museum policy denying admission to Black people by carving out a segregated slot for entrance on Saturday afternoons.

In her biography “A Bluestocking in Charleston: The Life and Career of Laura Bragg,” author Louise Anderson Allen recounts how in 1919 The Charleston Museum had been given one of its inscribed 40-gallon jars made by Drake.

By 1927 Bragg had become immersed in Edgefield pottery, moved by the rarity of a literate enslaved potter. Keen to ensure Drake’s pottery remained in the state, “she scoured South Carolina from Orangeburg to Aiken looking for Dave’s work and bought every piece of Edgefield pottery that the Museum could afford, purchasing over one hundred articles at this time.”

Museum records date acquisitions of Drake’s work in 1929 and 1930, and in the 1930s Bragg was said to have traveled to Edgefield to learn about Drake and acquire pieces.

In Charleston

Bragg also was said to search stops on the train line that traveled from Charleston to Bamberg, part of South Carolina Railway Company. Drake’s pots have been found in towns along the route.

A Drake vessel in The Charleston Museum is inscribed in Drake’s elegant cursive with the name of a grocer, owned by Herman Panzerbeiter that had its locale at the end of the line, on the corner of King and Columbus. “H. Panzerbeiter Groceries King & Columbus Street, Charleston, S.C.”

It is one of three known vessels customized for the grocery store, which are connected with Drake’s work for the Stony Bluff pottery of Lewis Miles, the son-in-law of Reuben Landrum who enslaved Drake in the mid-1800s, when most of Drake’s signed pieces were made. Another jar on display reads “31st July 1840” and is inscribed with “Dave belongs to Mr. Miles where the oven bakes and the pot biles.”

Today, the pottery of David Drake is increasingly in the spotlight, illuminated in national news stories and in exhibitions including “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, S.C.” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through Feb. 5. It is set to tour thereafter, with a stop at the International African American Museum in Charleston in the works.

National spotlight

Drake’s contribution has taken on more significance still as the country seeks to redress incomplete or false narratives. His story offers a rare vantage of an enslaved person as an individual and an artist.

“(Y)ou have this person considered property ... who is so skilled at his craft, because pottery is not easy to do, but also an intelligent, literate man capable of inserting humor into his work within that dark context of American slavery.”

While the Metropolitan’s “Hear Me Now” exhibition features an array of impressive Edgefield vessels, it does not include those that are part of the permanent collection at The Charleston Museum. When approached, the museum hewed to its official policy against loaning, determining it was too risky for the works to travel.

In the legacy of Laura Bragg, it will continue on its home turf to showcase shining examples of South Carolina culture, turned and coiled and transformed into enduring, illuminating works of art.

The Charleston Museum has an impressive fossil collection. These are some of the coolest.

The Charleston Museum has fossils galore. An impressive collection at America’s oldest museum includes displays of anything from megalodon teeth to bones of an extinct, massive bird species.And what’s even more special is that most of the specimens on display — especially ones since 1979 — were all locally collected.Staff at The Charleston Museum plan to pull out some specimens that aren’t typically on display for its 250th anniversary this year. The second half of the exhibit in June is slated to ...

The Charleston Museum has fossils galore. An impressive collection at America’s oldest museum includes displays of anything from megalodon teeth to bones of an extinct, massive bird species.

And what’s even more special is that most of the specimens on display — especially ones since 1979 — were all locally collected.

Staff at The Charleston Museum plan to pull out some specimens that aren’t typically on display for its 250th anniversary this year. The second half of the exhibit in June is slated to display the skull of a giant crocodile whose teeth and bones are already available for viewing, among other fossils.

Meantime, here are a few of the coolest pieces on display:

Megalodon teeth

Megatooth shark teeth are what usually get the most interest at the museum, early on, according to Matthew Gibson, natural history curator. There is an entire cabinet there of just megalodon teeth collected from places including the Edisto and Cooper rivers.

The megalodon lived millions of years ago and was about three times the length of a modern great white shark. The fish’s teeth were about as large as an adult human’s hand.

These shark teeth can potentially be found in any marine or estuary habitat; you just have to get lucky. The best ones are usually found by divers because they haven’t been tumbled around as much, Gibson said.

Most shark teeth on display at The Charleston Museum were not collected from their original sediment, though. They are typically found sitting on the bottoms of rivers and oceans, which can make it hard for scientists to narrow down the specific period they belong to.

Pelagornis sandersi

This massive bird was excavated from the Charleston International Airport site when a new section of the building was being constructed. It had a wingspan of about 21 to 24 feet, depending on how long the feathers were, Gibson said.

Researcher Daniel Ksepka formally described the specimen in 2014 and determined it was the largest flying bird to have ever lived. He named it in honor of one of the museum’s former curators, Albert Sanders.

A reconstruction of the Pelagornis sandersi is currently on display at The Charleston Museum, including some of the bird’s fragile bone pieces.

Horse teeth and limb bones

Horses went extinct here during the Ice Age. Modern wild horses are descendants of European ones, Gibson said. But on display at the museum are a few 12,000-year-old native horse teeth and bones that were collected on Edisto Beach.

Teeth, limbs and bones are often found in spoil piles from mining and dredging, or washed up on beaches and banks, according to the museum. It is rare to find horse skulls in the Lowcountry, likely because of erosion, or past mining and river dredging.

Native horses were visually very much like ones that exist today, based on their skeletons.

Glyptotherium osteoscutes

This armored animal was a giant relative of the modern armadillo. The biggest difference between the two is that the Glyptotherium was heavily armored and rigid rather that flexible, according to the museum. It was essentially a walking tank, and only parts of the animal’s head, feet and underside was susceptible to predation.

The animal went extinct here at the end of the ice age and then migrated back up from South America. Fossils on display at the museum are about 12,000 years old and were collected from Edisto Beach.

Charleston Museum to showcase 270-year-old dress as part of anniversary exhibit

Museumgoers in May will have the rare chance to view a 270-year-old pink silk gown — a crown jewel of The Charleston Museum’s expansive textile collection and a relic intimately connected to the city’s past and present.The robe à la française dress was worn around 1753 in England by Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a member of Charleston’s wealthy planter class.It was chosen as part of the 250th anniversary exhibition both because of its impressive condition and long-standing history linking its origi...

Museumgoers in May will have the rare chance to view a 270-year-old pink silk gown — a crown jewel of The Charleston Museum’s expansive textile collection and a relic intimately connected to the city’s past and present.

The robe à la française dress was worn around 1753 in England by Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a member of Charleston’s wealthy planter class.

It was chosen as part of the 250th anniversary exhibition both because of its impressive condition and long-standing history linking its original owner to Charleston and the museum’s early days, said Virginia Theerman, curator of historic textiles.

Pinckney was born in 1722 to Ann and George Lucas. She was tasked as a teen with managing three of her family’s plantations scattered around the Lowcountry, including Wappoo Plantation in what is now West Ashley.

Pinckney is largely credited with turning indigo into a cash crop for South Carolina in the 1740s. Under the guidance and expertise of the men and women she enslaved, Pinckney experimented with the tropical plant until she found success: enough indigo to begin mass-producing the blue dye, which was highly sought after in England’s growing textile market.

Records suggest Pinckney had the floral gown made during her family’s stint in England, ahead of her presentation to the Dowager Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, mother of the future King George III.

The dress remained in Pinckney’s family until it was donated to the museum in 1940. It was exhibited a few times, particularly before 1979, and underwent extensive conservation in 2016, Theerman said.

The gown collected dust, dirt and body oils, which decayed the fibers in the delicate silk fabric. An independent conservator repaired some of the splits and damages, with the goal of keeping her retouches to the garment invisible. She also gave the museum recommendations for future preservation.

The museum has always kept a collection of objects, including dress and fashion, she said. Records show the museum acquired one pair of boots in the early 1800s.

By the late 20th century, the museum amassed enough items to create a historic textiles collection, separate from the history collection, Theerman said. Today it spans more than 10,000 pieces.

Theerman began curating her part of the anniversary exhibition over two years ago, in summer 2020. She knew early on Pinckney’s damask-like silk dress would be a focal point.

The garment’s roots are buried deep within Charleston’s past and the museum’s 1773 beginnings. Pinckney’s eldest son, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, helped establish the institution’s first collection.

“To be able to show that gown and say, ‘This was around even before this museum came to be,’ is a really wonderful way to connect back to that history,” Theerman said.

And it reveals another important truth, one inseparable from the city’s own history: The Pinckneys had these “wonderful” items they could give to the museum because of their wealth, which was built on the backs of those they enslaved, Theerman said.

This inward-gazing, reflective spirit is the premise of the 250th celebration, with a nod to the future.

Viewing historical garments is a visceral experience, different from looking at art or an object, Theerman said. Textiles can bridge the gap between today’s museum visitors and the past. We can all imagine what it might feel like to don a silk-laden gown.

Pinckney wore the dress a long time ago — an estimated 269 years, to be exact. Was she nervous to step in front of the English court? Or did she select the colors — a vivid pink and cream — because they made her feel confident?

Pinckney, who stood around 5-foot-4, would’ve had the same self-conscious ideas about her body as we do today, Theerman said, the same kind of thoughts that run through our heads when we get dressed each morning.

“That can be really grounding,” she said.

The gown, along with a few of Pinckney’s personal items, will be on display May 13 through July 9. It will join some of the most interesting and storied pieces from the textile collection as part of the museum’s broader anniversary exhibition.

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