Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh looked as if he walked through an automatic car wash.
Drenched from head-to-toe, his light blue button-up appeared closer to a shade of navy. His wet hair revealed his scalp that gleamed underneath the bright ceiling lights above him as he sat at the podium to talk to media members about his team’s 68-60 upset over Missouri on Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
Radebaugh says he’s a believer in celebrating victories, big and small. But what do you do after beating an SEC team on the road, a victory that Radebaugh said was just his program’s third “guarantee game” win in the last 15 years?
You have a water fight. In Radebaugh’s terms, that’s essentially trying to get his players as soaked as possible while in turn trying to avoid getting soaked himself. Once everyone eventually does get soaked, however, a dance party ensues.
That’s what the Buccaneers did in the locker room immediately after the final horn sounded, and that’s why Radebaugh arrived to the press conference a soaked — but overjoyed — mess.
“I tried to sneak in the back door. I let the assistants come in the front door and it worked,” Radebaugh said, explaining his strategy. “So I had two gigantic cups of water and I got them, but I was outnumbered 13-to-1 and got drenched. And then we danced, and everybody danced. I hope it’s not on the internet and my wife sees it, because I’m obviously not a great dancer.”
While the Buccaneers were joyful Tuesday night, the last few days had been quite the headache for the team.
Their connecting flight to St. Louis from Nashville was delayed by two hours. A two-hour bus ride from St. Louis to Columbia then followed, and due to of all the travel issues, Charleston Southern ended up not practicing Monday.
Sophomore forward Duncan Lexander, who led the Buccaneers with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, said that the travel issues were annoying but a good shootaround Tuesday morning offset any concerns.
It was clearly effective as Charleston Southern shot 10-for-22 from 3 against the Tigers. Not bad for the nation’s 349th-ranked 3-point shooting team entering Tuesday.
“(We) got a lot of shots up, got some offense in,” Lexander said about the morning shootaround. “The coaching staff, they do the best they can and traveling ... that’s not on anybody. We just tried to compete every play, every defensive play and every offensive play, and we ended up pulling it out and it was based off competing.”
As one locker room was jubilant, another was sullen. Missouri fell behind by as much as 12-3 immediately following the opening tip in yet another slow-starting game for the Tigers, their third straight loss where they fell behind by nine points or more to begin the contest.
Sitting at 4-4 after one of the most humiliating losses in his tenure, Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin gave credit to Charleston Southern but said Tuesday’s result was one of the toughest to swallow in his career.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s probably one of the toughest ones,” Martin said. “I felt it 10 minutes into the second half. Ten minutes left to go in the second half just didn’t feel right. We just didn’t have the right flow or the right momentum. (CSU) did a great job staying in the game, competing, finding ways (and) not letting up.”
There is one last thing Charleston Southern will do on its victory celebration tour before a Saturday home game against North Carolina Central: stop for milkshakes.
After every away win, Radebaugh rewards his squad with the sweet treat. And, yes, he absolutely was going to take them out for milkshakes again after Tuesday’s win, he said.
Usually the ice cream stop of choice postgame is McDonald’s “as long as the machine isn’t broken,” Lexander said.A media member recommended local favorite Andy’s to Radebaugh, so maybe Lexander will be able to enjoy his favorite flavor of strawberry cream pie this time.And after a win against a Power 5 school, it’s only going to taste that much sweeter.
“We’re just a small school in South Carolina,” Radebaugh said. “Being a low D-I is often very difficult because you have to go out and play these guaranteed games. To get one just pumps life into our program, pumps life into our players and our fans and in our school. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to coach these players. I really love them and I’m having so much fun coaching them.”