CSU's Kennedy on a ride to the top

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The Charleston Southernbasketball team is one of the best shooting teams in the country, absolutelylethal from beyond the arc. One of the reasons is West Ashley grad MattKennedy.

But to appreciate his success now, you have to understandthe trip to get there.

Kennedy appreciates where he is: happy to be home, thrilledto play the sport he loves, and elated to get to end it this way.

"Matt is shooting over 50 percent from the floor, 50 percentfrom three. He's a major part of what we're doing. He's a testament to youngpeople trying to play college sports," said head coach Barclay Radebaugh.

Kennedy started all 15 games this season, he's averaging 30minutes per game, and he's scoring in double figures.

"It's been a really nice change for me," he said. "I had toadjust mentally and physically."

The role hasn't been handed to Kennedy - he didn't walk intothe Buc Dome entitled. Early on, to his own admission, he didn't deserve thesuccess.

"Matt Kennedy has been one of the best stories in collegebasketball. I'm waiting for people to get hold of this story," said Radebaugh. "Peopleforget, his sophomore year he did not score a single point. He scored zeropoints."

It's a season Kennedy would rather forget, but a place helearned a lot.

"Sophomore year is one I try to forget. It wasn't the besttime. But I'm there for my team and I want to win every game. Playing highschool basketball, everyone is the best player on their team and we play allthe time. I came in shell-shocked," Kennedy said.

Riding the pine, most scholarship guys would havered-shirted, transferred, pouted or sulked, but Kennedy persevered.

I had one point last year and I said I'm going to do anythingI can to get myself on the court," Kennedy said. "The first thing that came tomy mind was defense. Defense wins championships, so I thought I'd play D andguard their best player, and do anything I can to get on the court."

The effort was quickly noticed by Radebaugh.

"He self-analyzed, looked in the mirror, and made changes tohow he approached practice and games. He learned to play the right way andchanged things and his attitude and has become a premier guard in our league,"he said.

Much like Kennedy, the team started at the bottom, but nowthey're near the top. They - and Kennedy - won't stop until their pinnacle isachieved.

"For us, it's NCAA or bust," said Kennedy. "We had a greathalf of a season, but we're not even close to done. We plan on finishingstrong. The first three years didn't go how I anticipated. I hope to finishstrong and go out on a good note."

The view from the top is even sweeter when you're in MattKennedy's shoes.{}

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