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More Big South Basketball News

The Big South Basketball Report

By "The Big South Boys"

bigsouthbball@yahoo.com

November 30th, 2004
                                                 

The Big South Basketball Report

 

It’s still early in the Big South season, and even though it seems like many teams have chosen to play glorified junior varsity high school teams, some are taking on the nations finest college basketball teams and competing.  However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, because most college basketball junkies don’t even know what teams comprise the Big South Conference. For your information, here they are in alphabetical order, with last year’s finish in parentheses:

 

1.       Birmingham Southern Panthers* (20-7)

2.       Charleston Southern Buccaneers (6-22)

3.       Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (14-15)

4.       High Point Panthers (19-11)

5.       Liberty Flames (18-15)

6.       Radford Highlanders (12-16)

7.       UNC Asheville Bulldogs (15-17)

8.       Virginia Military Institute Keydets (6-22)

9.       Winthrop Eagles (16-12)

* Birmingham Southern was not eligible for conference tournament action last year, but this year will participate and be eligible for the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

 

The field this year through the first two weeks has not been as clearly defined, despite what the all-knowing preseason predictions lead you to believe.  In fact, those gurus need to listen up, because the first week has decimated the “expert” picks of how this conference season will unfold.  As of Sunday, Nov. 28, here is how we see it….

 

1. Birmingham Southern (4-2) – A valiant effort in the 64-60 loss to UMass on the road will garner respect to help these cats sit far atop these rankings. They erased and 18 point second-half deficit but choked on four straight free throws in the clutch.  Some may ask, “Is this a sign of things to come?  ” Well, from our perspectives, these guys proved last year they can play fundamental basketball with few errors, so they should follow suit this year.

Key Player- Jakob Sigurdarson (6’4’’ Sr. G) - 13.3ppg in just over 31 minutes.

This weeks games- @ Indiana State, @ Alabama State

 

2. Winthrop (3-2) ‑ With three wins in the first week, it’s hard to believe the Eagles have not soared all the way to the top of the rankings, but with 11 underclassmen this could just be temporary.  A 32-6 run against this unproven defense, in a loss to South Carolina should be a wake-up call for Coach Gregg Marshall’s squad.  With only one senior, it should be interesting to see who wants the ball when the shot clock is winding down, and if he can tickle the twine in order to bring home some wins.  Coach Marshall is far from a quiet coach on the sidelines and may have to put in some extra time this year to keep these young guys at the top of their game.  So far, they have wins over Troy, Austin Peay and Weber State including a third place overall finish in the Paradise Jam Tournament.

Key Player- Torrell Martin (So. 6’5’’ G) 12.2 ppg in just over 26 minutes, to go along with shooting 43% from the field.

This Weeks Games – a three game home stand vs. Providence, Barton and Siena.

 

3. Radford – (2-1) – The Highlanders were able to steal a one-point win from Yale and outlast a pesky Longwood team to get their first two victories of the year this week. One major surprise this year is that Whit Holcomb-Faye ( Jr. 6’1’’ G) has not had to carry this team at all so far. Holcomb-Faye is averaging about 15 points and five boards per game, but some of his teammates have taken the load from his shoulders. This past week the Highlanders only came up five points short on the road at William and Mary 81-76 for their lone loss. The key stat here though is that W&M got to the line 36 times to RU’s 16 chances.  Hmm…  A little home-team bias? 

Key Player – Chris Oliver (So. 6’7’’ F) is in mid-season form averaging 26 points and 7 rebounds per game.

This weeks games – Ferrum, North Carolina A & T, @ West Virginia.

 

4. Liberty – (0-2) Yes, we understand that the Flames have not won a game yet, but we know talent when we see it. Last year’s Rookie of the Year and Big South Tournament MVP Larry Blair (So. 6’1’’ G) has yet to really show the spark he did in Liberty’s last exhibition game when he scored 37.  So far, he averages just 10 points and 4 boards per game.  Secondly, the Flames are extremely long and large inside. Rashad Robinson (Jr. 6’9’’ F/C & 265pds) played for the number one junior college in the nation last year (San Jancito College) and brings plenty of beef with the ability to score inside with either hand. Russell Monroe (Fr. 7’1’’ C) has the wingspan of Yao Ming and has already shown he can hit a 12-foot jumper with ease.  Bottom line is you have to respect the defending champs and give them there due until someone has the chance to unseat them.

Key Player – David Dees (So. 6’5’’ G/F) Dees has been fearless so far putting up 16.5 points and shooting 41.4% from the floor.

This weeks games - @ Western Carolina, Shenandoah

 

5. VMI – (2-0) The Keydets haven’t exactly knocked our socks off but they are 2-0. They rallied twice from eight points down in the second half to knock off Navy at home 78-73, and they held South Virginia to 33 total points. A few Keydets are averaging double figures so far, and may need to continue with 10 underclassmen on the roster. The team has held its first two opponents to shooting a meager 30% from the field, but that stat may be a bit off at this juncture.  The center position will be a big question mark this year with no big man averaging over 5.5 points per game yet.

Key Player – (Fr. 6’5’’ F) Reggie Williams is averaging 14 ppg with 6.5 rebounds and shooting nearly 48% from the field…. not bad…. not bad at all young fella.

This weeks games- @ Old Dominion, Virginia Tech

 

6. High Point – (1-3) For some things in life there are just no excuses.  When you are a team picked to finish near the top of any conference, one thing you can’t do is lose to a Division II school.  The Panthers have a team rich in talent but after taking a pounding its website read, “Yes, HPU did finish 0-3 in Alaska, but the trip wasn't about wins and losses.”  I know that all sports aren’t about wins and losses but geez, you just got to win the games you are supposed to win!  In their defense, they did get beat up on by Utah and Oklahoma earlier, so they may have been a bit drained. This year’s lineup does boast five seniors and I believe they will get back on track, but until then we can’t hype them up too much. One more piece of good news is that in all three games at the Great Alaska Shootout, High Point had a different leading scorer.  With that kind of versatility, it won’t be easy to shut this team down consistently.

Key Player – Danny Gathings (Sr. 6’6’’ F) this senior leader dropped almost 13 points and 7 boards per game shooting nearly 50% from the field. He also found the long-range touch, going 4-8 from deep to start the season.

This weeks games –  @ North Carolina A & T, Greensboro, @ Creighton

 

7. Charleston Southern (1-2) - Although the only win they have so far this year is against the Voorhees Tigers, this team made #21 Notre Dame look a bit unlucky. The Fighting Irish got out rebounded by Charleston Southern and only managed one more field goal in a game that was tied 22-22 at the half. Kurtis Rice (Sr. 6’5’’ F) recorded a double-double in the loss but his team did not reach the charity stripe one time in their demise which should raise a few eyebrows. Notre Dame went on to win 54-38, but didn’t dominate much in doing so.  This is another team, razor-thin in adequately sized post players, as their heaviest big man tips the scales at only 235 pounds. We only hope Coach Jim Platt likes to push the ball, because if not it could be a long year for these Buccaneers.

Key Player – Nathan Ball (Sr. 6’9’’ C) Ball is going to need to up his 8 points and four rebounds per game from last year if he wants his team to get over the hill this season.

This week’s games – No games, next up CLEMSON 12/11.

 

8. UNC Asheville - (0-3) The Bulldogs have had a tough go-around early in the year. They have played Texas Tech and Clemson so far and have another pounding coming against Maryland this week. They just lost 57-54 to UNC Wilmington at home last Saturday and have one of the toughest preseason schedules in Big South conference history.  To let you know how bad it is, they still have Maryland, Charlotte, Michigan State and Michigan to play before New Year’s; what more can you say but Merry Christmas?  Ouch. C.J. Walker (So. 7’1’’ C) does give fans a reason to stay tuned as he registered 3 blocks and a steal vs. Clemson, but has only taken 3 shots in his last 33 minutes of action.

Key Player - ?? Only one player reached double digits in the loss to UNC Wilmington, someone has got to break away from the pack.

This weeks games - @ Furman, Western Carolina

 

9. Coastal Carolina – (0-5) They’re not tall, they’re not big… and right now they’re not doing too good. The last game at Hawaii may have been their best; they were right at home in the sun and jumped out to a 37-23 halftime lead. However, the sun set rapidly in the second half as they got outscored by 21. They shot a blistering 62.5% in the first half but the ship sailed in the second half, as they shot only 34%.  Their bench did not score a single point and a recent loss to Chaminade, thus securing their position in the basement for at least this week. And sure, some may ask, “What is a Chanticleer?” But the real question is, “Can these beach bums keep the boat afloat?”

Key Player – Pele Paelay (Jr. 6’4’’ G) is averaging close to 19 points and 9 boards a game but he needs some help from others if this team is going to turn it around.

This weeks games – Eastern Kentucky

 

All in all, it looks like it could shape up to be another competitive year in the Big South.  Through one week, no team has exactly separated itself from the pack.  If this trend continues, it should ensure that there should be a bunch of games going down to the wire once conference play gets underway later in the season.

               

For up-to-date information, go to www.bigsouthsports.com.  But still, you can check back this website every week for our take on the games.

 

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