Checking In On… the Big South ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2011
Mark Bryant oversees multimedia at the Big South Conference. You can follow his updates on Twitter @BigSouthSports.
The Week That Was
- New Gym, Part One: YES… UNC Asheville got its opportunity to show off the new Kimmel Arena with a marquee match-up against the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on ESPNU. Eddie Biedenbach’s Bulldogs played with a tenacity befitting their nickname, hanging tight most of the way before falling, 91-75.
- New Gym, Part Two: NO, but that’s OK… Coastal Carolina had once hoped that this past Tuesday would be the chance for the Chants to unveil their own shiny new room, but delays in construction may mean that’s a year away. No matter: CCU welcomed LSU from the SEC to small Kimbel Arena in Conway — then proceeded to pull off the 71-63 upset.
- Meet The New Member, Same as the Old Member: Campbell is back in the Big South. The Fighting Camels were a founding member of the conference and played hoops with the Big South from 1983-94. CU was 129-128 in those seasons–and stays on the plus side with wins in the first three games this year.
- UNC Asheville (1-2/0-0) – The senior year for Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm is expected to be a good one for the whole team, and Jaron Lane showed how the teammates of that stellar backcourt duo can benefit from opponents dividing their attention. Lane averaged 17 points in his team’s first two games, playing the ACC pairing of NC State on the road and North Carolina at home.
- Coastal Carolina (4-0/0-0) – The headliner for Cliff Ellis’ squad is clearly taking down LSU, an act that sends two messages to Big South rivals: it’s still tough to beat the Chants in their own building, and CCU may not drop as far as some foes would have liked this season, if at all.
- VMI (2-1/0-0) – Ah, the familiar story for the Keydets: score early and often–as fast as you can. The personnel may be there to give Duggar Baucom’s run-and-gun scheme enough bite to win more than they lose and give other coaching staffs fits along the way. When it works, it wins: VMI topped a hundred points in each of the season’s first two victories, but only tallied 65 in a loss at Air Force.
- Liberty (2-2/0-0) – It may be hard to get a clear focus on this team for awhile–with so many points gone via departure and injury heading into this season, a lot will be riding on the production of both Jesse and John Caleb Sanders. The brothers have been sharp out of the gate, so the Flames have had a good start.
- High Point (1-2/0-0) – HPU has been in the “potential” club for a while now, and Panthers fans are really hoping to see them graduate into the “results” club instead. Drubbing Bridgewater doesn’t tell us anything, really, but losing by just a deuce at Purdue, with a chance to surprise the Big Ten opponent right to the very end — now THAT may be a good sign for Scott Cherry and his squad.
- Presbyterian College (2-2/0-0) – Okay, so you’ll hear constantly that this team still has nothing to play for this year… yet it seems that redshirt senior Al’Lonzo Coleman and the rest of the Blue Hose don’t see it that way. They appear to get charged by any hint of disrespect , and it says something that Coleman felt he should have done more in PC’s loss at Duke. Watch out for strong spoiler possibilities.
- Winthrop (0-3/0-0) – Plenty of folks, including me, have been guilty of giving WU the benefit of the doubt, perhaps beyond its expiration date. The jury remains out on Randy Peele’s bunch this year–they hung with Virginia for most of that game before getting buried in a late UVA surge, yet lost badly to an Eastern Kentucky team that subsequently got dominated by PC.
- Campbell (3-0/0-0) – The wild card comes to us in the form of a Camel… new to the Big South this season, CU showed what it can do by defeating East Carolina. Eric Griffin and Trey Freeman have emerged as the strong performers for Campbell in the early going.
- Charleston Southern (1-2/0-0) – State of confusion? CSU’s football team played its first three games in Florida, while the hoops squad played its first two ballgames in Kansas. Go figure. The Bucs lost both contests in the heartland (to Kansas State and Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State), but regained equilibrium with an easy home win. Kelvin Martin remains the foundation for this CSU team.
- Gardner-Webb (2-1/0-0) – Not sure what to expect from GWU this year? Join the rest of us. But seriously, we think Chris Holtmann will see positive results from his efforts in Boiling Springs, just not all of it this season.
- Radford (3-1/0-0) – So RU is 3-1 under new coach Mike Jones – well, it’s certainly a good start, but nothing is proven yet for this team that struggled so mightily a year ago. The rebuilding effort for the Highlanders will take more than a couple easy wins to fix, but it’s better than the alternative.
- Coastal Carolina at Clemson, 11/22 – Cliff Ellis is back at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum, but not in orange. Clemson will surely be favored on paper, but as CCU demonstrated this week, they do not fear Tigers.
- Radford at Kentucky, 11/23 – No, I don’t expect the upset, and neither do you, but wouldn’t it be something?
- VMI at Ohio State, 11/23 – Now we’re talking… of course, OSU is outstanding, as shown in how well they kept Florida at bay this week, but what that game also taught us is that the Buckeyes can be caught flatfooted for stretches by running teams that can gun some threes… like any Keydets we know?
- UNC Asheville vs. Connecticut in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 11/24 – Another huge foe for the Bulldogs–and if they can get over being in a tropical paradise for Thanksgiving, they should be able to give the Huskies a run.
Caught on Film
See the highlights and get the story from Coastal’s upset victory over LSU — for that matter, see what it looks like when LSU comes to play in Kimbel Arena, plus hear from Cliff Ellis and some of the stars for the Chants following their 71-63 win. It’s all captured here by the folks from WPDE: