Mark Bryant, Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.
- Coastal Carolina 2-0 / 10-2
- Radford 2-0 / 5-4
- UNC Asheville 1-0 / 3-7
- Liberty 1-1 / 6-6
- Winthrop 1-1 / 5-6
- High Point 1-1 / 4-6
- VMI 1-1 / 4-6
- Gardner-Webb 0-1 / 3-7
- Charleston Southern 0-2 / 5-6
- Presbyterian College 0-2 / 2-10
The Chanticleers have been the surprise so far this year, improving to 10-2. That’s the best start for Coastal Carolina since 1981-82. That year, CCU opened 10-2 and dropped the next one, so this could be the school’s best launch ever if they can ruin Cornell’s beach trip on the 27th. Coastal has won six in a row and has won all its games against SoCon foes, faring much better against the Southern than other Big South squads. CCU even managed a vote in the rankings, yet inexplicably lost that vote in the following week without losing a game in that time.
Out-of Conference Woes
Nights like Tuesday (12/22) are really killing the Big South when it comes to other leagues. That evening, Big South teams were 0-4 against outside foes — not going to help the profile of the conference with showings like that one. There are ten conferences that have not lost to the Big South this season: the ACC, A10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Big West, C-USA, Horizon, Mountain West, and SEC are a collective 34-0 when facing the Big South this season (Big Ouch). The record for the Big South is a more average mark of 14-10 against a collection of the A-Sun, MEAC, SWAC, MVC, OVC, Patriot, and SoCon.
The ten teams of the Big South may take some solace in the fact that they can soon take out their frustrations on one another. Every team got a taste of conference play with one or two games earlier in December, but it’s going to be full-tilt league games with the arrival of the New Year. That said, they still have to get there — the last week of 2009 includes foes like Florida (for PC), Auburn (CSU), NC State (Winthrop), and, believe it or not, Texas (GWU).
Echoing the last item, the next steps for the teams of the Big South will be taken on the conference road. The December match-ups gave RU and CCU a leg up at 2-0, while starting CSU and PC in a hole 0-2. All the others are even or only one game up or down, so the jockeying for position has just begun!
Did we mention the recent woes outside the conference? Yeah, most of the squads will not want to look back on the recent weeks, although Coastal Carolina would likely be the exception to that.
Charleston Southern – sharpshooter Jamarco Warren is still the go-to guy for the Buccaneers, but Jeremy Sexton is drawing more attention, now a two-time winner of Freshman of the Week and showing a good deal of consistency on a team that could use it.
Coastal Carolina – as cited above, the Chants are on a roll. CCU has taken six wins in a row and has turned some heads. Joseph Harris has been the biggest producer, but don’t overlook Chad Gray, who has joined Harris as a Player of the Week honoree this season and is becoming a bigger factor in games.
Gardner-Webb – the opposite of Coastal right now, the Runnin’ Bulldogs are running the wrong way, with seven straight losses. It’s not getting better for GWU, with the powerful Texas Longhorns on the schedule before starting Big South play.
High Point – the Panthers have been having a rough go of things lately, too…four losses in a row have the HPU faithful looking for a quick turnaround. High Point always turns to the shooting of Nick Barbour and inside play of Cruz Daniels to make a difference.
Liberty – the Flames remain a relative question mark, since it’s hard to handicap when a squad falls to major foes and beats smaller ones as LU has. Conference play will be especially telling for Liberty in the weeks ahead.
Presbyterian College — PC has mortgaged its future a bit by redshirting players for next year’s postseason eligibility, as they are still transitioning to D-1 now. With that in mind, the Blue Hose are taking plenty of lumps this season as expected.
Radford – if there’s disappointment at the moment, it may be coming from the Highlanders. RU has talent and size, but has not yet registered anything you could really consider a “signature” win, and had to scrap to get its two conference wins. Radford’s success last year came in the middle and late season, so we’ll have to see if history repeats itself.
UNC Asheville – the start for the Bulldogs was a rough and winless one, but Asheville has gotten off the mat a bit with a pair of wins in recent weeks (and a 3-7 mark overall).
VMI – pinball numbers remain the rule for the Keydets, win or lose, you can always expect the scores to be at or near triple-digits for each side. So the good news for VMI remains the team’s general ability to get teams to play at VMI’s pace, but the bad news for the Keydets is they get beaten at that speed just as often as they can run to wins.
Winthrop – like Liberty, we’re seeing a lot of losing to bigger squads and beating smaller ones, so we may need to see more peer play to get a proper handle on what Coach Randy Peele has to work with this season.