The Race For 2,000 Wins

Posted by jstevrtc on November 12th, 2009

As I write this, the North Carolina men’s basketball team just finished off their second win of the 2009-10 season against North Carolina Central.  The University of Kentucky squad will play their first game this Friday, November 13th against Morehead State.  That means that as of right now, the UNC program has amassed 1,986 wins in its incredible history.  UK will start this season with 1,988.  From this, it looks like in the Race For 2,000, we have a real barnburner on our hands.

Well, if you’re a Tar Heel supporter and you’re reading this, I have some bad news.  We don’t.  To Wildcat fans:  you can fire up the sewing machines and start creating that banner.  Call the silkscreeners and start cranking out T-shirts.  I’m calling it.

The wins have occurred over time in such a way that both programs will get to the 2,000-win mark early in this season’s schedule, and we know the early part of any season is a time of the year when many teams load their schedule with a fair number of cupcakes and a few big non-conference names thrown in there for RPI/strength-of-schedule boosting.  UNC and UK have both done this for this season, and this is nothing new for anyone.  This season started with UK leading the race with 1,988 wins to UNC’s 1,984.  UNC’s early start this week pulls them to within two wins.  So let’s see how the rest of their schedules look up until December 5th, when Kentucky and North Carolina meet  up for a monumental clash at Rupp Arena:

North Carolina:  Valparaiso, Ohio State (in NYC), California OR Syracuse (in NYC), Gardner-Webb, Nevada, Michigan State.

Kentucky:  Morehead State, Miami (OH), Sam Houston State, Rider, Cleveland State, Stanford OR Virginia, UNC-Asheville.

For the sake of argument, let’s say both teams start the season perfectly up to this point.  That’s no guarantee; UNC-Ohio State, UNC-California/Syracuse, or even UNC-Nevada could be interesting.  Kentucky has it a little easier up to here, so we’re actually helping the Tar Heels by assuming a perfect start to the season.  But let’s say it happens — this would put the race at UK with 1,995 and UNC with 1,992 going into the head-to-head matchup.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #23 – Big South

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2009


Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Radford (14-4)
  2. UNC Asheville (12-6)
  3. Winthrop (12-6)
  4. Gardner-Webb (10-8)
  5. VMI (9-9)
  6. High Point (9-9)
  7. Liberty (8-10)
  8. Coastal Carolina (7-11)
  9. Charleston Southern (6-12)
  10. Presbyterian College (3-15)

 All-Conference Team:

  • Jamarco Warren (G), Jr., Charleston Southern
  • Grayson Flittner (G), Sr., Gardner-Webb
  • Joseph Harris (F), R-Sr., Coastal Carolina
  • Joey Lynch-Flohr (F), Sr., Radford
  • Art Parakhouski (C), Sr., Radford

6th Man. Nick Barbour (G), Soph, High Point 

Impact Newcomer.  Lazar Trifunovic (F), Jr., Radford (transfer from Binghamton)

big south logo

What You Need to Know.  Ask any of the Big South coaches right now who’s on top and the answer you’ll get is Radford.  The Highlanders are the preseason favorite for the first time in a decade with good reason: the defending conference champs (regular season and tournament winners) still have their skilled twin towers combination of 6-8 Joey Lynch-Flohr and 6-11 Art Parakhouski.  RU center and dominant force Parakhouski in particular has the size, strength, and game needed to dominate the opposition (for perspective, last year he averaged a double-double against Big East and ACC competition), playing his way into Player of the Year honors last season and the Preseason POY award for this year.  Beyond Radford, the race should be very tight among a few schools with questions to answer: Asheville — can the Bulldogs win away from the Justice Center this year (11-3 home, 4-13 on the road a year ago); Winthrop — can the Eagles return to their once-familiar position of dominance in the Big South with 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Mantoris Robinson now as the unquestioned team leader; and Gardner-Webb — can the Runnin’ Bulldogs and playmaker Grayson Flittner iron out some consistency so that they turn their big wins into streaks?  Meanwhile, two recent contenders will definitely be rebuilding:  VMI — where Coach Duggar Baucom no longer has the Holmes twins to rely on in his rapid-fire scheme; and Liberty –where star player Seth Curry and Coach Ritchie McKay both departed Lynchburg, leaving new Coach Dale Layer to get the Flames burning again.  High Point should fit in around where VMI and Liberty fall in the standings, with Coastal Carolina in that mix as well, while Charleston Southern is likely to trail that group despite the sharpshooting of Jamarco WarrenPresbyterian College remains ineligible for a championship as the transition to D1 continues, but PC doesn’t have the tools to contend yet in any case,  so look for the Blue Hose at the bottom of the standings.

Predicted ChampionRadford Highlanders (NCAA Seed:  #15).  Last year RU passed early front-runner VMI in the regular season and then knocked the Keydets out in the Big South Championship.  The reward for the Highlanders? A #16 seed and a lethal draw against eventual National Champion North Carolina (an experience Parakhouski describes as “short, but amazing”).  This season Radford should draw a little more attention and could easily play into a #15 spot, which opens the possibility of getting a potentially favorable match-up down low given the size RU can bring to the post.  With that, it’s not out of line to think the Big South could see a first round win for the first time since Winthrop’s memorable upset of Notre Dame in 2007.

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RTC Class Schedule 2009-10: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by zhayes9 on September 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams has been down this road before.

After hoisting his first national title on that early April night in St. Louis, Williams had to endure an eerily similar task as to what faces him this upcoming season, his seventh in Chapel Hill. The 2004-05 champions lost center Sean May, swingman Marvin Williams, point guard Raymond Felton and shooting guard Rashad McCants to the riches of the NBA, yet Williams managed, in large part to a recruiting class led by Tyler Hansbrough with returnees David Noel and Reyshawn Terry, to finish 21-6 (12-4) and in the top 15 in both polls. The situation this season parallels the tremendous overload facing Williams after his first banner. Losing Hansbrough, ACC POY Ty Lawson and sharpshooters Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, a group that made up the large portion of the Heels scoring rampage a season ago, will be difficult to overcome. Luckily for Williams, he returns some decent pieces to complement a loaded recruiting class. Not to mention he’s the best coach in the nation.


North Carolina returns some high upside players that could truly emerge after playing behind the mentioned superstars of the previous few campaigns. There’s senior and experienced leadership still in the fray- notably forward Deon Thompson and defensive stopper Marcus Ginyard– that should help out all of the incoming young talent on the Heels roster. Knowing he’d lose such integral pieces, Williams loaded his 2009 class with top-50 talent such as skilled forward John Henson, guards Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald and big men David Wear and Travis Wear. Many believe sophomore Ed Davis is a surefire lottery pick and Tyler Zeller may emerge with a healthy full season. Last year’s backup to Lawson, Larry Drew II, is also back and will be the engine that controls the Heels attack.

Just because Williams has a predominantly young squad, he didn’t shy away from challenging his team early and often on this year’s schedule to go along with the rigors of the ACC. Let’s examine:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 10. One way to sum up the Heels schedule this season: I’ll be stunned if North Carolina isn’t at the top of the strength of schedule list when we’re starting to look at those types of numbers in February and March. Forget playing NCAA tournament teams Duke and Georgia Tech twice in conference play (along with contenders Wake Forest, Boston College, Clemson and Wake Forest on the road), the Heels scheduled three preseason top-ten teams on the slate for this non-conference season. It wasn’t exactly planned like this; who could have planned Damion James would stick around for another year or John Calipari would completely overhaul Kentucky in such a short period of time? Still, give Williams credit for setting up these huge games against prestigious programs. North Carolina will take on possible Big Ten contender Ohio State in the semifinal of the 2K Sports Classic and likely top-15 California should they emerge victorious. Also planned is a visit to Rupp Arena to battle Kentucky in one of the top non-conference games on the season and a trip to Arlington to face Texas in Jerry Jones’ new monstrosity. Both Kentucky and Texas are projected top ten teams. Not enough for you, Roy? Michigan State will visit Chapel Hill in a national title game rematch as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, another squad that could finish their season in Indianapolis.

Cupcake City: The Heels do receive a few easy warm-ups before traveling to New York in Florida International (Isiah Thomas’ college coaching debut, marred by minor controversy) and North Carolina Central. Carolina also faces Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, Marshall, Valparaiso and Albany at home while taking a trip to Charleston to face Bobby Cremins’ Cougars in a rare instance of a ACC school visiting a SoCon opponent. Not exactly cupcakes, but Nevada and Rutgers also make appearances at the Dean Dome this season.

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by rtmsf on January 23rd, 2009

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.   

We are hitting the halfway point in Big South Conference play, and the plotlines for the run into postseason play are getting deeper by the game…

The Top Group

VMI still rules the roost for the Big South.  Since the last update, the Keydets won a close one (103-102 over Coastal) and an easier one (90-75 past PC) before facing a tough test against a surging Liberty squad.  To the surprise of a VMI home-record crowd, the Flames scorched the Keydets 91-80 for an upset that ended VMI’s ten-game winning streak and its undefeated Big South run.  That loss, coupled with a recent run by Radford, set up a duel for first place—one taken by VMI, who beat the Highlanders in Radford 87-72 to regain sole possession of first place (7-1).

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2009

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

VMI = Very Much Interest (in the Keydets)

In December, we advised fans to keep an eye on the Keydets and to take them seriously as contenders for the Big South crown this year. Well, it remains early, but the message stands: VMI has not let up and still holds the Conference lead—along with an eight-game winning streak (4-0 Big South / 11-2 overall). VMI is also undefeated at home this season (6-0), a fact which becomes even more notable when one sees that three of its four Big South wins have come away from Lexington.

Your players to watch on the Keydets may give you double vision, as the Holmes twins, Travis and Chavis, each hold Big South Top Five slots in scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and steals. How outstanding have their performances been? The Big South has had seven Player of the Week awards given this season, with the Holmes brothers account for 3.5 of those (Travis has two and Chavis 1.5, as he was co-winner this week with Coastal Carolina’s Joseph Harris). Add in young guard Keith Gabriel and his two Freshmen of the Week honors tallied so far, and you should have a good idea how Coach Duggar Baucom is getting it done this season. VMI leads the league in scoring (97 ppg), point margin (+11.8 ppg), field goal percentage (.476), 3-point percentage (.386), assists (19/game), steals (14.5/game), and turnover margin (+8.15/game).

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Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2008

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer for Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

A Conference Upside-Down?

Here we are approaching the middle of December, each Big South team with one or two conference games under its belt, and already the plot has taken unexpected twists that could signal a changing of the guard..  The top three teams in the standings have yet to take a loss in conference play, even though none of those squads was forecast to finish in the upper half this year: VMI (2-0), Presbyterian (2-0), and Charleston Southern (1-0).  At the same time, three teams with largely higher expectations have not scratched out a conference win so far: Coastal Carolina (0-1), High Point (0-2), and Winthrop (0-2).

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After the Buzzer: Opening Night Doldrums

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2008


Hello again, everyone.  For those of you who might be new to the site this season, we want to introduce you to a feature that we try to run most nights during the season.  We like to call this feature After the Buzzer (ATB) because it’ll be posted well after the witching hour in the East for your first perusal the next morning (make RTC your home page!  you won’t be disappointed…).  The format will change depending on what happened that night, but we’ll typically try to give some brief wrapups of the night’s biggest games and stories of interest with some commentary thrown in.  If we’re feeling particularly frisky, we may also take a look ahead to the next night’s games.  Note that we said most nights; there will inevitably be nights where the games that night were simply unwatchable, or we’re down at the Savoy because some Duke scrub hit a late three to cover the spread, or our better half threw the tv and/or computer out the window.  In any case, like Olbermann and O’Reilly, we’ll be there as many nights as we can muster, annoying the hell out of you with our smug banter. 

Game of the Night.  There was no Game of the Night because there really is no “Opening Night,” and this really irritates us.  Seriously, how stupid is the NCAA when it comes to how it starts the season?  MLB, the NFL, the NBA and even NCAA football have an opening day/night with significant fanfare – it’s something that fans and the media alike can get excited about.  Instead of a showcase night of several good ‘opening’ games, we get Duke vs. Presbyterian on ESPNU (was Methodist unavailable?  how about Baptist?).  Instead of Vitale/Bilas/Digger, we get the painfully monotonous Beth Mowins.  Instead of college basketball nation all at once reaching an orgasmic climax because hoops is finally back in action, we get a game that is hidden away on the least-watched channel in the ESPN suite of programming.  It’s ridiculous.  We’ll say that ESPN is at least thinking the right way with its 24 hour bonanza of coverage next week (Nov. 18), but the NCAA and ESPN need to work a deal out next year so that this happens on a true “opening night.” 

Other Games.  The only games tonight were in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in the Durham, NC, regional.  The first game wasn’t televised, but Georgia Southern pulled off a mild upset (6-pt dog) in defeating CUSA’s Houston Cougars 65-63Sleeper schmeeperTrumaine Pearson led GSU with 19/11, as the Eagles withstood a late three attempt that was off the mark.  Georgia Southern will now play host Duke, as the Devils got out to a large halftime lead against Presbyterian (24 pts) before mostly coasting in the second stanza to win 80-49.  We actually saw most of this game – here are some quick thoughts.

  • Presbyterian is nicknamed the Blue Hose – someone needs to explain this to us.
  • Coach K wasn’t very happy with his team’s performance, and with good reason.  The Devils committed 21 turnovers and only shot 3-11 (27%) from long range. 
  • Kyle Singler (19/10) and Nolan Smith (15/3 stls) looked solid, if not spectacular, but what was alarmingly apparent was how Coach K’s recruiting in recent years has led to lineups in the Duke lineup that look way too much like the SEC and ACC in the mid-50s.  A Duke ‘whiteout’ will not be an uncommon occurrence again this year.
  • Time and time again the Presbyterian offense was able dribble penetrate into the paint for decent looks at the rim.  They rarely finished these forays because they were often too small and intimidated by the Duke ‘bigs,’ but this is going to be a serious problem again for the Devils this year.  Incumbent center Brian Zoubek fouled out in seven minutes of play.  Against.  Presbyterian.  The other option, freshman 6’10 F/C Miles Plumlee had 0/2 in thirteen minutes.  Why can’t Coach K get big man studs anymore?
  • ESPN isn’t allowing embedded video on this game yet, so here is the link to the highlights.

On Tap Tuesday (all times EST).  Several more CvC games, but only a few of interest.

  • Northeastern (-6) v. IUPUI – 4pm
  • Michigan v. Michigan Tech (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Duke (-25) v. Georgia Southern (ESPNU) – 9pm
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2008-09 Season Primers: #22 – Big South

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2008


Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South conference and writer for Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.


Predicted Order of Finish:


  1. Winthrop               (19-10, 13-5)
  2. Radford                  (17-12, 12-6)
  3. Gardner-Webb        (16-13, 11-7)
  4. Liberty                   (16-15, 11-7)
  5. High Point              (15-14, 9- 9)
  6. Charleston So.     (13-16, 9- 9)
  7. VMI                         (13-16, 8-10)
  8. Coastal Carolina      (14-16, 7-11)
  9. UNC Asheville         (11-18, 6-12)
  10. Presbyterian            (6-23, 4-14)



What You Need to Know (WYN2K).  When the preseason balloting of the media and coaches produces seven teams with first-place votes (out of ten teams overall), it’s a pretty good clue that the race is wide open and/or that nobody really knows how it’s going to shake out.  Why the mystery?  Well, player losses may be cyclical for everyone, but the hits were hard across the board for Big South teams: a high number of star seniors, career record-holders, and all-conference representatives have departed (see: Arizona Reid, Reggie Williams, Chris Gaynor, and Jack Leasure, among many others).  That turnover has left several coaches wondering what they have to work with this season—for example, Winthrop draws its somewhat traditional slot at the top, but as Head Coach Randy Peele pointed out, that’s without any Eagles on the preseason All-Conference team and with only 18 ppg returning this year!  If Media Day interviews are to be taken at face value, the majority of Big South coaches believe the greatest talent pool likely belongs to Radford, so the Highlanders may make some noise.  New member Gardner-Webb won’t be able to sneak up on anyone, a by-product of last year’s epic upset of UK at Rupp Arena.  Liberty’s Anthony Smith has the skills to play anywhere, and he has earned preseason Player of the Year honors as he begins his senior campaign.  The middle of the pack could finish in any order, with High Point, Charleston Southern, VMI and Coastal Carolina all working on their identities for 2008-09—only VMI and its trademark up-tempo offense offer a good sense of what may come this season.  Between senior departures and the loss of 7-7 center Kenny George to injury, UNC Asheville will not be expected to duplicate last year’s surprising run to the top.  Presbyterian is working through its transition to D1 and will have its work cut out for it just to stay off the bottom this year.


Predicted Champion.   Winthrop Eagles (#14 NCAA).  Last year’s top three scorers may be gone, but enough pieces are still there—including tournament experience and skilled coaching.  WU has won the last four conference tournaments and the Eagles grabbed a first round NCAA win for the Big South in 2007 by toppling Notre Dame, so there are still plenty of guys in Rock Hill who know all about winning when it counts.  If players like Charles Corbin and Mantoris Robinson step into the leadership void with some authority, the team will be fine—but they will be challenged by others who think there may be room at the top this year.  Look for Winthrop to be touch-and-go for 20 wins, maybe coming up just short and finding a #14 seed in the works when the brackets are announced.  Below are some highlights of Winthrop’s most recent Big South championship game. 



Others Considered. 

  • Radford Highlanders.  Forward/center Joey Lynch-Flohr gives RU a strong presence in the middle and the Highlanders certainly have their share of talent, but Coach Brad Greenberg will have to catch some breaks to pass Winthrop and break Radford’s poor postseason history (only Big South Tournament Championship: 1998).
  • Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs.  All-Conference junior guard Grayson Flittner is a complete player, and GWU returns most of the team that pulled off the upset heard ‘round the nation (over UK), but the Bulldogs fell flat after that early win and there’s nothing to indicate that they will be better off this time out.
  • Liberty FlamesAnthony Smith is sensational, and you have to keep your eyes on a team that has an asset like that, but there are still too many unknowns for Coach Ritchie McKay in his second season at LU—look for the Flames to keep improving and to produce for McKay after this building year with its wave of freshmen.

Important/Key Games & RPI Boosters.  A year ago, teams in the current Big South knocked off multiple teams in the ACC and the SEC, so where could that come from this year?  There are games on the slate against the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big East, Big 12 and other significant out-of-conference foes—plus the opponents still to be announced for the ESPN Bracketbusters games with Gardner-Webb, Liberty, and Winthrop. Here are a dozen to watch:

  • VMI @ Kentucky  (11/14/08)
  • Radford @ Virginia  (11/21/08)
  • Winthrop @ Davidson  (11/21/08)
  • Gardner-Webb @ Oklahoma  (11/22/08)
  • High Point @ NC State  (11/22/08)
  • Liberty @ Virginia  (11/25/08)
  • Gardner-Webb @ South Carolina  (11/25/08)
  • Liberty @ Clemson  (12/7/08)
  • UNC Asheville @ Ohio State  (12/22/08)
  • Winthrop v. Florida  (12/28/08)
  • Virginia Tech @ Charleston Southern  (12/29/08)
  • Radford @ Wake Forest  (12/30/08)

Honorary Big South members among majors this year?  Try Virginia (3 games), South Carolina (3), Florida State (2), Clemson (2), Cincinnati (2), NC State (2), and Virginia Tech (2).  Additional opponents in the RPI hunt for the Big South: Duke, UNC, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Kansas St., West Virginia, and USF, among others.


Here are a half-dozen games to watch in Conference play:

  • UNC Asheville @ Liberty  (11/18/08 – part of ESPN’s 24 hours of basketball special)
  • Radford @ Gardner-Webb  (12/4/08 – December showdown for the challenger and the newcomer)
  • Winthrop @ Radford  (12/6/08 – a very early barometer of the potential duel for first)
  • Liberty @ Winthrop  (1/3/09 – gauge to see if Liberty will make a 2009 charge)
  • Radford @ Winthrop  (2/2/09 – will it be a fight for first or a battle to stay in the race?)
  • VMI @ Liberty  (2/24/09 – old rivalry may determine if either will be contender)

Did You Know?

  • the Big South Conference is marking its 25th Anniversary this season
  • star recruit Seth Curry (bother of Stephen) will play for Liberty this year…the son of former NBA player Dell Curry is not the only Big South newcomer with a pro pedigree—GWU adds junior transfer Roy Hinson III, son of the NBA’s Roy Hinson
  • VMI has led the nation in scoring for two consecutive years, only the 11th team to ever accomplish that feat (and a 3-year run has only been done twice before)
  • as alluded to above, the 2004-05 All-Freshman Team has departed, but its members have left their marks on the Conference record book:  Reggie Williams (all-time leading scorer), Arizona Reid (all-time leading rebounder), Jack Leasure (the Big South 3-point record-holder), and Chris Gaynor (Conference career marks for assists and steals).
  • games against Presbyterian will count in the regular season standings, and the Blue Hose can compete for the regular season title, but PC is ineligible for any postseason play (as part of its transition to D1)
  • two coaches in the Big South have major conference head coaching experience: Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis (Clemson, Auburn) and Liberty’s Ritchie McKay (Colorado State, Oregon State, New Mexico)…plus Radford’s Brad Greenberg has been an assistant in the NBA (Knicks, Clippers)

65 Team Era.  UNC Asheville was the first to win an NCAA Tournament game, with its PiG win over Texas Southern in 2003.  Winthrop has been the Big South representative for four consecutive seasons, and was the first to advance past the first round with its win over Notre Dame in 2007.  In two other years (2005 and 2006), the Eagles gave #2 Tennessee (63-61) and #3 Gonzaga (74-64) all they wanted in first round matchups.    


Final Thoughts.  There are those outside the region who will overlook the Big South as a one-bid league without a history of deep tournament runs, but that would be short-sighted.  The conference has now been around for a quarter-century; its caliber of coaching has improved and its competition for recruits has stepped up; its teams have demonstrated the ability to take down foes like Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Miami (FL) and other teams from the major conferences.  With this year’s conference race believed to be an open playing field, any team could get hot at the end of the year if it finds the right chemistry among its young players and then perhaps enjoy an extra turn (or two?) at the Dance.  It should definitely be fun to watch unfold over the course of the season.

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