Friday, May 29, 2009

Big Night, Big Year, Big South

Well, we've made it to the next day...whew!
What am I talking about THIS time? Let's jump back to Thursday night and review...


The Big South Conference 2009 Awards & 25th Anniversary Dinner--a gathering of not only VIPs from all the Big South member institutions and sponsorship partners, but also of great student-athletes and coaches from the full span of Conference history! It was a special night at McBryde Hall on the campus of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.


The Sunbelt Rentals Scholarships were formally awarded.
The Christenberry Award and Graduate Fellowship recipients were recognized.


Then came the major yearly awards--the All-Sports Trophies: Liberty won the Men's, Coastal Carolina won the Women's, and Liberty earned the Sasser Cup for overall sports performance. The Flames had a sensational year, pulling down Conference championships in men's cross country, men's track (indoor and outdoor), football, volleyball, and women's basketball. In addition, LU also notched five runner-up finishes. A sensational season, congratulations to Liberty University!


But as amazing as those honors and awards are, they only served as preamble to the highlight of the night: a salute to the 25th Anniversary "Best of the Best," followed by the announcement of the Top Ten Countdown for the "Best of the Best" through a special video--this one right here, as a matter of fact...

video


In summation (or for those who don't have a few spare minutes to watch):

10-Martin Sayer, Radford tennis--player of the year all four of his seasons
9-UNCA MBB 2003--first-ever NCAA MBB tourney win for the Big South
8-LU Track & Field--dominant winner of vast majority of Conference titles
7-Coastal Carolina Baseball--nationally prominent and still on a long run of success
6-Josh McDougal, Liberty track--distance sensation, National Champion, 14-time All-American
5-Katie Feenstra, Liberty WBB--among nation's best players, engine for title run
4-Radford WBB Dynasty--the Highlanders were virtually untouchable for a decade
3-CCU Men's Soccer/Joseph Ngwenya--great player and team to Sweet 16
2-Winthrop MBB 2007--knock off Notre Dame in NCAA tourney, go to 2nd round
1-Libery WBB Dynasty--10 straight Big South titles & Sweet 16 berth!!!

There you have it--a fantastic night for the Big South...

Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina Baseball is at the Chapel Hill Regional, just starting against Kansas--AND several Big South student-athletes are at the East Regional for NCAA Track & Field. Good luck to all our remaining competitors!

Have a great weekend, everybody...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a Blog-centennial!

Tales of Baseball Tangles, Meeting Wrangles, and Anniversary Angles...the 100th post for Big South SHOUT!

And yes, for the Word Police, "blog-centennial" is all wrong (it's a hundred posts, not a hundred years, after all)...but it sounds a lot better than the more accurate "hectoblog" would have, so I'm taking poetic license on that one...

The final champion of the 2008-09 season has been crowned: the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have won the Big South Baseball Championship. Yes, the top seed won, but it wasn't easy for them--or for the casual bracket follower.

You see, it all started getting complicated with Radford's upset win over Coastal in Game Five...that resulted in five surviving teams after six completed games...and that in turn meant leaving the standard double-elimination bracket (no picnic to follow in any case) and going to the first contingency bracket. With me so far?

Coastal dispatched High Point in the revised bracket's Game Seven, leaving four teams standing--but then the Chanticleers stirred up another bracket racket, this time by defeating the previously unbeaten Liberty Flames in Game Nine (I haven't lost you yet, have I?) and forcing the final three teams into the second contingency bracket.

Really. No point in making this stuff up, after all.

Here's the irony--the double-elimination bracket plays out in orderly fashion if the seeds hold, yet we wound up going through these extra twists and turns only to follow the seeds: the last four teams were the top four seeds and they were eliminated in four-three-two order to leave the number one seed in the champion's throne!

Anyway, next up for the Chanticleers, a date with Kansas at the Chapel Hill Regional on Friday. CCU is the 2-seed, facing #3 KU, while host and top seed UNC plays Dartmouth.

Baseball may be the last Conference Championship, but it's not the last activity for the Big South on the traditional academic/athletic calendar...not when the Spring Meetings are upon us. Meetings? Yes, it's time again to gather the CEOs, ADs, and other administrators from all the member institutions of the Big South to discuss matters of policy and procedure, finance and function, impact and interest. Parliamentary Procedure does not make much of a spectator sport, but the votes cast in these sessions do reach the fields and courts of competition in a variety of ways. I'll keep you posted on any major developments as warranted.

The other thing that comes out of these meetings is the Awards & Anniversary Dinner (in other years, it's the Hall of Fame Dinner, but no HoF this year--we're finishing off the 25th Anniversary celebration instead). Not only will we have the annual presentations of the Christenberry Awards and Graduate Fellowships, the All-Sport Trophies, and the Sasser Cup, but we will also reveal the final results of the "Best of the Best." A special video will count down the top ten from the 25 sensational spotlight athletes, teams, and moments of the Big South's first 25 years. Designated representatives from all 25 honorees will be acknowledged and someone from the top "moment" selected will address the crowd. I know the order, but it's top secret--you're not getting it out of me...

By the way, the Anniversary Dinner is invitation only, but don't worry, you can catch up on what went on--starting Friday, the countdown video and the evening's ceremonies will be available as free video on BigSouthSports.com!

Did a fun interview today with the NCAA News on the impact of Twitter for collegiate sports. That should run sometime in June--I'll let you know where to find that when it runs.

That's all for now--SHOUT, out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Gretzky Post

What, you say? A hockey reference? Surely it's not to imply that this entry is a "Great One"...
No--it's about the number. This is post #99 since we got SHOUT jump-started on Leap Day 2008. Using that reasoning, I guess I could've called it "The Sapp Post," but that just didn't have the best ring to it.

Speaking of this blog and its brethren, here's a little love from the Conference's main site.

Moving on...

THE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP HAS ARRIVED!!!

Yes, we've begun the 2009 Royal Purple Big South Conference Baseball Championship. Hopefully you'll be able to get out to McCormick Field in Asheville and soak up some of the atmosphere in that classic minor league park (home to the Asheville Tourists), but if not, there's always our wall-to-wall coverage on The Big South EDGE. Kudos to Championship Host UNC Asheville for making the event happen so smoothly--and a special SHOUT-out to Everett Hutto of UNCA for making the production of the live streaming top notch, with SIX cameras out there to capture the action from every angle. Looks great, sounds great: follow your team's path through the double-elimination bracket by ordering the game on The EDGE.

Enough promotion, how about the hardball? Well, Tuesday night got things rolling with the tournament's two lead-off elimination games--the bottom four seeds contesting for two open slots. High Point held off Charleston Southern to advance, while 8-seed VMI pulled off a surprise by routing Gardner-Webb. That victory may not have left much in the tank for the next morning, as the Keydets fell to top-seeded Coastal Carolina...but the good news for VMI fans is they're still in it--they just have to play their way back out of the loser's bracket to do it (a tall order for anybody).

As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, HPU and Winthrop are just starting in the day's second game. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each feature a trio of games (at 11am, 3pm, and 7pm) before we get to Saturday's Final (one game or two as needed).

So what about the other postseason efforts not concluded at our last post?
Softball--Radford dropped the opener to Georgia, but fought back with a win over Campbell, only to lose to Regional Host North Carolina, eliminating the Highlanders.

Men's Golf--Coastal Carolina finished 11th at the NCAA Northeast Regional, ending the season for the Chanticleers (the top five teams from each Regional advance).

Is it just me or were there a lot of links today?
That's all for now...enjoy the baseball--the Big South crowns its champion on Saturday!

Next post is the century mark for SHOUT (and they said it would never last)--oh, and next week we reveal the "Best of the Best" top ten countdown, so don't miss that!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Camels are Coming!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT today from the Big South Conference:
The Fighting Camels of Campbell University will be joining the Big South, starting with the 2011-2012 academic/athletic calendar!!!
If there's a somewhat familiar ring about CU and the Big South, that's because the Camels were a founding member of the Conference. Campbell competed (and won a fair amount of titles) in the Big South from 1983-1994. In recent years, CU has been competing in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but remained a familiar foe on the schedules of many Big South teams. The switch is not immediate, as Campbell will remain in the A-Sun for another two years, but when the fall 2011 season comes around, the Big South will have 11 full-time members. WELCOME, CAMELS!
In other news...
Radford dropped its opener Thursday afternoon at the Chapel Hill Regional for NCAA Softball. Regional top-seed (but not host) Georgia downed the Highlanders 3-1, meaning RU next faces the loser of the game between host (but not top-seed) UNC and Campbell (an interesting coincidence, having CU come up again, don't you think?).
RU has to win to avoid an early exit, a fate that the Big South tennis reps could not avoid at the hands of ACC opponents: Duke ousted the Radford men and Clemson downed the Winthrop women in their recent first round match-ups.
Meanwhile, the baseball regular season wraps up this weekend! It's the final Conference series for everyone (Thurs-Fri-Sat), then a couple days to catch their breath--followed by the 2009 Big South Conference Baseball Championship at McCormick Field in Asheville, NC.
With more on the final baseball games and the championship, here's...well, here's ME with this week's "On The EDGE" (our final one this season):

video

That's all for now, SHOUT lovers...don't forget to find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT UPCOMING!!!


The Big South Conference will have a major announcement Thursday morning, May 14th, at 11am--with a free live video stream at BigSouthSports.com (no registration required, link will be available right before event time).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sportsmanship Winners (& Softball Update)

Just to be sure everyone's up-to-date...the Softball Championship was scheduled to start at 10am this morning, but has been pushed back two hours due to heavy rains overnight in the Radford area. Sooooo...your new start times are approximately 12pm, 2:30, 5pm, and 7:30, all starting with Charleston Southern (4) against Gardner-Webb (5) at high noon!

While I've got everyone, I want to touch on something we didn't get to in the last couple of posts: SPORTSMANSHIP. Some of you are already skeptical, but bear with me...

See, the topic of good sportsmanship is naturally part of what athletics--and particularly collegiate athletics--is all about, and has a fundamental role in what the Big South Conference does...so much so, there are even honors awarded to teams recognized for sportsmanship!

The winter results were recently announced:

2008-09 Big South Team Sportsmanship Award Winners
Women’s Basketball:................Presbyterian
Men’s Basketball:....................Gardner-Webb, VMI
Women’s Indoor Track:.............Gardner-Webb, High Point
Men’s Indoor Track:.................VMI

Now add in the results from the fall...
Football:..............................VMI
Volleyball:............................Liberty
Men’s Soccer:........................Radford
Women’s Soccer:....................Liberty
Men’s Cross Country:................High Point, VMI
Women’s Cross Country:............Liberty

...with the spring sports to be added at the end of the season.

This year marks the fourth season for the Big South Team Sportsmanship Awards. Big South Conference teams vote on their top three choices for best sportsmanship (and cannot vote for themselves).

VMI has won 16 team awards and all three overall awards since the program began. Keydets, we salute you!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bring on the Softball

Radford hosts the 2009 Big South Conference Softball Championship (presented by Texas Roadhouse), with play beginning Thursday morning--yes, morning, as the first game takes the field at 10am, weather willing.

RU not only has host duties, but the honor/bonus/burden of being the top seed as well. Last year, Winthrop had the one-two punch of host and top seed, which helped the Eagles get the third and most important part of the winning trilogy: a championship. Can Radford do the same this year? They were the two-seed behind Winthrop last year, just as WU is the two-seed behind Radford this year. Odds favor a showdown between the two, but double-elimination tournaments can be tricky if a team slips up and winds up on the wrong side of the bracket.

Day one (Thursday) brings us four games: 4-CSU/5-GWU, 3-LU/6-CCU, 1-RU/(g1 winner), 2-WU/(g2winner). Day two (Friday) is when things get really complicated, for a while at least, with FIVE games over the full course of the day. That crowded slate gets us from six teams down to two, setting up the third day's finale. Championship Saturday will be either one or two games (if needed) to determine the one winner for the Big South.

Whew...got it?

It'll all make sense if you watch the results unfold on The Big South EDGE, with all games streamed live from Radford. Here's more on the video streaming for the week...

video

More to share:
The Big South announced four winners for the 2009 Christenberry Award (highest academic honor for student-athletes): Marcie Veitch, CCU track/field; Alexandra Spector, RU tennis; Patricia Coimbra, WU tennis; and Patrick Walker, LU wrestling.

While we're on the subject of smart and deserving student-athletes, let's give a proper SHOUT-out to the two recipients of the Bob McCloskey Insurance Big South Conference Graduate Fellowships: Tessa Thomas, WU softball; and Jonathan Ahearn, GWU baseball.

Don't forget, the baseball championship is right around the corner--games are set for May 19-23 at McCormick Field in Asheville, NC. The final week of the regular season is just ahead of us now, and competition for seeding could be intense. Enjoy the games!

NCAA Tournament updates--
Men's Tennis: Radford is in the Knoxville regional vs. Duke on Friday, 5/8
Women's Tennis: Winthrop is at Clemson in the first round on Friday, 5/8
Women's Golf: Coastal Carolina is in the Gainesville regional starting Thursday, 5/7
Men's Golf: Coastal Carolina will be in the New Jersey regional starting Thursday, 5/14

Gotta run, Big South fans--dodge those showers and catch some great softball and baseball while we still have some season left! SHOUT...out.