Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Talking Turkey

Hello, Big Southers far and wide...possibly traveling farther and getting wider this Thanksgiving! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family and friends or is able to share time with others close to you. Don't forget those who may be down on their luck as the holiday season rolls in--word is some charities have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

Okay, all that said, let's talk sports for a minute or two, yes?

We recently put the wraps on the volleyball season--Coastal Carolina won the Championship, downing number two seed Liberty in the final...and that's after the Chants knocked out the top seed UNC Asheville in the semis! Yep, CCU bumped out both co-champs of the regular season...impressive. See the year's All-Conference Team here.

Meanwhile, up in New York, Stony Brook won a back-and-forth battle with Liberty to split the Big South football crown. The loss pushed LU out of serious contention for a playoff spot, so the Big South goes without a berth for the final time--next year the champion is an automatic qualifier!

On the heels of that season, the always-anticipated All-Conference Football Team and annual awards were announced. Congrats to Offensive Player of the Year Mike Brown of Liberty and Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Santucci of Stony Brook--and all the other honorees!

So as mentioned above, it's holiday time...the streaming schedule is a little lighter over the next several days, but that still means plenty of hoops for our basketball fans on the Big South Network...here's the latest guide:

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Speaking of basketball, I have to say it hasn't been the most auspicious of beginnings for the season--particularly on the men's side. Tuesday (11/24) was a good case study for early out-of-conference play: five games, all losses--to the Big Ten, SEC, MVC, Colonial, and Big West. That comes on the heels of some lopsided losses on television...let's hope the boys can collectively pick it up and perhaps get a "signature win" or two as we've become accustomed to in recent years. Otherwise, it's starting to get a little rough on the ol' RPI...

But hey, here's a SHOUT-out to Radford's Art Parakhouski (pictured) for his impressive double-double at Duke (23 points, 14 rebounds). The Blue Devils were too much for RU on the night, but Parakhouski obviously made his presence known inside all game long. The Belarussian also got a nod in Sports Illustrated recently, as the mag's NCAA Tourney predictions put Radford in from the Big South, citing Parakhouski's rise "from Minsk to Madness". Parakhouski earned Player of the Week honors, a week after High Point's Nick Barbour and Coastal Carolina's Joseph Harris shared the award--so the Preseason All-Conference Team has shown its mettle early. Gardner-Webb's Grayson Flittner put in his claim as a candidate for next week with Monday night's 32-point show at North Carolina (he tied a Dean Smith Center record with 9 three-pointers)! By the way, keep an eye out for freshman Blake Smith at Radford--two weeks into the season and he's already got two Freshman of the Week awards under his belt.

All right, that's my time, you've been great--enjoy the turkey (and maybe offer to help with the dishes, okay?)...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Volleyball Time (& football, & basketball, &...)

The Fall Championship Swing continues...


Here are the fall results so far:

Men's Cross Country: Liberty
Women's Cross Country: Liberty
Women's Soccer: High Point
Men's Soccer: Winthrop

And we have two pending results that will be solved by sometime Saturday afternoon...

Volleyball--now in the Conference Championship at Radford, with eight teams starting quarterfinal Thursday, then four surviving to play semifinal Friday, and finally two still standing on Saturday to go after the title in the last match. At this writing, the first quarterfinal has been played...regular season co-champion and #2 seed Liberty advanced 3-0, eliminating GWU. The top seed is UNC Asheville--and the Bulldogs have to face the host team in the fourth match of the day on RU's floor. The final begins at 2pm Saturday.

Football--something unexpected happened on the road to the virtual "Big South Championship Game": Stony Brook lost. For weeks, the 11/21 LU-SBU game had been circled by many as a likely meeting between undefeated clubs shooting for an outright championship in a head-to-head battle. Well, that's partly right. With Charleston Southern pulling off the upset over SBU in overtime last weekend, SBU enters at 4-1 in the Big South, while Liberty held serve and went over the 50-point threshold again (against GWU this time) to reach 5-0. So now, the Flames are assured at least a share of the title--win this week and it's all theirs...while the Seawolves are working for a claim on half of the honor (the championship is based only on record, not on any tiebreakers). And while that's the battle for the top, there's an interesting "tipping point" match between Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina this weekend: both are 5-5, so the winner has a winning record, loser has a losing record, and that's what they'll have to reflect on until next season.

Oh, and yes, basketball is bursting out all over.

Some nice victories for the men's teams on opening night, with Radford downing Navy, VMI stopping Army, and Coastal Carolina defeating the College of Charleston (a SoCon favorite this year)...but things took an unfortunate turn in recent days--and on TV, no less--with Liberty (vs. Clemson), Coastal Carolina (at Duke), and UNC Asheville (at Tennessee) all taking pretty bad beatings at the hands of major programs in front of large audiences. But it's verrrrrrry early, so we won't draw too many conclusions beyond the obvious and understood fact that, in general, the ACC and SEC programs are going to be much better on the floor most nights...that said, we can still hope for some more of those signature upsets our Conference seems to sneak in each season.

So with the last of the fall sports at the finish and the thrill of hoops still getting bigger, let's see what the Big South Network has going on this week (from our pre-Thanksgiving turkey: me)......word of warning--feeling under the weather this week, so it's not my best work, but even with a weak voice and less energy, the message comes through...I hope...



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That's all for now, peeps and tweeps, friends and fans--keep rockin' in the Big South!

SHOUT, out...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

REVISED Breaking News (rebroken?)...

The Big South Conference Men's Soccer Championship will keep its revised schedule (of Fri-Sat-Sun games), but it has changed location. Due to weather-related unplayable field conditions, the event has moved from High Point to Gardner-Webb University! The games will still be streamed on the Big South Network and updates and links can still be found at BigSouthSports.com.

Busy weekend at GWU--Friday now holds four soccer games, volleyball, and women's basketball...Saturday has football, men's basketball, and two soccer games...while Sunday seems sedate by comparison with just one event--the men's soccer final. Eleven games (all streamed live) over three days...whew...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking News--Championship Delayed


News of the day out of the Big South Conference was definitely the schedule change for the Men's Soccer Championship. The seemingly endless rain soaking North Carolina this week (and still falling for lots of folks as I write this) has waterlogged things to the point that all parties--coaches, hosts, and Conference agreed to push the start back 24 hours.


So all game times are the same, but the quarterfinals will be played in High Point on FRIDAY, the semifinals on SATURDAY (previously the open date of the event), and the final on Sunday at 2pm as planned.
Don't say I didn't warn you...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

National Notice & Champion Cheer

Happy Tuesday to you and yours, Big South fans!

Consider this post a big multi-part SHOUT-out to some success stories:

KELSEY BENORDEN, UNC Asheville volleyball, was named Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU.com) National Player of the Week! The first Big South player so honored this year, Benorden had top-notch performances in her last three Conference matches, with a double-double (of kills and digs) in each one, all victories to keep the Bulldogs in first place! And yes, she was also Big South Player of the Week.


JOSH NORMAN, Coastal Carolina football, was named National Defensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network and by College Sporting News. Of course, he was Big South Defensive Player of the Week too, but we'll forgive him if that gets overlooked in favor of his national honors. Norman picked off three passes against Gardner-Webb--all in the second half to seal the win in a closely-contested ballgame. Getting the 3 INT ties a Conference single-game record and gives him 7 INT on the season, a Big South record.

HIGH POINT WOMEN'S SOCCER won the Big South Women's Soccer Championship from the #7 slot. HPU knocked off #2 GWU and #6 Radford before winding up as the on-paper "favorite" against all odds in the final, defeating #8 Winthrop for the title. It was an amazing seven games in Charleston to decide the champion, offering six upsets and six overtime games (four of which went all the way to penalty kicks). Whew... Oh, by the way, HPU's reward for victory will be an opening-round match-up with North Carolina in Chapel Hill...the Tar Heels are defending national champions....yeesh!

And now THIS week, the MEN'S Soccer Championship will be played at...High Point University. So HPU will host with a shot at the double, while top-seed Coastal Carolina will try to avoid the pattern followed by the women's tourney bracket!

That's all I've got today, folks...try to stay dry as best as you can while Ida visits (for those of us in most of Big South territory, that is)...and that's SHOUT...out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Upside-Down Tournament Frenzy

Okay, okay, what's in the water down in the South Carolina Lowcountry, people?

One upset, maybe two, sure...but FOUR---as in ALL FOUR QUARTERFINALS????

And besides that--three out of four games go to overtime--and two of those to penalty kicks?

The Big South Women's Soccer Championship kicked off in Charleston, SC, Thursday...but nobody could have seen this coming...not all of it...

Game One

VMI tops Coastal Carolina in PKs after a 1-1 tie...no big deal you say, a 5-seed beats a 4-seed, happens all the time...but wait...

Game Two

Regular season champion and 1-seed Liberty falls to 8-seed Winthrop in PKs after a 0-0 tie...good grief, that could change the dynamics of the whole bracket, right? Have to turn your eyes to the 2 & 3 seeds now, right? Right?

Game Three

The only game decided in regulation on the day: 7-seed High Point ousts 2-seed Gardner-Webb 2-0 with a pair of second-half goals. Coming on the heels of WU's major upset over LU, GWU went from possible favorite to definite spectator in the span of a couple hours.

Game Four

All of which set up beautifully for the host, one might think, yes? Charleston Southern, the 3-seed and host team for the event was suddenly the top survivor in the bracket, simply by holding out for the day's last game (and what a wait, after two of the previous three went all the way to penalties). But the mojo of the day was not to be denied: into overtime they go, and out of overtime the result is clear--Radford 2, CSU 1.

So yes, the 1-2-3-4 teams are OUT and the 5-6-7-8 teams are IN with regards to the semifinals to be played Friday afternoon and evening...

Given that change of events, what could you possibly predict next? In other words, who you got now: 5-VMI vs. 8-Winthrop (4:30pm) and 7-HPU vs. 6-Radford (7pm)...I know I'm not making any guesses. Enjoy the games--and I look forward to seeing who makes (and wins) the final on Sunday! ((Pssst...all the games will be live on the Big South Network!))

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Champs and Hoops and More

Someone just turned the burner up on the competition in the Big South...
As suggested Monday, the heat may be coming from the Flames--but they're not the only ones, because the fall sports are reaching their hard-fought conclusions: Championship Time.


But as I write this, we are about to begin the next championship event: women's soccer, a traditional eight-team, seven-game, single-elimination bracket--quarters, semis, final. So what started as ten competitors in the regular season became eight for the tournament (UNC Asheville did not qualify for the Championship and transitioning PC is not eligible for postseason play)...by the end of Thursday, that number becomes a final four which will in turn be the last two teams standing by Friday's end--give them a day off and then they crown the winner with Sunday's game. Good stuff...especially when upsets start shaking the bracket. Anything goes in single-elimination competition...otherwise, why bother, really? "That's why they play the games," indeed.

And on the verge of bracket play starting, we congratulate player of the year Marky Boyce (CSU) and all the other women's soccer award winners and honorees this season.
The Women's Soccer Championship is the highlight on this week's Big South Network Guide, but it's far from alone--check it out here...

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So let's review: CHAMPIONSHIP event this week (WSOC), CHAMPIONSHIP event next week (MSOC), CHAMPIONSHIP event the week after that (VB), PLUS somewhere in there we'll have a football champion crowned on the field (probably 11/21, same as VB)...by that time we'll all need a breather for Thanksgiving weekend.

That's a lot, right? Not even talking about the fall segments of golf, tennis, baseball, softball, etc. as they prepare for the real meat of their schedules in the spring...

Ah, but there's more: THE TIME FOR HOOPS HAS ARRIVED!!!

Yup, basketball is here, Big South fans. It's all exhibitions and scrimmages right now, but keep your eyes wide open, because Friday the 13th will be very lucky for basketball lovers--that's opening day for men's and women's teams across the Big South, with plenty of hardcourt action going on throughout the Conference!

Which makes the perfect time for a quick plug: the Big South Network will have every home game for the teams of the Big South (except those games with overriding/major TV agreements). That means you get all the games your team plays on its own floor, and all its road Conference games as well...you only miss out on road games outside the Big South. Check out the packages available for hoops lovers at the Big South Network.

Moving right along--for all our fine folks who get MASN, be ready for Big South football coming your way Saturday night. VMI at Liberty will hit the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and I'll be handling the play-by-play duties for that one, working with Ray Jones as analyst. The broadcast starts at 7pm--hope to have you with us!

Lots to do, gotta run--SHOUT...out!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Flame(s) On!

With all due respect to Johnny Storm (The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four), the Flames burning brightest right now seem to be coming out of Lynchburg.


It's always policy and practice here at SHOUT to be even-handed for all Big South teams, and to report the facts accurately...but frankly, the facts from this weekend are anything but even across the board.


Ladies and gentlemen of the Big South, I present Liberty University's weekend:

-- won Men's Cross Country Championship

-- won Women's Cross Country Championship

-- locked top seed with Women's Soccer Regular Season Championship

-- remained undefeated in football with 55-19 win and rose to #16/17 in the two major FCS polls

-- improved to 10-2 in volleyball and slipped past UNC Asheville in the standings, taking first place


I may even be missing something (and I'm not going to go into individual honors right now, although the Flames got some of those too)...but bottom line, the Liberty Flames deserve a salute for program excellence right now--it would be hard to top a weekend like that for anybody! Bravo, LU, a SHOUT-out to you.


Now the challenge--which team(s) will step up in response and put a dent in Liberty's early dominance? For football, Stony Brook is certainly putting in a claim, as the Seawolves have the only other undefeated squad after knocking off Gardner-Webb. In volleyball, UNC Asheville will be anxious to get the top spot back. In soccer, it's tournament time for the women this week--and for the men next week. So it's all wide open...should be fun to see how everything turns out...I'll be watching--I hope you will be too!