Thursday, December 17, 2009

Running Out of 2009 (but not done yet)

Only two weeks left in the "aughts" or the "ohs" or whatever...did we ever come to any consensus on what to call this new millennium decade? No? Didn't think so...

Well, it is that time of year when we start reflecting a bit on the calendar pages gone by and roping things in for lists and comparisons. Don't worry, we won't overdo things in this space, but there are a few items to touch upon in that light... (oh, and this week's Big South Network Guide is toward the bottom of the post).

First off, the world of "New Media"...when does the "new" wear off, anyway? It's starting to feel a little like "alternative music"--you know, it actually was an alternative to mainstream once upon a time, and then it joined the mainstream and just became a music genre. Seems to me that new media is just media now, but we need some sort of label, so there you go. After all, tape recorders and fax machines were once new media--but have now gone through regular media and out the other side into old media, yes? But I digress...

Anyway, this blog will turn two years old at the end of February 2010, making it a hoary old veteran (hey, that's nearly a triple redundancy--I'll call it poetic license) of the new media landscape, where most things are measured in months, not years. In 2009, we saw the Big South add its YouTube channel to the mix, soon to be followed in rapid succession by the Conference Twitter feed and Facebook Fan page. Those entities will all reach the anniversary of their respective beginnings in the next three months, and in the meantime they've become just as much a part of the Big South as anything else we do here.

The tale of the tape for our outlets (as of 11am 12/17/09):
YouTube.com/BigSouthSports ... 2,137 channel views, 14,896 total video upload views, 24 subscribers (69 videos available)
Twitter.com/BigSouthSports ... 454 followers (1,190 tweets/updates)

Big South Facebook Fan Page ... 220 fans

And that's all from nothing, folks--one year ago I could've written an entry in this blog, but none of that other stuff existed for us yet (cue the Dylan song*). No, we're not exactly sailing up the "trending topics" list, but we are increasing our level of contact with fans and friends, and that is a very good thing going forward.

Speaking of which, we've been asking questions via those lines of communication befitting the year-end theme of this post...time to share some of the answers with you.

Our social network family was asked to help with intriguing Big South Christmas gifts, as in "what special/creative present would you wish for a Big South player/coach/team, etc.?"

Here's what we've seen so far:
Brandon: a purple suit for Scott Cherry (first-year HPU MBB coach)
Larry: safety and a quick return home for those Keydets who will soon be going off in harm's way... (we second that one for sure)
Kimberly: a new coach for the Winthrop women's basketball team (hmmm...risking the 'naughty' list, Kimberly--considering that's not a vacant job)
Tim: the entire 2009 HS All-American football squad to commit to Coastal Carolina (that's creative, all right--perhaps a little ambitious, but why not aim high)
Douglas B.: let Thomas Sanders and Aaron Linn come back and play for GWU (always tough to see valuable seniors go...but I don't think there are any eligibility-time-machines in the sleigh)
Douglas K.: a Kevin Martin jersey for Nic Bowman (of the Big South staff...I'm sure there's an inside joke there, but I don't know what it is)
Adrian: Tradition for Gardner-Webb (trying to figure the naughty/nice factor there)
Cynthia L.: a "Varsity Blues" gift basket for Chad Cook (of the Big South office--there were additional details, edging toward the 'naughty' in a good-spirited way, so let's move on...)
Brennan: a Big South football sweep and Conference championship for Coastal Carolina football next year (a hopeful soul--and not the only one...)
Norm: a National Championship for Coastal Carolina football (well, the 2010 team is undefeated so far...)
Sue: an undefeated season for Presbyterian College football next year (seems Sue and Brennan/Norm have conflicting wishes--spells trouble for Santa)

On the heels of those Christmas wishes, we asked for your Big South Athlete of the CALENDAR year 2009 -- not just the current academic year, but from January 1-present day. The responses haven't flowed as fast yet, but here's what we've seen:

Larry: linebacker Tyler Santucci, Stony Brook football
Douglas B.: Coach Rick Scruggs and guard Grayson Flittner, Gardner-Webb men's basketball
Norm: Coach Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina baseball
Paul: Sam Chelanga, Liberty cross country
David: Coach Tooey Loy, High Point women's basketball

First, thanks to Douglas and Norm for participating in both questions.
Second, I'm happy to say Tyler made 2nd Team All-America (from the AP for FCS teams).
Third, Paul gets some extra space below for being an informed source out of the LU sports info staff, with his convincing argument for Chelanga:

Paul Carmany
I'll have to think about the coach, but for me the Big South Athlete of the Year is a no-brainer: Sam Chelanga of Liberty. How many other Big South athletes have won a NCAA Division I national championship, set an all-time collegiate record and were ranked No. 1 in the world in their event/sport at some point during this calendar year?!

Good point...Chelanga MUST be on the short list of candidates (oh, and no one can cry bias for Paul's LU connection, as ALL the submissions obviously reflect some favoritism).

Meanwhile, last week's Big South Network Guide never would post--I blame Blogger and the never-ending "Processing" circle. If you really want to hear upcoming info about games already played, you can find the segment on YouTube or via the On-Demand videos on BigSouthSports.com.

Now here's THIS week's streaming guide to the Big South Network:

video

Let me know if you have any other suggestions for the year-end questions above (via blog comments, tweets, facebook, whatever)...and also if you have any practical ideas for the Big South Conference to consider in 2010!
* Oh, and the footnote from above..."the Dylan song" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the penchant of retrospectives to use "The Times They Are A-Changin'", even for trivial matters, when the protest song itself is a larger anthem of change...but I digress once more...


Thanks again for reading...I'm expecting at least one more SHOUT before we pull the curtain on 2009, but for now, SHOUT-----out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harris Poll: Double-Double Trouble!

We don't make individual players the main focus of this blog very often, so when we do, you know something good is going on--that's why you'll understand that this SHOUT-out to Coastal Carolina's Joseph Harris is indeed well-deserved.

Let's think back for a moment--after last year's All-Conference performance, it was uncertain if Harris would suit up for the Chanticleers this season. He graduated in the spring (biology) and retained a year of eligibility due to his medical redshirt in the 2007-08 season, but was considering alternatives for his redshirt senior year and his preparations for nursing school...in fact, grad school at UAB seemed to be in his future. It wasn't until confirmed in an August announcement that we knew that Harris would take the court for Coach Cliff Ellis and CCU in 2009-10.

The folks in teal can all enjoy the results of his return to Kimbel Arena. Harris has earned Big South Player of the Week honors in three of the season's four weeks so far! Read that again--Player of the Week three times--in a month!

Here's the rundown for the 6-5 forward from Lejeune, NC:

Week one he shared the award with Nick Barbour of High Point (Barbour was an electric 10-11 in 3-pointers), as Harris opened the year with his 31st career double-double and 13th-straight game with more than ten boards. In week three, he scored 20+ in a trio of games and averaged a double-double in that span (21.3/10.7). In week four, he averaged a double-double AGAIN, contributing greatly to two Big South road wins and running his career total to 37 double-doubles, all while climbing the ranks in the Conference record book for his impressive career stats...whew...

Bravo! Way to go, Mr. Joseph Jon-Anthony Harris!

Well, that's a tough act to follow, but I was still going to give it a shot with this week's Big South Network Guide...until Blogger failed to publish my video despite giving it all day to process--maybe tomorrow?



On Monday, we posted a fun "open question" on our Facebook Fan Page...what special Big South Christmas gift would you give this year? Still collecting some fun responses--enter one there or comment here and we'll put the best ones together in a holiday edition of SHOUT!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Did We Learn?

Well, you're never going to learn TOO much from just a pair of games, but it sure made for an interesting weekend, having men's basketball dip into Big South Conference play for a taste of things to come...

Highlights from Thursday's opening night included Winthrop's Gideon Gamble hitting his only basket of the game to send the Eagles into a Conference-opening overtime game against preseason favorite Radford. Ultimately, the Highlanders had the free-throw shooting necessary in the extra period to win 61-59, but it was high drama in Rock Hill for a good while there...and High Point's Tehran Cox took the ball end-to-end for the game-winning lay-up at Presbyterian College (63-61)...Coastal Carolina outran VMI's blistering pace for a 111-97 win...and Liberty handled CSU 69-53.

Friday had one game--but it was a doozy. How about UNC Asheville, winless overall coming into the game, finding the way to hang tight and tap in the game-winning basket (by Chris Stephenson) in the final seconds? That's right, Asheville stole one away from Gardner-Webb in the Battle of the Bulldogs, 58-56.

There was less drama for Saturday's line-up, but Radford had to come from behind a second time in as many Big South games to beat PC, while VMI's pace was too much for CSU, Winthrop topped High Point, and Coastal downed Liberty.

With Conference games off the table for nearly another month, that leaves us with these standings to muse over for a while:

2-0: Coastal Carolina & Radford;
1-0: UNC Asheville;
1-1: High Point, VMI, Winthrop, & Liberty;
0-1: Gardner-Webb;
0-2: Charleston Southern & PC.

For more thoughts on the early play in Big South MBB, try Rush the Court: Checking in on the Big South (also by yours truly, so I admit some of it may sound a bit familiar, but there's plenty more there). Enjoy.

By the way, here's a fun idea--since the schedule is a bit light to start the week--wrap your creativity around the question from our Facebook Fan Page:

OPEN QUESTION TIME: If you could get one special Christmas gift for any one Big South Conference recipient (a school, team, coach, player, etc.), what would it be? Be creative, anything goes, but keep it clean...

If you've got any fun answers, enter them there or comment on them here--if we get good ones, we'll share them!

And by the way, I know it's not all about the men's teams--but Conference play was kind of a big deal for early December. For now, I offer this one key women's hoops note: a congratulatory SHOUT-out to the Lady Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb, winners of EIGHT STRAIGHT! Way to go, GWU--keep up the good work!

That's all for this midday Monday.

Take a moment sometime today, December 7th, to think on the sacrifice and meaning of Pearl Harbor Day...we are losing more of our WWII veterans these days, simply with the passage of time, but do not forget their contributions. SHOUT offers a salute, and a heartfelt moment of silence in their honor........................

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hoooooooooops & more...

Special day, the rolling out of Conference action in men's basketball, and a good time to SHOUT (shout it, shout it, shout it out loud...yes, KISS reference, deal with it).


There's other news to get to, but let's start with that (let's get it started--HA--let's get it started--IN HERE...okay, Black Eyed Peas reference seems less dated, perhaps).

Here's the deal, folks...out-of-conference play hasn't given us much positive ground to latch onto so far...against the really heavy hitters it's been a whitewash (0-15 against the major combination of ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and SEC--and none of them particularly close), against the next tier and the peer groups, it's been a mixed bag (13-16 against other D-I's), and finally against lower-level squads, the mark has been appropriately favorable (14-0 including D2-3-NAIA and whoever else lined up out there).

In other words, we are where we are...no lifelines thrown from above to improve RPI, no mines exploding below to destroy it either. We've gotten used to seeing a win or two against "the big boys", but so be it--not shaping up to be that kind of year so far...after all, we're also sort of used to seeing a slip-up against the tiny schools too and so-far-so-good (insert knocking on wood here).

So the proof of the metaphorical pudding lies in the middle...let's give it a look: 0-8 against the A10, Big West, Colonial, and Mountain West; 7-8 against the A-Sun, MVC, SoCon, and reclassifiers; plus a more pleasing 6-0 against the OVC, Patriot, SWAC, and MEAC. Like I said, a mixed bag. Being a little more analytical, the common measuring-stick/peer conferences in terms of geography and level of play for our fanbase are these: A-Sun, Colonial, & SoCon...and against that trio, the Big South record is 5-9.

Bottom line: Big South men's basketball is a bit behind of the preferred curve to date. Sure, there have been a lot of strong players departing over the last two seasons, but it's not as if we haven't seen skilled replacements step in--there are a lot of quality ballers on the floor in this League.

So now what? Wellllllllllll....that's where Conference play comes in--a chance to get a measure on these squads head-to-head, a legitimate opportunity to see what we've got out there. Losing to power conferences and drubbing lower classification schools proves nothing...those are the results that could've been drawn on paper rather than played on a court. Obviously the sub-.500 record against the other opponents gives us a small clue or trend, but now that we put the teams together to battle it out, who will step up and put a claim on being better than that?

Radford is certainly the popular favorite, a preseason pick of the Big South poll and national publications, and who can blame them with the squad the Highlanders can put on the floor? But right now, every team is 0-0...it's that perfect point of the season when all possibilities are open. That starts to change tonight with four games, the first two tipping at 7pm...and say, they're all on the Big South Network--cue the video:

video

You can also find the Big South on MASN today and tomorrow--------
Coastal Carolina at VMI, 12/3 at 9pm, and
UNC Asheville at GWU, 12/4 at 7:30pm.

Other news briefs from the Big South this week:


Gardner-Webb:

Liberty:
--NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP for Sam Chelanga in the NCAA Men's 10k!!!
--Flames take Sasser Cup lead due to strong fall performances
--football stadium demolition/construction underway


Winthrop:
That looks like enough for today--go enjoy those games for the men's hoops...pretty soon we'll talk about the women's game and the benefits of being a "Fantastic Fan"!