Play Ball--Conference play!
Baseball and softball will still have their share of out-of-conference match-ups ahead, as is the nature of those sports' schedules, but the bulk of upcoming games are those against familiar foes in the Big South--and that's always when things get really interesting in any given sports season around here.
So while Radford hosts Siena and Coastal Carolina welcomes San Diego, the other eight Big South baseball squads will square off in Conference series through the weekend:
-Gardner-Webb at PC
-CSU at VMI
-Liberty at Asheville
-HPU at Winthrop
On the softball side, Winthrop hosts a tournament, Coastal plays Siena, and Liberty is off, but the other four teams lock up in Big South games this weekend:
-CSU at Radford
-PC at Gardner-Webb
And because spring sports are a busy time, those events just scratch the surface in a season with golf, tennis, and outdoor track & field, all for both men and women. In fact, as we prepare to wrap up March, we look to April and the next championship swing:
-April 12-14, Women's Golf
-April 15-17, Outdoor Track/Field (Men's/Women's)
-April 19-21, Men's Golf
-April 22-24, Tennis (Men's/Women's)
(with softball and baseball to follow in mid-late May).
Lots of competition--and it all adds up, because we have the totals for the Sasser Cup updated through all the winter sports now. And by way of quick update for those who are not familiar, the Sasser Cup is the "Commissioner's Trophy" or "All-Sports Award" equivalent. Most leagues have some sort of honor to the team(s) with the best cumulative performance throughout the year. For the Big South, that's the George F. "Buddy" Sasser Cup Trophy--and here's the latest...
The overall standings lead belongs to Liberty, and here's the top five:
Liberty / Coastal / Winthrop / High Point / Charleston Southern
The women's standings lead also is with the Flames, with the following top five:
Liberty / Coastal / VMI / High Point / Winthrop
Meanwhile, the men's standings have a different leader--Coastal Carolina, with this top group:
Coastal / Liberty / Winthrop / High Point / Radford
It's all a points system based on order of finish for each sport, not strictly on championships alone, but obviously winning titles is a big help, and Liberty has the edge over all others right now. LU has won 5.5 of the 10 championships awarded so far (MXC, WXC, MITF, WITF, WBB, FB-tie). The other 4.5 are scattered among Winthrop (MSOC, MBB), High Point (WSOC), Coastal Carolina (VB), and associate member Stony Brook (FB-tie).
Eight sport championships remain to be awarded in April and May, so hang on...will two-time defending Sasser Cup champ Liberty maintain the lead and make it a three-peat, or will Coastal (or another) rise up and douse the Flames? Stick around, folks...
And heeeere's the latest guide to the Big South Network programming.....
That's all for today...and hey, it's my birthday today (the writer, not the blog)--so celebrate and have a good time--catch you later...SHOUT--out.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Play Ball--Conference play!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In a perfect world, we would be able to put our schedules out there and our student-athletes would find large crowds greeting them at every event, cheering them on to new heights.
In the real world, we depend on some clever people dedicated to getting the word out, selling positives ("so many wins!"), downplaying negatives ("what losses?"), and working very hard to promote our events, athletes, and ideals.
Yes, it's all about the marketing. Today the Big South Marketing Group gathers in Charlotte for a face-to-face talk about what's going on at the member schools of the Conference, best practices for handling certain scenarios, and how everybody can work together to grow the profiles of the member institutions and the Conference as a whole.
Everything from advertising inventory and television deals to championships, sponsor-promotion tie-ins, and social media developments will be on the list today.
Meetings, you say...boring, you say. Perhaps...to some.
In truth, the ideas that come out of sessions like this can have a big impact on how your favorite school's sports are presented--and how the Big South membership is interconnected for various sports, events, promotions, and more. Just sayin'...
Anyway, today's post is really our chance for a quick SHOUT-out to the "BSMG" folks who keep the ideas churning and the turnstiles turning--have a great session!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Fun while it lasted?
Not even sure of that.
Friday morning, sitting on 0-4 in postseason hoops, with one underdog hope remaining.
Tuesday night--Winthrop had its shot in the NCAA Opening Round game, facing Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC Champ) in Dayton. And while we can cling to the novelty of Winthrop scoring the first points of the 2010 Tourney (a basket from Andy Buechert), the Eagles faltered on the national stage, struggling with shooting woes all night and losing 61-44. UAPB's reward, of course, is a date with Duke today, but the Golden Lions have earned the right to keep dancing.
Within minutes of that ending, the Big South's Regular Season Champion met the same fate as its Tournament Champion--a double-digit loss. For Coastal Carolina, it was a trip to Birmingham for the NIT First Round and a meeting with UAB. The bigger Blazers controlled the game and held off the Chants for a 65-49 victory.
Just like that, the men's basketball postseason had ended.
On to Thursday night, when perhaps the women would fare better for the Big South...but no, the script was repeated--two games, two losses. Gardner-Webb made the short trip to Charlotte to face the 49ers in the First Round of the WNIT, but seemed to lack the intensity needed to take one on the road. Charlotte led the game wire-to-wire, and by wide margins most of the way. In the end, it was UNCC 74, GWU 60.
At the same time, Charleston Southern wound up in the surprise position of hosting a First Round game of the inaugural edition of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). Appalachian State had the better seed but had to make the trip to CSU for this one. ASU dominated the scoreboard in the first half, opening nearly a 20-point lead, but the Bucs would not give up the ship, making for perhaps the most exciting game of this postseason quartet. CSU fired off a comeback and climbed almost even with the Mountaineers, but then App-State regained its footing and pulled away for a 62-47 win.
Tale of the tape--four teams in four different tournaments, no advances.
Humbling and disappointing losses of 17, 16, 14, and 15 points...
And then there was one.
Yes, folks, there were five postseason hoops squads for the Big South Conference, but four have fallen. That leaves us with a vested interest in one team yet to play: the Liberty Flames women's team, Big South Championship tourney winner and rep for the NCAA's. The Flames open with Kentucky Saturday afternoon, and while UK's women don't have the same expectations as those riding on the men's team from Lexington right now, these Wildcats will have the favorite position understandable for a quality SEC team. By seeding, the match-up is a 4v13 tilt, so a win would certainly qualify as an upset.
Only I don't think anybody around here would be too upset about it...
Well, we'll see. Hey--look on the bright side: we've got Conference play in baseball and softball now, so I guess it's time to turn the seasons anyway (if you haven't already).
Make it a great weekend everybody----SHOUT--out!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
So there you have it--five postseason tournaments to track, each with one Big South squad to root for...and yes, you are supposed to put your personal feelings aside for Conference pride now--after all, none of them are in direct opposition now, right? The further these teams can go, the better it is for the Big South's profile nationally, and the better in turn it is for each team and its ability to schedule "up" more often, improve RPI, etc. Just go with me on this one.
And while hoops hysteria reigns supreme, there's still lots more out there to talk about in the days ahead--baseball & softball, track & field, golf & tennis, and coaching changes for soccer, etc.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The Big South Conference awards 18 championships (17 of which involve tournaments or meets to determine a winner, with football being settled only on a regular season basis).
At this point in the year, half of those titles have been earned, with half to go.
The most recent of these, of course, is the 2010 Men's Basketball Championship won by Winthrop on Saturday. It was an intense, exciting game--not one with great shooting, but one won with dogged defense and determination by the Eagles. Doing so against Coastal on the Chanticleers' home court was nothing short of a sweet bonus for the WU faithful in this clash of longtime rivals.
So, at this midpoint, how has the title allotment gone so far?
By sport (and chronologically):
Men's Cross Country -- Liberty
Women's Cross Country -- Liberty
Women's Soccer -- High Point
Men's Soccer -- Winthrop
Volleyball -- Coastal Carolina
Football -- Liberty / Stony Brook (tie)
Men's Indoor Track -- Liberty
Women's Indoor Track -- Liberty
Men's Basketball -- Winthrop
Liberty -- 4.5
Winthrop -- 2
High Point -- 1
Coastal -- 1
(Stony Brook, associate member -- 0.5)
In short, half of the titles have been won--and half of those belong to the Flames, thanks mainly to the strength of the student-athletes in the running sports and related field events. Liberty has the men's/women's double in cross country and indoor track...and they'll be aiming for outdoor track next month.
Meanwhile, LU will also contend for the women's basketball crown, to be awarded this upcoming weekend...but the Flames know their dominance in this sport has a clear challenger in the form of Gardner-Webb. The Lady Bulldogs won the Big South Regular Season Championship for women's hoops, and they want to follow with a tourney title and NCAA berth.
There will be some interesting stories to follow in this week's Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship from High Point. We encourage you to keep up with the events through all the Big South online outlets...but for now, this is SHOUT--out...
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Coming to you from the Media Room at Kimbel Arena for the semifinals of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Men's Basketball Championships...we'll have reports through all our online sites and services, but for the "hot" updates, I recommend you check our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/bigsouthsports for the fast and frequent comments...there will also be some at Facebook, and here, at points throughout the tourney--plus the main game stories and recaps at www.bigsouthsports.com, of course.
The semifinals can be seen tonight on ESPNU (first game at 6pm, second game to follow).
The Championship final will air Saturday on ESPN2 at 4pm....