Friday, April 30, 2010

Channel Your Inner Channels

Hello, Big Southers far and wide--welcome to another edition of SHOUT.

Surely you're ready for a weekend...I know I am...and if you're a Big South sports fan (which of course you are), then you're also looking forward to another great weekend of Conference games in baseball and softball. Plenty of good match-ups to enjoy out there!


Congrats to Radford for clinching the Regular Season Softball Championship nice and early--but there's still the matter of the upcoming tournament. RU will surely be the favorite, but a lot can happen with so many games in such a short period, so we look forward to the drama that will unfold at Coastal Carolina's field May 13-15.


Meanwhile, we quietly hit a unique milestone on the baseball side this past week, as Coastal Carolina topped the NCAA Baseball RPI list...you read that right: Number One in the nation based on record, road performance, schedule strength, and all the other factors that go into computing RPI. Regrettably (and isn't this always the case for teams at the top), CCU lost the first game after those rankings were published, falling on the road at Virginia. The good news is that loss may not have a catastrophic effect, considering that UVa came in at #4 on the very same list. RPI position is naturally among the consideration factors for regional hosting and seeding, so the Chanticleers have to be happy finding themselves in the uppermost tier.


By the way--big congratulations to Winthrop for the performance at the 2010 Big South Conference Men's & Women's Tennis Championships: WU swept the titles, winning final team matches as the 2-seed on both sides. The Eagles defeated the top-seeded teams in both men's play (Radford, also the host team) and women's play (Charleston Southern).


Before I go on to plug our title topic today, I also want to be sure and add a proper salute and SHOUT-out to our Winter Sportsmanship Awards winners, as voted on by their peers: PC women's basketball, GWU men's basketball, VMI women's indoor track, and Liberty men's indoor track. Those results will be combined with the fall honors already known and the spring list to be announced in determining who the overall Sportsmanship Awards will belong to at year's end.

And now, what's all this "channel" nonsense from today's headline?

We've put together a significant enhancement and upgrade t
o our Big South Network video portal at BigSouthSports.com. Before this, you always had to view everything from a Big South window and find anything you're looking for from out of the entire selection of events throughout the Conference. Not anymore--particularly not if your loyalty resides with a specific member of the Big South.

When you access video via the Big South Network now, you will find a new drop-down menu on the left side inviting you to "SELECT A TEAM." Clicking that gives you a list of the ten member institutions, and picking one of those essentially "changes the channel," transforming the player to a skin matching your school of choice and altering the available programming accordingly. Want to find only upcoming games for Coastal? championship events for Winthrop? games on demand for High Point? Gotcha covered...all part of the ongoing efforts to improve the fan experience with BigSouthSports.com and the Big South Network. We hope you like it--a lot went into making this happen, and we thank our web and streaming hosts with NeuLion/JumpTV, because these video developments were actually a bit harder than they look, and they were implemented seamlessly (so a SHOUT-out to the project developers today as well).

Speaking of the Big South Network (you knew this was coming), here's the video guide not only for this week, but the next TWO weeks of programming:

video

That's all I'll throw your way today. Enjoy yourselves out there--and try to catch a game at a Big South school if you have one within reach (and if not, well...that's what the video streaming is for, right?)...and that's SHOUT...out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Championships-A-PLENTAY

Many Southerners know that if you ever find yourself in Spartanburg, SC, and you need a major burger-and-fried-stuff fix, the Beacon Drive In is the place to be. Those not traveling much through the region may know the Beacon from its appearance on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives." Either way, you need to know how to order right away. Yep, it's one of THOSE places--first-timers better learn quick that you don't hold up the line, because you need to "CALL IT!" A hallmark of ordering at the Beacon is getting your burger A-PLENTAY (that's "plenty" with proper inflection, of course), meaning virtually buried in an avalanche of fries and onion rings. You get what you came for--and then some.

Hence the appropriate title for this post, because we know it's time for spring championships--and boy do we have an overflowing plate of stuff we can sink our teeth into today!

Let's take this chronologically...

It had been a month since the basketball tournaments for the Big South, but the silence ended last week, starting with the Women's Golf Championship. Charleston Southern's women logged the best showing at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety-Six, SC, bringing back the first Big South Championship for the Bucs in anything this year. The kudos for CSU don't just end with the trophy--after all, the Bucs beat the Championship record score by eight strokes (881) and became the first team in event history to record team scores under 300 each day. AND CSU senior Olivia Jordan-Higgins brought was the individual medalist. Nice finish all around.

Before the men would get their crack at The Patriot, we turned to the CSU campus, site of the 2010 Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships. With a talented roster of competitors from all across the Big South, the OTF Championships nonetheless came down to one team on top, and the Flames burned brightest. Liberty won both the men's and women's titles, and in so doing, completed an unprecedented sweep of all the "running" titles: Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track, all for both Men's and Women's Championships. Call it the "double triple" as they are at LU, or just call it dominance. Coastal's women's team gave Liberty a major challenge, and even held the team lead for a while, but it was not to be this time. As for the men, Liberty led wire-to-wire there. Interestingly, while the Men's Top Performers in Track (Evans Kigen) and Field (Clarence Powell) came from Liberty, the Women's Top Performers in Track (Ikeiylah Brown) and Field (Brittany Connor) came from Coastal Carolina.

This week began with the Men's Golf Championship, and it's a familiar refrain in the Big South to announce Coastal Carolina as the team champion for men's golf, so that result comes as no real surprise to anyone. Take in these impressive numbers: CCU has now won seven titles in a row and 12 of 14. The Chants were pushed by CSU and Liberty, but could not be caught. Given all that, perhaps it's of some interest that the individual medalist was not a Chanticleer: Liberty's Robert Karlsson had the best score for the tournament.

AND NOW another title tilt is happening, even as I write and share these thoughts with you. The Big South Men's & Women's Tennis Championships began this morning from the campus of Radford University, where the hosting men's team enters with the top seed, while Charleston Southern has that honor on the women's side. So by Saturday afternoon, we're scheduled to have two more champions crowned.

That's if the weather holds, of course...we just got through nine days staging four outdoor championship events with nothing more than a fog delay one morning and some breezes, so the luck so far has been quite good (bringing the law of averages into play, quite possibly). It may be a race against rain come Saturday, but we're hoping all is well for tennis to run on schedule.

Once tennis concludes, that just leaves softball and baseball to finish out the "pennant races" of their seasons and stage their May tourneys, which will close out the 2009-10 season.

As far as title-winners this year, looking back on it, we find a very favorable run for LU:

Championships won (14 total)--
7.5 Liberty (M/W XC, M/W ITF, M/W OTF, WBB, FB-tie)
2.0 Winthrop (MSOC, MBB)
2.0 Coastal Carolina (VB, MG)
1.0 High Point (WSOC)
1.0 Charleston Southern (WG)
0.5 (Associate Member Stony Brook: FB-tie)

And with only four left to crown, nobody can catch Liberty on this list...as for Sasser Cup, there are a number of other factors involved, but no one can doubt LU would be a favorite to repeat.

In other news, HPU is streaming their Spring Athletic Banquet tonight (4/22). It's available on the Big South Network, just like these other games I'm going to talk about in the video (although the banquet is the only one of those events that you can watch for free)...here's the guide for this week--with one note--ADD IN the Saturday-Sunday games for Coastal Carolina at VMI baseball:

video

So that's it for today...until next time-- "CAALLLLLLL IT!" SHOUT--out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Games & Championships, Good Times...

So you've been waiting for your SHOUT...(okay, okay, at least play along).
It's here, it's time, let the embloggination begin...(no, it's not a word, nor is it mine, but I liked it, so I'm throwing it in there).

First off, a happy SHOUT-out to the ranked Big South baseball teams for pulling off a tremendous Daily Double on Tuesday night against another pair of ranked teams: VMI downed Virginia and Coastal Carolina defeated North Carolina.

Now, the actual rankings depend on your poll of preference. This week, I could easily produce different lists that placed Virginia at number 1, 2, 3, or 4. Regardless, we're talking about a top-flight team right now, yes? For the sake of argument, we're calling UVa a #1 team--one that came into Lexington and got a good beating by the Keydets, 12-3. Very impressive...VMI holds the #26 spot in the Collegiate Baseball Poll, but could get some increased consideration with that victory.

Meanwhile, Coastal is in the # 9 - 12 area of the rankings, while UNC holds a spot about ten places down from that, so by rank this was not an upset. Nonetheless, props to the Chants for completing the ACC two-fer by the Big South teams this week--and again, not a close one, with a 12-4 final score.

That was a big night for the Big South--after all, that group would make a heckuva regional lineup, wouldn't it? I know it would not go down that way, but CCU, UNC, VMI, & UVa would make for some great ballgames. Perhaps down the road we'll see Virginia and Coastal each hosting their opponent from this week in a regional of their own...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

A Big South Championship was decided this week, and it was a good one for the folks of Charleston Southern--winner in women's golf. CSU led the event after day one, after day two, and most importantly, after day three. Bucs golfer Olivia Jordan-Higgins also brought a title back to Charleston as the individual medalist. CSU had not broken through with a championship in any sport last year nor so far this year until taking the crown for women's golf.

But the Buccaneers did not stop there this past week, clinching the Regular Season Championship for women's tennis as well, as they cruised through a spectacular season. We'll see next week if they can add another event win with the Tennis Championships at Radford's campus.

And while we're talking about Charleston Southern, that also happens to be the host site for the 2010 Big South Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships, happening right now at CSU. The leading teams after the first day of competition were Liberty for the men and Coastal Carolina for the women. Not coincidentally, those squads were the winners of those titles a year ago and now seek the repeat. At the same time, there will be added intrigue on the women's side, where LU will be trying to get past the strong CCU team in an effort at a remarkable sweep. Liberty holds the current titles for M/W Cross Country and M/W Indoor Track -- so taking both sides at outdoor would complete a powerful cycle (something I believe they've referred to as a "double-triple crown"). We shall see...

Right on the heels of outdoor track comes the championship tourney for men's golf and then men's and women's tennis next weekend. We'll have more on those events in SHOUT next week, of course...and beyond that, we've got softball and baseball in May

Here's your guide to what's streaming on the Big South Network...

video

Hey there--not following us on Twitter or a fan on Facebook yet? What are you waiting for? We've got hundreds who've already joined the fun, but we're still missing you!

Have a great weekend, one and all--get out to some games if you can (and if you can't, then catch some at the Big South Network). Thanks....SHOUT--out...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Take Me to Your Leaders

Time for your Friendly Neighborhood Spring Sports Update...

Under the yellow haze of pollen, the races are taking shape across the Big South Conference (all standings based on play as of 4/8/10).

First let's slide into baseball:

With two teams ranked in the top 30, the Big South has earned plenty of respect--thanks to the performances of Coastal Carolina and VMI. Interestingly, those two teams are not alone in the tangle for the top of the Conference baseball standings--Gardner-Webb has squeezed in there as well. Those are the only three clubs that can boast both a winning record in Big South play and a winnning record overall: Coastal (5-0 / 24-5), GWU (5-1 / 15-13), and VMI (7-2 / 25-5). By the way, an interesting schedule twist next Tuesday has created a Big South-SoCon showdown night, with Elon at Liberty, The Citadel at Coastal Carolina, and App. St. at High Point, all at 6pm.

Next let's take a swing at softball:

Like the baseball standings, the field of contenders with winning records in Conference and overall is a narrow one. For softball, that upper-echelon group is only a duo: Radford and Liberty. The Highlanders are 8-1 / 22-10 and the Flames are 4-2 / 19-10. The Championship is just over a month away now at Coastal Carolina--and I've just learned that your writer here will be your announcer there for the streamed games in the first two days of that event.

Time to serve up some women's tennis:

While I can list four programs that have run off winning records in the Big South and overall, only one is truly the leader here: Charleston Southern. CSU has raced out to a 7-0 / 15-1 start and has mounted a legitimate threat to Winthrop's grip on the sport in the Conference. Winthrop (3-1 / 9-8) is among the schools in that winning group, along with Coastal Carolina (3-1 / 15-4) and Radford (3-2 / 12-4), but there's a lot of catching up to do if the Bucs are to be overtaken by anybody else before the Championship at Radford in just two weeks.

And on the other side of the net for men's tennis:

Out of all these leader groups, men's tennis is the one that includes an aberration--a team at the top in Conference NOT sporting a winning record overall, and that's Winthrop (3-0 / 7-10). The other squads in contention do not have that issue: Radford (3-0 / 10-9), CCU (3-1 / 12-6), and Liberty (2-1 / 10-7). RU is of course the team that's owned this title for a while, but it's clear that they will have some quality opposition when the Highlanders take the home court in an effort to defend their crown later this month.

In the other spring sports, golf is approaching its finish...the Women's Golf Championship tees off Monday at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety-Six, SC. The Palmetto State is not only the home of the course, but also the top three seeds: Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, and Winthrop. There's a certain deja vu to that, since Coastal and CSU finished 1-2 in this event a year ago. Men's golf has an additional week before teeing off that championship.


While the next Big South Championship will be awarded in women's golf, the next one you can watch on the Big South Network is the 2010 Big South Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships from Charleston Southern. Given the level of competition seen across the Conference this year, I would expect some remarkable times/heights/distances from the participating student-athletes. Team-wise, keep your eyes on the Liberty contingent. The Flames took home the hardware for men's and women's cross country in the fall and for men's and women's indoor track in the winter...meaning LU seeks a remarkable "double triple crown"--winning for men and women in all three running/track-related sports. It would be an incredible feat, but they'll have to beat the field next week to pull it off, and that won't be easy.

Okay, feel caught up on the spring goings-on?

Good, let's talk football!

No, seriously, just for a minute--never too early. Surely you know spring football has been going strong for weeks, and now is the time when the spring games start popping up everywhere. Lots of those intrasquad scrimmages will be played this Saturday, particularly across the South. Among them, the Presbyterian College Blue Hose, and I am proud to announce that the Big South Network will have its first-ever April football event with the live streaming of the PC Spring Game (4/10, 10am). You can order it through BigSouthSports.com--but you better catch it live, because this one won't be saved in the archives!

Speaking of the "BSN" -- here's the story on what will be streaming this week, including that football game from PC...

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That's all for now, folks. Not expecting a new entry tomorrow, so I'll wish you a good weekend now...SHOUT--out!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

F-F-F-Foolin'

Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but I will steadfastly refuse to dangle false stories in front of you, masquerading as real news--a tired gambit that has seen its day...so among the tales that will not be told here:

-- how all Big South schools will be adding Bowling for next year's official competition
-- how the Quiz Bowl results will henceforth be included in Sasser Cup standings
-- how the Conference will expand to 12 with the arrival of ______ (insert surprising school name here).

Nor will I go on at great length about oddball items like these:

-- VMI adding women's water polo
-- NCAA reviewing sand volleyball as a new sport
-- said NCAA considering expanding the hoops bracket to 96 while not having any sort of playoff in place for its highest level of football

Oh wait, those last three are real. VMI IS adding women's water polo, an eybrow-raising choice, but entirely their call. The NCAA IS reviewing the "emerging" sport of sand volleyball as a legitimate new competition--and it might have happened by now if the economics of ensuring adequate facilities in a rough funding period hadn't given some folks pause. And YES, as I'm sure you're all aware, there is a real possibility that the lauded NCAA basketball bracket will be doctored in a major way (nothing's done yet, but remember that TV money has a lot to do with all this, so...)--and that's even as the FBS continues to wrangle with its BCS and no real playoff structure. Thankfully, we live in the FCS world in the Big South, with a real football playoff--and, new this upcoming year, an automatic berth in that postseason party!

By the way folks, bowling IS a recognized championship sport in the NCAA--it's just not on anyone's agenda in the Big South (that I know of, at least).

But seriously now...

Conference play dominates the storylines for baseball, softball, and tennis...even as we head to a holiday weekend, we've still got big games coming up (just not on Easter Sunday). Coastal Carolina and VMI are both ranked and playing good baseball right now, but they're not alone, and I think we might have the makings of a really good Baseball Championship this year at Winthrop. But championship-wise, that's still a way off, while next on that agenda is women's golf--less than two weeks away now.

Here's the latest Big South Network Guide--I think it's finally cooperating with Blogger (they haven't been getting along in recent weeks, but the video is always available at BigSouthSports.com and our YouTube Channel).

video

And kudos to everyone who recognized today's title as a Def Leppard reference...SHOUT--out!