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Big South Preview

November 8, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments




Big South Conference Preview

by Doug McKinney

Here are the Big South projections, in order of finish for the upcoming season:

1. Winthrop Eagles

2001-2002 Record: 19-12 Overall, 10-4 Big South, Tied for 1st place

Starters Lost (3): Gregg Lewis (15.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, BSC player of the year),
Marcus Stewart (8.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, two time all-BSC selection), Tywan Harris
(7.5 ppg, 44 3-pointers made last season)

Key Returnees: Tyrone Walker (11.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Pierre Wooten (9.3 ppg,
114 Assists)

The four-time Big South champions have another good shot at
winning it all once again, trying to make their fifth season in a row.
Although the Eagles lost Big South player of the year Greg Lewis (NBDL-
Greenville Groove) to graduation, WU has a strong candidate in junior Tyrone
Walker to fill in his shoes. Despite losing two other key starters, Eagles
fans don’t have much to worry about, as a strong recruiting class and a list
of JuCo transfers, highlighted by Marcus Cooke, come to the rescue. Despite
away games with Utah and Clemson, the Eagles don’t have that hard of a
schedule, with their first Big South game coming on Jan 2 at Radford. In BSC
tournament play, the Eagles are 9-0 under coach Gregg Marshall.

2. UNC Asheville Bulldogs

2001-2002 Record: 13-15 Overall, 10-4 Big South, Tied for 1st place

Starters Lost (1): Robby Joyner (9.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

Key Returnees: Andre Smith (16.2 ppg, 64 Assists), Ben McGonagil (8.3 ppg),
Billy Allen (7.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg)

The Bulldogs (picked 1st in the Big South preseason coaches poll) don’t
lose as much as most other Big South powerhouse teams, but can’t expect to win
a BSC title if they choke as bad as they did in their final game of last
season. Senior Andre Smith is one of the best players ever to wear a UNC
Asheville uniform and just needs 14 more points to eclipse the 1,000-point
mark. Smith The challenge ahead for the Bulldogs is their tough non-conference schedule, which includes games against Minnesota, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

3. High Point Panthers

2001-2002 Record: 11-19 Overall, 5-9 Big South, Tied for 6th

Starters Lost (1): Jay Wallace (8.5 ppg, 35 blocks)

Key Returnees: Dustin Van Weerdhuizen (16.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Joe Knight (13.1
ppg, 89 Assists), Ron Barrow (8.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and Brent Halsch (7.5 ppg,
5.9 rpg)

The surprise team of last year’s tournament, the Panthers are
trying to show Big South fans that their Cinderella post-season run last year
was no fluke. Big South Rookie of the Year Joe Knight and senior Dustin Van
Weerdhuizen look to lead HPU this year as the Panthers will have to face back-
to-back games against Clemson and Kentucky. HPU seems to have one of the most
balanced lineups in the Big South, but cannot repeat last season’s 5-9
conference record if they want to go to the Big Dance. Even though they did
manage to slip by their first two opponents in the tournament, the Panthers
only won those games by a combined score of three points.

4. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

2001-2002 Record: 8-20 Overall, 5-9 Big South, Tied for 6th

How Far They Danced: First Round loss to Radford, 81-66

Key Returnees: Torrey Butler (2000-2001 stats:19.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Derrick
Robinson (13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Brandon Newby (14.2 ppg, 44 3-pointers made last
season), Antonio Darden (10.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 12 blocks), Alvin Green (10.6 ppg,
97 Assists), and Kelvin Coggins (8.8 ppg)

The big story for the Chants is the return of Senior Torrey
Butler. Butler, who suffered a foot injury and didn’t play last season, held
a .476 3-point avg. to go along with the 19 points he averaged a game back in
2000-2001. The Chants don’t lose any starters and have many valuable key
players coming back this year, including Robinson and Newby. CCU has a much
tougher schedule than last season’s with games against Florida, Georgetown,
Clemson, and East Carolina. Although the Chants have a great deal of talent,
it will depend on how far the Big South coach on the hot seat, Pete
Strickland, will take them.

5. Radford Highlanders

2001-2002 Record: 15-16 Overall, 9-5 Big South, 3rd place

Starters Lost (4): Andrey Savtchenko (16.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg), Correy Watkins
(13.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg), Mike Hornbuckle (11.7 ppg), Nosa Obasuyi (6.2 ppg, 72
blocks)

Key Returnees: Raymond “Peanut” Arrington (14.5 ppg, 62 assists), David
Popoola (6.7 ppg)

The Highlanders, under first year coach Byron Samuels, have lost
more key players than any other team in the Big South. Radford loses four
starters and must depend on senior Arrington to lead the way. Savtchenko,
Obasuyi, and Watkins graduated, and so did Hornbuckle, who was almost given a
chance to play a fifth year due to an injury early in last season. Freshmen
Chris Goodin, who averaged 27 points a game in high school, as well as highly
touted freshmen Wit Holcomb-Faye and Chris Prince will have to step up for the
Highlanders. Samuels even states that at least one or two freshmen could find
their way into the starting line up when the season starts. RU finds itself
opening the season with a tough Richmond team, before battling East Carolina,
Marshall, and Ohio State. Many think it’s a rebuilding year for RU, but the
Highlanders always find a way to make some noise and who knows when it comes
to the Big South, anything can happen.

6. Charleston Southern Buccanneers

2001-2002 Record: 12-17 Overall, 8-6 Big South, 4th place

Key Returnees: Charles White (9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Ed O’Neil (6.6 ppg, 122
Assists), Gene Granger (9.3 ppg, 45 steals), James Seegars (8.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg),

With games against Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida, in a row, the
Bucs depend on Charles White and Ed O’Neil to lead the way. Even though CSU
didn’t lose much, senior guards James Seegars and Gene Granger most have to
contribute if the Bucs want to improve on their impressive 8-6 record of last
year. CSU was ranked third in the preseason BSC poll, but unless those guys
contribute, that ranking won’t mean squat by the end of this season.

7. Elon Phoenix

2001-2002 Record: 13-16 Overall, 7-7 Big South, 5th place

Starters Lost (2): Brendon Rowell (13.9 ppg), David Hall (10.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg)

Key Returnees: Ross Sims (8.1 ppg, 102 Assists), Gary Marsh (10.3, 5.0 rpg),
Chris Adams (4.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

In their last year as a member of the Big South Conference, the
Phoenix look under the leadership of senior guard Ross Sims to lead the way.
The Phoenix lose Rowell and Hall and have to look to a total of eight freshmen
and sophomores to step up and fill in. With only having two opponents that
can be considered contenders on their schedule, in Wake Forest and Georgia
Tech, Elon might be able to find a way to make some noise in their last year
in the Big South.

8. Liberty Flames

2001-2002 Record: 5-25 Overall, 2-12 Big South, 8th place

Starters Lost (3): Chris Caldwell (15.4 ppg, 72 steals) and Travis Eisentrout
(9.0 ppg)

Key Returnees: Vincent Okotie (9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Phillip Ward (7.0 ppg), and
Jason Sarchet (5.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg)

The Flames, who have lost the Big South’s most flamboyant player
in Caldwell, look to new head coach Randy Dunton to turn the program around.
Forwards Okotie and Ward are the stars for this rebuilding Liberty team who
has the unfortunate situation to face Iowa, Clemson, and Virginia in a row in
what is claimed as a rebuilding season.

First-team All-Conference
Andre Smith, Guard, UNC Asheville
Pierre Wooten, Guard, Winthrop
Raymond “Peanut” Arrington, Guard, Radford
Joe Knight, Guard, High Point
Torrey Butler, Forward, Coastal Carolina

Second-team All-Conference
Tyrone Walker, Winthrop
Dustin Van Weerdhuizen, High Point
Ed O’Neil, Charleston Southern
Ross Sims, Elon
Marcus Cooke, Winthrop

MVP: Andre Smith, UNC Asheville
Newcomer of the Year: Marcus Cooke, Winthrop
Coach on the Hot Seat: Pete Strickland, Coastal Carolina

     

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