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Big South Notebook

January 7, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big South Notebook

by Doug McKinney

In quest for fifth title in a row, Winthrop loses seventh-straight away game at Radford. The faces on the four time Big South champion Winthrop players told it all. They displayed a look of shock as they saw their thirteen point lead collapse to a struggling Radford team in the opening game of Big South Conference play and fell 64-55.

RU was led by Peanut Arrington who scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, backed behind Aaron Gill’s school record of 21 rebounds. The Eagles have not won a game at the Dedmon Center under coach Greg Marshall. With RU being on winter break, WU had their best shot of earning fifth year coach his first road win against the rivaled Highlanders, but a technical foul called on RU coach Byron Samuels sparked the Highlanders to go on to a 12-2 run to eventually take the lead.

Also in action was last year’s last place team, Liberty, who got 21 points from Ryan Mantlo to upend Elon, 77-59. Given any indication on how the opening weekend of Big South action played out, the eight Big South programs are in for an exciting, unpredictable season. Just ask Winthrop, now they know anyone can win when it comes to the Big South Conference.

Report Cards

High Point (5-6, 1-0) Grade: B

HPU has had quite an evenly balanced scoring contribution, but atop of that list is Virginia Tech transfer Danny Gathings, who leads the league in scoring at 19.9 points a game. Gathings is also tied for first in rebounding, with 8.4 per game. His impressive resume also includes 28 steals and has a .594 field goal percentage. Joe Knight continues to show fans why he was the 2002 freshman of the year with his stellar 16.7 points a game, placing him the third top scorer in the Big South. Dustin Van Weerdhuizen, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half against RU, is averaging 12.2 points a game and leads the team with 34 assists. While the Panthers lead the Big South in scoring, the Panthers find themselves at the bottom half in scoring defense.

Stock: Up. The Panthers travel to face an improving Liberty team on Thursday, before hosting Coastal Carolina on Saturday and Charleston Southern on Monday. If HPU continues to get consistent contributions from their top trio, the Panthers will be in good shape. If only the Panthers could play some better defense, they could find themselves atop of the Big South.

Winthrop (7-6, 1-1) Grade: B-

The Eagles did not want to start the Big South season with a loss to RU but bounced back nicely with a 82-65 win over Elon. Tyron Walker, as expected, leads the Eagles with 14.8 points and has pulled down 8.4 boards a game this year. Pierre Wooten has been averaging 10.0 points and has 38 assists. WU has been without Hoopville preseason newcomer of the year Marcus Cooke due to injury, but he’s back and netted 23 points with 11 rebounds against Elon. In more good news for the Eagles, WU is allowing just 62.7 points a game, which ranks the best in the Big South.

Stock: Up. The RU loss was a wake up call and the four time Big South champs are back. WU could improve on their 3 point shooting (just like every other team in the conference). WU will play host to Coastal Carolina in what is the Game of the Week, before heading down to Birmingham Southern on Sunday.

Coastal Carolina (7-5, 0-0) Grade: C+

Torrey Butler is everything we here at Hoopville have thought of him to be. Butler (.451 field goal percentage) leads the team in scoring at 18.8 points per game and rebounding with 6.8 boards a game. CCU struggled mightily to then undefeated Clemson losing 90-63, but bounced back two days later with a 10-point win over Birmingham Southern. The Chants rank among the top 3 in field goal percentage as well as 3 point shooting.

Stock: Up. The Chants have a 6-day rest in order to prepare for the battle in Rock Hill on Wed. CCU will travel to HPU and then Elon. If teammates start contributing more it will take more pressure off of Butler, and Coastal will be in good shape.

Charleston Southern (6-6, 0-0) Grade: C

After playing tough with Florida, the Bucs beat Fairfield, then went on to fall to William & Mary a team that two other Big South schools beat. On Saturday, CSU lost to experimental Birmingham Southern, 69-61. Bucs fans can be happy they have brothers Kevin (11.8 ppg, 90.9 free throw percentage) and Chris Warzynski (10.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and senior Charles White (10.9 ppg, 4.8 ppg). CSU is shooting well from the free throw line at 76.8 percent, while their three-point game needs much improvement as they find themselves at the bottom of the Big South.

Stock: Even. CSU finds themselves traveling to three different BSC schools in five days. If the Bucs can win two out of three, they will be in good shape.

UNC Asheville (4-7, 1-0) Grade: C

After getting waxed by top ranked teams Oklahoma and Kansas back to back, the Bulldogs got an important win over Liberty on Sunday. Preseason MVP of the year, Andre Smith (13.6 ppg, 3.8 assists, 23 steals), has gotten help from fellow senior Ben McGonagil (10.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and recently Alex Kragel. Kragel is currently averaging 13.2 points a game, but in his last two games he’s scored 31 and 23. UNCA is second in the league in scoring at 72.3 points a game, but are giving up the most.

Stock: Even. Five of the seven Bulldog losses come to ranked teams. We give them some respect for bouncing back though with their latest victory. Things seem to look up for the Bulldogs as CSU comes into town on Wednesday, then they’ll pack their bags and head down to a struggling Radford team on Saturday.

Liberty (6-7, 1-1) Grade: C

What a start for the Liberty Flames. The laughing stock of the league for the past few years is back and has made a name for themselves by the help of four players in double figures. Junior guard Gabe Martin (13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) has led the Liberty attack backed by the impressive play of forward Vince Okotie (12.5 ppg). Ryan Mantlo (12.5 ppg, 2.5 apg) has come on late and Jason Sarchet (10.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has one of the best field goal percentages on the team. The Flames are second to last in the league in most turnovers per game though.

Stock: Even. Hey come on now. At this point in time last year the Flames were 2-11. The Flames have a three game home stand beginning with Big South’s hottest team, High Point, this Thursday night. If Liberty can somehow contain HPU’s scoring threats, Liberty might find even more people turning their heads.

Elon (4-6, 0-2) Grade: D

Despite starting the season off at 4-1, Elon has lost five games in a row. The Phoenix have lost their first two Big South games by an average of 17.5 points. Elon ranks last in the conference with a .595 free throw percentage. They found themselves down three to Winthrop at halftime, but fell behind. Gary Marsh is scoring a respectable 11 points a game for an Elon team that just averaging 62.2 points a game. Scottie Rice has dished out 24 assists and Rasmi Gamble is averaging 5.6 rebounds a game, but Elon needs more contribution from their bench.

Stock: Down. A Tuesday night date with ACC undefeated powerhouse Wake Forest, won’t help matters for the Phoenix. If Elon wants to improve on a bad BSC start, Phoenix fans should come out and support the team in its home games with Charleston Southern on Saturday and Coastal Carolina on Monday.

Radford (3-10, 1-1) Grade: D-

The comeback victory over Winthrop lifts RU’s spirits a bit but the Highlanders will need more then a one game win streak to improve on their worst start in school history. The Highs must work on their shooting, controlling the ball, and must start hitting the boards better. RU finds themselves in the bottom half of most statistical categories. The only good thing for Radford is the play of guards Peanut Arrington (15.6 ppg, .796 free throw percentage) and freshman Whit Holcomb-Faye (14.0 ppg, 4.2 apg, 18 steals). Aaron Gill has come on as of late; recording 90 rebounds on the year, 21 of them against Winthrop that set a new RU record. They’re a smaller team that needs to use speed to their advantage. In the beginning of the season they were slated as one of the best premier shooting teams in the league, but with a .305 average, the Highs must do better than that if they want to be a competitor.

Stock: Down. So far in their two games of the Big South season, when adversity arises, the Highs have made comebacks. But Radford can’t keep finding themselves get down so early in the game, because some teams will find ways of putting them away. RU will look to snap Birmingham-Southern’s undefeated record at home, when they face off on Wednesday. A win there could help the Highs before a struggling UNC Asheville comes to the Dedmon Center on Saturday.

Schedule Highlights

Wednesday, January 8th – Coastal Carolina at Winthrop, 7:00 pm
Saturday, January 11th – Coastal Carolina at High Point, 2:00 pm

Buc Revenge

Charleston Southern will look to get revenge on Elon for lopsided 83-64 loss they suffered to the Phoenix in the first round of the BSC playoffs last year. Tip off is scheduled for Saturday at 7 at Elon University.

Switching Sides

RU coach Byron Samuels faces his alma mater, UNC Asheville, this Saturday night at RU in his first game as head coach against his old school.

A tale of two halves

With just three wins in thirteen games, RU has never led going into the half.

Big South verses SoCon

Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander was recently asked about possibly having a Big South verses Southern Conference Challenge much like the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Kallander replied by saying this:

“There has been discussion in the past this type of arrangement with several different conferences. The Big South continues to be interested in scheduling “challenges” or “consortiums” that can help promote the basketball
programs and provide home games for Conference teams. You’re on the right track. Stay tuned.”

Player of the week:

Danny Gathings – High Point – Averaged 29.5 points, 9.0 in 2 games

Team of the week:

High Point – Defeated UNC Greensboro and Radford this week

Stat of the week:

Aaron Gill- Radford- setting school record 21 rebounds against Winthrop

     

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