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Big South Notebook

December 19, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big South Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Dunlap

Not Much Action

With semester exams taking up the schedules of most of the Big South schools last week, there were only ten games played in the conference last week. With the holidays quickly approaching, there will be a few more breaks in the action before conference games tip off shortly after New Year’s Day, hopefully giving players time to let nagging injuries heal and coaches time to get some more practices with their teams.

Danny Double

Scoring and rebounding are the two most well-known and publicized statistics in the game of basketball. In the Big South and in the whole country, you will find few players as good as High Point junior forward Danny Gathings at racking up big numbers in both categories. Last season after coming to High Point as a transfer from Virginia Tech, Gathings led the Big South in both points (18.7 per game) and boards (7.6 per game), the only person in Division I to lead his conference in both statistics.

This season, Gathings had a rough start but has quickly picked up the pace and is making another run at the scoring and rebounding titles in the Big South. In his last five games, Gathings has four double-doubles, only missing by one rebound in the other game. This hot streak has raised his scoring average to 17.1 per game and his rebounding average to 8.6 per game. As of Dec. 17, those numbers put him at third in the conference in scoring and second in rebounding.

Player of the Week

Without the efforts of senior guard Brandon Newby this week, Coastal Carolina may have suffered the indignity of losing to a non-Division I team. Luckily for the Chanticleers, Newby had a Player of the Week effort in an eight point win over St. Andrews, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in his first career double-double. Newby did his damage in the field and at the line, making 9-of-14 of his field goal attempts, including 2-of-5 behind the arc, and 9-of-10 free throws.

Team Reports

Birmingham-Southern Panthers (4-2) Last Week: 0-0

The Panthers had the week off and will now hit the road, starting a stretch of six straight road games. The trip will start on Dec. 18 as Birmingham-Southern heads east to battle Savannah State. They will head back inland after the game against the Tigers to take on Nicholls State Dec. 21. After the Christmas holidays, the Panthers will be heading to the West Coast to compete in a tournament at St. Mary’s, Calif., with their first game coming against Loyola-Chicago Dec. 28.

Charleston Southern Buccaneers (2-5) Last Week: 0-2

It has been another difficult week for the Bucs, as they hit the road to battle two in-state foes and came away with two losses. CSU headed to Spartanburg, S.C., Dec. 13, to face Wofford of the Southern Conference. Despite a late comeback to force overtime, the Buccaneers left Wofford with a 79-73 loss. Down by 18 points with less than nine minutes to go in the game, the Bucs made a furious run and eventually tied the game with seven seconds left on a three-pointer by senior guard Ed O’Neil. But CSU managed only one field-goal in the extra period, which was not enough to beat the Terriers. O’Neil had a great game, scoring 15 points, dishing out nine assists and grabbing five steals.

Charleston Southern’s next game was not nearly as exciting, as the South Carolina Gamecocks were a rude host, easily beating the Bucs, 71-36. The Bucs shot under 30 percent and failed to score 40 points for the second time this season. O’Neil was unable to carry over his shooting touch from the Wofford game, as he failed to score and turned the ball over six times. No player on the Charleston Southern team reached double-figures, with JuCo transfer Kurtis Rice leading the squad with nine points.

The Buccaneers will look to get back in the win column away from home with a couple of games in the next week. Their first stop will be Colorado Springs, Colo., and a game against the Air Force Academy Dec. 20. Win or lose, there will be little time to enjoy the Rocky Mountains as the Bucs quickly head back east to battle Georgia two days later Dec. 22.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-4) Last Week: 1-0

It was not the easy win that Coastal head coach Pete Strickland was probably hoping for, but the Chanticleers were able to escape with a 91-83 win over pesky Division II St. Andrews. Senior guard Brandon Newby was the story for the Chants with a double-double, scoring 29 points and gathering 11 rebounds. Though the victory margin probably gave Strickland some headaches, he had to be happy with the way Coastal distributed the ball. His team finished the game with 30 assists on 35 made field goals, led by Clint Reed and Alvin Green, who had six apiece.

Coastal will have a busy holiday season, playing four games in a 10-day period. They will stay at home to face UNC Greensboro Dec. 18 and then Campbell Dec. 20. Two days later, the Chants will be in Charlottesville, Va., to face Virginia. After Christmas, Coastal will return home to host Division II Lees-McRae Dec. 28.

High Point Panthers (5-3) Last Week: 1-0

The winning ways have continued for High Point and new head coach Bart Lundy. The Panthers extended their winning streak to four games last week when they defeated UNC-Greensboro 85-72, raising their record to 5-3 and improving to 5-0 against teams that aren’t from either the ACC or the Big Ten. High Point’s offense was the story of the game, as HPU shot 70 percent in the first half en route to a 44-21 halftime lead. UNC-G was never able to get the lead under 11 during the second half as High Point cruised to victory, shooting over 54 percent for the game. Junior forward Danny Gathings was the story with 22 points and 12 rebounds. However, JuCo transfer Zione White had another solid game, scoring 19 points of his own and dishing out six assists.

The Panthers will look to keep their winning streak going as they head down to Greenville, S.C., to face Furman Dec. 20. They will return home after Christmas to take on North Carolina A&T Dec. 27.

Liberty Flames (3-6) Last Week: 1-1

The Flames finally had the type of game they have been looking for as they defeated Chattanooga 85-69 Dec. 11 at home in the Vines Center. In one of their best offensive performances of the season, they shot almost 67 percent in the first half and 56 percent for the game to defeat a Chattanooga team that took Alabama to the wire later in the week. Senior guard Gabe Martin and senior forward Glyn Turner each scored 15 points to lead the scoring effort for Liberty.

Liberty looked to continue their good play Dec. 13 at Iowa State, but a 16-0 run by the Cyclones early in the second half blew open a close game, leading to a 78-56 loss for the Flames. Freshman guard Larry Blair showed that he is able to play well against Big XII competition, scoring 23 points to lead all scorers in the game.

Liberty has one game remaining before an extended Christmas break as they will go on the road to take on Old Dominion Dec. 18. After a 10 day lay-off, the Flames will head west to compete in the Fiesta Bowl Classic, where they will battle No. 5 Arizona in the first round of the four-team tournament (Valparaiso and Louisiana-Lafayette are the other teams in the Classic).

Radford Highlanders (4-4) Last Week: 0-1

Radford’s only game last week was expected to be a showcase of two of the nation’s top ten scorers as Radford’s sophomore guard Whit Holcomb-Faye and his 23.9 points per game traveled to face neighboring Virginia Tech and Bryant Matthews, who came into the game scoring 27.1 per game. However, cold shooting by Holcomb-Faye and foul trouble for Matthews led both players to have below average nights as Virginia Tech pulled out a 73-60 win. Holcomb-Faye only scored 10 points due to a 3-for-13 shooting effort from the field, missing all six attempts from behind the arc, partly due to a noticeable ankle injury. Matthews ended up only playing 24 minutes due to foul problems early but did manage to score a few times near the end of the game to lead the Hokies with 18 points. Radford sophomore forward Chris Goodin made a great attempt at making up for Holcomb-Faye’s shooting problems, as he led all players with 19 points, but it was not enough to get a win for the Highlanders.

Radford will play one more game before Christmas, heading south to face Clemson Dec. 22.

UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (1-7) Last Week: 0-2

The early season struggles have continued for UNC-A, as the young Bulldogs’ losing streak has reached five games after losses to Furman and UNC-Wilmington this last week. UNC-A hosted Furman Dec. 14 and controlled most of the game before fading late and losing to the Paladins, 60-56. The Bulldogs held a 13-point lead in the second half, but turnovers late in the game led to the comeback win for Furman. Junior forward Joseph Barber led three Bulldogs in double-figures with 14 points in the game.

Things only got worse for Asheville as they traveled to UNC-Wilmington Dec. 17 and were never in the game, losing in a blowout to the Seahawks, 77-38. Wilmington controlled from the tip, leading 49-15 at the half and cruising to the easy win in the second half. Turnovers proved to be the key to the game as UNC-A committed 26 while UNC-W only had seven turnovers in the entire game. The only good news for UNC-A was that junior forward Billy Allen returned to the Bulldog lineup for the first time since the 2001-’02 season. Allen had been ineligible for the last season and a half due to grades but was finally able to return to the court, playing 22 minutes and scoring three points and grabbing five rebounds against UNC-W. Allen was a member of the Big South all-freshman team in his first season and was a major contributor for the Bulldogs his sophomore year before becoming ineligible last year.

UNC-A has a great chance at getting back into the win column when they host Montreat Dec. 20. However, the schedule gets much harder when the Bulldogs head to the Carrier Dome to face defending national champion and No. 19 Syracuse Dec. 28.

VMI Keydets (2-5) Last Week: 1-0

The scoreboard was active in VMI’s only game of the week as the Keydets earned their second win of the season with a 107-94 victory at home over Eastern Mennonite Dec. 13. After struggling to score points in their previous outing against Virginia Tech without leading scorer Radee Skipworth, the Keydets did not seem to miss him and his injured ankle as they scorched the nets with a 57 percent field-goal percentage. Sophomore guard Levar Joseph had a breakout game off the bench, making 11-of-14 shots, including 5-of-7 from downtown, and scoring a career-high 27 points for VMI. Senior guard Richard Little, known more for his passing than his scoring, also posted a career-high with 19 points.

The Keydets are still seeking their first win over a Division I team and have a chance at earning it with a game at home Dec. 21 against St. Francis, Pa. Things will much tougher after that game as VMI will quickly turn around and head to Louisville to battle Rick Pitino’s No. 22 Cardinals Dec. 23.

Winthrop Eagles (5-2) Last Week: 0-0

Winthrop had the week off and will head west to face Wyoming Dec. 20 and Weber State Dec. 22. The Wyoming matchup will be the first game for sophomore guard Alex Spotts, who transferred to Winthrop last winter from Rice. But the Eagles may be without starting point guard Ivan Jenkins as he battles a recurring knee problem that has led head coach Gregg Marshall to consider sitting him for the next couple of games. With six games under his belt, Jenkins cannot play in any more games this year and still be eligible for a medical redshirt should he need surgery and sit-out the rest of the season. The final determination has yet to be made and will probably depend on whether Jenkins’ knee is giving him too much pain to compete night-in and night-out.

Final Note

For everybody that looks for this Notebook every Thursday, you will want to know that starting with the next installment, the Big South Notebook will now appear every Monday on Hoopville. So have a safe and happy holiday season, and I will be back Dec. 28 with the latest news and notes from the Big South.

     

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