Friday, January 25, 2008

Viewers' Guide...

Looking for Big South basketball you can watch this weekend?

Lots of hoops out there to find as we get deeper into the Conference schedule...

By now you probably know to look to The Edge at to subscribe to sports packages or single games...this weekend is no exception, with five games available--two in men's (HPU at LU, UNCA at CSU) and three in women's (PC at LU, HPU at RU, CSU at WU).

But those aren't the only games you can find, because the Big South has TWO games hitting SportSouth on Saturday. First on the schedule is a women's match-up at 1pm, when Coastal Carolina visits UNC Asheville--with two teams looking for their first Conference win this year, there's a lot on the line! Plus, you have Asheville senior Ashton Barton trying to join the 1,000-point club (she needs 27).

And hey, you'll have yours truly calling the play-by-play, which is worth checking out, right? Right? this thing on?

That's SportSouth at 1pm, folks...I'm fired up--I always enjoy getting to do play-by-play, one of my all-time favorite things.

And yes, I said TWO games, because at 7pm Saturday evening SportSouth brings everybody the next chapter in a classic rivalry: Winthrop hosts Coastal Carolina at the Coliseum in Rock Hill. Matt Hogue will handle the call for that ballgame. Pull up a comfortable chair and settle in for a good show!

Enjoy the games!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


As singer Dave Matthews has often lamented, "So Much to Say, So Much to Say..."

Yesterday I took part in a site survey of Clemson's indoor track facility--why ACC member Clemson, you ask? It's all part of a great joint venture between the Big South and the Southern Conference, staging their Indoor Track and Field Championships at the same site on the same weekend to maximize available resources. It turns out that Clemson has nearly the perfect room for the job and is in a good spot for the bulk of the Big South and SoCon members. It's worked well in recent seasons and should make for another solid meet at the end of February (if you can't make it, watch for the video streaming on The EDGE 2/29-3/1)!

In the last entry, I offered a note about the build-up to the VMI-Winthrop game and the battle to stay at or near the top of Big South men's basketball...the game--or at least its margin of victory--turned out to be quite a surprise, as the Eagles soundly defeated the Keydets.
VMI was without leading scorer Reggie Williams (pictured here, out due to injury) and struggled with shooting all night, while Winthrop played well on both ends of the court to hold the visitors under half of their season average. Meanwhile, UNC Asheville rolls right along--another win (UNCA defeated Radford) to keep the Bulldogs unbeaten in Conference play and on top of the standings. Read all the details on both games by clicking this link.

Now to what today's title is all about--Web-O-Rama: a quick spin around the Big South websites for some things you might have missed, but should check out while you can...

Charleston Southern--if you are a CSU fan, you owe it to yourself to answer this poll about the value of potential lighting for the athletic facilities--questions like these carry more weight than your typical poll-of-the-week voting queries. (see bottom right of CSU page)

Liberty--in this year's academic/athletic calendar, the Big South has crowned six sport championships--FIVE of them to the Flames. Visit Liberty's site to see more details celebrating the tremendous performances the school has enjoyed this year, including an individual National Championship for cross country runner Josh McDougal! (right column of LU page)

Radford--so you're sitting there, enjoying your Big South Sportstalk blog--but wait, here's another insider blog...did you know about "Lineburg's Line"? It's straight from new Radford Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg and it's waiting for you right now... (lower right of RU page)

Winthrop--much has been made over the years about the football potential at Winthrop, but what is the school's official take on the pros and cons, as well as the wants and needs, of a football program? Much of that is laid out from a link right on the front page--go see for yourself. (upper right of WU page)

Those are my top four for always, you can find more fabulous fun, fascinating facts, and fantastic features at all the school sites--including Coastal, High Point, UNCA, and VMI (with hot news like the story on football coach Jim Reid taking a job in the NFL--also available at Plus it's never too early to see what's happening with Presbyterian College and Gardner-Webb, on their way into the Big South.

Still need more? Try ESPNU--that's right, more national attention to the Big South--in the form of a video clip of "Insider" Todd McShay claiming Coastal Carolina's Jerome Simpson could be a third round pick in the NFL Draft. He calls the former Chanticleer star his "sleeper," yet says this while expressing a sense of surprise.
I'm not surprised--I've seen him play in person a few times: Simpson makes jaw-dropping catches and has great speed; you have to think the tools are there for the team willing to give him a shot.

As Dennis Miller used to say (on SNL), "That's the news and here."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Parity Party?

There is a certain beauty in the old "any given night" cliche--which rests on the fundamental understanding that every team enters a game with the opportunity to win. The result of when that free-for-all comes together is sometimes called "parity" among teams, but whatever you call it, it can be fun to watch.

Although it's still early in Conference play right now, the Big South basketball standings sure have that "any given night" feeling. On the men's side, UNC Asheville has the early lead with a 3-0 start--this from a team selected in the Preseason Poll to come in 5th, with no one on the Preseason All-Conference team!

A log-jam follows the Bulldogs, with Winthrop and VMI at 2-1 (and hey, they play each other Wednesday night--that should be something), then come Liberty, Coastal, and High Point all at 2-2. Charleston Southern (1-3) and Radford (0-3) round out the group as the only two squads with losing records in Conference (and overall).

Basically, we are seeing teams that know each other well knocking each other off of their respective pedestals, while a surprise team comes to the forefront--isn't that what Conference play in college basketball is all about? All I can say is that it should make for an amazing show over the next six weeks.

As for the ladies, they've just begun Conference play and don't have as many games notched on the board yet. Liberty (2-0) and High Point (1-0) have opened cleanly, CSU and Radford are right behind (both 1-1), while UNCA (0-1) and Coastal (0-2) have some early catching up to do in the Wins column (and Winthrop has not had a Conference game yet).

Another women's basketball note: congratulations to Megan Frazee on collecting her THIRD Player of the Week honor already this season, fitting perhaps for the Preseason Player of the Year and All-Conference Team member. Frazee is obviously a big part of Liberty's success this season--read more about the Player of the Week awards at this link.
In an earlier post, I mentioned the positive press going around, and pointed folks to an article about Kenny George from UNC Asheville. Here's another story about the growing legend of the Big South's very own K-G, this time from Yahoo and
One last note--this may have started as an experiment, but it looks like Big South Sportstalk is here to stay--hooray for the new member of the "blogosphere"!!! Keep checking on us, and enjoy all the cool news from the Big South Conference...

Monday, January 21, 2008

TV Hoops Drama!

Never give up on a game in college basketball...and that goes double for games in the Big South. Competition has been outstanding this year, and one of this weekend's games provided a great example--on television, too!

Don't know if you've heard the news, but SportSouth is running eight regular season Big South games (6 men's, 2 women's) this year, plus the semi-finals and final of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Women's Basketball Championship from Asheville, NC (March 14-16).

The first of those SportSouth games ran Saturday night from High Point, where the Panthers hosted the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The game was a good choice--HPU was selected as the preseason favorite to win the Conference, and each team had an All-Conference selection on the court: Arizona Reid for HPU and Jack Leasure for CCU. Matt Hogue, a familiar voice for folks throughout the Big South, handled play-by-play duties, and wound up with a gem of a game.

Early on, scoring came slowly, but the pace picked up and Coastal was the beneficiary of the tempo for a good while. The Chants expanded their advantage to as many as 20 points, but the home team fed off the crowd's energy and surged back with second-half runs of 14 and 10 unanswered points. The furious comeback surges brought the Panthers within two by the time the game approached the final minute of play! In the end, CCU hung on and grabbed the victory (CCU 66, HPU 61), but anyone who might have thought the game was settled before the very end would have missed out on the kind of dynamic play that makes the sport so exciting every night. Bravo to Reid (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Leasure (33 points--including eight 3-pointers) for coming up big for their teams in front of the large SportSouth audience.

In addition to the SportSouth coverage, there are other Big South games out there for regional cable/satellite viewers on MASN, with five games (4 men's, 1 women's) overall this season (two already played). Then when it's tournament time, look for action on the men's side with games on the ESPN family of networks.

Meanwhile, the games continue on The Big South EDGE, so check that out and get the Big South wherever you go!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Big (South) Weekend...

Lots of good stuff in the Big South this weekend...
Look for two shots at Conference games on TV Saturday--with Winthrop at Radford on MASN at 2pm and Coastal Carolina at High Point at 7pm on SportSouth.

On top of that, there are six basketball games Saturday on The Big South EDGE: two for the men--UNCA at VMI (1pm) & CSU at Liberty (7pm); four for the women--HPU at UNCA (2pm), Radford at Coastal (2pm), Liberty at CSU (5:30pm), and Presbyterian at Winthrop (7pm). To learn more about The Edge or to order games, click on this link!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snowing Mess, Glowing Press

Yes, it snowed in Big South territory overnight. Here in Charlotte, it turned to rain after a brief flirtation with sleet and ice, and didn't stick around very long altogether. It was merely a glimpse of the winter weather woes our friends up north have to face with greater frequency and severity. It's nice to be in the Big South!

Say, if you were having problems trying to get on this afternoon, you're not alone. Computer issues can happen to anybody, and we got a bite from the technical bug today. No worries, the problems have been addressed and everything's coming back up in stages. If you still hit any trouble with the site, close your browser and try again a little later. I'm told all shall be well soon (most of it is already back online as I write this post).

Speaking of browsing around the internet, I don't know if you've noticed lately, but the Big South has gotten some good national attention lately.
My top three stories of the last 30 days:
Riding with the Blue Hose--a great story about incoming and transitioning Conference member Presbyterian College from ESPN Page 2 in December,
...Bigger Feet Than Shaq's--a feature on UNC Asheville's Kenny George in the New York Times that ran last week,
and Winthrop Down But Not Out...--a strong write-up this week on ESPNU.

Keep it coming--we want everybody to know how strong this Conference is and how much bigger and better it's getting all the time!

Hey folks, stay dry and warm out there...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Winthrop Hoops Fun

Hello again from the Big South...

I went to last night's Winthrop-Liberty men's basketball game in Rock Hill, SC, and I have to say that there's just something inherently exciting about being at a college game that never truly translates to TV, you know?

If you go to games, you know the feeling: the band, mascot, cheerleaders, dancers, and enthusiastic fans of all ages create a buzz. It's a great atmosphere, the perfect backdrop for the athletes who work so hard every game, win or lose. If you can get out to a college game near you (hey, especially if it's the Big South, but even if it's not), go--support that team! It's so easy to say, "maybe the next game," every time until you discover you've run out of games and it becomes, "maybe the next season."
Too bad--obviously no one gets anything out of that result (where's the fun in that?)...

Naturally I support all the Conference teams, but when any home team wins, it generates such positives because of what it does to keep the fans charged up and ready for more (final on Tuesday: Winthrop Eagles 55, Liberty Flames 48). And for the record, the Winthrop Coliseum is a great room for basketball--in fact, it must be said that all the athletic facilities at WU are top-notch. One can only wonder how the school's investigation into the possibility of adding football down the road will turn out.
As for what I was doing there, not only was I checking out two good Big South teams in action and chatting with members of the Winthrop athletic department, I was also pitching in to help out our crack marketing staff with promotional initiatives for some of our partners. We had giveaways, contests, and displays for State Farm and Papa John's, plus a demo for a future New Balance in-game contest (look for it in upcoming games). Fans got free stuff and got a chance to win more stuff--heck, if you want a shot at one of the big prize packages, you don't even have to go to a game, just click here, but if you think you've got what it takes to sink the four required shots and win $50 grand, then you need to go to a game on this list. Winning that is possible, but it sure won't be easy--I'm hoping lightning strikes and we get a $50,000 winner this season!
Anyway, that's what's going on here. Big South country is bracing itself for winter storms predicted in the next 24 hours...we'll have to see if it's real or if it's another typical wave of weather-hysteria. Good luck, everybody!