Monday, December 22, 2008

Recent History Lesson

As promised, a holiday week retrospective...and this isn't even the whole year, only the current academic/athletic calendar: a listing of just some of the big things that have happened this fall and early winter for the Big South Conference, courtesy of Assistant Commissioner Mark Simpson (and we therefore offer a big SHOUT-out to Mark S.)...enjoy the look back, and Happy Holidays to one and all!!!


2008-09 BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

July 24, 2008
The Big South officially kicks off its 25th Anniversary with a special banquet honoring the Top 25 “Best of the Best” moments in Conference history. The Conference also unveils its new tagline, “Developing Leaders Through Athletics.”

July 24, 2008
The Big South Conference, as part of its 25th Anniversary celebration, presents the League’s new Leadership Award to former Commissioner, Dr. Edward M. “Dick” Singleton. The award is named in honor of Dr. Singleton and was created as part of the Big South’s “Developing Leaders Through Athletics” initiative to recognize a former Big South student-athlete or administrator that has exhibited exemplary leadership and character during their professional career.

August 15, 2008
At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, former Radford distance runner Goran Nava establishes a new Serbian national record in the 1,500-meter event with a time of 3:42.92. He finished sixth in Heat 2 of the first round and was 0.62 seconds off of the semifinal qualifying time.

August 18, 2008
At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, former Coastal Carolina women’s track & field standout Amber Campbell places 21st in the preliminaries of the hammer throw. She achieved a mark of 67.86 meters on her first throw, but then faulted on her final two throws in attempting to reach the top 12 to advance to the finals. She fell just short, as the final qualifying distance was 69.36 meters. However, Campbell was the top American finisher in the 50-competitor field.

August 30, 2008
A record seven former Big South football players made opening day NFL rosters in some capacity: Gardner-Webb’s Brian Johnston (Chiefs), Charleston Southern’s Maurice Price (Chiefs), Liberty’s Vince Redd (Patriots practice squad), Coastal Carolina’s Jerome Simpson (Bengals), Coastal Carolina’s Quinton Teal (Panthers), Coastal Carolina’s Tyler Thigpen (Chiefs) and Coastal Carolina’s Mike Tolbert (Chargers).

Sept. 8, 2008
Liberty’s football team is ranked No. 25 in this week’s The Sports Network poll, the school’s first national ranking since 1998, when the Flames were ranked tied for No. 24 with Troy State in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Division I-AA poll released on Aug. 31, 1998. The ranking marks the fifth-straight season the Big South has had a nationally-ranked football team.

Sept. 8, 2008
Winthrop men’s soccer player Matthew Skonicki is named to the CollegeSoccerNews.com and TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week for his performance the week of Sept. 1-7.

Sept. 16, 2008
Former Charleston Southern baseball pitcher Todd Parnell makes his Major League debut with the New York Mets, pitching a scoreless eighth inning against the Washington Nationals. Parnell, who was called up to the Mets on Sept. 1, became the second CSU pitcher in less than two months to appear in the majors.

Sept. 17, 2008
Former Coastal Carolina football player Tyler Thigpen is named the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback for the Sept. 21 road game at the Atlanta Falcons. It is Thigpen’s first career NFL start.

Sept. 20, 2008
High Point University is featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. The special features the transformation taking place at HPU, including the school’s growth in academics, as well as student life on the HPU campus.

Sept. 23, 2008
Former Winthrop men’s basketball player Michael Jenkins is selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Albany Patroons in the 2008 Continental Basketball Association (CBA) draft. Big South all-time leading scorer Reggie Williams was selected in the fifth round (23rd pick overall) by the Pittsburgh Xplosion.

Oct. 5, 2008
Former Coastal Carolina All-American golfer Dustin Johnson wins the PGA Turning Stone Resort Championship, his first career win on the PGA Tour. Johnson earns $1.08 million with the victory and moves from 128th to 41st on the PGA Tour money list. The win also earned him a two-year exemption on the tour, as well as berths in next year’s season-opening Mercedes Championship, plus the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship majors.

Oct. 15, 2008
Coastal Carolina University announces the addition of Zola (Budd) Pieterse as a volunteer assistant coach for the track & field programs. Best known for training and competing barefoot, Pieterse was a two-time Olympian, having competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Oct. 18, 2008
Liberty’s Sam Chelanga won the Pre-Nationals Cross Country race in Terre Haute, Ind., with a record time of 22:51.3 in the men’s 8K race. His time broke the course, meet, school and Big South Conference 8K records, which were previously held by former Liberty National Champion Josh McDougal (22:56.4 at the 2007 Pre-Nationals).

Oct. 28, 2008
Coastal Carolina’s men’s golf team is named Golfweek’s National Men’s Golf Team of the Week for its final-hole victory at the Bank of Tennessee at The Ridges Intercollegiate. Entering the final round, the Chanticleers were tied for second, two shots behind the leader, and the squad posted a 1-under on the final hole to claim the team victory.

Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2008
A total of 17 Big South student-athletes are named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District for the fall season. A League-record six football players were honored, in addition to six women’s soccer players, four men’s soccer players and one volleyball student-athlete.

Nov. 2, 2008
VMI’s women’s soccer team completes the largest turnaround in Big South Conference history, as the Keydets tie for second-place in the regular-season standings with a 5-3-1 League record. VMI was tied for last in 2007 with a 1-6 mark, and entered the 2008 season with a 2-29 record in Big South games.

Nov. 6, 2008
Coastal Carolina Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) and University Professor and Coordinator of Health Promotion Sharon Thompson is named the South Carolina Governor’s 2008 Professor of the Year for four-year institutions of higher education. The prestigious annual award recognizes excellence in teaching and student advising.

Nov. 10, 2008
Liberty men’s cross country runner Sam Chelanga is featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section for his dominating performance at the Oct. 18 Pre-Nationals meet.

Nov. 11, 2008
Winthrop men’s soccer player Matt Lacey receives two national honors as he is named to the Soccer America National Team of the Week and the CollegeSoccerNews.com National Team of the Week for leading Winthrop to the regular-season championship.

Nov. 13, 2008
Radford women’s soccer player Caitlyn Roan is named to the Soccer America Women’s Team of the Week following her MVP performance during the Big South Tournament.

Nov. 14, 2008
VMI’s men’s basketball team defeats the Kentucky Wildcats, 111-103 at Rupp Arena to open the 2008-09 college basketball season. The victory propels the two-time defending national scoring champion Keydets back into the national spotlight, as the team goes on to receive a Top 25 vote in the Associated Press poll, as well as a No. 25 ranking in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, its first-ever appearance in the national poll.

Nov. 15, 2008
Liberty sophomore Sam Chelanga wins the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Championships, helping the Flames match their highest-ever finish at the regional meet (fifth-place). It is the fourth time in five years that a Liberty runner has won the regional meet. Chelanga qualifies for the NCAA Cross Country Championship with the victory.

Nov. 16, 2008
Liberty cross country runner Jordan McDougal receives an at-large berth to the NCAA Cross Country Championships based on the strength of his 12th-place finish at the Southeast Regional. McDougal will join teammate Sam Chelanga at the national meet, marking the first time since Liberty joined the NCAA Division I ranks that the Flames will send multiple runners to the Cross Country Championship finals.

Nov. 17, 2008
Winthrop forward Matthew Skonicki is named to the CollegeSoccerNews.com National Team of the Week for the second time this season.

Nov. 18, 2008
Liberty and UNC Asheville meet in the earliest Big South men’s basketball Conference opener, as the game is part of ESPN’s special “24 Hours of College Basketball Marathon” television program and is broadcast live nationally on ESPN. The Bulldogs defeat the Flames, 84-56 at the Justice Center in Asheville.

Nov. 18, 2008
Liberty volleyball player Kallie Corbin is honored by Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU.com) as a Top Performer for matches played between Nov. 10-16. Corbin was honored by CVU.com twice during the 2007 season.

Nov. 20, 2008
Liberty’s Sam Chelanga is named the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year. He is the second consecutive Liberty athlete to receive the regional honor.

Nov. 20, 2008
Former Coastal Carolina men’s golf All-American Dustin Johnson is named one of five finalists for the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year award. Players were nominated for each respective award by the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council and Player Directors.

Nov. 24, 2008
For the second consecutive year, the Liberty men’s cross country team placed a runner in the top two at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, as Flames sophomore Sam Chelanga battled Oregon senior Galen Rupp neck-and-neck, before Rupp edged Chelanga in the final straightaway. Chelanga earned All-American honors with his Runner-up finish.

Nov. 24, 2008
After a 4-0 start, Coastal Carolina’s women’s basketball team receives votes in the Associated Press Top 25 national rankings, its first-ever appearance in the AP poll in school history.

November 2008
A total of 17 Big South student-athletes are named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District for the fall season. A League-record six football players were honored, in addition to six women’s soccer players, four men’s soccer players and one volleyball student-athlete.

Dec. 1, 2008
Liberty men’s basketball freshman Seth Curry is named Dick Vitale’s “Diaper Dandy of the Week” after averaging 23.0 points and .510 percent from the field in three wins, including a victory at Virginia.

Dec. 8, 2008
For the first time in Big South history, two men’s basketball teams are ranked in the 10-year old Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 national poll. Liberty’s first-ever appearance in the ranking came in the No. 13 position, while VMI was ranked No. 21.

Dec. 10, 2008
The Big South Conference has a record 12 men’s soccer players named All-Region by the NSCAA. Winthrop led the way with five selections, followed by Liberty (3), Coastal Carolina (2), High Point (1) and UNC Asheville (1).

Dec. 12, 2008
Big South men’s soccer players Daniel Revivo (Winthrop) and Joshua Boateng (Liberty) are named NSCAA All-Americans, marking the first time that the Big South has two men’s soccer All-Americans since 2003.

Dec. 17, 2008
Liberty junior setter Kallie Corbin is named an Honorable Mention All-American by the AVCA, the Flames’ first-ever Division I volleyball All-American and the third in Big South history.
Dec. 19, 2008
As mentioned in our last SHOUT, All-American honors are earned by four Big South football players, led by AP First Teamer Rashad Jennings of Liberty. The others receiving recognition: Philip Ashley (CSU), Jeffrey Williams (GWU), and Demario Deese (GWU).
Well that's all for now...I'm hitting the road tomorrow for Christmas with family... meanwhile, Hanukkah starts tonight and runs throughout the week -- so SHOUT wishes everybody the very best at the close of the year and we look forward to a fantastic year in 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

That Special Season

Yes, it's that time of year...FCS is putting the final touch on the season tonight, the FBS boys are getting their Bowl Games on starting this weekend, the NFL is spinning from its regular season into the playoffs...oh, and next week is Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, all hitting in a row between the Winter Solstice and the new moon preceding the New Year, so there's really something for everybody, right? There's even Boxing Day for Canada and the UK...

Whew! Are you ready for all that? Finished shopping yet?

Well, SHOUT is ready to break out the new calendar soon. The plan here is to have a wrap-up post coming up on Monday, reflecting proudly on Big South accomplishments of the year...and it's unknown what (if anything) might get posted between Christmas and New Year's--I'll be on a break from the office, but I may have some thoughts to contribute...who knows?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to some changes with SHOUT in 2009--like more guest bloggers and special features. The upcoming year should have plenty of fun to go around...but first, we still have 2008 business to deal with, like the latest video promo for The EDGE (covering from now through the first week of January):


Closing out now with some freshly-released information and a big-time SHOUT-out for Rashad Jennings of Liberty, AP First-Team FCS All-American! Way to go, what a tremendous accomplishment (and a great bonus for the holidays)! Read all about Jennings, along with other All-America honors for CSU's Philip Ashley plus GWU's Jeffrey Williams and Demario Deese in today's football news from your official source at BigSouthSports.com.

Make it a great weekend, everybody...more to come on Monday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sasser Cup Mania

Okay, that's obviously an exaggeration...you really don't run into any "Sasser Cup Mania" out there, but it is a big deal for the member schools of the Big South...after all, it establishes which of the ten institutions produced the best overall athletic program performance in a given year.

The update through the end of the fall competition came out a few days ago, with some interesting results. For example, you might think that since Liberty has claimed more titles than anyone else (Men's Cross Country, Volleyball, Football), that they might be a natural number one. Ah, but no--that's where the point system comes in for all the programs involved: it's not just taking a tourney title, it's the regular season, it's consistently high performance, it's all of that rolled together!

Through the fall, the overall leader is actually Coastal Carolina, with High Point second, and Liberty third...plus Winthrop and VMI to round out the top five. On the women's side, the order is Coastal-HPU-VMI-Liberty-Radford. For the men, the top programs are Winthrop-Liberty-HPU-Coastal-UNCA.

The Sasser Cup, named for former Big South Commissioner Buddy Sasser, is designed to reward the most consistently strong program for the course of a full athletic calendar. The last ELEVEN have all gone to either Liberty (6) or Coastal Carolina (5). CCU has an additional four Cups from earlier seasons, giving the Chanticleers a Conference-best total of nine! LU's half dozen (including last year's win)gets them second place on that list, followed with three each by former members UNC Greensboro and Campbell, and finally two wins by Winthrop...for a total of 23 such awards given by the Big South.

With consistency as the buzzword, you can sort of tell by looking through the numbers that it was a last-place finish in women's soccer that brought the Flames down a couple of pegs for now (only one point on the weighted scale, with no tournament appearance points to add). The numbers at this point give you a barometer of where programs are, but that's only one-third of the total sports recognized in the standings, so there's a loooooong way to go before anyone gets to lift the trophy and claim honors as the best!

In other news, you can click the following link if you want to see my latest report on Big South men's basketball for Rush the Court ("college basketblog").
Hope your holiday plans are going well...more SHOUT coming soon!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shooting Stars

They must love the Big South at the "Worldwide Leader" these days...

--there's a great column spotlighting the VMI Offense on ESPN's website from Wednesday
--AND ESPN2's "First Take" (the show "Cold Pizza" turned into) did a live segment with Liberty freshman Seth Curry that same day.

What do they have in common? Shooting the rock, baby.

VMI's story has two great quotes of note...one you've likely heard before if you've followed the hard-running, high-scoring program Duggar Baucom has assembled in Lexington: "Shoot the ball before you turn it over" (the essence of the Keydets' offensive philosophy, as told to columnist Kyle Whelliston by senior Travis Holmes).

The other quote from the article is one that could be easily overlooked, but is one the other programs in the Big South should pay attention to--this one from the other Holmes twin, Chavis: "There's still a lot of pressure on us to perform every night. The Kentucky game showed how good we can be. But if we don't win our conference, it's going to be a major disappointment" (emphasis mine).

That's a strong statement from a program that has never won the Conference title before, but you have to acknowledge that VMI is backing it up on the court relentlessly, jumping out to a 2-0 start in the Big South and 7-2 overall...not too shabby.

As for Curry, we've already covered his success in SHOUT, but suffice to say for now that he's claimed Freshman of the Week and Player of the Week honors once each in the season's first four weeks.

For the Conference in general, it's Bizarro-ball in the standings on the men's side--all the teams have played one or two Big South games, and you can add Winthrop, High Point, and Coastal Carolina together without finding a Conference win (0-5...and 6-18 overall for that group). Meanwhile, there's VMI and PC, each 2-0 in the Big South already--what do you know?!?

On the women's side, no Conference games yet (as I write this on the afternoon of Friday 12/12), but I'm pretty sure not too many folks thought you'd only get 4-19 by combining Liberty (1-6), Radford (1-6) and High Point (2-7) off the top of the season. Credit Coastal Carolina (6-2) and Gardner-Webb (5-2) for getting off to sharp starts this year.

So with so many storylines popping around the League, it's a perfect time to check out The EDGE...here's the video with the line-up for the week ahead...

That looks like a commercial for how badly I need to get a haircut, quite frankly...

SHOUT-outs on the soccer side of life for a quartet of invitees to the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale coming up in January: Daniel Revivo (Winthrop), Otto Loewy (Winthrop), Joshua Boateng (Liberty), and Kyle Russell (Coastal Carolina)--good luck, guys!!!

Have a great weekend, one and all...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Conference Play on the March...in December

You probably know the Big South got its earliest start ever for Conference play in men's basketball...but even setting that ESPN game of a few weeks ago aside, things are still rolling a little early for everyone this year.

Saturday the 6th offers up a quartet of Conference games (and all for your viewing pleasure on The EDGE): GWU at LU, VMI at UNCA, WU at RU, and PC at HPU.

For a rundown of those and the other games available this week, you can check out the video...

By the way, how many of you caught the Big South TV doubleheader of on Wednesday night?

Okay, not really a twin bill, but in the early evening you had SportSouth with UNC Asheville at Tennessee (although UT's Tyler Smith getting the first-ever triple-double for the Vols and Bruce Pearl getting career win #400 obviously didn't leave much attention for the Bulldogs following the 22-point loss) and in the nightcap you had MASN showing Winthrop at VMI (if you haven't seen the Keydets play, you owe it to yourself to catch the running and gunning show they do there--Winthrop gave it a strong effort early, but succumbed to the three-point attack 92-74). It's cool to see the Big South teams get that kind of exposure. There's another one on MASN Saturday, the 3pm tilt for Gardner-Webb at Liberty: newcomer GWU ready to start Conference play on the road against a hot LU squad with freshman Seth Curry already asserting his skills. You can read more about Curry in a write-up from today's Charlotte Observer.

Speaking of UNC Asheville and tough opponents, they are in a murderer's row of teams in the AP Top Ten, having played North Carolina and Tennessee--with Duke still ahead...and as a bonus, the Bulldogs get unranked but unforgiving Ohio State just before Christmas. Ho-ho-ho.


No time to chat more now, but let me close with a SHOUT-out to Coastal Carolina's Ashleigh Gunning (pictured)--the Big South Women's Soccer Player of the Year has been invited to the Women's Professional Soccer West Coast Combine (Dec. 11-14, San Diego). The WPS will be conducting two combines with a total of 144 invited players. Congratulations, Ashleigh--and good luck!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Of Patriot Games and Triplet Fame

Let's talk hoops for a moment, shall we?

Here's an interesting double feature from Monday night, just in time to get December going:
MBB -- Liberty 69, George Mason 66 (OT)
WBB-- High Point 66, George Mason 55

Yes, it's been a bit of a roller coaster this year for out-of-conference play--with surprising upsets working for and against the Big South in these first few weeks...but the twin-killing over the GMU Patriots marked a good night for the Conference against the CAA.

In other hoops news this week, the Presbyterian men did their part Monday night by dispatching Army and ending a long road losing streak for the Blue Hose...meanwhile, the year's second Conference game in men's basketball was played in High Point, where Charleston Southern, led by Jamarco Warren and Omar Carter, downed the Panthers by ten (62-52).

Of course, the first Big South MBB game this year was the ESPN game with UNC Asheville easily dispatching Liberty (84-56). LU may be sitting at the bottom of the Conference with that loss for now, but overall the Flames have been torching all comers. Overtime wins over William & Mary and George Mason (with many thanks to Seth Curry, at right, making key shots) and the upset victory over Virginia would give Liberty better conference records in the Colonial (2-0) and ACC (1-0) than in the Big South (0-1)! Add in the wins over Montreat and Coker and you've got a 5-1 ballclub heading into its second Conference game Saturday against Gardner-Webb, to be televised on MASN.

Want more basketball talk? You can check out my end-of-November report on Big South men's basketball for the Rush the Court blog, which is posted now.

Not to get stuck in a Liberty gear, but there is more news on the LU front, with the Frazee triplets getting a sensational write-up in USA Today (Frazees photo at right from USA Today). With Molly out for the year with her ACL tear--completing the ACL cycle among the three girls--we won't see the three of them play out their senior year together on the court, but what tremendous impact they have had on that program and on women's basketball in the Big South!

Meanwhile, here's a round-up on the NCAA front for the fall sports champions:
Radford's women and Winthrop's men were bounced in the opening rounds of their soccer tournaments (to Duke and William & Mary, respectively), while Liberty's Sam Chelanga came in second among individual runners in the men's cross country championship. Liberty's volleyball team plays a first round match at Nebraska at the end of this week.

Have you been checking the Big South 25th Anniversary stories and videos? This week's spotlight is on High Point's Danny Gathings for his great act of sportsmanship in 2004. While we're on the subject of the "Best of the Best" from the Big South's first quarter-century, I have to ask: HAVE YOU VOTED (for YOUR choice as the Best of the Best)? You can vote once a day for your selection, and fan balloting will be combined with committee votes to determine the final order of these legendary moments in the spring of 2009.

As always, thanks for reading SHOUT--more coming soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Turkeys Here...

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

Here's a SHOUT-out to you, dear readers, for a pleasant holiday weekend (and safe travels if you're out and about on family visits). We are thankful for the fun and the pride that comes from being involved with the Big South Conference--and hopeful that you feel the same way as you follow the Conference through its athletic adventures!

The Flames of Liberty have certainly been burning up the news this week:
  • LU repeated as Big South Volleyball Champions (pictured), knocking off Coastal Carolina at UNC Asheville on Sunday.
  • Liberty men's basketball pulled off an upset over ACC foe Virginia Tuesday night!
  • Unfortunately for both LU and the Big South, the Flames were snuffed out of an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs again...keep your countdown clocks running to the automatic bid in 2010 so we can take at least some of the mystery out of selection day.

SHAMELESS PLUG TIME: Looking for a good holiday gift idea? Try the Big South Conference Online Store for gear customized with Big South and school logos. Do it now, so you can get your made-to-order item finished and sent before Christmas!!!

Plug, Part II: if you don't want something to wear, how about something to display--like a great souvenir photo from action in the Big South Championships? Pictures for viewing and for sale are available right now--go to BigSouthSports.com and click the PHOTOS box on the left side under the menu!

Now it's time to talk about what's "On The EDGE" this week--and it's all hoops, all the time: 20 basketball games (11 men, 9 women) from tonight through next Thursday. It's all in this week's video update...

Catch you later, my friends...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Living On The EDGE?

Here's the latest on what's coming up on The Big South EDGE...I'm making sure we don't miss out on the video like last week's SHOUT did!

By the way, it's VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT TIME--don't miss the fun going on at UNC Asheville with the competition for the Big South title!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big South-a-palooza !?!

Where do I begin?
We last had a SHOUT 12 days ago, and just a few things have happened since then...so here are your HEADLINES:

LIBERTY CLINCHES 2ND STRAIGHT FOOTBALL TITLE,
without even needing to complete the Conference schedule to do it--but then they went ahead and finished undefeated in the Big South anyway (with hopes for more).


RADFORD CROWNED WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPION
after defeating Coastal Carolina in the final at High Point. The HPU folks did a sensational job staging the event and the competition did a good job living up to the setting.


WINTHROP WINS MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP,
knocking off host Coastal Carolina on the Chanticleers' home field. Weather issues threatened, but the Coastal staff overcame all that nicely (more on that below--read on...).


BASKETBALL SEASON TIPS OFF WITH THE BIG SOUTH ON THE NATIONAL STAGE

  • first with PC taking on Duke in a Coaches vs. Cancer TV game at Durham (for the record, the Blue Devils indeed held off the Blue Hose, but Presbyterian gave a solid effort)
  • then with VMI hitting triple-digits in a high-profile win over Kentucky (just a year after then-pre-Big South Gardner-Webb scored a Big Blue surprise of its own on UK)
  • and finally with UNCA hosting Liberty as part of ESPN's 24 Hours of College Basketball programming--and the Bulldogs coming up big winners (more on that in a minute).

VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT NEXT ON THE SCENE,
as UNC Asheville and the Asheville community prepare to host the Big South Conference for showdowns across the net and we pursue another championship winner.

Okay, take a breath.

By the way, a quick recap of the championships to this point shows an interesting trend:
Men's Cross Country = Liberty
Women's Cross Country = Coastal Carolina
Women's Soccer = Radford
Men's Soccer = Winthrop
That's four Conference Championship events with four different champions! Sure, Liberty snagged football to be the first to double up, but football awards its title by regular season record, so no championship event there.

All of which would beg the question, "Who could make it five for five at volleyball?"
The regular season ended in a three-way tie for Liberty, Coastal, and High Point--so you could include the Panthers as a contender for a fifth-different title-winner...but host UNCA has plenty of support and is playing strong enough to put the Bulldogs in the mix too.

Forgive me, but I like seeing the championships spread out among the schools. Last year, six different programs (of the eight members at that time) won Big South titles. The number is already up to four after finishing five sports seasons this year.

I missed the chance to post a SHOUT last Friday, so anyone looking here for the On The EDGE Viewers Guide was sure to be disappointed (and really no point in putting it here now)--but it was still posted as normal on BigSouthSports.com, so if you like getting that update and you don't see one here in a given week, please look for it over there!

Speaking of last Friday, I was in Conway, SC, helping out with the video streaming of the men's soccer semifinal games. Although I had to drive through multiple downpours to get from Charlotte to the Grand Strand, weather along the coast was mainly cloudy and breezy without showers (after periods of rain during the previous day's quarterfinals). The first match pitted Liberty against Winthrop, and not even regulation play, two overtimes, and a standard number of penalty kicks would be enough to determine a winner. The Flames and Eagles had to go to extra PK's to establish which squad would make the final--and that honor went to the top-seeded Winthrop team. One thing we got in that game that you don't see very often: a goalkeeper KICKING a penalty kick shot--Patrick Mitrovich did the honors for WU and knocked one home to do his part on the offensive side. The later game had the host Chanticleers against UNC Asheville, upset winners over GWU in the quarterfinals. Coastal had most of the ball control, repelled the UNCA counterattacks, and won its way into a showdown with its traditional rival. I did not stay onsite through Sunday's final myself, but I can tell you it was a doozy, with the top seed Winthrop downing the host team Coastal Carolina 4-3 in overtime--great tournament action!

Some of you may have noticed a lot of posts happen here on Friday and Tuesday...no real rule to that, but those days are often better for making the time to send a SHOUT. As I said, I was away last Friday--and then the same thing happened on Tuesday. I was fortunate enough to be courtside for the UNC Asheville vs. Liberty men's basketball game, shown to the nation on ESPN. The student section was full--and I daresay there must've been a run on body paint in the area around campus. The UNCA volleyball team was sitting right behind me, supporting Bulldogs basketball in full voice. The room was buzzing, the Bulldogs were fired up, and the Flames could never really match that intensity.

UNCA jumped out 7-0, expanded that to 49-30 at the half, and finished up 84-56 when the final buzzer sounded. The whole team played well, but you can certainly point praise to freshman guard J.P. Primm and junior guard Sean Smith. Primm was a source of energy throughout, and made all eight of his free throws on the way to a game-high 21 points in a team-high 30 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Smith was on fire from long range, sinking five of six shots beyond the extended arc to finish with 17. When the game concluded, Primm raced to the students to celebrate and high-five, spending so much time and having so much fun that the rest of the team joined him in the party.

On the other side, Liberty got double-digit point production out of Preseason Player of the Year Anthony Smith and freshman Seth Curry, but with low shooting percentages, a problem which plagued the whole Flames squad.

Great sidebar to the game itself: of course the fans (mainly students) were acting goofy for the cameras going to a national audience, but here's a SHOUT-out to the one who took it to another level--an interactive level--by showing a sign (which was a nice "We Miss You Kenny" message for injured and ailing player Kenny George) and then flipped it over to reveal a gag marriage proposal for ESPN's Erin Andrews along with a phone number. When I saw the sign, I cringed with wonder as to what was at the other end of that number, but moments later he could be heard saying something like, "Dude, my phone's blowing up--I've got seven texts, five voicemails, it's still ringing, and I don't know any of these people." Yes, he put his own cell phone number on national television. Must've seemed like a good idea at the time...yeesh.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Champion-Ship-Shape...

Time flies--the last post was Halloween, so now a week later it's a whole new month, champions have been crowned, awards have been given, and lots of stuff has been going on, so let's play a little catch-up...


First to the race courses in Lynchburg for the Conference Cross Country Championships--congratulations to Big South Champions Liberty (men) and Coastal Carolina (women)! Salutes also go to individual top finishers Sam Chelanga (LU men, pictured at right) and Zsanett Kis (HPU women). Chelanga earned an additional distinction, making the Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd" feature in SI's 11/10/08 issue (Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth on the cover).


Last week's football featured an upset that may echo for a while--Presbyterian upended Liberty, giving the Blue Hose a big win while potentially damaging the Flames' chances for postseason play.


End-of-season awards went out for women's soccer, and the tournament got started in High Point with a sensational quarterfinal round on Thursday: VMI downed Winthrop, Radford got past UNC Asheville, Coastal shut out GWU, and host HPU defeated CSU (more on the tourney after the video). That sets up the Friday semifinals, with VMI-Radford and Coastal-HPU. The final game will be played Sunday afternoon. All the games are of course available on The EDGE...speaking of which, let's look at the week ahead:




Bonus note on the upcoming football weekend--the Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb game will get its share of attention Saturday: live coverage on MASN (and The EDGE), plus ESPN360 and availability on ESPN GamePlan, AND tape-delay coverage on SportSouth. Whew!

Okay, now let's talk about the Women's Soccer Championship at High Point. I was there Thursday for at least part of three different quarterfinal games (missed the nightcap, which is too bad, because it was a good one). Let me compliment the folks at HPU--great hosts and a wonderful venue for the event. The Vert Track & Soccer Stadium there sure makes for a fine championship setting...of course, it didn't hurt that the weather was perfect: mild temperatures and clear skies, plus a backdrop of fall colors just to complete the scene.

Most of my attention was directed to the Radford-UNC Asheville game, since I was announcing that one for The EDGE. Interesting contest--RU peppered UNCA with shots all game long, with no results until late in the second half, when Latrice Lee made a good cross to Ashley Johnson (All-Freshman Team, 2nd Team All-Conference) to break the scoreless tie...but then the Bulldogs mustered an attack in the game's final minute (Katy Beeler's goal) to send the game to overtime. Asheville had only a fraction of the offensive surge that Radford put on throughout the game, yet after 90 minutes they were deadlocked at one goal each--such is the way of soccer. The overtime period see-sawed with two tired teams trying to assert an advantage, but again it was Johnson for the Highlanders (#24 pictured at right) putting one home to take the 2-1 victory and advance to the semifinals. From my angle in the press box, I could see the opportunity she got with her shot--the ball came loose and traffic in the box opened up in front of her...the only question was could she get to the ball first--yes--game over.

By the way, if you make it to any of the Big South Championships (including women's soccer this week, men's soccer next week, and volleyball in two weeks), look for the Big South Conference Championship Photos tent. Our partners with Sideline Sports will be actively firing away with their cameras and making pictures from the tournament available for sale on-site, a perfect souvenir for family, friends, and fans! If you can't be there in person, you can still order pix by going to BigSouthSports.com and looking for the Championship Photos link on the left side.

Finally, a SHOUT-out to Coastal Carolina and Faculty Athletics Representative Sharon Thompson, winner of the South Carolina Governor's Award as 2008 Professor of the Year! Congratulations, Sharon--that's outstanding news!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Quick Hits (No Tricks, Just Treats)

A Happy Halloween SHOUT to you all--but aside from the holiday, October's time is running out of the hourglass and November is upon us, which means championships (among other things).


We're going to go rapid-fire few some of the things going on out there...


-- Saturday the 1st actually begins the championship swing with the races for the Big South Cross Country Championships. Liberty claimed both the men's and women's crowns last year, and this year the Flames are hosting the event--will that give them another leg up (or two)? We'll see this weekend.


-- Saturday also offers three football games for our Conference teams: VMI at CSU, each with only one Big South win so far; Liberty at PC, which does not yet count as a Conference game so LU will carry over its undefeated League mark; and Gardner-Webb at Stony Brook, the first meeting for those schools and one in which SBU seeks its third straight Conference win. Coastal Carolina has a bye this week, and the Chanticleers could use the break: 0-3 in the Big South so far.

-- Looking beyond the weekend, each of the next three weeks has a championship tournament in store for us: women's soccer (11/6-9), men's soccer (11/13-16), and volleyball (11/21-23). All of those tournament games will have video streaming available on The EDGE--packages are up now, each tournament offering daily passes or full championship subscriptions.



-- Let's talk academics for a moment...there is an impressive scholarship offer out there right now from Big South Corporate Partner Sunbelt Rentals. Information is available at BigSouthSports.com (look for the green box with the Sunbelt logo, or just click here). The original deadline was 11/1/08, but they are still trying to grow the applicant pool, so it has been extended to 11/15.



-- Still on the academic bent, 2009 will bring us the second Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium, known as Big SURS. UNC Asheville is hosting the event in March, but will start accepting research abstracts on November 10th. For more details, refer to the Big South Big SURS page or to UNCA's Big SURS page.


-- The Big South has an interesting new service available starting with the Cross Country Championships: BigSouthPhotos.com. You can see galleries from the various Conference championships and even purchase the pictures you like! The site is still under construction as I write this, but our partners with Sideline Sports expect to have it up with available shots from cross country as soon as Monday the 3rd. And starting with the Women's Soccer Championship, Sideline Sports will have reps available to sell shots on-site at the event!


Okay, gotta run, but I'll leave with this week's Viewers Guide before I go...


That just might be the scariest thing you'll see this Halloween!

Keep it safe and fun out there, people--and two reminders: don't forget to set your CLOCKS this weekend and don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday (unless you've already done early voting, of course).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Reflection


Spinning around the Conference and updating the fall sports as we head into Halloween week (and beyond it, to the November tournaments/championships)...


Men's Soccer continues to be a dogfight, with Gardner-Webb 5-2, Coastal Carolina 4-1-1, and Winthrop 4-1. GWU and Winthrop face off Wednesday evening in a game with tournament seeding implications. Interestingly enough, of the three squads, only Winthrop has a winning record overall.


Women's Soccer has Coastal Carolina (6-2) out in front, with CSU (4-1-3) and VMI (4-2-1) in a battle for second and HPU (3-2-2) and Winthrop (3-3-2) right behind them. Time is running short on the season, with the Conference Championship starting play November 6th.


Volleyball offers a fight to the finish at the top going into the stretch run: Liberty is 10-1 and High Point is 9-1 in Conference. Look for them to clash in just a couple of weeks (on Tuesday, 11/11) with plenty at stake.


Football has a tight race of its own for everyone, but the battle may be for second unless something changes in the next few weeks. Liberty regained its footing after an out-of-conference loss, shutting out Charleston Southern and pushing the Big South record for the defending-champion Flames to 3-0. Newcomer Stony Brook downed Coastal Carolina to improve to 2-1 and hang a game back of LU. GWU defeated VMI, leaving both squads with 1-1 records to work with. Behind those teams, CSU sits at 1-2 and Coastal holds the sixth position--surprisingly still winless in Conference at 0-3.


Speaking of football, some happier news for the CCU crowd: a solid performance by Chanticleers alum Tyler Thigpen for the Kansas City Chiefs this week, as reviewed here by an ESPN blog correspondent. He's already had some ups and downs in his young NFL career, but his performance this week would seem to indicate that he's really "getting it" now.


By the way, I know I missed posting the viewers guide video on Friday...here it is now, just in case you want a review of what's coming up on The Edge for today-Thursday (or if you want to know what was on this past Friday-Monday, for that matter)...





Catch you later.............

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Follow This Link...

Hello, SHOUT readers!
Today I am sending you on a field trip--no, really.

I was a guest blogger recently on "Rush the Court," a national college basketball blog, offering the RTC readers a preview of the Big South (for men's basketball). So instead of rehashing that text here, I'll give you the link to read the piece there: Rush the Court Big South Preview. Enjoy--and we'll send another SHOUT your way soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Sports Frenzy

I know the last SHOUT spent most of its time on basketball, so in the interests of fair time, we remind everyone that the Big South scene is very much about the FALL sports right now...basketball is just starting practice this weekend but the other sports are all in the heat of Conference races.


It's an interesting football weekend, with four games on the schedule (and all of them on The EDGE). Three of those four are first-ever meetings and one is a series with history:

CSU @ SBU -- "Buccaneers & Seawolves" just sounds adventurous, doesn't it? This is no old Errol Flynn flick nor a Johnny Depp sequel-in-the-making, this is Big South Conference football...between teams going in opposite directions right now. Charleston Southern has won three straight and Stony Brook, crushed by injuries, has lost five in a row.

Lafayette @ Liberty -- it's strength on strength: Liberty #7 in FCS in total offense, Lafayette #5 in total defense--something's gotta give here! Liberty has won eleven in a row and has continued its march up the rankings.

NCCU @ Coastal Carolina -- Chanticleers trying to get back on track (and hoping NC Central helps get them there).

PC @ GWU -- this one is the battle of familiar foes, with 30 previous meetings (PC leads the series 16-14). Gardner-Webb is trying to stop a three-game slide.

VMI is idle.


For more on all these games, look at the Conference Football Preview at BigSouthSports.com.


Now it's time to look at what streaming offerings we have for the week ahead...


Let's get beyond football, because as mentioned on the video, the fight to the finish is on for men's soccer, women's socer, and volleyball too...and all that being said, the first championship on the slate is for men's and women's cross country, just a couple of weeks away!

Here's the upcoming Big South Championship schedule:
Nov. 1 - Cross Country Championships, hosted by Liberty
Nov. 6-7, 9 - Women's Soccer Championship, hosted by High Point
Nov. 13-14, 16 - Men's Soccer Championship, hosted by Coastal Carolina
Nov. 21-23 - Volleyball Championship, hosted by UNC Asheville

That means a lot of fired-up competition in the next few weeks, followed by the races and tournaments for the respective titles in those sports--basically filling up your calendar between Halloween and Thanksgiving. It's a great time of year, folks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hoops on First

It must be confessed that the above title narrowly beat out other contenders like "Hoops Can It Be Now?" and "HOOPS, There It Is!" Sad yet true, but I digress...


Yesterday was Big South Conference Basketball Media Day, and yours truly had a front row seat for the fun. I would have offered posts-in-progress, but I was far too busy at the time trying to keep all the parts of our video streaming operation going (more on that at the end).


You probably know the drill: various media members gather, compile preseason materials, listen to what the coaches have to say, and learn the results of the preseason balloting for All-Conference teams and predicted order of finish (in men's and women's basketball). The Big South, of course, also streams and archives video interviews of the coaches in attendance and the selected Preseason Players of the Year.


I won't keep you too long today, but here are some of the key points from Tuesday:


For the men...

-the race is wide open, with seven of the ten teams receiving first-place votes...

-defending champ Winthrop topped the voting as preseason favorite, despite significant player losses--resulting in no Eagles on the preseason All-Conference Team...

-Winthrop Head Coach Randy Peele added that he only has about 18 points per game returning this season...

-and WU's not alone, as nearly every team reflected on the loss of great players and the importance of youth and development this season...

-most coaches seemed to admit when pressed that Radford's talent may be the best of the group...

-and Liberty's Anthony Smith (pictured) has extraordinary talent yet tremendous modesty about it.



For the women:

-the whole preseason All-Conference Team was composed of seniors...

-Liberty is expected to succeed again, thanks largely to the contributions of the Frazees...

-Megan Frazee (pictured), in particular, was considered good enough to be a topic of conversation for most of the coaches yesterday afternoon, which is natural given the level of her game and the amount of attention opponents must give her...

-Gardner-Webb's Rick Reeves returns to the Big South, having previously coached at Liberty, and seems happy with the GWU switch from the A-Sun to the Big South...

-as was the case with the men, youth and the quest for leadership remain big issues for lots of teams once you get beyond that list of senior All-Conference stars...

-and Radford's dissatisfaction with last year's second-place finish was evident in the way new coach Taj Ngongba referred to how her players "remember their last game."


A couple of my favorite off-the-cuff short answers from the afternoon:
VMI's Duggar Baucom on the wide-open MBB race this year: "It's crazy, really."
PC's Gregg Nibert on the three-point line moving back: "It's gonna be neat."


You can learn all the latest from BigSouthSports.com, where you can see the following stories:
- Winthrop picked as preseason favorite for the men,
- Liberty picked as preseason favorite for the women,
- Anthony Smith named Preseason Player of the Year for the men, and
- Megan Frazee named Preseason Player of the Year for the women.


Those articles also have links connecting you to the 2008-09 Basketball Preview video and the archived clip of the coach interviews. Look for the site to add a "Basketball Media Center" soon, similar to the ones that you've already seen there for Football and for the Big South's 25th Anniversary. It will collect all the early hoops info in one convenient place for you.

Hey, everybody--believe it or not, this is post #50 for the Big South SHOUT!!!
Thanks to everyone who's been reading us and passing the word on to your friends, we really appreciate the support.

I close with a grateful SHOUT-out to Liberty Men's Basketball Head Coach Ritchie McKay who, after standing behind me while watching the very talented Matt Hogue handle the interviews of Megan Frazee and Anthony Smith for The EDGE, commented, "This guy's doing the job of four men back here!" Thanks, Coach, I'm flattered...it's all just another day's work in doing the one-man-band video streaming technique (producer/director, 3 cameras, audio, graphics, floor manager, etc.)--you gotta love it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Media Daze

Can you say "basketball time" ?

Believe it or not, the hoops preseason tip-off time is here!
Early next week we hit the annual events that mark that seasonal launch: the Big South Conference Basketball Media Days and Fall Meetings.

Best of all, you can get in on the fun...well, not the golf outing for the coaches and media (nor the board meetings of the Conference administration, although it's less likely you would find that "fun")...but you CAN get exclusive interviews with all the men's and women's basketball coaches on The Big South EDGE--for FREE.

The live streaming interviews can be seen at BigSouthSports.com on Tuesday, October 14th, at about 1:15pm (the time's a little flexible based on the events of the day, but that should be pretty close). In addition to the coaches, there will be interviews with the preseason players of the year--but you're not going to get those names out of me until all that is released on Tuesday, along with the full All-Conference Team and preseason poll predicting the order of finish (put together by the coaches and selected media representatives).

Meanwhile, back in the seasons that are playing right now, we have lots of intriguing match-ups, many of them on the video streaming schedule--so here's a look at the week ahead with our "On the EDGE" feature:


Look for more details on football in the Big South's Week 7 Preview.

In other news, we want to point out that the "Dig Pink" campaign is not the only volleyball effort on behalf of breast cancer awareness in the Big South Conference. High Point is playing a match for "Dig for the Cure" in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. That's happening tonight (Friday the 10th) at 7pm in the Millis Center at HPU.

Speaking of the world of pink, get ready for more promotions in women's basketball this season to help breast cancer awareness...last year they were thinking pink, but this year it's straight to the "Pink Zone", so watch for that campaign coming soon.

And since we've worked our way back to basketball, I should point out that the Basketball Sports Passes are now available for the video streaming of all home basketball games in the Big South Conference for 2008-09. Order now and enjoy the games!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DIG PINK with guest blogger Kristen Bauer!


Ladies and gentlemen, there's a very special promotion going on out there called "Dig Pink"--volleyball teams working together for breast cancer awareness. The Big South Conference has member schools involved in Dig Pink, leading us to turn SHOUT over this morning to guest blogger Coastal Carolina Head Coach Kristen Bauer (pictured below at right) for the whole story...

In the Fall of 2008, hundreds of teams from around the country will participate in the “Dig Pink” National Breast Cancer Awareness Rally. For the month of October, the Coastal Carolina volleyball team will promote breast health education as well as raise funds to help eradicate this disease. “Dig Pink” attendees will not only cheer the players on as they compete on the court, but will support the cause by donating funds and make a statement by wearing pink to home matches. The proceeds from all donations will benefit the Side-Out Foundation.

The foundation’s name underscores the purpose of the organization – “Side-Out” in volleyball occurs when one team wins a point while its opponent is serving, thereby regaining serve or control of play. Likewise, in the war against cancer, the Side-Out Foundation enables those affected to regain control of their lives.

Coastal Carolina University Volleyball will highlight their match on October 7th, 2008 against Winthrop at 6 pm in Kimbel Arena.
Players will be wearing pink warm-ups and pink socks. Dr. DeCenzo, the President of Coastal Carolina University, will be introducing our event and speaking on the importance of giving to this wonderful cause. Our very first volleyball player to receive a scholarship is Martha Davis. She is a six-year breast cancer survivor and will be serving the first ball of the evening. The Coastal Carolina Student Athletic Advisory Committee will be giving pink ribbons to all in attendance. HTC (Horry Telephone Cooperative) is sponsoring the event by donating $1 for every fan wearing pink.

Throughout the month, the Coastal Carolina University Volleyball team will be raising money by going into the community and asking for donations. We have already had two bake sales on campus and have been stationed at our local Food Lion grocery stores collecting funds. Several companies in Conway and Myrtle Beach have donated items to be sold and all the proceeds will go to the Side-Out Foundation. In addition, the Side-Out Foundation has also graciously allowed a portion of our proceeds to be given to a local breast cancer organization. This way, the Coastal Carolina University Community is helping save lives in their own area.



THANK YOU, COACH BAUER!

That's fantastic information and a great cause--now if you can't get to Conway for the game, there's another Dig Pink event coming up in Asheville 10/18, when UNC Asheville hosts Coastal Carolina for more exciting Big South Conference volleyball, so stay tuned for that!




Finally today, a huge SHOUT-out to former Coastal Carolina men's golf standout Dustin Johnson (one of the Big South 25th Anniversary "Best of the Best"). Johnson birdied the final two holes Sunday to get his first tournament victory on the PGA Tour. The win in the Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, NY, earns him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Congratulations, Dustin!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kicking Off the Kickoffs!

Conference play is everywhere, with rivalries heating up throughout the Big South in all fall sports. For football, this is just the beginning of Conference games--and it's an intriguing weekend on the gridiron...

#20 Liberty at Coastal Carolina is the headliner, with the defending champion coming in undefeated and the home team eager to dethrone the Flames. The Chanticleers lead the all-time series 3-2. Coverage includes Big South television partners MASN and SportSouth.

Gardner-Webb at Charleston Southern is the week's other Conference game--the Runnin' Bulldogs have a 6-2 edge in the series, but the Buccaneers have won two of the last three, giving this one an interesting spin.

#6 Richmond at VMI presents the match-up with the most history: Saturday is their 85th meeting. The Keydets lead the all-time series 40-39-5, and the highly-ranked Spiders will be eager to even up the record among these rivals.

North Greenville at Presbyterian gives us a pair of 1-4 teams meeting with hopes of getting back in the right direction. PC has won all three previous meetings between the schools, although last year was a shootout, so anything can happen (the Blue Hose beat the Crusaders 66-52 in a game where QB Tim Webb threw for 648 yards and seven touchdowns).

All that being said, it's NOT just about football! The volleyball and soccer schedules are already in the thick of Conference play and the games are getting bigger and better. That's as good a cue as any to look at what's On The EDGE this week for all the fall sports...

Gosh, that was really an unfortunate freeze-frame, wasn't it?

By the way, don't forget to go back to the Big South 25th Anniversary Media Center, particularly for the "Best of the Best" Voting. After a rush in the first few weeks, voting has slowed down, so jump in and help your favorite (but remember, only one vote per day--we've been pulling out the extras)! There are also updates to the profile and monthly history stories in the article library and vignettes telling you all about the "Best" honorees in the video library.

That's all for now--gotta run...believe it or not, we're already working on BASKETBALL things too--it's closer than you might think!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grid Gab

Let's talk football for a moment, shall we?


Some things you may not know about the Big South Conference:

-VMI leads the nation in rushing offense (384.0 ypg).
-Liberty's nine-game winning streak is the longest in the nation.
-Coastal Carolina has become the first team in Conference history to hold three straight opponents under ten points.
-Gardner-Webb has become the first team in Big South history to hold four straight opponents under 100 rushing yards.

Back to VMI for a second...Head Coach Sparky Woods admitted during the Big South's weekly teleconference that the rushing yard mark may be a bit inflated from performances against lower-level teams, but nonetheless, you have to be impressed by Tim Maypray (pictured) of the Keydets, who is now the first player in Conference history with a 50-yard rush in four consecutive games.

As for Liberty...the Flames are ranked 20 and 21 in the two major FCS polls, and Choice Hotels Big South Offensive Player of the Week Rashad Jennings (pictured) also earned National Offensive Player of the Week honors from The Sports Network. Collecting honors seemed to fit the Flames this week, with their dramatic win over Youngstown State: Liberty also had the New Balance Defensive Player of the Week for the Big South (Nick Hursky) and the Freshman of the Week (Matt Bevins).

In case you're keeping track, the other weekly Conference award went to Gardner-Webb's Ryan Gates for Special Teams Player of the Week.

For more information on all these facts and figures, go to BigSouthSports.com and open up either the Weekly Football Report or the Players of the Week rundown. You can also listen to the Football Teleconference there.


CONFERENCE PLAY BEGINS THIS WEEK!
Liberty goes to Coastal Carolina (see it on MASN or SportSouth) and Gardner-Webb visits Charleston Southern. Meanwhile, VMI has its hands full with highly-ranked Richmond and Presbyterian hosts North Greenville...Stony Brook has an open date, followed by a gauntlet of Conference games (Coach Chuck Priore has referred to it as their "second season"). All the games this week are being streamed live on The EDGE, so check them out!

That's all for today--more later this week...