Thursday, December 17, 2009

Running Out of 2009 (but not done yet)

Only two weeks left in the "aughts" or the "ohs" or whatever...did we ever come to any consensus on what to call this new millennium decade? No? Didn't think so...

Well, it is that time of year when we start reflecting a bit on the calendar pages gone by and roping things in for lists and comparisons. Don't worry, we won't overdo things in this space, but there are a few items to touch upon in that light... (oh, and this week's Big South Network Guide is toward the bottom of the post).

First off, the world of "New Media"...when does the "new" wear off, anyway? It's starting to feel a little like "alternative music"--you know, it actually was an alternative to mainstream once upon a time, and then it joined the mainstream and just became a music genre. Seems to me that new media is just media now, but we need some sort of label, so there you go. After all, tape recorders and fax machines were once new media--but have now gone through regular media and out the other side into old media, yes? But I digress...

Anyway, this blog will turn two years old at the end of February 2010, making it a hoary old veteran (hey, that's nearly a triple redundancy--I'll call it poetic license) of the new media landscape, where most things are measured in months, not years. In 2009, we saw the Big South add its YouTube channel to the mix, soon to be followed in rapid succession by the Conference Twitter feed and Facebook Fan page. Those entities will all reach the anniversary of their respective beginnings in the next three months, and in the meantime they've become just as much a part of the Big South as anything else we do here.

The tale of the tape for our outlets (as of 11am 12/17/09):
YouTube.com/BigSouthSports ... 2,137 channel views, 14,896 total video upload views, 24 subscribers (69 videos available)
Twitter.com/BigSouthSports ... 454 followers (1,190 tweets/updates)

Big South Facebook Fan Page ... 220 fans

And that's all from nothing, folks--one year ago I could've written an entry in this blog, but none of that other stuff existed for us yet (cue the Dylan song*). No, we're not exactly sailing up the "trending topics" list, but we are increasing our level of contact with fans and friends, and that is a very good thing going forward.

Speaking of which, we've been asking questions via those lines of communication befitting the year-end theme of this post...time to share some of the answers with you.

Our social network family was asked to help with intriguing Big South Christmas gifts, as in "what special/creative present would you wish for a Big South player/coach/team, etc.?"

Here's what we've seen so far:
Brandon: a purple suit for Scott Cherry (first-year HPU MBB coach)
Larry: safety and a quick return home for those Keydets who will soon be going off in harm's way... (we second that one for sure)
Kimberly: a new coach for the Winthrop women's basketball team (hmmm...risking the 'naughty' list, Kimberly--considering that's not a vacant job)
Tim: the entire 2009 HS All-American football squad to commit to Coastal Carolina (that's creative, all right--perhaps a little ambitious, but why not aim high)
Douglas B.: let Thomas Sanders and Aaron Linn come back and play for GWU (always tough to see valuable seniors go...but I don't think there are any eligibility-time-machines in the sleigh)
Douglas K.: a Kevin Martin jersey for Nic Bowman (of the Big South staff...I'm sure there's an inside joke there, but I don't know what it is)
Adrian: Tradition for Gardner-Webb (trying to figure the naughty/nice factor there)
Cynthia L.: a "Varsity Blues" gift basket for Chad Cook (of the Big South office--there were additional details, edging toward the 'naughty' in a good-spirited way, so let's move on...)
Brennan: a Big South football sweep and Conference championship for Coastal Carolina football next year (a hopeful soul--and not the only one...)
Norm: a National Championship for Coastal Carolina football (well, the 2010 team is undefeated so far...)
Sue: an undefeated season for Presbyterian College football next year (seems Sue and Brennan/Norm have conflicting wishes--spells trouble for Santa)

On the heels of those Christmas wishes, we asked for your Big South Athlete of the CALENDAR year 2009 -- not just the current academic year, but from January 1-present day. The responses haven't flowed as fast yet, but here's what we've seen:

Larry: linebacker Tyler Santucci, Stony Brook football
Douglas B.: Coach Rick Scruggs and guard Grayson Flittner, Gardner-Webb men's basketball
Norm: Coach Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina baseball
Paul: Sam Chelanga, Liberty cross country
David: Coach Tooey Loy, High Point women's basketball

First, thanks to Douglas and Norm for participating in both questions.
Second, I'm happy to say Tyler made 2nd Team All-America (from the AP for FCS teams).
Third, Paul gets some extra space below for being an informed source out of the LU sports info staff, with his convincing argument for Chelanga:

Paul Carmany
I'll have to think about the coach, but for me the Big South Athlete of the Year is a no-brainer: Sam Chelanga of Liberty. How many other Big South athletes have won a NCAA Division I national championship, set an all-time collegiate record and were ranked No. 1 in the world in their event/sport at some point during this calendar year?!

Good point...Chelanga MUST be on the short list of candidates (oh, and no one can cry bias for Paul's LU connection, as ALL the submissions obviously reflect some favoritism).

Meanwhile, last week's Big South Network Guide never would post--I blame Blogger and the never-ending "Processing" circle. If you really want to hear upcoming info about games already played, you can find the segment on YouTube or via the On-Demand videos on BigSouthSports.com.

Now here's THIS week's streaming guide to the Big South Network:


Let me know if you have any other suggestions for the year-end questions above (via blog comments, tweets, facebook, whatever)...and also if you have any practical ideas for the Big South Conference to consider in 2010!
* Oh, and the footnote from above..."the Dylan song" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the penchant of retrospectives to use "The Times They Are A-Changin'", even for trivial matters, when the protest song itself is a larger anthem of change...but I digress once more...


Thanks again for reading...I'm expecting at least one more SHOUT before we pull the curtain on 2009, but for now, SHOUT-----out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harris Poll: Double-Double Trouble!

We don't make individual players the main focus of this blog very often, so when we do, you know something good is going on--that's why you'll understand that this SHOUT-out to Coastal Carolina's Joseph Harris is indeed well-deserved.

Let's think back for a moment--after last year's All-Conference performance, it was uncertain if Harris would suit up for the Chanticleers this season. He graduated in the spring (biology) and retained a year of eligibility due to his medical redshirt in the 2007-08 season, but was considering alternatives for his redshirt senior year and his preparations for nursing school...in fact, grad school at UAB seemed to be in his future. It wasn't until confirmed in an August announcement that we knew that Harris would take the court for Coach Cliff Ellis and CCU in 2009-10.

The folks in teal can all enjoy the results of his return to Kimbel Arena. Harris has earned Big South Player of the Week honors in three of the season's four weeks so far! Read that again--Player of the Week three times--in a month!

Here's the rundown for the 6-5 forward from Lejeune, NC:

Week one he shared the award with Nick Barbour of High Point (Barbour was an electric 10-11 in 3-pointers), as Harris opened the year with his 31st career double-double and 13th-straight game with more than ten boards. In week three, he scored 20+ in a trio of games and averaged a double-double in that span (21.3/10.7). In week four, he averaged a double-double AGAIN, contributing greatly to two Big South road wins and running his career total to 37 double-doubles, all while climbing the ranks in the Conference record book for his impressive career stats...whew...

Bravo! Way to go, Mr. Joseph Jon-Anthony Harris!

Well, that's a tough act to follow, but I was still going to give it a shot with this week's Big South Network Guide...until Blogger failed to publish my video despite giving it all day to process--maybe tomorrow?



On Monday, we posted a fun "open question" on our Facebook Fan Page...what special Big South Christmas gift would you give this year? Still collecting some fun responses--enter one there or comment here and we'll put the best ones together in a holiday edition of SHOUT!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Did We Learn?

Well, you're never going to learn TOO much from just a pair of games, but it sure made for an interesting weekend, having men's basketball dip into Big South Conference play for a taste of things to come...

Highlights from Thursday's opening night included Winthrop's Gideon Gamble hitting his only basket of the game to send the Eagles into a Conference-opening overtime game against preseason favorite Radford. Ultimately, the Highlanders had the free-throw shooting necessary in the extra period to win 61-59, but it was high drama in Rock Hill for a good while there...and High Point's Tehran Cox took the ball end-to-end for the game-winning lay-up at Presbyterian College (63-61)...Coastal Carolina outran VMI's blistering pace for a 111-97 win...and Liberty handled CSU 69-53.

Friday had one game--but it was a doozy. How about UNC Asheville, winless overall coming into the game, finding the way to hang tight and tap in the game-winning basket (by Chris Stephenson) in the final seconds? That's right, Asheville stole one away from Gardner-Webb in the Battle of the Bulldogs, 58-56.

There was less drama for Saturday's line-up, but Radford had to come from behind a second time in as many Big South games to beat PC, while VMI's pace was too much for CSU, Winthrop topped High Point, and Coastal downed Liberty.

With Conference games off the table for nearly another month, that leaves us with these standings to muse over for a while:

2-0: Coastal Carolina & Radford;
1-0: UNC Asheville;
1-1: High Point, VMI, Winthrop, & Liberty;
0-1: Gardner-Webb;
0-2: Charleston Southern & PC.

For more thoughts on the early play in Big South MBB, try Rush the Court: Checking in on the Big South (also by yours truly, so I admit some of it may sound a bit familiar, but there's plenty more there). Enjoy.

By the way, here's a fun idea--since the schedule is a bit light to start the week--wrap your creativity around the question from our Facebook Fan Page:

OPEN QUESTION TIME: If you could get one special Christmas gift for any one Big South Conference recipient (a school, team, coach, player, etc.), what would it be? Be creative, anything goes, but keep it clean...

If you've got any fun answers, enter them there or comment on them here--if we get good ones, we'll share them!

And by the way, I know it's not all about the men's teams--but Conference play was kind of a big deal for early December. For now, I offer this one key women's hoops note: a congratulatory SHOUT-out to the Lady Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb, winners of EIGHT STRAIGHT! Way to go, GWU--keep up the good work!

That's all for this midday Monday.

Take a moment sometime today, December 7th, to think on the sacrifice and meaning of Pearl Harbor Day...we are losing more of our WWII veterans these days, simply with the passage of time, but do not forget their contributions. SHOUT offers a salute, and a heartfelt moment of silence in their honor........................

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hoooooooooops & more...

Special day, the rolling out of Conference action in men's basketball, and a good time to SHOUT (shout it, shout it, shout it out loud...yes, KISS reference, deal with it).


There's other news to get to, but let's start with that (let's get it started--HA--let's get it started--IN HERE...okay, Black Eyed Peas reference seems less dated, perhaps).

Here's the deal, folks...out-of-conference play hasn't given us much positive ground to latch onto so far...against the really heavy hitters it's been a whitewash (0-15 against the major combination of ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and SEC--and none of them particularly close), against the next tier and the peer groups, it's been a mixed bag (13-16 against other D-I's), and finally against lower-level squads, the mark has been appropriately favorable (14-0 including D2-3-NAIA and whoever else lined up out there).

In other words, we are where we are...no lifelines thrown from above to improve RPI, no mines exploding below to destroy it either. We've gotten used to seeing a win or two against "the big boys", but so be it--not shaping up to be that kind of year so far...after all, we're also sort of used to seeing a slip-up against the tiny schools too and so-far-so-good (insert knocking on wood here).

So the proof of the metaphorical pudding lies in the middle...let's give it a look: 0-8 against the A10, Big West, Colonial, and Mountain West; 7-8 against the A-Sun, MVC, SoCon, and reclassifiers; plus a more pleasing 6-0 against the OVC, Patriot, SWAC, and MEAC. Like I said, a mixed bag. Being a little more analytical, the common measuring-stick/peer conferences in terms of geography and level of play for our fanbase are these: A-Sun, Colonial, & SoCon...and against that trio, the Big South record is 5-9.

Bottom line: Big South men's basketball is a bit behind of the preferred curve to date. Sure, there have been a lot of strong players departing over the last two seasons, but it's not as if we haven't seen skilled replacements step in--there are a lot of quality ballers on the floor in this League.

So now what? Wellllllllllll....that's where Conference play comes in--a chance to get a measure on these squads head-to-head, a legitimate opportunity to see what we've got out there. Losing to power conferences and drubbing lower classification schools proves nothing...those are the results that could've been drawn on paper rather than played on a court. Obviously the sub-.500 record against the other opponents gives us a small clue or trend, but now that we put the teams together to battle it out, who will step up and put a claim on being better than that?

Radford is certainly the popular favorite, a preseason pick of the Big South poll and national publications, and who can blame them with the squad the Highlanders can put on the floor? But right now, every team is 0-0...it's that perfect point of the season when all possibilities are open. That starts to change tonight with four games, the first two tipping at 7pm...and say, they're all on the Big South Network--cue the video:


You can also find the Big South on MASN today and tomorrow--------
Coastal Carolina at VMI, 12/3 at 9pm, and
UNC Asheville at GWU, 12/4 at 7:30pm.

Other news briefs from the Big South this week:


Gardner-Webb:

Liberty:
--NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP for Sam Chelanga in the NCAA Men's 10k!!!
--Flames take Sasser Cup lead due to strong fall performances
--football stadium demolition/construction underway


Winthrop:
That looks like enough for today--go enjoy those games for the men's hoops...pretty soon we'll talk about the women's game and the benefits of being a "Fantastic Fan"!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Talking Turkey

Hello, Big Southers far and wide...possibly traveling farther and getting wider this Thanksgiving! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family and friends or is able to share time with others close to you. Don't forget those who may be down on their luck as the holiday season rolls in--word is some charities have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

Okay, all that said, let's talk sports for a minute or two, yes?

We recently put the wraps on the volleyball season--Coastal Carolina won the Championship, downing number two seed Liberty in the final...and that's after the Chants knocked out the top seed UNC Asheville in the semis! Yep, CCU bumped out both co-champs of the regular season...impressive. See the year's All-Conference Team here.

Meanwhile, up in New York, Stony Brook won a back-and-forth battle with Liberty to split the Big South football crown. The loss pushed LU out of serious contention for a playoff spot, so the Big South goes without a berth for the final time--next year the champion is an automatic qualifier!

On the heels of that season, the always-anticipated All-Conference Football Team and annual awards were announced. Congrats to Offensive Player of the Year Mike Brown of Liberty and Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Santucci of Stony Brook--and all the other honorees!

So as mentioned above, it's holiday time...the streaming schedule is a little lighter over the next several days, but that still means plenty of hoops for our basketball fans on the Big South Network...here's the latest guide:


Speaking of basketball, I have to say it hasn't been the most auspicious of beginnings for the season--particularly on the men's side. Tuesday (11/24) was a good case study for early out-of-conference play: five games, all losses--to the Big Ten, SEC, MVC, Colonial, and Big West. That comes on the heels of some lopsided losses on television...let's hope the boys can collectively pick it up and perhaps get a "signature win" or two as we've become accustomed to in recent years. Otherwise, it's starting to get a little rough on the ol' RPI...

But hey, here's a SHOUT-out to Radford's Art Parakhouski (pictured) for his impressive double-double at Duke (23 points, 14 rebounds). The Blue Devils were too much for RU on the night, but Parakhouski obviously made his presence known inside all game long. The Belarussian also got a nod in Sports Illustrated recently, as the mag's NCAA Tourney predictions put Radford in from the Big South, citing Parakhouski's rise "from Minsk to Madness". Parakhouski earned Player of the Week honors, a week after High Point's Nick Barbour and Coastal Carolina's Joseph Harris shared the award--so the Preseason All-Conference Team has shown its mettle early. Gardner-Webb's Grayson Flittner put in his claim as a candidate for next week with Monday night's 32-point show at North Carolina (he tied a Dean Smith Center record with 9 three-pointers)! By the way, keep an eye out for freshman Blake Smith at Radford--two weeks into the season and he's already got two Freshman of the Week awards under his belt.

All right, that's my time, you've been great--enjoy the turkey (and maybe offer to help with the dishes, okay?)...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Volleyball Time (& football, & basketball, &...)

The Fall Championship Swing continues...


Here are the fall results so far:

Men's Cross Country: Liberty
Women's Cross Country: Liberty
Women's Soccer: High Point
Men's Soccer: Winthrop

And we have two pending results that will be solved by sometime Saturday afternoon...

Volleyball--now in the Conference Championship at Radford, with eight teams starting quarterfinal Thursday, then four surviving to play semifinal Friday, and finally two still standing on Saturday to go after the title in the last match. At this writing, the first quarterfinal has been played...regular season co-champion and #2 seed Liberty advanced 3-0, eliminating GWU. The top seed is UNC Asheville--and the Bulldogs have to face the host team in the fourth match of the day on RU's floor. The final begins at 2pm Saturday.

Football--something unexpected happened on the road to the virtual "Big South Championship Game": Stony Brook lost. For weeks, the 11/21 LU-SBU game had been circled by many as a likely meeting between undefeated clubs shooting for an outright championship in a head-to-head battle. Well, that's partly right. With Charleston Southern pulling off the upset over SBU in overtime last weekend, SBU enters at 4-1 in the Big South, while Liberty held serve and went over the 50-point threshold again (against GWU this time) to reach 5-0. So now, the Flames are assured at least a share of the title--win this week and it's all theirs...while the Seawolves are working for a claim on half of the honor (the championship is based only on record, not on any tiebreakers). And while that's the battle for the top, there's an interesting "tipping point" match between Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina this weekend: both are 5-5, so the winner has a winning record, loser has a losing record, and that's what they'll have to reflect on until next season.

Oh, and yes, basketball is bursting out all over.

Some nice victories for the men's teams on opening night, with Radford downing Navy, VMI stopping Army, and Coastal Carolina defeating the College of Charleston (a SoCon favorite this year)...but things took an unfortunate turn in recent days--and on TV, no less--with Liberty (vs. Clemson), Coastal Carolina (at Duke), and UNC Asheville (at Tennessee) all taking pretty bad beatings at the hands of major programs in front of large audiences. But it's verrrrrrry early, so we won't draw too many conclusions beyond the obvious and understood fact that, in general, the ACC and SEC programs are going to be much better on the floor most nights...that said, we can still hope for some more of those signature upsets our Conference seems to sneak in each season.

So with the last of the fall sports at the finish and the thrill of hoops still getting bigger, let's see what the Big South Network has going on this week (from our pre-Thanksgiving turkey: me)......word of warning--feeling under the weather this week, so it's not my best work, but even with a weak voice and less energy, the message comes through...I hope...




That's all for now, peeps and tweeps, friends and fans--keep rockin' in the Big South!

SHOUT, out...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

REVISED Breaking News (rebroken?)...

The Big South Conference Men's Soccer Championship will keep its revised schedule (of Fri-Sat-Sun games), but it has changed location. Due to weather-related unplayable field conditions, the event has moved from High Point to Gardner-Webb University! The games will still be streamed on the Big South Network and updates and links can still be found at BigSouthSports.com.

Busy weekend at GWU--Friday now holds four soccer games, volleyball, and women's basketball...Saturday has football, men's basketball, and two soccer games...while Sunday seems sedate by comparison with just one event--the men's soccer final. Eleven games (all streamed live) over three days...whew...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking News--Championship Delayed


News of the day out of the Big South Conference was definitely the schedule change for the Men's Soccer Championship. The seemingly endless rain soaking North Carolina this week (and still falling for lots of folks as I write this) has waterlogged things to the point that all parties--coaches, hosts, and Conference agreed to push the start back 24 hours.


So all game times are the same, but the quarterfinals will be played in High Point on FRIDAY, the semifinals on SATURDAY (previously the open date of the event), and the final on Sunday at 2pm as planned.
Don't say I didn't warn you...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

National Notice & Champion Cheer

Happy Tuesday to you and yours, Big South fans!

Consider this post a big multi-part SHOUT-out to some success stories:

KELSEY BENORDEN, UNC Asheville volleyball, was named Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU.com) National Player of the Week! The first Big South player so honored this year, Benorden had top-notch performances in her last three Conference matches, with a double-double (of kills and digs) in each one, all victories to keep the Bulldogs in first place! And yes, she was also Big South Player of the Week.


JOSH NORMAN, Coastal Carolina football, was named National Defensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network and by College Sporting News. Of course, he was Big South Defensive Player of the Week too, but we'll forgive him if that gets overlooked in favor of his national honors. Norman picked off three passes against Gardner-Webb--all in the second half to seal the win in a closely-contested ballgame. Getting the 3 INT ties a Conference single-game record and gives him 7 INT on the season, a Big South record.

HIGH POINT WOMEN'S SOCCER won the Big South Women's Soccer Championship from the #7 slot. HPU knocked off #2 GWU and #6 Radford before winding up as the on-paper "favorite" against all odds in the final, defeating #8 Winthrop for the title. It was an amazing seven games in Charleston to decide the champion, offering six upsets and six overtime games (four of which went all the way to penalty kicks). Whew... Oh, by the way, HPU's reward for victory will be an opening-round match-up with North Carolina in Chapel Hill...the Tar Heels are defending national champions....yeesh!

And now THIS week, the MEN'S Soccer Championship will be played at...High Point University. So HPU will host with a shot at the double, while top-seed Coastal Carolina will try to avoid the pattern followed by the women's tourney bracket!

That's all I've got today, folks...try to stay dry as best as you can while Ida visits (for those of us in most of Big South territory, that is)...and that's SHOUT...out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Upside-Down Tournament Frenzy

Okay, okay, what's in the water down in the South Carolina Lowcountry, people?

One upset, maybe two, sure...but FOUR---as in ALL FOUR QUARTERFINALS????

And besides that--three out of four games go to overtime--and two of those to penalty kicks?

The Big South Women's Soccer Championship kicked off in Charleston, SC, Thursday...but nobody could have seen this coming...not all of it...

Game One

VMI tops Coastal Carolina in PKs after a 1-1 tie...no big deal you say, a 5-seed beats a 4-seed, happens all the time...but wait...

Game Two

Regular season champion and 1-seed Liberty falls to 8-seed Winthrop in PKs after a 0-0 tie...good grief, that could change the dynamics of the whole bracket, right? Have to turn your eyes to the 2 & 3 seeds now, right? Right?

Game Three

The only game decided in regulation on the day: 7-seed High Point ousts 2-seed Gardner-Webb 2-0 with a pair of second-half goals. Coming on the heels of WU's major upset over LU, GWU went from possible favorite to definite spectator in the span of a couple hours.

Game Four

All of which set up beautifully for the host, one might think, yes? Charleston Southern, the 3-seed and host team for the event was suddenly the top survivor in the bracket, simply by holding out for the day's last game (and what a wait, after two of the previous three went all the way to penalties). But the mojo of the day was not to be denied: into overtime they go, and out of overtime the result is clear--Radford 2, CSU 1.

So yes, the 1-2-3-4 teams are OUT and the 5-6-7-8 teams are IN with regards to the semifinals to be played Friday afternoon and evening...

Given that change of events, what could you possibly predict next? In other words, who you got now: 5-VMI vs. 8-Winthrop (4:30pm) and 7-HPU vs. 6-Radford (7pm)...I know I'm not making any guesses. Enjoy the games--and I look forward to seeing who makes (and wins) the final on Sunday! ((Pssst...all the games will be live on the Big South Network!))

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Champs and Hoops and More

Someone just turned the burner up on the competition in the Big South...
As suggested Monday, the heat may be coming from the Flames--but they're not the only ones, because the fall sports are reaching their hard-fought conclusions: Championship Time.


But as I write this, we are about to begin the next championship event: women's soccer, a traditional eight-team, seven-game, single-elimination bracket--quarters, semis, final. So what started as ten competitors in the regular season became eight for the tournament (UNC Asheville did not qualify for the Championship and transitioning PC is not eligible for postseason play)...by the end of Thursday, that number becomes a final four which will in turn be the last two teams standing by Friday's end--give them a day off and then they crown the winner with Sunday's game. Good stuff...especially when upsets start shaking the bracket. Anything goes in single-elimination competition...otherwise, why bother, really? "That's why they play the games," indeed.

And on the verge of bracket play starting, we congratulate player of the year Marky Boyce (CSU) and all the other women's soccer award winners and honorees this season.
The Women's Soccer Championship is the highlight on this week's Big South Network Guide, but it's far from alone--check it out here...


So let's review: CHAMPIONSHIP event this week (WSOC), CHAMPIONSHIP event next week (MSOC), CHAMPIONSHIP event the week after that (VB), PLUS somewhere in there we'll have a football champion crowned on the field (probably 11/21, same as VB)...by that time we'll all need a breather for Thanksgiving weekend.

That's a lot, right? Not even talking about the fall segments of golf, tennis, baseball, softball, etc. as they prepare for the real meat of their schedules in the spring...

Ah, but there's more: THE TIME FOR HOOPS HAS ARRIVED!!!

Yup, basketball is here, Big South fans. It's all exhibitions and scrimmages right now, but keep your eyes wide open, because Friday the 13th will be very lucky for basketball lovers--that's opening day for men's and women's teams across the Big South, with plenty of hardcourt action going on throughout the Conference!

Which makes the perfect time for a quick plug: the Big South Network will have every home game for the teams of the Big South (except those games with overriding/major TV agreements). That means you get all the games your team plays on its own floor, and all its road Conference games as well...you only miss out on road games outside the Big South. Check out the packages available for hoops lovers at the Big South Network.

Moving right along--for all our fine folks who get MASN, be ready for Big South football coming your way Saturday night. VMI at Liberty will hit the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and I'll be handling the play-by-play duties for that one, working with Ray Jones as analyst. The broadcast starts at 7pm--hope to have you with us!

Lots to do, gotta run--SHOUT...out!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Flame(s) On!

With all due respect to Johnny Storm (The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four), the Flames burning brightest right now seem to be coming out of Lynchburg.


It's always policy and practice here at SHOUT to be even-handed for all Big South teams, and to report the facts accurately...but frankly, the facts from this weekend are anything but even across the board.


Ladies and gentlemen of the Big South, I present Liberty University's weekend:

-- won Men's Cross Country Championship

-- won Women's Cross Country Championship

-- locked top seed with Women's Soccer Regular Season Championship

-- remained undefeated in football with 55-19 win and rose to #16/17 in the two major FCS polls

-- improved to 10-2 in volleyball and slipped past UNC Asheville in the standings, taking first place


I may even be missing something (and I'm not going to go into individual honors right now, although the Flames got some of those too)...but bottom line, the Liberty Flames deserve a salute for program excellence right now--it would be hard to top a weekend like that for anybody! Bravo, LU, a SHOUT-out to you.


Now the challenge--which team(s) will step up in response and put a dent in Liberty's early dominance? For football, Stony Brook is certainly putting in a claim, as the Seawolves have the only other undefeated squad after knocking off Gardner-Webb. In volleyball, UNC Asheville will be anxious to get the top spot back. In soccer, it's tournament time for the women this week--and for the men next week. So it's all wide open...should be fun to see how everything turns out...I'll be watching--I hope you will be too!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weekend Madness Quick Hits!

Here are your headlines for the Halloween weekend, taking us from October to November:

CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP TIME
That's right, it's the first of the fall championships, with men's and women's cross country set to race their way to Big South Conference titles on Halloween in High Point!

SPOOKY DAY IN DEATH VALLEY
Yeah, I already mentioned Halloween twice, but I'm going back in one more time--and with good reason: Coastal Carolina is visiting Clemson, and we're in for a trick-or-treat special from the two teams...Clemson in the all orange and Coastal in the all black! That should be something to see (and you can even watch the game if you have ESPN360 access).

BATTLE OF UNBEATENS
In Big South Conference play for football, Stony Brook (3-0) and Gardner-Webb (2-0) remain undefeated--but that's only going to last until Saturday, when one has to fall. They meet in Boiling Springs to decide which one might have a claim on first place (on which Liberty, also 2-0, will want a say as well, but those big match-ups come later).

TOURNEY TIME
Women's soccer ends its regular season this weekend, and the Big South Championship starts next Thursday, November 5th, at Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium. Ten teams are competing for eight slots right now, which will cut to four after the quartet of games on 11/5, then two with the semis on 11/6, and conclude with one winner on Sunday, November 8th to claim the crown.

Lots of other stuff going on too, but those are your headlines--should set the stage for a really good weekend of competition--enjoy...oh, and don't forget to adjust your clocks!
SHOUT...out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

SHOUT-a-palooza

Hello to one and all across the SHOUT blogosphere--it's been a while, hasn't it?

Sorry about that...sometimes life just has a knack at getting in the way. Most of that is my own fault for preferring to have SHOUT often lengthier and more crafted than, say, updates on Facebook or Twitter (so a "fail whale" for me perhaps), but part is just the craziness of this time of year and all that goes with it----so let's run the gauntlet as quickly as we can:


Volleyball, for starters: as I write this, UNC Asheville is 6-0 in Conference. Yup. The Bulldogs have got it going on for Coach Julie Torbett, and the Justice Center squad is laying down the law...but it's not a runaway, not with Winthrop at 5-1, Liberty at 5-2, and Coastal at 4-2. Oh, and did I mention Asheville and Winthrop tangle tonight? No? Well now I did--so be sure to check it out on the Big South Network!



Men's Soccer, as our second stop: Winthrop hasn't lost yet in the Big South--the Eagles own a 3-0-1 mark in Conference, but matching them at three wins is High Point. Both HPU and WU have games on the home pitch Saturday, so we'll soon know who's got the seat up front as we drive into the stretch run to the November Conference Championship.


Women's Soccer, as an appropriate next step: much like the men's race, two teams have hit the three-win mark ahead of the others--undefeated Liberty at 3-0-1 and also Radford at 3-1. They don't have the only say in what's coming down the line, though, since there's a jam of four teams with two wins apiece right behind (CSU, GWU, CCU, VMI) and a full slate of games on the weekend schedule.


Football, you've been waiting for me to get to, I understand: still too early to do much handicapping, but here's the deal...three teams have won their respective first Conference showdowns (GWU, CCU, and SBU), two have come up empty so far (PC once and VMI twice--the only team more than one game into Conference), and the remaining pair has yet to face Big South opposition this season (CSU and LU). But IT'S ON this weekend, folks! There are three Conference games scheduled: SBU at VMI (great rushing attacks in that one), Coastal Carolina at Liberty (a lot of titles between these two over the years), and CSU at GWU (each receiving some votes in the poll, so this game gives somebody more legitimacy). PC is idle, so they get the picture--you can't say I favored or jinxed anybody here!


Those first two games mentioned are each available on the Big South Network, but the third is as far as the sports tier on your cable/satellite, as SportSouth will be carrying the Buccaneers at Runnin' Bulldogs from Boiling Springs. Coverage begins at 11:30am (!) and features Mark Bryant (yours truly) on play-by-play and multi-sport star Brian Jordan as analyst (cool, huh?)...so get your Saturday football frenzy started early and started right--with the Big South on SportSouth!


Other sports...the cross country schedule is on the run, fall golf events are teeing off here and there, and other spring sports like softball and baseball have been holding their offseason practices and games...but what lots of Big South fans are waiting for happens to be...


Basketball, which tipped off the preseason officially with Media Day this week. You heard me--hoops approacheth! On the men's side, Radford is the prohibitive favorite--would you argue with Art Parakhouski? That's him in red in the picture, by the way--he's 6-11 and expected to be dominant in the post again this year. On the women's side, Liberty has to share the preseason nod for a change, with High Point getting a share of the predicted top slot. There will be a lot more on the wild world of b-ball in the days and weeks ahead. Practice is cranking up and games start within the next month, so your wait is nearly over, you hardwood crazies you...


Speaking of basketball--let's talk preseason preview:




If you would like some additional assessment, here's our contribution to the season outlook series for "Rush the Court" (at this link).

Was the preview not enough video for you today? Okay, we've got more--here's this week's Big South Network Guide:



Okay, that's it people...go about your business--and be sure to check out some of the Big South's busy sports schedule this weekend and beyond...really good stuff going on out there, and these student-athletes would love to have your support! Have fun...SHOUT--out!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gridiron Gridlocks (& Quick Hits)

It's time to do some football preview talk and get into other sports for Big South play, where the stakes are really high...

The Big South Conference football teams take on a remarkable level of opposition this week--not FBS schools this time, but the cream of the FCS crop, so buckle your chinstraps because these games are going to be hard-hitting contests, but also great fun...let's have a look...

VMI Keydets at #1 Richmond Spiders
...yes, VMI is taking on the top FCS team in the country, which completes the Big South Championship Daily Double--only the Big South Conference has teams playing the defending champions in FCS and FBS (this game & CSU's opener at Florida) this year. The Keydets last played a #1 in 2001, when they faced Georgia Southern after the Eagles had won title #6 for GSU. Contrast that rarity with the fact that games against the Spiders are relatively common for VMI: this game marks meeting #86--and the series is tied 40-40-5. Seriously. Can't get closer than that, now can you? The cynics will point out that UR has taken the last seven in the series, but we refuse to get cynical...

And if all THAT isn't enough to get your attention, how about this gem: sensational offense and special teams weapon Tim Maypray sits just 43 yards short of the Big South record for all-purpose yards (he could salt that one away on the opening kickoff, but we'll give him the first quarter to set the mark).

At about the time that game's wrapping up, the Big South can turn its eyes to the North:

Stony Brook Seawolves at #15 UMass Minutemen...unlike the historic series for the last two squads, these teams have only faced off once before (a UMass win in 2006). Obviously SBU will have work to do, but among the bright spots for the Seawolves: even though they are 1-2, all three games have been decided by ten or less, and SBU has the most efficient Red Zone offense in the Conference--scoring every time they've gotten inside the 20. Star running back Conte Cuttino needs only 54 yards on the ground to be the only SBU player to reach 3000 in his career.

And while that one's going on, we have the headliner at a jam-packed Williams Stadium in Lynchburg:

#6
JMU Dukes at #24 Liberty Flames
...two ranked teams renew their rivalry in the Commonwealth Saturday evening--only the fourth time a ranked Big South team has faced a ranked opponent from outside the Conference. James Madison leads the all-time series 9-5, but LU counters that with a four-game home winning streak (by a score of 133-23). The Flames have a lot at stake--think of it in basketball terms: this game represents a shot at a "quality win" outside the Conference when it comes down to contending for at-large playoff berths (LU has been turned away after winning the Big South the last two years and Coach Rocco want to avoid a similar fate this season). If it comes down to a gamble, the Flames have the hot hand: 4-4 on 4th down this year (one of only 15 FCS schools perfect on 4th this year). Watch out for Mike Brown, recognized by the Conference and national publications for his stellar work at Lafayette--currently second in the Conference in all-purpose yards per game!


Of the three, only one can be seen on the Big South Network: JMU-LU, 7pm Saturday (available for $5.95--order here).

Take the rankings out of consideration for a moment and we find three more football games on the slate for tomorrow:

North Greenville Crusaders at CSU Buccaneers...somebody's gotta win, and that's good news for two teams with a combined 0-7 record. Charleston Southern is 8-1 vs. NGU, including wins in the last five meetings. Believe it or not, this game marks the home opener for CSU after three weeks as road warriors against stiff competition.

NC A&T Aggies at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers...CCU won this match-up 20-7 last year and the Chants have done well against teams from the MEAC. The fans in Conway have cooked up a "black out" to welcome NCAT to Brooks Stadium.

Presbyterian College Blue Hose at The Citadel Bulldogs...these Palmetto State opponents have squared off 60 times before, but not in a continuous series, as the last meeting was back in 1991--and PC hasn't taken a game off of the Bulldogs since 1979. That's not the only streak the Blue Hose seek to turn around--they have also lost six in a row overall and nine straight on the road.


Of that trio of games, the NGU-CSU (1:30pm) and NCAT-CCU (7pm) games can be found on the Big South Network.


So what about Gardner-Webb? Idle this week, but thanks for asking.


Meanwhile, as we dash and smash from clash to clash in football, the big story elsewhere is Big South Conference play--this weekend marks the real plunge into League games for both volleyball and men's soccer. Rivalries renewed and games with double meaning, nothing like it--if you have a chance to catch your team in action, get out there and do it, people! As for women's soccer, the ladies are still a week away from getting into Conference play in earnest, so there's not as much activity on the pitch for them right now.


A quick hoops holler for you--ESPN announced the teams for its annual BracketBusters event, and the Big South has four in the field this time: Radford, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, and PC. Match-ups, schedules, and TV selections to be announced at a later date.

On our Facebook Fan Page this week, I asked what sport you'd like to see added to the Big South...the responses came back even for lacrosse and rugby (!), with votes also registered for swimming, wrestling, rowing, and roller derby (?!?). Fun--we'll have to ask more thought-provoking questions like that...

That's all for now, gotta run-------ENJOY THE GAMES!
And that's SHOUT, out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your Big South Network Guide...

...for the last week of September, at least.

Yes TWO DOZEN live event streams for fans of fall sports in the Big South.

But why read me say this stuff when you can watch/hear me say it............

Yup, that's all I've got for you today...but I promise more SHOUT before the weekend rolls in, stories and observations on the way then...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big South Observatory


Let's scan the scope about and see what we see out there this week...


First off, how about a BASKETBALL item?
That's right, we've got hoops news--ESPN made the announcement this week that the ever-expanding "Worldwide Leader" will reprise its Tip-Off Marathon and the 24 hours of basketball it entails across the family of ESPN networks. Mark the date of November 17th for the Marathon, and note the time 10am, because that's when the Big South joins the party. Last season it was UNC Asheville hosting Liberty for the season's first Big South Conference game--this year the Flames are back on ESPN, but this time Liberty will host ACC foe Clemson! It was just last year that the Tigers survived a tight one at home against LU, so this has all the makings of a solid match-up...assuming all the players are fully awake for a 10am ballgame, of course.



So now a football observation, while we're on the subject of major out-of-conference competition...the Big South teams are certainly unafraid of taking on FBS--and even BCS--programs, and that is to be commended. While the record is not a good one (don't pretend to be shocked, we're all friends here, just stay with me), the recognition factor is growing with each of these "guarantee" games. Charleston Southern's national profile had never been as high as it was in the lead-up time before CSU lined up in front of Florida in week one--and Jay Mills' Bucs are at it again this week, facing the South Florida Bulls of the Big East. Did we mention Coach Mills recruits players from the Sunshine State? Gardner-Webb, off to a strong 2-0 start, will put its players to the test at NC State Saturday. Liberty's only loss came at the hands of West Virginia, in a game much closer than many forecasters might have believed. Just a few examples...this is good stuff, folks. Hopefully it's just a matter of time before the Big South is pulling upsets of the variety seen in the Colonial-ACC match-ups this year.

A volleyball salute and SHOUT-out to UNC Asheville's Lauren Ficker and Raquel Miotto for being the first multiple player of the week honorees in any of the fall sports--and not only multiple winners, but back-to-back recipients as well! It's early yet, but after four weeks for women's soccer, three weeks for volleyball, two weeks for football and men's soccer, and one week for men's and women's cross country (XC therefore not yet eligible for repeats), only Ficker and Miotto have pulled in the double: Ficker as Player of the Week and Miotto as Defensive Player of the Week. Nice job; congratulations, ladies!

So you're saying, "What about the video guide for this week? Gotta have my update on the Big South Network..." Glad you asked:




We close with thoughts in memory of the late Myles Brand. The NCAA President passed away this week after a fight against pancreatic cancer. Brand worked very hard on behalf of institutions and student-athletes across the country, and will be missed throughout the collegiate athletics community.

Until next time, SHOUT--out!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Weekends

This is a nice moment.

You see, this is the unofficial first fall weekend...follow me on this--Labor Day is the last gasp of summer, right? Therefore this must be the first breath of autumn.


Truth be told, everybody thinks of these things differently when considering the season--measure by specific months (quarterly), measure by specific days (equinox to solstice), measure by the senses (see leaves change, feel temperatures drop), and so on and so on...


So let's just come to terms mainly from sporting and scholastic perspectives on the facts that we are now in football season, college and pro; that pro baseball has embraced its pennant races and magic numbers; that racing is switching into "Chase" mode; that all schools are in session now; that there are basically indicators in all walks of life starting to pop up around us--in short, that this is now the fall (autumnal equinox purists can get back to me in 11 days, I suppose).


And this is a nice moment because the fall sports seasons have begun, but all the promise and potential is still there. Lost a game? No worries, more where that came from... The rust has been shaken off and the teams tested, but the dreams are still alive. That applies to all our teams in all our sports, and that is a beautiful thing. We are only beginning to learn what possible stars and storylines will determine the shape of victory and defeat for when it will matter most, and that, too, is an exciting prospect. Also, in the South especially, that narrow window you get between "too hot" and "too cold" is something to savor.


So yes, this is a nice moment...don't spoil it for me.


Here's the Video Guide for the Big South Network this week....





No more rambling today--get out and enjoy some of the Big South teams in action this weekend--LIVE and in person! Football home openers for PC, Coastal, and Liberty are among the fun stops in the Conference tomorrow, for example. If you can't get out and catch a game (football, soccer, volleyball, or otherwise), check out the streaming games on the Big South Network (14 events Friday-Monday).


Last thought--a SHOUT-out to Big South Conference staffer Chad Cook and his lovely wife Erin, now expecting their second child--very cool, congratulations!

And that's SHOUT....out!