Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost and Found Department

You can always tell when things have gotten a little extra-busy around the Big South Conference, because SHOUT goes offline for longer periods every so often (beyond just a mere handful of days). In this case it's over two weeks...sorry about that...but the disappearing act is over: time to SHOUT with the Big South!

In the "down" time, it's been a fury of championship programs and championship events for me, but I hope to use the upcoming days as opportunities to offer some first-hand accounts of events and personal insight into what's going on.

It would be nice to offer more details around recent items, but I'm not foolish enough to promise we'll cover everything--so here's a rundown of quick hits:

--Bravo, Dustin Johnson...the Coastal Carolina alum and "Best of the Best" honoree won his second PGA Tour event with a west coast victory (a strong performance in a rain-shortened event).

--Trading Places...not the movie, but the basketball standings: VMI hit a rough patch after leading the men's hoopsters most of the season--and while the Keydets skidded into a losing streak, the Highlanders surged along with an impressive run of wins to put Radford on top for good. RU has earned the regular season title and top seed for the Championship!

--Home Sweet Home...the four host teams for the men's basketball quarterfinals have been established (even if all the seeding has not come together yet): Radford, VMI, Liberty, and UNC Asheville will all begin their paths to the title on their home floors.

--Eternal Flames...will anyone stop the Liberty women's basketball squad or will they just keep this up forever? LU is undefeated in Conference play, sitting at 12-0 with the regular season title and top seed already clinched. Including non-conference contests, Liberty has won 15 straight.

--King of the Mountain...a salute to Coastal Carolina baseball--the Chanticleers defeated #1 North Carolina this week!

--The Water's Fine...Big South members Radford, VMI, and Gardner-Webb participated in the 12-team Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Championships last week. The CCSA is a joint venture of four conferences (Big South, SoCon, A-Sun, MEAC) for an overall swimming and diving championship meet. I was there for all three days (at the Gabrielsen Natatorium of the University of Georgia in Athens), and yes, I hope to put up some pictures and tales from the event soon--meanwhile, big congrats go out to the overall men's champions from College of Charleston and women's champions from Florida Gulf Coast University!

--It Keeps You Runnin'...the 2009 New Balance Big South Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships have arrived. The full meet will be video streamed on The EDGE, of course, and that's where yours truly comes in--I'll be here in Clemson for all the events over the two-day meet. You can find the schedule of events and link to the results at the Big South's Championship page.

And hey--we also did On The EDGE Viewer's Guides for last week and this week...obviously last week's didn't make it to SHOUT, although if you're really curious (and I doubt anyone's that curious), you can still find it in the On Demand section of The EDGE. This week's is--right here:

Lots and lots going on across the Big South Conference these days--be sure you're keeping an eye on and checking on SHOUT plus our YouTube channel BigSouthSports!

As always, thanks for reading. We hope you enjoy what SHOUT has to offer and keep coming back for more...this week marks a milestone for the Big South Conference blog--more on that to come very soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quick Hits on a Monday

Here are a few quick hits from the Big South to keep you thinking until we get a chance to dig deeper into some topics...

--the VMI/Radford race in men's basketball this year has to have your blood pumping...they're tied for the lead at 10-2 going into Monday's games (in which both teams are home against teams with losing records) and it's less than two weeks before they meet again: 2/21 in Lexington, exactly a month after the Keydets beat the Highlanders by 15 in Radford...VMI is 19-4 overall, Radford 13-10.

--the competitive battle for home games in the men's hoops tourney continues--one game separates four teams, as Liberty (8-5), UNCA (7-6), and GWU (7-6) are essentially three teams fighting for two positions (noting that transitioning PC will not be participating in the tournament, even with its 7-5 record in the thick of things in the standings). All that being said, it's not quite too late for Winthrop or Coastal to surge into or past that group...but it would be a very tall order for CSU or HPU to pull off a feat like that at this stage.

--how long can Liberty keep it going in women's hoops? The Lady Flames are burning it up at 8-0 so far--they've won 11 in a row overall and sit at 14-7 on the year. Meanwhile, High Point's women are still hanging in striking distance at 7-2.

--and if you thought the men's race was tight, try this: ONE game separating FIVE teams in the women's standings--three teams at 5-4 (RU/UNCA/WU) and two at 4-5 (CCU/GWU).

--PC takes an out-of-conference shot at breaking its WBB losing streak tonight, with Allen coming into Clinton...Presbyterian is 0-9 in the Big South, and only 2-18 overall with 15 consecutive losses.

--as alluded to on Friday, softball has launched its season. Most Big South schools are traveling this time of year, but Charleston Southern played at home and the Lady Bucs put on a show against NC Central. CSU swept the three-game series and outscored NCCU 29-3 in those games, which included a five-inning gem from sophomore Sondra Vetter: a perfect game in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader!

--Saturday marked the Big South's 4th Annual College Quiz Bowl event, the day that the athletic institutions of the Big South bring out their academic talent for a showdown. This year the competition hit the campus of Gardner-Webb University--and for the first time in the event's history, three-time winner Liberty did NOT come away with the victory. UNC Asheville demonstrated that its team brought the most knowledge to the table for the day in sweeping the field over the round-robin matches. The UNCA group finished 6-0, dealing closest challenger VMI (5-1) its only loss on the way to the Bulldogs' championship.

--those of you following the great SHOUT computer saga of 2009 will be happy to know the new model is in place and hopefully tomorrow it will be 100% engaged in everything I need...that's after a month of limping along in my office with an interim replacement. Hooray!

Okay, gotta run--SHOUT, out!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Check Your Calendars!

What season IS this?

Yes, we're in the middle of basketball season with a good chunk of winter still ahead of us (not because of any groundhogs, mind you, but because of cold hard facts--emphasis on cold)...but Charleston Southern has a home SOFTBALL game this afternoon, plus a doubleheader Saturday. Baseball games are right around the corner as well, and don't forget that the tennis and golf seasons have launched! Track is still on the indoor side, but that championship is later this month and then they will also hit the great outdoors.

Whew! Guess there's a lot going on out there these days. Next thing, I suppose we'll be saying that the Quiz Bowl is here, actually, yes. Once a year, the Big South Conference sponsors an academic competition among its athletic members--and that showdown is this weekend (Saturday the 7th, starting at 9am). The event will be held at Gardner-Webb University and will be streamed live on The EDGE. Liberty has won all three previous meetings, but last year's event was only decided by a tie-breaker after a three-way knot including LU, GWU, and VMI.

Speaking of streaming, here's the latest video update on the events you can find at the Online Video Source of the Big South Conference:

So let's talk about that hoops stuff for a men's play, VMI took an upset home loss against UNC Asheville this week--that, combined with Radford's win the same night, ended VMI's run with sole ownership of first place. As of this writing, the Keydets and the Highlanders are both 9-2 in the Big South. They share another interesting stat: both teams have taken their losses at home and are undefeated on the road in Conference play so far this year.

On the women's side, Liberty remains spotless in Big South games: 8-0. The range in the standings is as wide as possible, given that Presbyterian is at the opposite end of the spectrum at 0-8, still seeking its first Big South Conference victory. PC has lost 14 in a row overall this year. Three teams are deadlocked in the middle of the standings, as UNC Asheville, Coastal Carolina, and Winthrop are all 4-4 heading into the weekend.

And hey, you haven't been seeing double (or more) lately...the Holmes twins from VMI are just about everywhere! Travis and Chavis Holmes, the best point-producing twins in college hoops, have been media stars: interview on ESPN2 "First Take", item in ESPN The Magazine, feature article in Sports Illustrated, and countless write-ups in papers across the region. Bravo! T&C Holmes have earned the attention and they have handled it well.

Keep up with the latest on the Big South Conference here at the Big South SHOUT, at or at YouTube/BigSouthSports--thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!