Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chants Encounters

Those who have followed Big South basketball for years know that while Coastal Carolina has had competitive seasons, the Chanticleers haven't won any regular-season or tournament championships in Conference since Tony Dunkin (pictured) was collecting an unmatched FOUR Player of the Year Awards (and if you are unfamiliar with his work, check out his "Best of the Best" salute).

It's true: regular-season wins in 1988/89/90/91 and tournament wins in 1990/91/93...that makes a gap of 17 years by the time we get to crunch time of this campaign.

All of which makes the CCU run more jaw-dropping by the game. Coastal has now surged to 16-2 with 12 consecutive wins and a Big South mark of 6-0. Coach Cliff Ellis has gotten his team in a winning rhythm, and all parties involved have to be satisfied with Joseph Harris (pictured) making the decision to return to Conway for his final year of eligibility.

So regardless of what happens this weekend, the performance is spectacular and the records set will be tough to match. Nonetheless, with excitement over the Thursday-Saturday double feature at Kimbel Arena at a fever pitch, the pressure may be on to win as a statement: an assertion as to which team belongs in the first place position.

THURSDAY: Radford at Coastal Carolina, 7pm (available on the Big South Network).

The Radford Highlanders were the preseason favorites (as recounted in our last post) and the easy plug-in choice by national publications for early "bracketology" as defending champions with returning talent. Like CCU, RU opened this season 4-0 in the Big South, setting up a potential clash of titans for this week's game. Since that start, the Chants have notched two more wins, while Radford took a punch at High Point to hit 4-1. If any luster is off of the match-up with that loss, don't tell the campus by the shore--everyone there is pumped for this game, and rightfully so.

SATURDAY: High Point at Coastal Carolina, 2pm (also Big South Network).

Right on the heels of that showdown comes one just as challenging, if not more so because it requires avoiding any letdown coming off of the first game: High Point visits Coastal. Due to Radford's extra attention (for example, this recent write-up on "Big Art" Parakhouski for, HPU may be slipping under the radar for the casual fan outside of High Point, NC. Don't be fooled--the Panthers are not going away. They are also 4-1 in Conference and dealt the Highlanders their only loss.

Meanwhile, hoops fans, I offer this suggestion: keep an eye on Charleston Southern, just in case. CSU is a seemingly average 3-3 at the moment, but the Bucs are the other team in this travel partner set-up: they will also play High Point and Radford in the next few days (HPU 7:30pm Thurs., RU 7:30pm Sat.), so how they fare could play a big role in which teams hold the upper spots--and in what order--going into next week.

Basically, we've just gone from the fun of seeing Conference games to the thrill of a race for position--it's serious business now! Naturally, we've got the games's the guide for this week:

That's enough of a SHOUT for today--enjoy the many games out there for ALL our Big South teams (try to get out and support your favorites in person if you can)!

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