Monday, February 1, 2010

Hooptastic, the Motion Picture

Annnnnnnnnnnd ACTION!

You have to love the basketball season and its plots, subplots, red herrings, MacGuffins, and Easter eggs...sorry, got too far down the movie/pop culture track there--what I'm trying to say is this:

There's a main storyline, smaller tales woven through that, occasionally misleading displays, things that keep us moving along, and some hidden gems along the way.

In men's basketball, Coastal Carolina (9-2) still holds the lead over the pack by two games. The Chanticleers dropped a low-scoring one at Winthrop they'd surely like to have back, but they're still motoring right along. Right behind CCU is the 7-4 trio of Radford, UNC Asheville, and Winthrop...the same record, but different dynamics: RU started on fire and has cooled, Asheville began frozen in ice but now burns white hot, and Winthrop has been hot and cold, but now has a greater hold on consistency, which was elusive in the early goings this year. Of these teams, it's certainly notable that this weekend saw Asheville upset Radford and Winthrop down Coastal (both home games for the winners).

At the moment, those are the top four seeds, and for the men's side, the top four set represents the host group for the tournament's first round. That puts a lot at stake on being in that party--with the best seat obviously being at number one, where you have control over playing at home throughout the championship. Coastal and Radford have been playing inside that club for some time, although the Highlanders now find themselves in a battle to hold position. The other slots have been handed around among several teams now...they'll just have to work hard to be sure they've got a chair when the music stops.

Which leads us to the "outside-looking-in" squads: Liberty, right behind at 6-4, High Point at 6-5, who has gone from would-be leader into a painful skid, and Charleston Southern at 5-6, who has likewise fallen from a surge toward the top. Gardner-Webb, VMI, and PC round out the Conference standings, and are unlikely to contend for the coveted home slots at this point, much less the overall lead.

So, why the top-to-bottom review? My dear friends, it is January no longer. For men's basketball, February is the hero-maker and deal-breaker month. Sure, it's all about "March Madness"--that's become the measuring stick of every team's success. But if that is the test, this is the studying: in other words, if you're going to succeed then, you have to position yourself now.

And the jockeying for position should be nothing short of amazing. Enjoy the show.

So...what about the ladies, you might ask?

I haven't forgotten them--Gardner-Webb has been the team with the longest hold on the top spot this season, but the Lady Bulldogs are not alone in the quest to be the best. While GWU is 7-1, Liberty is right there at 6-1, with HPU making its presence felt at 6-2. Those three should be in a fight to the finish, making for some potentially epic match-ups in the Big South Championship in March. In last year's event, these teams were three of the Conference's final four (along with Winthrop). GWU upset HPU by two and nearly did the same to LU in the final game--a one-point win for the Flames. At the moment, you have to feel as if history is repeating itself, at least in terms of setting these teams up for collisions in big games ahead...and that's a sequel I think most of us would be happy to watch.

Speaking of watching, if you haven't peeked in on our YouTube channel lately, drop on by to screen our great image spots featuring our theme of Developing Leaders Through Athletics!

And finally, on to some old business...two things I wanted to post last week before I got distracted (ooh, something shiny!)...first, the most recent report on the Big South at Rush the Court..., the most recent Big South Network Guide...

And there you go--welcome to February, folks...the month that asks us to be as productive in 28 days as we would have been in 31! SHOUT--out...

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