Friday, October 29, 2010

Tricks, Treats, Titles

Happy Halloween weekend, SHOUT fans!

My goodness, just look around the Big South Conference right now--tricks and treats abound.
That's what happens in late October, as the fall sports engage in critical Conference play and approach their seasonal conclusions and championship tournaments--while the basketball machine begins to hum to life (IT'S ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!)

Football? Got that...and no trick there--fans are getting treated to what was expected coming into the season: Liberty and Stony Brook on top. Neither of those squads would be forecast to stumble this week, but you never can tell with this bunch--"any given Saturday" and all that. The Flames and Seawolves have each begun Big South play 2-0 this year, and the conclusion-jumpers are already pointing to that late November clash in Lynchburg, when those teams could meet with a playoff berth on the line. Too early to call, but it could happen.

Volleyball? Yep, got that too--Liberty is on top as I write this, but the margin is small: Flames at 10-1, High Point Panthers at 9-2. Looks like those two could easily wind up as the top two seeds, but there are a couple more weeks of Conference play to sort that out...

Soccer? Two times over, of course...for the men, High Point has already clinched the regular season title, thanks to a double-overtime victory at Coastal Carolina this week. The Panthers have been ROLLING, mounting goal after goal on the way to a 7-0 Big South record. Meanwhile, the women's side is going to be a lot messier than that...not a treat for those trying to sort out tie-breakers: as of this morning, Winthrop is 6-1-1, with FOUR teams tied for second, just one game back, at 5-2-1...that's CSU, Coastal, Radford, and HPU. Yep. Messy.

CROSS COUNTRY????? So glad you asked! Men's & Women's Cross Country will be the first championship events of the season, kicking off the 2010-11 Big South Championships with a running start in Radford, VA. Liberty swept all the running sports a year ago and would appear to be the favorite yet again for this year's contest. So will the Flames burn brightest again--or can someone else "run away" with the title this year? We'll have the answer by early Saturday afternoon. You bet. Practices have begun and preseason games are right around the corner. The seasons for both men and women tip off officially on Friday, November 12th, just two weeks away from right now. Lots of hoops fans have their countdowns running with anticipation for another great batch of thrills on the court, and with good reason.

So, is it the most wonderful time of year? Well, that's all about perspective of course, but you have to like what you're seeing out there right now.

That's your recap for today -- gotta run, folks -- and that's SHOUT -- out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

SHOUT in the Dark?

I know, trust me...what's the biggest blogging sin? For many folks, the answer is disappearing or coming and going on an irregular basis. You want to know the blog will be there, you want to know the info is dependable, and so on...and yes, I know that somehow it's been three weeks since the last SHOUT (starting to sound like Confession in here).

But we're here today...with some news to share, so let's try to hit some of the many goings-on in the Big South Conference...starting with perhaps WHY the SHOUT hasn't been making as many appearances lately. I'll preface this by saying it's an explanation--not an excuse.

Well, the truth is (if we peek behind the curtain here) the Big South Conference--while always growing in its general presence and strength of its membership--is still a small shop. Office-wise, there are eight full-time "permanent" employees and three annual interns who work full-time schedules and rotate out each year. Our Multimedia Department covers most of our website maintenance, all our video streaming administration, this blog, our Twitter/Facebook/YouTube outlets, along with the addition this year of handling our new fall programming lineup (Super 7, FLIPPED, Coach Camp) various and sundry other tasks that involve the whole staff, like working championships, meetings, etc. And you'll know who to turn to if you have any issues or questions with this stuff, because that multimedia "department" is me.

It's been a wild fall this year and tricky to keep up at times. Fact is, I always want SHOUT to have some breathing room for fleshed-out thoughts and musings on what's going on. To impart the "quick hits", Twitter has become much more of the go-to source, and we're trying to meet demand in that micro-blogging environment, so short items wind up there. Video-centric items wind up with YouTube and Big South Network. Conversational topics seem to gravitate toward Facebook. SHOUT occupied all these roles when it began -- the quick breaking news, the video connection, the air of banter, but the rapid evolution of the internet has altered the working space.

This blog still has a role to play, but it takes time to make it work best, and time has been a precious commodity lately. One thing we definitely need to look at more seriously than in the past is the role and value of bringing guest bloggers into the space as well. So don't despair, SHOUT still loves you! We'll try to do a better job showing it in the weeks to come.


This week was the Big South Basketball Media Day, with the release of the Preseason Polls (for men and for women), along with the the Preseason All-Conference Teams and Players of the Year (again for men and for women). All the coaches did interviews for a number of media outlets and talked up the upcoming season. For the record, Coastal Carolina got the preseason nod for the men and Liberty for the women, but these predictions are far from done deals by any stretch.

In men's hoops this year, five different teams got first place votes, so you can tell there is no true consensus ther
e. In women's hoops, Liberty has taken the vote in 13 of the last 14 years, and has most of the titles in those years to go along with that, but the team that pushed them to the wire is right there with them at Gardner-Webb, and there are lots of experienced players trying to win the tourney on their home court at High Point, so the Flames will be challenged.

If you want some additional thoughts on the men's side, check out the write-up at Rush the Court, submitted by yours truly, with some support info from the RTC staffers.

The football TV package is getting underway this weekend, with coverage of Gardner-Webb at Charleston Southern. Yes, this one is a bit of a gray area--call it part of the trend toward "convergence" of internet and television. ESPN is asserting its E3 arm as a contender in event programming, and the Big South accepted that as part of its annual TV agreements. It's full TV-style production and gear, nothing scaled down, so it will be treated as TV even though it will be primarily on the internet. Of course, if spectacular things start happening, it could always get picked up by other parts of the ESPN family--another of the advantages of that association. Those two teams pushed to the end in a dramatic finish at Boiling Springs a year ago, and now it's on to Charleston for more. I'll be handling the play-by-play duties for the game, with Nate Ross as my partner and game analyst.

And for a bit of a different spin, the Big South is staging an event that does not directly involve any of its members, although it could benefit them: The Inaugural Big South 5K Road Race. If you're going to be anywhere near the Charlotte area for the morning of October 23rd, come join us at the Blakeney Shopping Center for a fun run going to a good cause. Proceeds will go toward a donation to area middle school athletics--programs in jeopardy at our schools. Some of the money will also go into a scholarship fund for Big South student athletes. How can you go wrong? Hey, get a whole team together. Full information can be found at

Okay, enough for now--writing this is always fun, but work always calls me back...we'll have plenty more to SHOUT about in the near future, so stay tuned...and that's SHOUT--out.