Sunday, January 15, 2006

Saturday in the Big South

Remember when I blamed some anonymous fan for Birmingham-Southern's downturn in the second half of their harder-than-it-had-to-be win over Charleston Southern? (And if you're a regular reader of this blog and you don't...well, God bless you, but you need your memory checked by a professional. It was only four days ago).

Anyway, it's possible...not likely, now, just possible...I might have been a bit quick to assign blame.

Because BSC's modus operandi when playing overmatched Big South opponents at home, for several seasons now, has been to take huge leads before deciding to give the fans their money's worth by relinquishing the bulk of it. That was the case yet again Saturday against Coastal Carolina, as the Panthers led 60-43 with 10 minutes left and only 62-57 six minutes later, before pulling away for a 77-64 win. I'd make a crack about it not being good for coach Reboul's heart, but then again by now it's probably adapted some sort of candy-coated anti-thrilling-comeback shell.

Despite the Panthers' up-high-down-low-too-slow second-half routine with their opponents, consider the JCCW's previously shaken confidence back to, oh, 85 percent capacity. High Point and Radford are still to come, of course, but being 3-1 in the Big South with the only loss at Winthrop and all three victories coming by double-digits ain't shabby. Every other team in the conference besides BSC (Lord Winthrop excepted, of course) already has at least one questionable loss.


BSC: Does Thomas Viglianco read the JCCW? Of course not--I don't think even the Google tentacles have found me yet--but a game after I called him out for taking 9 threes to 1 two, he took 7 shots from inside the arc and only 3 outside. Result? 16 points despite not hitting a triple and a big uptick in rebounds and free throws taken. Que bueno! ... James Collins abused the Fakecocks' allegedly super-duper backcourt, going for 21 on 5 of 10 three-point shooting and tossing in 2 assists, 2 steals, and block without a turnover in 34 minutes. Five bucks says BSC doesn't lose a game this season when Collins scores 20 ... If you want to know why Collins is the straw that stirs the Panthers' drink, check the three-point shooting from Saturday outside of Collins and Dwayne Paul's 1 of 1: Viglianco 0-3, McMillan 0-3, Horton 0-3, Ruffin 0-5 (!). Glad to get that kind of fluky day out of the system at home against a struggling opponent, though Ruffin will want to do better if he wants to keep seeing 15-plus minutes against better teams ... Paul played only 18 minutes thanks to foul problems, but still had 11 points and 7 boards. Ifi Ehirim only played 17 minutes thanks to being a freshman, but still had 8 points (on 4-5 shooting) and 6 boards. Nice.

Coastal: Jack Leasure and Pete Paelay combined for 11 points on 5-18 shooting, including an oh-fer from downtown for Leasure, in 67 combined minutes. Kudos to the BSC defense, but if Coastal doesn't get three or four times that level of production when they return to the beach (CCU has yet to play a conference game at home), they'll finish bottom of the league ... By my count, Buzz Peterson became the second-most recognizable coach the work the opposite sidelines in Bill Battle since the move to DI, possibly ever, I guess. The first? Thad Matta, who brought Butler to BSC in 2000 before moving on to Ohio St. and putting together the King of All Recruiting Classes.

Elsewhere in the Big South...

Charleston Southern comes back from 10 down with 8:20 remaining to beat UNC-Asheville 70-68. The Bulldogs somehow contrived to lose despite out-rebounding CSU 41-25, and that "somehow" is 24 turnovers and sending the Othern-Southern to the line 28 times in the second half. It didn't help that starting forward Chad Mohn left after five minutes with an ankle injury. UNCA should still finish in the league's top half, but a 1-3 start will make things complicated.

Lord Winthrop let Whit Holcomb-Faye go off for 37 and gave up 75 total to Radford. They still won by 15. On the road. First Big South to lose to the Eagles by less than double-digits gets cookies!

Coastal now gets a buddy to pass notes to in Blown Out by the Keydets After-game Detention, thanks to the Flyin' Falwells 84-68 loss on the road at VMI. New Keydet head coach Duggar Baucom already has half as many Big South wins as Bart Bellairs had in 2004 and is within one of Bellairs' record in 2005. You can blame the surge on weaker Big South competition, or credit it to the development of sophomore forward Reggie Williams (who went for 30 and 12 in the Liberty win), but I think it's only the natural improvement you get when you hire a coach named "Duggar."

No comments: