Thursday, January 26, 2006

UNCA-LU and Big South linkage

Well, at least that incomprehensible upset thing only lasted a day. The drama of UNC-Asheville's 77-65 victory over Liberty was summed up by the Citizen-Times' beautifully oxymorornic headline, "UNCA holds on, blows out Liberty." What they mean, I guess, is that the Misses Peacock held on to the double-digit lead they'd held since the opening tip after Liberty had made a serious, threatening, pulse-pounding run that with 57 seconds to go cut the lead to 11.

Just an ugly game for Liberty: Blair scores 29 but takes 26 shots and 7 free throws to do it, while G Evan Fisher and C Doug Stewart combined went 0-7 from the field and 0-5 from the line, for zero total points in 35 minutes. The Flyin' Falwells shot 35 percent for the game.

The big news for UNCA, aside from Oliver Holmes' 19-and-8, was that Chad Mohn returned from injury for 13 minutes of action. He made good use of them--8 points, 5 boards.


Gary McCann of Rock Hill's Herald observes that in the long run, Winthrop's loss to Coastal could be a "blip on the screen" that will mean as much to the Eagles meeting or not meeting their goals this season as what color shoelaces they wear. He's right, it could be. But the loss could also be the difference between a 12-seed in the NCAAs, playing a ripe-for-the-upset 5, and facing the uphill climb of the 14-seed line. It could be the difference between Big South opponents who take a second-half lead on the Eagles a) doing a funny little dance and yelling "Look at me! Look at me! I'm ahead of Winthrop!" or b) expecting to have that lead and responding levelheadedly (and effectively). Those things might not happen, but if they do, that Coastal loss will be a pretty gosh-darned big deal in the end. The jury, as they say, is still out.

Geoff Wilson's Big South notebook for the Charleston Post and Courier kindly focuses on BSC's rise to the co-top of the Big South. Of note is Reboul's quote on being picked fifth preseason instead of first: "It's always easier to play the underdog role instead of the top-dog role." Well, looking at BSC's last two seasons, obviously. (Wilson also trots out the old "former NAIA powerhouse" description that BSC might as well make part of the school's official name: the Birmingham-Southern Former NAIA Powerhouse College Panthers.)

In other BSC news, keep an eye on the Justin Jonus saga. The 6-5 guard just walked out on Alabama due, his Pops says, to Mark Gottfried drastically cutting his minutes without explanation. Why is this BSC news? Because Reboul recruited Jonus, and the school's January "Interim" term means if Jonus wriggled out of his scholarship now he could transfer to 'Southern and get an extra semester of eligibility. His Dad even specifically mentions BSC as a possible transfer destination. Given that the timing of Jonus's decision could not possibly be worse for the Tide--they now have precisely one guard on scholarship--you have to wonder if the "Interim factor" factored into it.

Now, hotshot recruits who abandon struggling teams in midstream while Daddy goes on a media whine-a-thon (and, most notably, accuses the Tide coaching staff of reverse racism) aren't really the first players I'd pick for the Panthers. But Gottfried's had so, so many players transfer out of his program that I'm not ready to just pin this all on Jonus (unlike certain shockjock national columnists who get their jollies mercilessly trashing the character of 20-year-old kids). We'll see.

Apaprently VMI coach Duggar Baucom's heart problems were more serious than previously known. He's due back in mid-February.

The Big South Choice Hotels Rivalry Series debuts Saturday on Fox Sports South with Winthrop's annihilation of Charleston Southern. Former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis will be on hand to provide color commentary and mysteriously bring down the two schools' graduation rates by his presence alone.

No comments: