COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. COWBOYS
Coastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena (1,039) ~ Conway, South Carolina
Tuesday, January 2, 2007 ~ 7 p.m.
STARTING THE NEW YEAR AT HOME: The Coastal Carolina mens basketball squad continues a three-game homestand by opening the 2007 year with a non-conference game against McNeese State (Lake Charles, La.) tonight. CCU won the first game of this swing with a 74-54 victory over St. Andrews, Dec. 29. The Chanticleers start Big South Conference play at home against in-state rival Charleston Southern, Sat., Jan. 6.
THE COACHES: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Buzz Peterson (North Carolina, '86) is in his second season at the helm of the Chanticleers with a 25-16 record and holds a 191-125 overall coaching record in 10-plus seasons. Last season, Coastal posted a 20-10 mark, including 12-4 in Big South Conference play.
Dave Simmons (Louisiana Tech, '81) is in his first season as head coach at McNeese State with a 5-8 record and third as a head coach overall with a 32-37 mark entering tonight's game. Last season, the Cowboys were 14-14 overall and 9-7 in Southland Conference play, finishing sixth. McNeese State returns three starters and eight letterwinners to this years team.
SERIES WITH MCNEESE STATE: This is the first ever meeting between Coastal Carolina and McNeese State. In fact, this is just the third Southland Conference opponent the Chanticleers have ever played. CCU defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 58-44, in the 1987-88 season, while most recently losing in a neutral site game to Texas State, 74-58, in the 1996-97 campaign.
HOWEVER THERE IS FAMILIARITY WITH THE COWBOYS: There is someone who knows some about McNeese State, as current assistant coach Dennis Nutt coached against the Cowboys as the head coach at Texas State for six years from 2000-2006.
KIMBEL HAS ITS ADVANTAGES: Coastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena may seat just over 1,000 fans, but it had been large for the Chanticleers the previous two seasons. Coastal is now 22-3 since the start of the 2002-03 season in non-conference games at Kimbel. CCU had a stellar 14-1 record at home last year, the most home victories since the program went Division I for the 1985-86 season. CCU is also 44-15 (74.6 percent) overall at the Conway campus venue in the last four-plus years, including a staggering 19-1 under current coach Buzz Peterson.
LAST TIME OUT - BACK ON THE WINNING TRACK: Led by senior forward Moses Sonko with his fourth double-double of the year with game-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds, the Coastal Carolina men's basketball squad defeated visiting St. Andrews, 74-54, Dec. 29. Coastal got started early, going on a 12-2 run in the first 4:09 of the game, but the visiting Knights fought back. St. Andrews followed that opening run with a 17-4 run of its own in the next 5:13 to take a 19-16 lead with 10:38 remaining in the half. The two teams battled to be tied at 23 at the media timeout with 3:59 to play in the first period, but Coastal took the lead for good with a 10-1 surge to close the half for a 33-24 halftime advantage.
The Chants continued to build their lead at the start of the second half with a 13-4 push in the first six minutes for a 46-28 lead. CCU eventually built the lead to as many as 23 on two separate occasions midway through the second half and never led by less than 17 before finishing the game with a 20-point victory.
Coastal hit on 53.3 percent (32-for-60) of its shots from the floor, including 10 three-points, while outrebounding the visitors 37-27. The Chants also had 12 offensive rebounds converted into 16 points, while scoring 24 points off of 21 SAPC turnovers. The Knights, who were limited to just 36.2 percent (17-for-47) from the floor, kept it close in the first half by going to the line, finishing at 18-for-23 (78.3 percent).
Helping Sonko offensively for Coastal was junior guard Jack Leasure and freshman guard Joshua Mack with 13 and 12 points, respectively, with Leasure adding game-highs of eight assists and four steals. St. Andrews had three players with 11 points each, Taiwon Grooms, Richard Stone and Justin Brauda.
SONKO PARTING THE DEFENSE: And that is exactly what senior forward Moses Sonko has been doing on the offensive end of the floor for Coastal. After averaging 11.7 points a game last year, Sonko has stepped up and increased his scoring to a team-best 15.5 points per game. Over the last six games, he has gone even higher, averaging 18.5 points.
J-MONEY: Junior Jack Leasure has been clutch from the three-point line in the past, but his most notable performance comes from the free-throw line. Leasure is an impressive 17-for-19 (89.5 percent) thus far on the season. Leasure has not disappointed from the arc either, as he has hit 32 three-pointers in the early going.
MOVING UP THE SCORING RANKS: With his two free throws in the closing seconds of the win over Wright State, Nov. 19, junior Jack Leasure became the 14th member of CCUs 1000-Point Club, accomplishing the feat in just two years and three games. He currently ranks 12th on Coastal's all-time scoring chart with 1,110 points, just surpassing DuWayne Cheatam (1988-1991) in 12th with 1,085 career points. Next on the list for Leasure is Manuel Jessup (1977-78) in 11th with 1,124 points.
SONKO CLOSING IN ON THE 1,000 MARK: Senior forward Moses Sonko is working his way towards joining Coastal's elite 1,000-Point Club. He currently has 877 career points, just 123 shy of the magic mark. At his current scoring pace, Sonko would reach the milestone in the home game against VMI, Sat., Feb. 3.
LEADING THE WAY: Leaders often do the little things that don't show up in the stats. However with junior Jack Leasure, senior Moses Sonko and sophomore Joseph Harris, when they show up as leaders in the stats, in normally means good things for the Chanticleers. Over the last 41 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 18 occasions, posting a 15-3 mark, while when Sonko is the leading board grabber, CCU is 7-4. Harris has led the Chants on the glass in 18 of those contests, with CCU having an 12-6 mark in those games as well.
JACK BELIEVES IN MAKING CHARITY COUNT: Junior guard Jack Leasure has made his opportunities at the free throw line worth something in his career. He has hit 109 of his 131 attempts at the line, a clip of 83.2 percent that is currently the best career free throw percentage in Coastal history.
WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: During the Coastal's five wins, one of the keys for the Chanticleers was the rebounding battle. Coastal had dominated on the glass, outrebounding opponents by a combined margin of 230-140, an average of 18.0 more boards per game than its opponents. However in the six losses, the Chanticleers have not won the board battle, losing five and tying one with an average margin of 9.8 rebounds a game.
LEASURE GETTING BACK IN HIS ZONE: After ending the 2005-06 season ranked second in the nation in three-pointers at 4.2 per game, junior Jack Leasure opened the season with no treys in the loss against Xavier. However, Leasure made up for that with flying colors in the 83-63 loss to Campbell. He led all scorers by hitting five from behind the arc and finishing the game with 19 points. He now has 32 three pointers in 11 games, an average of 2.9 per contest. For his career, Leasure has knocked down 242 three pointers, just 33 triples behind CCU all-time leader KeKe Hicks (1993-96) with 275.
HARRIS DOUBLES UP AGAIN: Sophomore Joseph Harris posted his third consecutive double-double of the season and fifth of his career in the home victory over Asbury, Nov. 22. In the contest, he scored a new career-best 17 points and grabbed 11 boards. The streak started at Campbell, Nov. 16, where he had a career-best tying 14 points and 13 rebounds. He followed it up with 12 points and 13 boards against Wright State, Nov. 19.
He currently leads the team and ranks fifth in the Big South at 8.1 boards per contest and is fourth on the squad at 8.0 points per game. He has at least shared for team-high honors in rebounding in eight of the first 11 Coastal games this year.
SONKO SHOOTING IT WELL: Senior forward Moses Sonko has been more assertive on the offensive end of the floor this season. Through Dec. 29, Sonko leading the team and Big South Conference in field goal percentage, now hitting 59.7 percent of his shots from the floor. On the year, he leads the team in scoring for the first time in his career, scoring 15.5 points per contest, good for eighth in the league.
MACK ON THE ATTACK: Freshman guard Joshua Mack has shown some offensive skills during the early part of the season for the Chanticleers. Mack currently is third for Coastal and 21st in the league in scoring at 10.9 points per game. He also ranks ninth in the Big South in assists at 3.27 per game, fifith in three-point field goal percentage at 37.2 percent and sixth in three-pointers made with 2.64 per game.
SETTLING THE STARTING LINEUP: After using five different starting lineups in the first nine games, head coach Buzz Peterson has started the same group the last two games and looks to continue that trend tonight. Getting the nod for Coastal the last two outings has been guards Jack Leasure, Joshua Mack and Everage Richardson and forwards Moses Sonko and Matt Brennan. The only constants in the lineup have been Leasure and Sonko, who have started all 11 games to date.
COASTAL TO PLAY IN ESPNU BRACKETBUSTERS: For the first time in the program's history, Coastal Carolina has been chosen as one of the Big South Conference's teams in the ESPNU BracketBusters event. ESPNU will televise five selected games from around the country. The pairings will be announced live on ESPNU, Monday, January 29 at 6 p.m.
SWEEPING THE BIG SOUTH AWARDS: Coastal Carolina forward Moses Sonko has been selected as the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Mens Basketball Player of the Week for games played Dec. 11-17, while Chanticleers guard Joshua Mack received New Balance Freshman of the Week honors, it was announced Dec. 18 by the League office.
Sonko averaged 22.0 points on 67.9 percent (19-of-28) shooting from the floor in just 20.0 minutes per game in two contests last week. In an overtime loss at South Carolina State, Sonko was 9-of-16 (56.2 percent) from the floor and 4-of-5 from the line for a team-high 22 points. He also added three offensive rebounds. This past Saturday vs. Brevard, Sonko again dropped in 22 points on 10-of-12 from the floor (83.3 percent), and was 2-of-2 from long range. Sonko, who entered the week averaging 13.8 points, also had 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, and now leads Coastal in scoring for the first time in his career.
Mack averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals in two games last week. At South Carolina State, he posted a career-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (63.6 percent) and hit 5-of-8 from three-point range, including the one that sent the game into overtime. Mack also added three rebounds and five assists at SCSU. He then had seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in limited action against Brevard.
WALK-ONS GETTING THE STAGE: In the home win over Southern Virginia, Nov. 29, two walk-ons got a chance to play their most minutes in a Coastal uniform. Junior David Long and sophomore Ashton Lawrence got in with just over three minutes to play in the contest. Long score one point, grabbed a career-best three rebounds and had his first collegiate block, while Lawrence tallied a career-best four points and added another career-high with three rebounds.
Long then followed it up with his first career start at South Carolina State, Dec. 13. He played a career-best 19 minutes and had three assists, one rebound and one steal in the contest. Long then posted career bests of five points and four assists in the win over Brevard.
A new walk-on saw action against Brevard, as sophomore Michael Ward played four minutes, hitting his only shot for two points, grabbed one rebounds and dished out one assist.
ANOTHER MONTH OF WINNING: With the victory over Southern Virginia, Coastal finished November with a 3-2 mark. This was the sixth consecutive month of play that Coastal had posted a .500 or better mark. As a matter of fact under second year head coach Buzz Peterson, CCU has had only one losing month and that was his first last November with Coastal having a 1-2 mark with losses at Wisconsin and Minnesota as part of the month. Prior to Peterson joining CCU, the Chanticleers had only one .500 month in the previous eight of play.
MACK NAMED BIG SOUTH FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Coastal Carolina guard Joshua Mack was named the Big South Conferences Mens Basketball Freshman of the Week, announced by the League office Nov. 27. This is Macks first award at CCU.
Mack scored a career-high 17 points in 21 minutes off the bench against Asbury, including 5-of-9 three pointers (55.6 percent). He added four rebounds and three assists, and was 6-of-12 overall from the floor in helping the Chanticleers to a 93-64 victory. For the year, he is averaging 9.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
WINNING THE HOME OPENER: After playing its first two games away from home, the Coastal Carolina men's basketball squad returned to Kimbel Arena with a victory defeating Wright State in double overtime 70-63, Nov. 19. The Chanticleers were led by Jack Leasure, who had 22 points and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Moses Sonko also had a big night with 20 points while Joseph Harris chipped in 12 off the bench.
NEWCOMERS GET SOME EXPERIENCE: Coastal had three freshman make a significant impact in the season opener at Xavier, Nov. 11. Redshirt freshman Logan Johnson got his first start in a Chanticleer jersey recording four points and two rebounds. Johnson also was 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Joshua Mack also got his first collegiate start scoring 11 points, including a pair of three-pointers and two rebounds. Randon Cavette tallied five points from off the bench and pulled down one defensive rebound.
THE FIRST YEAR WAS A GOOD START: For head coach Buzz Peterson accomplishing much in Coastal annals. Among first year CCU coaches, he led last year's team to more victories (20) and Big South wins (12) than any previous first-year Coastal coach. He also engineered a 10-win turnaround from last season's 10-19 mark, the third-best in school history and seventh best in Division I basketball last season.
SOME BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS LAST YEAR: The Chanticleers have some significant accomplishments in the 2005-06 season. Coastal posted its first winning season, both overall and in the Big South, since 1993-94 when CCU was 15-11 and 10-8 in the league. Coastal's 20 wins were the most since the 1992-93 team went 22-10 and the 12 league victories were the most since that same team was 12-4. Additionally, the Chants' 14 home victories last year were the most since the program went Division I during the 1985-86 season.
THEY SAY TALKING ABOUT STREAKS ISN'T GOOD: But for the Chanticleers, the win streak late last year was a good one. CCU put together a 12-game winning streak, surpassing the previous record of 11 games, set during the 1992-93 season. It was also the fourth-longest current win streak in the NCAA Division I when it ended.
MORE HISTORY ACHIEVED: Digging into the historical archives of Coastal basketball, last year's team made its mark on the record books.
Among the team records, Coastal's 20 wins tied for the seventh-most in school history, while the Chanticleers hit 241 three-pointers, setting a new single-season school record. Coastal's free-throw percentage of 74.4 percent (381-for-512) was the top single-season mark in school annals, while last year's team ranked 10th in assists (460) and eighth in blocked shots (64).
INDIVIDUALS IN THE COASTAL RECORD BOOKS: Several Coastal players added their name to the school's records list, both for a single season and for their career.
Last year, guard Jack Leasure broke the school and league's three-pointers made record, a mark set at 125. His 535 points last year rank 10th all-time. Junior forward Moses Sonko finished fifth in single-season free-throw percentage at 84.2 percent and sixth in field-goal percentage at 55.6 percent.
SOME KEY ITEMS FOR COASTALS VICTORIES LAST YEAR: Several trends developed in regards to Coastal winning in the 2005-06 season. Coastal was 17-4 when leading at the break, 18-1 when ahead with five minutes to play and 16-2 when scoring at least 70 points. Defense is always a key, as Coastal was 15-1 when holding opponents to less than 70 points, as well as 11-3 when forcing at least 15 turnovers. The Chants were also 18-2 when giving up less than 15 turnovers and 14-2 when shooting at least 45 percent from the floor. Another interesting note is that when guard Jack Leasure led Coastal in scoring, the Chants were 13-2. Actually in all but one of CCU's 20 victories, either Leasure or guard Pele Paelay at least shared team-high scoring honors. That one game was the win over Charleston Southern in the semifinals, Mar. 2.
PETERSON EARNED RECOGNITION: CCU head coach Buzz Peterson continued to earn regional and national recognition for the job he did with the Chanticleers last year. After finishing as the runner-up for Big South Coach of the Year, Peterson was named a finalist for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com, as well as the publication's Big South Coach of the Year. The group also named guard Jack Leasure as its Big South Player of the Year.
AT YOUR LEASURE: Junior Jack Leasure was impressive on the offensive end of the floor in his first two seasons as a Chanticleer. Last season, Leasure led the Chants in scoring, averaging a team-high 17.8 points a game (fifth in the Big South) and adding 3.1 rebounds. He hit a league-record 125 three-pointers (4.2 per game), including a career-best nine in a win over Chowan, Dec. 19. He ranked third on CCU's all-time three-pointers chart with 210 in just 59 games (3.56 3p/g). His nine three pointers tied for the second-best performance in school history, while his seven three-pointers against Coker, Nov. 30, and St. Andrews, Jan. 3, tied for the fifth-best single games in Coastal history. He ranked second in the Big South with 4.1 assists per game and added 49 steals (sixth in the Big South) last year. For his play, Leasure was named the Big South Conference Player of the Year and the league's Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
In his freshman season, he averaged 14.5 points (seventh in the Big South) and hit 42.5 percent (85-of-200) from the three-point arc, second best in the Big South Conference. He also led the league and ranked 29th nationally in three-pointers per game with 2.93. Leasure improved his averages to 15.8 points (third in the Big South) and 2.8 rebounds per game in league play.
LIVE ON THE RADIO AND THE WEB: Coastal Carolina men's basketball will be broadcast live on "The Team", 93.9 FM, 93.7 FM and 1050 AM in the Conway/Myrtle Beach area, as well as on the Internet at www.GoCCUSports.com. Matt Hogue returns for his ninth year as "Voice of the Chanticleers". In addition, there will be Live Game Stats of all CCU home basketball games on the Internet.