Men's Hoops Heads To Winthrop For Road Contest, Jan. 26
WRAPPING UP THREE ON THE ROAD: Coastal Carolina wraps up its first swing through the Big South Conference at defending league champion Winthrop tonight. Coastal opened the trip with a 66-61 win at High Point, Jan. 19, but fell at Liberty, 78-59, Jan. 21.
THE COACHES:Coastal Carolina Head Coach Cliff Ellis (Florida State, ’68) is in his first season at the helm of the Chanticleers, but is now in his 30th season as a Division I head coach with a 543-345 record and 621-355 in 32-plus seasons as a head coach overall. Last season, Coastal posted a 15-15 mark, including 7-7 in Big South Conference play.
Randy Peele (Virginia Wesleyan, ’80) is in his first season as head coach at Winthrop with an 12-7 mark and 58-76 in his fifth year as a head coach overall. Last season, Winthrop was 29-5 overall and 14-0 in the Big South, winning both the regular season and tournament titles. The Eagles return six letterwinners and two starters from last year’s squad.
This will be a meeting of two "rookie" coaches in the Big South Conference, though Ellis has gone against the Eagles four previous times in his career. Ellis is 4-0 against WU all-time, defeating Winthrop three times at home, twice while at Clemson and once at Auburn, and also in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament when his Auburn Tigers got an 80-41 victory over the Eagles in the first round.SERIES WITH THE EAGLES: This is the largest series in Coastal history, as CCU and Winthrop have met 63 times on the hardwood. The Chanticleers lead the overall series 33-30, but the Eagles have a 20-11 advantage in Rock Hill. Since 2002-03, no team in the Big South Conference has won more games against WU, with Coastal having posted five wins in their 12 games in that time. However, Winthrop has won the last three contests, including last year's thriller at the Winthrop Coliseum, 65-63.
ON THE TUBE FOUR TIMES: Coastal Carolina's men's basketball team will make four televised appearances on SportSouth as part of the Big South Conference's package. The Chanticleers will be televised twice at Kimbel Arena when hosting Charleston Southern, Feb. 2, and Winthrop, Feb. 6, as well as twice on the road, winning the first at High Point, 66-61, Jan. 19, and tonight's game at Winthrop, Jan. 26.
GETTING THE FIRST ROADWIN: The Chanticleers snapped their six-game road losing streak with their 66-61 victory at High Point, Jan. 19. CCU had lost all six non-conference tilts during the 2007-08 campaign. Prior to the win over the Panthers, the last time Coastal had won a road contest was the final road game of the 2006-07 season -- at Liberty, 77-76. CCU won three of its seven road league games last season and is now 9-8 against Big South foes on the road the last two-plus seasons.
GETTING EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THE ACT: Coastal has shown it is most effective when many get involved in the action and on the scoreboard. Of Coastal’s nine victories, the Chants have had at least four players in double-figures scoring in six of them, including a season-high five players in the dramatic buzzer-beating win over Radford, Jan. 12. The only victories where they didn’t (UNC Wilmington, Susquehanna and High Point), there were three players with double-digit scoring and at least one of them at 24 points. However in the eight losses, only twice has CCU had four players score 10 or more points in the contest.
SHOT SELECTION (AND SHOTS OVERALL) A DIFFERENCE EARLY ON: For Coastal this year, it is easy to see where the differences are between the home victories and the road losses when Coastal has struggled. In its eight home wins, the Chanticleers have taken 463 shots (57.9 avg), as compared to 384 (54.9 avg) in the seven road losses, and hit 50.8 percent (235-of-463) in Kimbel Arena, while just shooting 42.4 percent (163-of-384) in road venues. The squad is 64-of-163 (39.3 percent) from the arc in its eight home wins while just 49-of-135 (36.3 percent) from the three-point line in the seven road losses. It is even more definitive at the free throw line, as CCU has hit 120-of-169 charity attempts (71.0 percent) at home but is a dismal 64-of-107 (59.8 percent) from the stripe in those road games.
FORCING THE ACTION: One other stat that jumps out in comparing wins and losses so far happens when CCU forces opponent miscues. At home, the Chants forced 147 turnovers (16.3 tpg) in its first nine home games, but only caused 100 (12.5 tpg) in the eight road games.
WINNING THE BOARD BATTLE FINALLY: After losing the battle on the glass in the first four games, Coastal outrebounded their first opponent in the win over Anderson, Nov. 21. In the game, CCU trailed in the board column by five at the halftime break, 21-16, but dominated in the second half to finish ahead by seven, 41-34. Of Anderson's 18 offensive rebounds, the Chants limited them to just nine second-chance points, while getting 12 second chance points on their 16 offensive caroms.
Coastal had a nine-board advantage (42-33) in the home win over Presbyterian, Dec. 7 and a four-rebound margin (35-31) at UNCW, Dec. 9. The Chants had their best game on the glass against Susquehanna, Jan. 5, when they outboarded the Crusaders 36-26, led by senior forward Phil Wallace's career-high 11 rebounds in the win. CCU also had an advantage in the first road win of the season at High Point, Jan. 19, winning 35-33.
For the year, Coastal has been outrebounded in 12 of 17 games this season, including six of the seven road losses.BENCH PRODUCTION AN ASSET: For Coastal, getting some scoring punch from its bench has been a big help in the victories. In four of the nine wins, Coastal's bench has tallied at least 21 points, with a season high of 37 against Anderson, Nov. 21. In four of the eight losses, CCU has gotten just 12 (East Carolina), 14 (Canisius), 15 (Houston) and 16 (Wright State) points from its players coming off the bench.
MOVING UP THE SCORING RANKS: With his two free throws in the closing seconds of the win over Wright State, Nov. 19, 2006, senior Jack Leasure became the 14th member of CCU’s 1000-Point Club, accomplishing the feat in just two years and three games. After scoring 13 points against Susquehanna, Jan. 15, he moved into second on Coastal's all-time scoring chart and 10th on the Big South list with 1,699 points, surpassing KeKe Hicks (1993-95) at 1,622. Coastal's all-time scoring leader Tony Dunkin (1989-93) finished his distinguished career with 2,151, which currently ranks third all-time in Big South Conference history.
LEASURE THE KING OF DOWNTOWN: The three-point arc has been the domain of senior guard Jack Leasure since his arrival at Coastal for the 2004-05 season and that legend grew to new heights last season. In the win over VMI, Feb. 3, 2007, Leasure hit seven threes (the second highest total in his career and fifth best in school history) and became the Coastal career three-pointer leader. Leasure surpassed KeKe Hicks (1993-95) with 275 triples and now has 364 three-pointers in his three-plus years, moving up to second and passing Scott Hartzell (1992-96) of UNC Greensboro with 309. He now only trails Doug Day (1989-93) of Radford with 401.
Leasure is also the current NCAA Division I active leader in career three-pointers per game, having hit 3.434 triples in his 106 games (364 total), currently ahead of Chris Lofton of Tennessee at 3.336 (367 threes in 110 games). He is looking to become just the seventh player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 400 three-pointer plateau and has knocked down 15 triples in his last three games.
LEASURE LEADING THE CHANTS: Senior Jack Leasure started off his final season as a Chanticleer with a bang - or several of them from downtown. In the season opener against North Greenville, Nov. 9, Leasure tallied a career-high 34 points, hitting 13-of-20 shots from the field and 8-for-13 of his attempts from the three-point arc. He also added three rebounds, five assists and three steals in the 95-75 victory at Kimbel Arena. The eight three pointers tie for the third most in school history, with the 34 points tying for the 10th-highest single-season mark.
Leasure followed it with 33 points in the win over Campbell, Nov. 13. That night, he was 9-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-9 behind the three-point line and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. He also chipped in three rebounds, five assists and one steal in the victory.
Most recently, Leasure stepped up and scored 33 points, going 8-of-15 from the three-point arc, and tied a season high with seven boards while playing all 40 minutes in leading the Chants to their first road victory of the year, a 66-61 win at High Point, Jan. 19. Currently, the senior leads Coastal and ranks fifth in the league at 16.2 points per game while hitting on 47.9 percent (93-of-194) of his shots from the floor (eighth in the league) and a league-best 47.8 percent (64-of-134 - 13th in the nation) of his attempts from the three-point arc.SISINNI TAKING THE REINS: Junior guard Mario Sisinni stepped into the starting lineup eight games ago for Coastal and has taken control of the offense. During those eight games, Coastal has posted a 5-3 mark while Sisinni has averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 assists per game while only turning the ball over 1.4 times per game (a solid 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio). He posted 12 points (one off his career best), including going 4-of-4 from the three-point arc, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists to one turnover in the road win at High Point, Jan. 19.
WALLACE DOUBLING UP: Senior forward Phil Wallace had the best game of his Coastal career against Susquehanna, Jan. 5. Wallace posted career highs of 17 points (6-of-8 from the floor, 5-of-5 from the free throw line) and 11 rebounds for his first Coastal double-double.
Wallace now ranks second for CCU and 20th in the league at 4.3 boards per game, spurred by 36 rebounds in the last six contests.
RICHARDSON ON THE RIGHT FOOT: Senior guard Everage Richardson got going on the right foot, making an impact coming off the bench. In the opener against North Greenville, Nov. 9, Richardson tallied a career-high tying 16 points, going 7-of-9 from the field, along with grabbing six boards, a new career best. He followed it up with 12 points and four rebounds in the home victory over Campbell, Nov. 13.
He also put together a career best in his effort against Anderson, Nov. 21, posting career-highs of 17 points, going 8-for-14 from the field, and four steals, while also chipping in two assists and his first blocked shot at Coastal.
After averaging just 7.0 points a game in the first four this season, Richardson has stepped up his game on the offensive end of the floor even more over the eight contests prior to the win at High Point, Jan. 19. He averaged 20.1 points a contest in those eight, including scoring in double figures in eight straight and now nine of the last 11 games. He surpassed his best point total at UNC Wilmington, Dec. 9, tallying a career-best 19 points to lead Coastal's effort. He then followed it up with new career-highs of 27 points and seven rebounds in the home victory over UNCW, Dec. 19. However, Richardson did not score in 22 minutes against High Point, seeing his double-digit scoring streak snapped.
Richardson is now second on the team at 13.8 points per game (15th in the league) on 51.9 percent (98-of-189) shooting from the field (sixth in the Big South), while also chipping in 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals (fifth in the conference) per contest.FEELING THE BREEZE BLOW: Freshman Anthony Breeze made sure he was felt in the game at Cincinnati, Nov. 16. The Greenville, S.C. native came off the bench and led Coastal with a season-best 25 points, including going 9-of-9 from the field and 7-of-13 from the free throw line. He added five rebounds in his 23 minutes of play. The 25 points was the most by a Coastal freshman since current senior Jack Leasure scored 25 points at Winthrop in the 2005 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Quarterfinals.
Breeze got his first collegiate start against Anderson, Nov. 21, and responded with 15 points, four boards and two blocked shots. He was impressive shooting, going 6-for-9 from the floor, including one monster dunk with an AU player hanging on his arms, and was also 3-of-3 from the charity stripe.
In the win over UNC Wilmington, Dec. 19, Breeze tallied 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 8-of-11 from the free throw line. He also added eight rebounds, tying his career best, in 26 minutes of action. Breeze has been a solid addition to the lineup and stepped up with the loss of Joseph Harris earlier this year to a season-ending injury. Breeze is currently third on the team in scoring (25th in Big South) at 10.2 points per game and leads in rebounds at 4.9 boards a contest (13th in the league) while playing 20.6 minutes a game. Breeze was limited to just three points in 14 minutes at East Carolina, Jan. 2, as well as five points in just 16 minutes against Susquehanna, Jan. 5, due to a sprained ankle. However, he put together 10 points, including 8-of-8 at the free throw line, six rebounds and a career-best three rebounds in the win over Radford, Jan. 12.
LEASURE NAMED TO LOWE'S SENIOR CLASS AWARD CANDIDATE LIST: Senior guard Jack Leasure has been named an official candidate for the 2007-08 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, the first male ever named to the list for Coastal Carolina and the only men's player on the list from the Big South Conference. The nation’s top 30 senior male and female college basketball players who exemplify a total student-athlete were announced as the official candidates for the 2007-08 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
The award – presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in eight sports – focuses on the “Four C’s” of classroom, character, community and competition. Lowe’s, an official corporate partner of the NCAA will award the winners with trophies during the respective men’s and women’s NCAA Final Four weekends. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season to honor the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings. Now in its seventh year for basketball, the award has developed into the nation’s premier tribute for college seniors. Since originating with basketball, Lowe’s has expanded the award to include a total of eight NCAA sports, of which CCU women's soccer player Ashleigh Gunning was on this year's top-30 list.
From the list of 30 nominees for each gender, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in January 2008. Those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote during the NCAA Tournament in March. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the male and female recipients.ON THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: As of Jan. 20 as a team, Coastal ranks in the top 50 of five categories in NCAA Division I basketball. CCU is 29th in three-point field-goal percentage (39.8 percent), 33rd in three-pointers per game (8.5), 41st in field-goal percentage (47.5 percent) and 43rd in assists per game (16.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.17)
Individually, senior guard Jack Leasure ranks among the top 100 individuals in two areas. Leasure is eighth in three-pointers per game (4.0) and ninth in three-point percentage (49.2 percent) and. Senior guard Everage Richardson is also ranked 70th in steals per game (2.0) and 82nd in field-goal percentage (52.6 percent).LEADING THE WAY: Leaders often do the little things that don't show up in the stats. However with senior Jack Leasure and junior Joseph Harris, when they show up as leaders in the stats, it normally means good things for the Chanticleers. Over the last 74 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 31 occasions, posting a 24-7 mark. Harris has led the Chants on the glass in 34 of those contests, with CCU having a 20-14 mark in those games as well.
J-MONEY: Senior Jack Leasure has been clutch from the three-point line in the past, but his most notable performance comes from the free-throw line in his career. Leasure is an impressive 171-for-207 (82.6 percent) in his three-plus years thus far. That is currently the second-best career free throw percentage in Coastal history.
HARRIS OUT FOR THE YEAR WITH THUMB INJURY: Junior Joseph Harris is out for the year with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He suffered the injury in the second half of the UNC Wilmington game, Dec. 9, but finished the game. He will have surgery on the thumb later this week and, due to new NCAA rules on medical redshirts, will be eligible to be medically redshirted and retain two years of eligibility, starting next season.
Harris was again asserting himself in rebounding, currently leading Coastal and ranking fifth in the conference at 7.9 rebounds a game, while chipping in 8.3 points per contest. He also has 13 blocked shots on the year, ranking fourth in the league at 1.6 blocks a game. He entered this season with nine career double-doubles (seven in 2006-07), and made it 10 after a recent outing of then season bests of 16 points and 10 rebounds at Houston, Nov. 26, and then followed it up in the next game with 14 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in the win over Presbyterian, Dec. 7, for his 11th career double-double. He also added career-highs of four blocks and six steals in the win over the Blue Hose. He had a career-best and team season-best 31 points to go with 11 boards at VMI last year, the most points tallied by a CCU player during the 2006-07 season. He led the team (for the second straight year -- his first two at CCU) and was fifth in the Big South at 7.7 boards per contest and ranked fourth the squad at 8.2 points per game. He improved the scoring average in league play with 9.1 points in 14 conference games. He at least shared for team-high honors in rebounding in 20 of the 30 Coastal games last year.
BACK-TO-BACK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME: Senior guard Jack Leasure has opened the scoring in style, posting the first back-to-back 30-point games since 1994-95, when guard KeKe Hicks scored 33 against Towson State (1-14-95) and 36 against Maryland-Baltimore County (1-16-95). In fact, Hicks did it twice that season, tallying 40 at #22 Georgia Tech (11-28-94) and 32 against Charlotte (12-1-94) earlier in the year.
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, senior Jack Leasure returned to play solid and earn Second Team All-Big South honors last year as a junior. He led the team and ranked eighth in the league in scoring at 15.6 points per game. He was also fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.372), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.83), second in three pointers made (3.00/g) and ninth in assists (3.60/g).
Leasure has also ranked among the top 30 in the nation in three-point field goals made in each of his three seasons.BREEZE NAMED BIG SOUTH FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: CCU freshman Anthony Breeze received New Balance Freshman of the Week honors for games played Nov. 12-18, it was announced by the League office.
Breeze averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and was 12-of-14 from the field in two games last week for the Chanticleers. At Cincinnati, Breeze went 9-of-9 from the floor and finished with a career-high 25 points, the most by a CCU freshman since 2003-04 when Jack Leasure did it against Winthrop in the 2004 Big South Quarterfinals. He also grabbed five rebounds against the Bearcats. Earlier in the week in Coastal’s victory over Campbell, Breeze scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds and tallied two assists.
NON-CONFERENCE ROAD STRUGGLES CONTINUE: Coastal Carolina can't quite get over the top on the road in non-conference play. The Chanticleers haven't won a non-conference road tilt since Nov. 22, 2003 at Marist, defeating the host Red Foxes, 74-70, in the opening game of the season and opening round of the Marist Classic. Since then, CCU has had 27 straight non-conference road losses, including all six this season.
KIMBEL HAS ITS ADVANTAGES: Coastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena may seat just over 1,000 fans, but it has been large for the Chanticleers the last six seasons. Coastal is 31-4 (88.6 percent) since the start of the 2002-03 season in non-conference games at Kimbel, including winning the last 20 non-conference tilts in the home gym. CCU had a stellar 14-1 overall record at home in 2005-06, the most home victories since the program went Division I for the 1985-86 season. CCU is also 57-20 (74.0 percent) overall at the Conway campus venue in the last five-plus years.
THE PRESEASON POLL HAD CCU IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK: Coastal Carolina was picked to finish fourth in the Big South Conference this season by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and selected media, as announced at the 2007 Big South Basketball Media Days in Concord, N.C. High Point was a slim favorite to take home the crown over two-time defending champion Winthrop with VMI picked third. Rounding out the poll was UNC Asheville, Liberty, Charleston Southern and Radford.
However, much is unknown in the league due to coaching changes. Of the eight schools in the league, four of them (Coastal - Cliff Ellis, Winthrop - Randy Peele, Liberty - Ritchie McKay and Radford - Brad Greenberg) have new head coaches this season.
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 11th year as "Voice of the Chanticleers". In addition, there will be Live Game Stats of all CCU home basketball games on the Internet, as well as Live Video Streaming of all home basketball games available for purchase on "The Edge" on www.bigsouthsports.com.