COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL
#2 CHANTICLEERS vs. #6 BUCCANEERS
Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship Semifinals
Winthrop's Winthrop Coliseum (6,100) ~ Rock Hill, South Carolina
Thursday, March 2, 2006 ~ 9 p.m.
THIS IS IT!: Tonight continues the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Men's Basketball Championship, with the league's automatic bid to the 2006 NCAA Championship on the line. No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina will take on No. 6 Charleston Southern in the event's semifinals, televised live on ESPNU. (Complete bracket on page 17.)
THE COACHES: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Buzz Peterson (North Carolina, '86) is in his first season at the helm of the Chanticleers and holds a 185-118 overall coaching record in 10 seasons. Last season, Coastal posted a 10-19 mark, including 7-9 in Big South Conference play.
Barclay Radebaugh (East Tennessee State, 87) is in his first season at Charleston Southern with a 13-15 record at CSU and a 34-24 mark in his second season overall. Last season, Charleston Southern was 13-17 overall and 7-9 in the Big South, tying for fourth. The Buccaneers return three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's squad.
SERIES HISTORY: This is the 49th meeting between Coastal and Charleston Southern, with the Buccaneers holding a slight 25-23 advantage. However, the Chants have won five of the last six meetings. A unique feature to this series has been that the visiting team holds the advantage in each venue. However in neutral site games, Charleston Southern has won all six meetings. (Recaps and box scores of this year's meetings are available on page 9.)
COASTAL'S HISTORY IN THE BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT: Coastal has posted a 9-14 record in the history of the Big South Conference Tournament. The Chanticleers won the event three times, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1992-93. CCU had dropped 10 of its last 11 tournament games since that time, with the only win prior to Tuesday night's victory over UNC Asheville occurring at home against Radford in the opening round of the 2004 Championship.
The Chants and Bucs have met seven times in postseason play, with Charleston Southern winning six of them, including the last four meetings. However, all were quarterfinal games and Coastal's only win over CSU in the tournament occurred in 1992-93, a 79-66 Chants victory in North Charleston en route to their second Big South title and appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
PETERSON AGAINST THE BUCCANEERS: This will be the fourth time that CCU head coach Buzz Peterson has faced the Buccaneers as head coach. At Tennessee in 2002-03, Peterson's squad defeated Charleston Southern 63-49 in Knoxville. Earlier this year, his Coastal squad took both regular season meetings, but only by a combined three points.
THE FIRST YEAR IS A GOOD START: For head coach Buzz Peterson, he has already accomplished much in Coastal annals. Among first year CCU coaches, he has already led this team to more victories (19) and Big South wins (12) than any previous first-year Coastal coach. He has also engineered at least a nine-game turnaround from last season's 10-19 mark, the fourth-best in school history.
SOME BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS LOCKED UP: The Chanticleers have some significant accomplishments so far in the 2005-06 season. Coastal will post 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 19 wins are the most since the 1992-93 team went 22-10 and the 12 league victories are the most since that same team was 12-4. Additionally, the Chants' 14 home victories this year are 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 current streak has been a good one. CCU has put together a 11-game winning streak, tying the school-record 11-game streak during the 1992-93 season. It is also the fourth-longest current win streak in the NCAA Division I.
OTHER TEAM NATIONAL RANKINGS: Coastal is currently ranked in the top 60 in the nation in five categories as a team, as of Feb. 27. CCU's best ranking is in free-throw percentage, as the Chanticleers are 31st at 74.4 percent from the stripe. Coastal is 32nd in three-pointers per game at 8.2 and 60th in three-point percentage at 37.5 percent. CCU also ranks in assists per game (52nd, 15.9 apg) and field goal percentage (56th, 46.4 percent).
THE LAST 14 MAKES OPPONENTS SEE STARS: Over the last 14 games, the Chanticleers have started to make the system of first-year head coach Buzz Peterson work for them. In the last 14, CCU has amassed a 13-1 record and been dominant defensively in those games. The Chanticleers average giving up just 63.6 points a game, with 10 of the 14 at 63 or less and all but one of 72 or less. Coastal has knocked down 48.1 percent (360-for-749) while holding opponents to just 42.1 percent (308-for-731). The real key has been the possessions, as Coastal has outrebounded its opponents by 2.9 rebounds a game and forced an average of 2.4 more turnovers a game. Other areas have stepped up also, as Coastal has 36 blocks in the 14 games and the current five starters are all averaging at least 8.0 points per game, with three (forwards Joseph Harris and Moses Sonko and guard Pele Paelay) averaging at least 5.0 rebounds a contest.
A LESSON IN HOW TO WIN GAMES LATE: Coastal Carolina has been a great example of that over the last 11 games, as CCU has strung together an 11-game winning streak. The last five minutes can be key in any game and Coastal has made that its own during the streak. Only in four games have the Chants led by more than eight going into the last five minutes and have trailed in two of the contests heading into that segment. Coastal has hit 67.9 percent (38-for-56) of its shots from the field in the last five minutes of this streak, including 55.6 percent (10-for-18) from the three-point arc. The Chants have limited opponents to just 39.1 percent (36-for-92) from the floor during the same time and outrebounded the opponents 55-34 down the stretch. Additionally, CCU has hit 80.3 percent (57-for-71) of its free throw attempts in the closing minutes of these 11 contests.
MORE HISTORY ACHIEVED: Digging into the historical archives of Coastal basketball, this year's team has made its mark on the record books.
Among the team records, Coastal's 19 wins are the eighth-most in school history, while the Chanticleers have hit 228 three-pointers already, setting a new single-season school record. Coastal's free-throw percentage of 75.2 percent (361-for-480) is currently the top single-season mark in school annals, while this year's team ranks 10th in assists (438) and eighth in blocked shots (63).
INDIVIDUALS IN THE COASTAL RECORD BOOKS: Several Coastal players are continuing to add their name to the school's records list, both for a single season and for their career.
This year, guard Jack Leasure broke the school and league's three-pointers made record, a mark currently at 121. His 510 points this year rank 11th all-time, just three behind KeKe Hicks (1992-93) in 10th at 513. On the career chart, Leasure ranks third in three-pointers with 206.
Senior guard Pele Paelay is on several career lists. He ranks ninth in free throws made with 228 and steals with 138. He is also 10th in games played with 109, scoring at 1,149 points, field goals attempted at 927 and blocked shots with 35.
Senior guard Colin Stevens is fifth in career games played with 114 and free-throw percentage at 77.4 percent. He also is tied for 10th in career assists with 233.
Junior forward Moses Sonko is currently fifth in single-season free-throw percentage at 86.6 percent and sixth in field-goal percentage at 55.8 percent. He also currently ranks ninth in career free-throw percentage at 74.8 percent.
SOME KEY ITEMS FOR COASTALS VICTORIES: Several trends developed in regards to Coastal winning in the 2005-06 season. Coastal is 16-4 when leading at the break, 17-1 when ahead with five minutes to play and 15-2 when scoring at least 70 points. Defense is always a key, as Coastal is 14-1 when holding opponents to less than 70 points, as well as 11-3 when forcing at least 15 turnovers. The Chants are also 17-2 when giving up less than 15 turnovers and 13-2 when shooting at least 45 percent from the floor. Another interesting note is that when guard Jack Leasure leads Coastal in scoring, the Chants are 13-2. Actually in all 19 CCU victories, either Leasure or guard Pele Paelay has at least shared team-high scoring honors.
THE STARTING LINEUP HAS FIRMED UP: Coastal Carolina, under first year head coach Buzz Peterson, has tweaked the lineup throughout the first 17 contests of the year. In the first 17 games, the Chanticleers had nine different starting lineups. Three players (Pele Paelay, Jack Leasure and Moses Sonko) have started all 28 games. Guard Mario Sisinni joined the starting lineup in 12 of those contests.
However, CCU has used the same starting lineup in the last 11 games, with Paelay, Leasure, Sonko, guard Colin Stevens and forward Joseph Harris out for the opening tip for the Chanticleers, posting a perfect 11-0 mark.
FROM DOWNTOWN...BANG!: Sophomore Jack Leasure continues to believe -- and prove -- that outside the three-point arc is his domain. Through 28 games this season, the guard has hit 121 three-pointers, an average of 4.3 per game, and surpassing the former league record, set by Doug Day of Radford with 117 in 1991-92.
The success from the arc shows in the NCAA Division I national rankings. As of Feb. 27, he leads the nation in three pointers per game and 15th in three-point field goal percentage at 43.7 percent.
As a team, Coastal is also among the nation's leaders in triples. The Chanticleers are averaging 8.2 threes per game, which as of Feb. 27 ranks them 32nd in Division I.
AT YOUR LEASURE: Sophomore Jack Leasure was impressive on the offensive end of the floor 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.
This season, Leasure leads the Chants in scoring, averaging a team-high 18.2 points a game (fifth in the Big South) and adding 3.1 rebounds. He has hit a league-record 121 three-pointers (4.3 per game), including a career-best nine in a win over Chowan, Dec. 19. He currently ranks third on CCU's all-time three-pointers chart with 206 in just 57 games (3.61 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 also ranks second in the Big South with 4.1 assists per game and has added 46 steals (sixth in the Big South) so far this year. For his play, Leasure was named the Big South Conference Player of the Year and the league's Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
HARRIS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Freshman forward Joseph Harris has grown throughout the season and it showed in recent games. In the win over High Point, Feb. 6. Harris posted career-highs of 14 points and 16 rebounds for his first career double-double in leading the Chanticleers to the victory. The 16 rebounds tied the 10th-best single-game performance in school history and amazingly, of those 16 rebounds, 12 of them came in the first half. He then followed it up with his second consecutive double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win at Charleston Southern, Feb. 9. He is currently 13th in the league in rebounding at 5.5 per contest, including 2.14 offensive boards per game (tied for seventh in the league). In conference action only, he ranked fourth at 7.2 rebounds per contest. For his play this season, he was named to 2005-06 Big South All-Freshman Team.
STEPPING UP THE DEFENSE: In their 19 victories, the Chanticleers have made the difference on the defensive end of the floor. In the 19 wins, Coastal has given up just 62.3 points per game and just 41.9 percent (406-for-968) shooting from the floor. Additionally, the Chants have forced 4.1 more turnovers a game in the wins, including 8.8 steals per game. Coastal has also outrebounded its opponents by 3.4 caroms a game in the 19 victories.
This doesn't mean Coastal hasn't been solid offensively as well in the wins. The Chants are averaging 77.2 points in the wins. They also have hit on 48.9 percent (518-for-1060) of their shots from the floor, including 40.0 percent (163-for-408) from the three-point arc.
Individually, guard Jack Leasure has been the leader for the Chants in the 19 wins, averaging 20.3 points per game in the victories. Additionally, Leasure has hit 49.2 percent (128-for-260) of his shots from the floor, including 93 three pointers and 46.5 percent (93-for-200) shooting from beyond the arc. He also has 2.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game in the 19 victories.
PAELAY GETS IT DONE: Senior Pele Paelay made things happen offensively for Coastal in the 2004-05 season. Paelay knocked down a career-high 27 points and made it his first career double-double with 11 rebounds at Evansville, Nov. 23. He later followed up that performance with 22 points and 11 rebounds at UNC Greensboro, Nov. 23. Paelay had a career-high 38 points and eight rebounds in the win at VMI, Jan. 10. The 38 points are the sixth most in school history and best in the league this year, while his 14 field goals tied for third in CCU annals. For the season, Paelay averaged league-bests of 16.8 points and 2.4 steals per game and added 6.0 rebounds. He also led CCU in scoring 15 times and 12 times in rebounding, while tallying double-digit scoring in 27 of 29 contests. He was the only player in the Big South Conference to rank in the top 10 in scoring (1st), rebounding (6th) and steals (1st) and was 11th in assists.
This season, Paelay is averaging 14.9 points (sixth in the Big South) and 5.1 rebounds in 28 contests. He also has 1,149 points in his career, just the 13th player in Coastal history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. He also ranks in the CCU top 10 in his career in steals and blocked shots. For the second straight season, he was selected All-Big South, earning Second Team honors in 2005-06.
He had his best game of the season so far at Radford, Feb. 25, tying a season high with 24 points and making it a double-double with a season-high 11 rebounds. He then followed it up with his second straight double-double with 15 points and a new season-best 12 rebounds in the Big South Conference Quarterfinal win over UNC Asheville, Feb. 28.
PAELAY REACHING THE ELITE MILESTONE: Senior guard Pele Paelay has proven his ability to score in his career and accomplished a milestone in the home win over Winthrop, Feb. 4. Early in the first half, Paelay knocked down his second three-pointer of the game and became the 13th member of Coastal's 1,000-Point Club. He currently ranks 10th with 1,149 points, just surpassing Manuel Jessup (1977-78) at 1,124 points.
STEVENS STEPPING UP IN RECENT GAMES: Senior guard Colin Stevens has made his mark for the Chanticleers in recent days. In the first 13 games, Stevens was averaging 2.2 points in 10.2 minutes per game and had more turnovers (17) than assists (15). In the last 15 games, including 11 straight starts, Stevens has averaged 9.1 points per game in 27.7 minutes, including a stellar 89.5 percent (51-for-57) from the charity stripe. He has dished out 55 assists to just 25 turnovers (assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.20). In these 15 games, he has had his top five offensive outputs of the year, scoring a season-high 18 points at Birmingham-Southern, Jan. 14, and then 12 points, including a pair of free throws with 4.4 seconds left, in the win over Charleston Southern, Jan. 19. He then added 13 points, five rebounds and six assists to lead CCU to its first road win of the year at Winthrop, Jan. 24. Recently, Stevens handed out a career-high 10 assists in the home win over Winthrop, Feb. 4. At Radford Feb. 25, he had 15 points, including going 11-for-11 at the free throw line, in the win. Most recently, Stevens had 14 points and four assists in the Big South Tournament win over UNC Asheville, Feb. 28. With Stevens a regular in the lineup the last 15 games, Coastal has posted a 13-2 mark, all in league play.
SONKO CONTINUING THE SOLID PLAY: Junior forward Moses Sonko has made strides from his sophomore year and been solid for Coastal in 2005-06. Last year, Sonko averaged 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game, starting in 13 of the 27 games he played in. This season, his numbers are up, as he has started all 28 contests and is averaging 11.5 points (17th in the Big South), 5.2 rebounds (19th in the league) and 25.9 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures in 18 games, including his first career double-double in the win at Winthrop, Jan. 24, with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, and second double-double against Liberty, Jan. 28, with 16 points and 11 boards. He earned his first career Big South Player of the Week award, Jan. 30, after posting those back-to-back double-doubles.
DOUBLING THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR SONKO: Junior forward Moses Sonko saw double in back-to-back games for the Chanticleers. Sonko recorded his first career double-double, Jan. 24 at Winthrop, posting 10 points and a career-best 11 rebounds in the road win over the defending Big South champions. In fact, that was the first double-double for Coastal this year and the first since Adrian Gross had one against Charleston Southern, Feb. 3, 2005, with 17 points and 10 boards. He then followed it up with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Chanticleers to a home win over Liberty, Jan. 28.
THE WINDING ROAD HAS BEEN KIND LATELY: CCU dropped its first eight road games before getting the dramatic 64-57 win over defending Big South champion Winthrop, Jan. 24. With the win at Winthrop, CCU snapped a 13-game road losing streak overall, including an eight-game Big South road streak dating back midway through the Big South schedule last year.
However, the Chanticleers have followed it up with four more road wins for a five-game raod winning streak. CCU posted a dramatic 71-69 win at Charleston Southern, Feb. 9, for their first back-to-back road wins since midway through the 2003-04 season. In fact, the last time the Chants won five consecutive road games was during the 1992-93/1993-94 seasons, when CCU defeated Campbell and Charleston Southern twice to end the regular season and CSU again in the first round of the Big South Tournament at North Charleston Coliseum. Coastal then opened the 1993-94 season with a win at Francis Marion.
EARNING THE BIG SOUTH HONORS: After helping spur an eight-game turnaround from a year ago, Coastal Carolina mens basketball's Jack Leasure has been named the Big South Conference Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season, announced Feb. 27 by the league office. In addition, two other Chanticleers took home honors in the announcement prior to the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship, as senior guard Pele Paelay was named Second Team All-Big South, while forward Joseph Harris was named to the Big South's All-Freshman Team, which was voted on by the Leagues head coaches, sports information directors and media panel.
Leasure, who was also named to the First Team, led the Chanticleers and ranked fourth in the league in scoring at 18.3 points per game. He leads the nation in three-pointers per game at 4.37 and ranks in the top 30 nationally in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 43.7 percent (118-for-270) from beyond the arc. He set a new league record for single-season three pointers with 118 so far, surpassing Radford's Doug Day with 117, accomplished during the 1991-92 season. Leasure also ranks among the top 10 in the league in assists (2nd, 4.22 apg), steals (5th, 1.70 spg), three-point field goal percentage (3rd, .437) and assist-to-turnover ratio (5th, 1.48). This is the third time in the last four years that a Coastal player has won the award, as Paelay was the 2005 recipient, while Torrey Butler captured the honors in 2003.
Leasure was also named Men's Basketball's Scholar-Athlete of the Year and to the All-Academic squad by the league's SIDs. A history major with a 3.71 grade-point average, the sophomore was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team as presented by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) earlier this month and is on the ballot for Academic All-American honors. This marks the first time in league history that both the Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards were earned by the same player.
A First-Team honoree last year, Paelay currently ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 14.9 points per game. He ranks 20th in rebounding at 4.9 per game, sixth in free-throw percentage at 76.6 percent (82-for-107) and is in the top-15 in assists, steals and field-goal percentage. He became just the 13th Chanticleer in school history to reach the 1,000-point total in his career, currently ranking 10th with 1,134 points. He has also cracked the top 10 on Coastal's career steals and blocked shots chart.
Harris, a two-time Freshman of the Week honoree, was a close runner-up in Freshman of the Year balloting, finishing two points behind UNC Asheville's Michael Ellis. On the year, he is averaging 5.8 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, tying for 15th in the league for the year. In conference action, he has increased his averages to 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds a game, ranking fourth in Big South games only. He posted a pair of double-doubles this year, including career-highs of 14 points and 16 rebounds in Coastals 78-60 win over High Point, Feb. 6.
CLOSE CALLS IN THE BIG SOUTH A REGULAR FOR CCU: Games in the Big South are always a battle, and the last three years' numbers prove it for Coastal Carolina. In 2003-04, 11 of CCU's 16 Big South contests were decided by nine points or less, with Coastal holding a 4-7 mark in those games. Last year, CCU was 4-4 in its Big South games decided by nine or less.
Heading into today's game, five of the last 13 games for the Chanticleers have each been decided by nine points or less, with CCU holding a 4-1 mark in those. The first two were by a single point, with Coastal defeating Charleston Southern, 63-62, Jan. 19, and then dropping the 70-69 overtime loss to Radford, Jan. 21. Coastal won at Winthrop, 64-57, Jan. 24, for its first road win of the year and then had the thrilling 71-69 win at Charleston Southern, Feb. 9. Most recently, Coastal snapped a 15-year road losing streak at the Dedmon Center, defeating Radford, 84-75, Feb. 25.
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 was 9-1 in non-conference play during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, with the only loss a 73-72 heartbreaker to the College of Charleston early in the 2003-04 season. Coastal was a combined 17-9 at home over the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, and finished 8-5 in 2004-05. CCU did open the 2005-06 home schedule with a resounding 70-35 victory over Coker. The Chanticleers are 14-1 this season at home and 39-15 (72.2 percent) overall in the last four years. The Chants' 14 home victories are the most since the program went Division I during the 1985-86 season.
OPENING THE BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT WITH A WIN OVER UNCA: In the first round of the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship, second-seeded Coastal Carolina outlasted the visiting seventh-seeded UNC Asheville 78-62, Feb. 28 at Kimbel Arena. Coastal picked up its 11th consecutive win, the fourth-longest current winning streak in Division I.
An early 9-5 run from UNC Asheville capped off by a made three pointer from senior Oliver Holmes put UNCA up 12-7 at 15:46. The Chants grabbed their first lead of the evening, 17-14, on a layup and free throw from junior Moses Sonko at 13:35. A three by the Chants Jack Leasure allowed Coastal to open up the largest lead of the first half at 29-23, but again the Bulldogs would have an answer. A layup and free throw by UNCAs Joe Barber closed the gap to one at 29-28 with 8:33 remaining in the first half. For the rest of the half, neither team was able to open up more than a three-point advantage. Redshirt sophomore Garrett Moles gave the Bulldogs the lead at the break at 42-40 on a running layup.
For Coastal, Leasure had 12 points as Coastal shot 12-for-28 (43 percent) in the opening half. Asheville was 14-for-28 in the first half. Barber had 14 points while senior Chad Mohn led both teams with six rebounds.
A three pointer from Coastals Steven Sexton allowed the Chants to open up a four point advantage 47-43 at 14:26 of the second half. But the Bulldogs fought back as a layup from Mohn gave UNCA the 50-49 advantage with 12:04 remaining in the game. Two free throws from Ashevilles Holmes gave the Bulldogs a 51-49 advantage at 11:30, but it would be the last lead the Bulldogs would have the rest of the evening.
A three from Leasure gave CCU its largest lead, to that point of the second half, at 66-59 with 3:12 remaining in the game. The Chants Paelay followed with a thunderous dunk to give CCU a 68-59 lead with 2:14 remaining. UNC Asheville was never able to close the gap in the second half as Coastal ended the game on a 10-1 run to win going away 78-62.
For the game, Coastal shot 43.6 percent (24-for-55) but were an impressive 23-26 (.885) from the charity stripe. After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Bulldogs were limited to 28 percent shooting in the second half (7-for-25) and ended up shooting 39.6 percent for the game (21-for-53).
Leasure led the way for Coastal with 17. He was one of five Chants to reach double figures. Senior Pele Paelay had 15 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Coastal senior point guard Colin Stevens had 14 points and four assists for CCU in the victory. UNC Asheville was led by senior Joe Barber, who had 17 point and seven rebounds in defeat. He was one of three Bulldogs to reach double figures. Chad Mohn and Omar Collington each chipped in 10 points for UNCA.
TONIGHT'S INJURY REPORT: Forward Logan Johnson (right foot) is out for the year.
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 eighth year as "Voice of the Chanticleers". In addition, a returning feature this year will be Live Game Stats of all CCU home basketball games on the Internet.