Men's Basketball To Open Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship at High Point
THIS IS IT!!!: Coastal Carolina enters tonight's 2008 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Quarterfinal as the No. 6 seed as it heads to High Point, N.C. to take on the No. 3 seed Panthers. The winner advances to play the winner of No. 2 Winthrop/No. 7 Radford in the semifinals in Asheville, N.C., Thu., Mar. 6 at 6 p.m.
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 547-351 record and 625-363 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.
Bart Lundy (Winthrop, ’93) is in his fifth season as head coach at High Point with an 86-65 record and 201-106 in his 10th year as a head coach overall. Last season, High Point was 22-10 overall and 11-3 in the Big South, finishing second. The Panthers return 12 letterwinners and three starters from last year’s squad, including now two-time Big South Player of the Year Arizona Reid.
SERIES WITH THE PANTHERS: This will be just the 23rd meeting in the history between Coastal and High Point, with the Chanticleers holding a slim 12-10 advantage. Coastal trails 6-4 at the Mills Center, though the Chants got a win in the first meeting this year at the Millis Center, 66-61. Since High Point joined the Big South in 1998-99, Coastal holds a slim 11-9 advantage in the meetings.
COASTAL'S HISTORY IN THE BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT: Coastal has posted a 10-17 record in the history of the Big South Conference Tournament. The Chanticleers won the event three times, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1992-93 and advanced to last year's championship game for the first time since 1993. CCU has advanced out of the first round in two of the last five seasons.
This will be the first time that Coastal and High Point have met in the Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championships.
TWO EARN BIG SOUTH HONORS:Senior guard Jack Leasure was named First Team All-Big South Conference and the Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while freshman forward Anthony Breeze was named to the All-Freshman squad, the league announced.
Leasure currently leads the Chanticleers and ranks fourth in the Big South Conference at 16.7 points per game, as well as leading the league and ranking eighth nationally at 3.96 threes per game. He also has averaged 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 37.2 minutes per game while hitting 41.6 percent of his shots from the three-point line. He scored a season-high 34 in the win over North Greenville, Nov. 9, and was one shy of it with 33 points each against Campbell, Nov. 13, and at High Point, Jan. 19. Having started 111 consecutive games for the Chanticleers, he ranks second all-time at Coastal and sixth in the league with 1,875 points in his career, as well as ranking in the top 10 of CCU's career list in assists (353), steals (146), games played (116) and games started (111) and is the school's leader in minutes played (3,952). He was the 2005 Big South Conference Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Big South and Honorable Mention All-American as a sophomore and a Second Team All-Big South honoree his junior year in 2007.
A history major with a 3.82 grade point average, the senior picked up his third Big South Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, the first in league history to accomplish this feat.
Breeze ranks third on the team at 9.7 points per game while leading the Chanticleers in rebounding a 5.4 boards a contest, good for 11th in the Big South. Breeze has led Coastal on the glass in seven games, including this past Saturday when he posted his first collegiate double-double with 13 points and a career-best 12 rebounds at Charleston Southern. He scored a career-high 25 at Cincinnati earlier this year and has been in double figures 11 times during the season.
LEASURE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN AGAIN: Senior guard Jack Leasure has shown he is the all-around student-athlete, as he was named ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American as presented by CoSIDA. This is the second time he has been named to the squad, as last year he earned Second Team Academic All-America honors. A history major with a 3.82 grade point average, Leasure is only the second men's basketball player in league history to receive the honor twice, as Radford's Corey Reed was a third-team selection in 1996-97 and first-team honoree in 1997-98.
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 over his career at CCU. With his career-high tying nine three-pointers at UNC Asheville, Feb. 29. Leasure accomplished two major milestones in his career. He became the eighth player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 400 three-pointer plateau when he accomplished that in the first half with his fourth triple of the game. Then in the second half, Leasure surpassed Doug Day (1989-93) of Radford with 401 when he hit his 402nd three-pointer of his career to become the Big South Conference's all-time leader in the category.
Leasure is also the current NCAA Division I active leader in career three-pointers per game, having hit 3.509 triples in his 116 games (407 total), currently ahead of Chris Lofton of Tennessee at 3.380 (409 threes in 121 games) and ranks sixth in career three-pointers made. He has knocked down 58 triples in his last 13 games (4.46 a game).CLOSE CALLS THIS YEAR: Coastal has been in battles throughout the 2007-08 season. Of its 27 games so far, 15 have been decided by nine points or less, with the Chanticleers posting a 9-6 record. Of those games, 11 have been in league play, with CCU having won six of them (all six of its conference victories).
DEFENSE IMPROVING: Coastal has been able to make a difference with its play on the defensive end of the floor over nine of the last 12 games, while dealing with the loss of several key players. In the last 12, CCU has held opponents to 65 points or less in nine of the games, getting the win in four of them. During that 12-game stretch, Coastal has also limited opponents to just 42.9 percent (297-of-693) in field-goal percentage and just 66.6 points per game.
ON THE ROAD IN THE LEAGUE: The Chanticleers snapped their six-game road losing streak with their 66-61 victory at High Point, Jan. 19. However that is one of two road wins Coastal has had this year, as CCU had lost all six non-conference tilts during the 2007-08 campaign and had dropped its three road games that followed the HPU victory prior to the win at Radford, Feb. 11. Before 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 10-13 against Big South foes on the road the last three seasons.
PLAYING THE EXTRA PERIOD: Coastal's game against Charleston Southern, Feb. 2, was the first overtime contest for the Chanticleers this season and the first since an 81-80 loss at South Carolina State, Dec. 13, 2006. In its history, Coastal is 22-17 in extra period games, but only 14-15 since going Division I. This win was just the second victory for the Chanticleers in the last nine overtime contests.
COASTAL HAS THE TOUGHEST BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: After looking at the 2007-08 Big South Conference schedule, the Chanticleers have the toughest road in the league due to the number of times playing two games in three days. Coastal and Charleston Southern both have five Saturday/Monday sets, but only CCU has to play five of those games on the road, while CSU has just four. Looking at the rest of the league, Liberty and High Point are next with three, Radford and VMI each have two (both involving CCU and CSU), while the two current teams at the top of the standings, UNC Asheville and Winthrop, only have one each.
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 13 victories, the Chants have had at least four players in double-figures scoring in seven of them, including a season-high five players in the dramatic buzzer-beating win over Radford, Jan. 12 and overtime victory against Charleston Southern, Feb. 2. In four of the victories where they didn’t (UNC Wilmington, Susquehanna and High Point, Radford), there were three players with double-digit scoring and at least one of them at 22 points. However in the 14 losses, only four times 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 11 home wins, the Chanticleers have hit 48.7 percent (297-of-610) in Kimbel Arena, while just shooting 42.2 percent (258-of-612) in road venues. It is even more definitive at the free throw line, as CCU has hit 168-of-236 charity attempts (71.2 percent) at home, but is a dismal 88-of-144 (61.1 percent) from the stripe in those road games.
FORCING THE ACTION: One other stat that jumps out in comparing home and road and the records based on how many opponent miscues CCU forces. At home, the Chants forced 175 turnovers (12.5 tpg) in its first 14 home games, but only caused 146 (11.2 tpg) in the 13 road games, having an impact on Coastal being 11-3 at home and 2-11 on the road.
A LOW SCORING AFFAIR: In the 50-49 victory over Winthrop Feb. 6, Coastal posted its lowest point total in a game, as well as holding its opponent to its lowest total since a win at VMI, 49-32, Jan. 6, 2004. That game at VMI also set a Cameron Hall record for the fewest points ever scored by the Keydets at home.
WINNING THE BOARD BATTLE FINALLY: After losing the battle on the glass in the first four games, Coastal outrebounded its 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.
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.
For the year, Coastal has been outrebounded in 15 of 27 games this season, including nine of the 11 road losses. However the last eight games, Coastal has outrebounded its opponents by a combined 300-279, an average of +2.6 rebounds a game more for the Chants.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, 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. 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. In a recent outing, Leasure canned a career-high tying nine three pointers on 15 attempts to tally 27 points at UNC Asheville, Feb. 27, taking over the Big South's all-time lead in three pointers and reaching the 400 three-pointers mark in his career.
Currently, the senior leads Coastal and ranks fourth in the league at 16.7 points per game while hitting on 42.5 percent (149-of-351) of his shots from the floor (eighth in the league) and 41.6 percent (105-of-257 - fourth in the league and 43rd in the nation) of his attempts from the three-point arc. His 3.96 triples per game ranks sixth in NCAA Division I.JOHNSON STEPPING UP: Sophomore Logan Johnson has stepped up his offensive game in the last six contests, helping take over some of the load since senior Everage Richardson has been out with an illness. Johnson has led CCU in scoring in two of the last six games and posted new career bests in scoring with 15 against Charleston Southern, Feb. 2, and then 16 against Winthrop, Feb. 6, and at Radford, Feb. 11, all Coastal victories. He has also tallied 10 or more points in nine of the last 14 games, averaging 9.43 points per game during the stretch.
He has also increased his board production over the last seven, averaging 6.4 rebounds a game and now is third for CCU at 4.9 caroms a contest, good for 15th in the Big South.
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 at 9.7 points per game and leads in rebounds at 5.4 boards a contest (11th in the league) while playing 21.5 minutes a game. Breeze put together 10 points, including 8-of-8 at the free throw line, six rebounds and a career-best three assists in the win over Radford, Jan. 12. Recently, he posted his first collegiate double-double with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds at Charleston Southern, Mar. 1.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. He then set a new rebound high with 14 caroms against Liberty, Feb. 16. Wallace now ranks second for CCU and 13th in the league at 5.0 boards per game.
SISINNI TAKING THE REINS: Junior guard Mario Sisinni stepped into the starting lineup 18 games ago for Coastal and has taken control of the offense. During those 18 games, Sisinni has averaged 3.5 assists per game while only turning the ball over 1.8 times per game (a solid 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio). He has also upped his averages to 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds a contest. He posted 12 points (one off his previous 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. He then had a career-high 16 points, including the three-pointer at the start of overtime to put CCU ahead for good, along with five assists and five rebounds in the victory over Charleston Southern, Feb. 2.
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 on 51.9 percent (98-of-189) shooting from the field while also chipping in 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. However, he has been out indefinitely after having an emergency appendectomy on Friday, Jan. 25.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 Mar. 2 as a team, Coastal ranks in the top 75 of four categories in NCAA Division I basketball. CCU is 33rd in three-pointers per game (8.5), 45th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.15), 61st in assists per game (15.2), and 73rd in turnovers per game (13.1).
Individually, senior guard Jack Leasure ranks among the top 100 individuals in two areas. Leasure is sixth in three-pointers per game (3.96) and 43rd in three-point percentage (41.6 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 84 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 39 occasions, posting a 27-12 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 192-for-229 (83.8 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.
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.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.