Coastal Carolina University Men's Basketball
CHANTICLEERS vs. CRUSADERSCoastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena (1,039) ~ Conway, South Carolina
STARTING A NEW ERA: The Coastal Carolina men's basketball program opens the 2007-08 season, as well as a new era under first-year Head Coach Cliff Ellis, tonight against North Greenville.THE COACHES: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Cliff Ellis (Florida State, '68) is in his first season at the helm of the Chanticleers, but enters this year with 534-337 record in 29 years as a Division I head coach and 612-349 in 32 seasons as a head coach overall. Last season, Coastal posted a 15-15 mark, including 7-7 in Big South Conference play, falling in the Big South Tournament Quarterfinals. Chad Lister (Furman, '95) is in his sixth season as head coach at North Greenville with a 48-92 record at NGU, improving the squad's record in each of his five years at the helm of the Division II school. Last season, the Crusaders were 16-13 overall. The Crusaders return six letterwinners and just one starter from last year’s squad. SERIES: This is the first time that the Chanticleers and Crusaders have met on the hardwood. SEASON OPENERS:This is the first time in the last eight years that Coastal has opened the regular season at home, and in fact, CCU will play its first two contests in the friendly confines of Kimbel Arena. Overall in their history, the Chanticleers are 19-14 in season openers and 11-11 since turning Division I in 1986. In home games to start the season, CCU is 14-4 in its history. This also is the earliest start in the school's Division I history, as the previous was last year's Nov. 11 start date. The earliest start date was Nov. 9, 1981, when Coastal was a NAIA program. CLIFF NOTES: Coastal Head Coach Cliff Ellis has seen a lot of season openers in his 29 years as a Division I head coach. In his last two stops at Clemson and Auburn, he was a combined 17-3 in season openers, including going 14-1 in home games to start the season. He enters tonight's contest with a six-game winning streak in season openers. 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 five seasons. Coastal is 25-3 since the start of the 2002-03 season in non-conference games at Kimbel. CCU had a stellar 14-1 record at home in 2005-06, the most home victories since the program went Division I for the 1985-86 season. CCU is also 51-19 (72.9 percent) overall at the Conway campus venue in the last five years. RETURNERS: Coastal Carolina returns four starters (seniors Jack Leasure and Everage Richardson, junior Joseph Harris and sophomore Joshua Mack) and 10 letterwinners to this season's roster. Among all returners, the Chanticleers return 73.6 percent of their scoring and 69.8 percent of the rebounding from 2006-07, as well as major percentages of steals (78.3), assists (89.7) and blocked shots (71.1). NEWCOMERS: The Chants will have three newcomers on the floor this season and all of them can be seen in the paint. True freshmen Jon Pack, Anthony Breeze and Bryant Wallace will all see time at the post position this year, with Breeze also playing some forward for CCU. There are also four other newcomers on the bench, as Ellis is joined by new assistant coaches Raheem Waller and Scott Stapler and Director of Basketball Operations Jimbo Tolbert to go with returning assistant Jamie Kachmarik on the staff. SEVERAL KEYS IN COASTAL WINS LAST YEAR: There are several important factors for Coastal to be victorious. The Chants were 13-2 when leading at the intermission and 14-1 when ahead with five minutes to play in the game. CCU was 13-3 when holding opponents to less than 70 points in a game and 12-7 when shooting better than 45 percent from the floor. Additionally, Coastal was 12-4 when shooting more free throws than their opponents and 9-3 when outrebounding their foes. RANKING NATIONALLY: Coastal ranked in the top 75 in several national categories as a team during the 2006-07 campaign. CCU was 16th in steals at 9.2 per game and 22nd nationally in assists at 16.6 per game. Coastal also ranks 73rd in scoring offense (74.4 ppg). Individually, senior guard Jack Leasure ranked 27th in three-pointers per game (3.0) and 85th in three-point field goal percentage (37.2 percent). Graduated forward Moses Sonko was 40th in field goal percentage at 56.0 percent, while junior forward Joseph Harris was 98th with 7.6 rebounds a contest. Sophomore guard Joshua Mack ranked 84th in three-point field goal percentage at 37.1 percent. 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. WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: During Coastal's 15 wins last year, one of the keys for the Chanticleers was the rebounding battle. Coastal dominated on the glass, outrebounding opponents by a combined margin of 517-428, an average of 5.9 more boards per game than its opponents. However in the 15 losses, the Chanticleers have not won the board battle, losing 12 and tying three with an average margin against of 5.6 rebounds a game. LEASURE THE KING OF DOWNTOWN: The three-point arc has been the domain of junior 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 300 three-pointers in his three years, moving up to third and passing Mark Mocnik of Campbell (1988-93) with 295 in fourth and UNC Asheville's Josh Kohn (1992-96) with 296. He now only trails Doug Day (1989-93) of Radford with 401 and Scott Hartzell (1992-96) of UNC Greensboro with 309. 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. Leasure had his best game of the season in the win over VMI, Feb. 3, as the guard scored a season-high 28 points, including going 7-for-13 from the three-point arc, and adding six rebounds and six assists. 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. MOVING UP THE SCORING RANKS: With his two free throws in the closing seconds of the win over Wright State, Nov. 19, 2006, junior Jack Leasure became the 14th member of CCU’s 1000-Point Club, accomplishing the feat in just two years and three games. He currently ranks seventh on Coastal's all-time scoring chart and 31st on the Big South list with 1,424 points. Next up on CCU's career list in sixth is William Calvin (1985-88) with 1,465 career points and Torrey Butler (1998-2003) in fifth with 1,467. HARRIS DOUBLES UP AGAIN: Junior Joseph Harris earned his seventh double-double of the 2006-07 season and ninth of his career after scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 rebounds against High Point, Jan. 22, 2007. Harris posted a pair of double-doubles in the win over Liberty, Jan. 20 with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and at VMI, Jan. 15, as he had a career-best and team season-best 31 points to go with 11 boards.. The two-game effort earned him Big South Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He had a streak of three straight games with double-doubles earlier in the season -- Campbell (14 pts., 13 reb.), Wright State (12 pts., 13 reb.) and Asbury (17 pts., 11 reb.) 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 ranks fourth the squad at 8.2 points per game. He has 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 19 of the 30 Coastal games this year. 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 146-for-177 (82.5 percent) in his three years thus far. That is currently the second best career free throw percentage in Coastal history. 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, in normally means good things for the Chanticleers. Over the last 60 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 27 occasions, posting a 21-6 mark. Harris has led the Chants on the glass in 30 of those contests, with CCU having an 18-12 mark in those games as well. MACK ON THE ATTACK: Sophomore guard Joshua Mack has shown some offensive skills during the early part of his career for the Chanticleers. As a freshman, Mack was third for Coastal and 19th in the league in scoring at 12.3 points per game. He also ranked 12th in the Big South in assists at 3.1 per game and fifth in three-pointers made with 2.52 a contest. For his efforts, he was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Year. Mack had his best overall outing of the year, posting a career high with 19 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out five assists with no turnovers in the home win over Savannah State, Jan. 10. He tied his career high with 19 points to go with a career-best six rebounds, five assists and three steals, including a key theft in the closing seconds, in the win at VMI, Jan. 15. Most recently, he posted another 19-point game in helping CCU to the O'Reilly BracketBuster win over Canisius, Feb. 17, hitting 6-of-14 from the floor, including four three-pointers. 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.