Men's Basketball Returns To the Road To Take On McNeese State, Nov. 24
HEADING TO THE SOUTHWEST FOR TWO: The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team is again away from home for a pair of games, starting tonight at McNeese State. The swing will wrap up at Houston, Nov. 26, and conclude seven games in 16 days to start the year, including a swing of five games, four of them on the road, in just 11 days.
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 537-339 record and 615-351 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, falling in the Big South Tournament Quarterfinals.
Dave Simmons (Louisiana Tech, '81) is in his second season as head coach at McNeese State with a 17-19 record with the Cowboys and a 59-66 record in his fifth year as a head coach overall. Last season, McNeese State was 15-17 overall and 9-7 in the Southland Conference, tying for second in the East. The Cowboys return 10 letterwinners and four starters from last year’s squad.
SERIES WITH THE COWBOYS: This will be the just the second meeting in history between the Chanticleers and Cowboys, coming off last year's 81-67 CCU victory in Conway. Coastal is 2-1 all-time against Southland Conference opponents, with a win over Southeast Louisiana and a loss to Texas State.
MCNEESESTATE CHANGE: Due to McNeese State hosting a first-round Football Championship Subdivision Playoff game on Saturday, the CCU-McNeese State men's basketball game has been moved from 3 p.m. to 1 p.m. CST.
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-coference 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 23 straight non-conference road losses.
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.
BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN AGAINST ANDERSON: The Chanticleers snapped a brief two-game skid with a resounding 85-45 victory over Anderson, Nov. 21. After putting together a 14-point halftime margin, Coastal had another surge starting with 13 minutes to play, putting together a 16-0 run over the next four-plus minutes put the game out of reach at 64-34 with 8:46 remaining. Senior guard Everage Richardson led Coastal with career bests of 17 points and four steals, while freshman forward Anthony Breeze added 15 in his first collegiate start. (Box score available on page 21.)
SHOT SELECTION (AND SHOTS OVERALL) A DIFFERENCE EARLY ON: For Coastal this year, it is easy to see where the differences are. In its three home wins, the Chanticleers have taken 177 shots (59.0 avg), as compared to 97 (48.5 avg) on the road, and hit 54.2 percent (96-of-177) in Kimbel Arena, while just shooting 42.3 percent (41-of-97) in road venues. The squad is 35-of-74 (47.3 percent) from the arc in its three home wins while just 9-of-33 (27.3 percent) from the three-point line in the two road losses. It is even worse at the free throw line, as CCU has hit 38-of-58 charity attempts (65.5 percent) at home but is a dismal 16-of-33 (48.5 percent) from the stripe on the road.
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 58 turnovers (19.3 tpg) in its first three games, but only caused 28 (14.0 tpg) in the two road losses.
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.
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 324 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.
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. He currently ranks fourth on Coastal's all-time scoring chart and 18th on the Big South list with 1,531 points, having recently passsed Derek Wilson (1986-89) at 1,492. Tony Whittington (1980-83) is in third at 1,599 and KeKe Hicks (1993-95) in second at 1,622 is also within range.
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. Currently, Breeze is second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game and in rebounds and 5.4 boards a contest while playing 22.4 minutes a game.LEASURE KICKING THE SEASON OFF IN STYLE: 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. Currently, the senior leads Coastal and ranks third in the league at 21.4 points per game while hitting on 59.0 percent (36-of-61) of his shots from the floor and 54.5 percent (24-of-44) of his attempts from the three-point arc.RICHARDSON STARTS 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.
Richardson 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.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.
CLIFF NOTES: Coastal Head Coach Cliff Ellis has seen a lot of season openers in his 29-plus years as a Division I head coach. In his previous two stops at Clemson and Auburn, he was a combined 17-3 in season openers, including going 14-1 in home games. He ran those marks to 18-3 and 15-1 with the win over North Greenville, Nov. 9.
SEXTON MOVING INTO THE LINEUP: Junior guard Steven Sexton has made his way into the starting lineup this year and has made the most of it in his first five starts. He already set a new career best with six assists in the win over North Greenville, Nov. 9 and has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for first time in his career (13 vs. NGU, 12 vs. Campbell).
Sexton is averaging 9.4 points and 2.4 assists per game while connecting on 40.0 percent of his shots from the three-point line. 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 63 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 29 occasions, posting a 22-7 mark. Harris has led the Chants on the glass in 32 of those contests, with CCU having an 19-13 mark in those games as well.
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 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.
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.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 159-for-192 (82.8 percent) in his three-plus years thus far. That is currently the second-best career free throw percentage in Coastal history.
HARRIS LEADING ON THE BOARDS: Junior Joseph Harris is again asserting himself in rebounding, currently leading Coastal and ranking fourth in the conference at 7.8 rebounds a game, while chipping in 6.0 points per contest. He also has seven blocked shots on the year, tying for third in the league at 1.75 blocks a game. He entered this season with nine career double-doubles (seven in 2006-07), his most recent after scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 rebounds against High Point, Jan. 22, 2007.
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 19 of the 30 Coastal games last year.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.
CCU managed win its first two games this year over North Greenville, Nov. 9, and Campbell, Nov. 13, despite losing the board battle by four and three, respectively. The Chants got their first advantage on the glass in the first five games, winning it by seven against Anderson, Nov. 21.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.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-plus seasons. Coastal is 28-3 (90.3 percent) since the start of the 2002-03 season in non-conference games at Kimbel. 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 54-19 (74.0 percent) overall at the Conway campus venue in the last five-plus years.
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.