COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. COLONELS
Eastern Kentucky's McBrayer Arena (6,500) ~ Richmond, Kentucky
Friday, December 30, 2005 ~ 7 p.m.
COASTAL CLIPSCHANTS PLAY FINAL ROAD NON-CONFERENCE CONTEST: Coastal Carolina goes back on the road for its final non-conference game away from home, taking on Eastern Kentucky, Dec. 30. CCU completes the non-conference portion of the schedule by hosting St. Andrews, Jan. 3.
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 171-113 overall coaching record in nine-plus seasons. Last season, Coastal posted a 10-19 mark, including 7-9 in Big South Conference play.
Jeff Neubauer (La Salle, 93) is in his first season at Eastern Kentucky and as a head coach overall with a 4-6 mark. Last season, Eastern Kentucky was 22-9 overall and 11-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference, tying for second, and eventually earning a berth in the NCAA Championship by winning the OVC Tournament. The Colonels return three starters and eight letterwinners from last year's squad.
SERIES HISTORY: This is the second meeting between Coastal Carolina and Eastern Kentucky, wrapping up a home-and-home series. EKU took last year's meeting at Kimbel Arena, 77-62.
THE WINDING ROAD WAS NOT KIND LAST YEAR: After posting a 4-4 record on the road in the Big South in 2003-04, CCU was 2-6 on the road in the Big South last season, with wins at VMI (Jan. 10) and Birmingham-Southern (Jan. 24) and 2-14 in road games overall.
CCU dropped its first four road games of the 2005-06 season at Jacksonville State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and UNC Wilmington. The Chants are playing their final road non-conference game tonight but want to get on the right track, as they will play their first three Big South Conference tilts away from home, starting Jan. 7 at VMI.
THE STARTING LINEUP IS SET... FOR NOW: Coastal Carolina, under first year head coach Buzz Peterson, has tweaked the lineup through the first six games but has settled on the same starting five in three of the last four games, with the group posting a 2-1 mark so far. In the first nine games, the Chanticleers have had six different starting lineups. However, three players (Pele Paelay, Jack Leasure and Moses Sonko) have started all nine games and one other (Chad Ferguson) has started seven. Guard Mario Sisinni has joined the starting lineup the last four contests.
GETTING THE START: At least one freshman has been in the starting lineup for Coastal in each of the first six contests. Of those freshman, guard Mario Sisinni has started the most with four, while forward Matt Brennan has started in three contests. Forward Joseph Harris has started two and guard Steven Sexton has started one this season.
DRAINING AND DISHING: Sophomore guard Jack Leasure has been getting the job done in a variety of ways early this year. Leasure continues to hit the outside shot, as he has drained 45 triples on 47.9 percent shooting this year and is leading the Chanticleers in scoring at 20.3 points per game. However, he has also taken on some point guard duties and made that work, as he is averaging 4.8 assists per game, including a career-best nine dishes in the wins twice this year, as well as 2.0 steals per contest.
After averaging 22.5 points a game during the week of Dec. 12-18, including a career-best 33 in the win over MEAC-preseason favorite South Carolina State, Leasure was named Big South Player of the Week for the first time in his career Dec. 19.
SOME KEY ITEMS FOR COASTALS VICTORIES: Several trends developed in regards to Coastal winning in the 2005-06 season. Coastal is 5-1 when leading at the break and 5-0 when ahead with five minutes to play. Defense is always a key, as Coastal is 5-0 when holding opponents to less than 70 points, as well as 4-0 when outrebounding the opposition.
HITTING FROM LONG RANGE: Coastal hit early and often from long range in the 2004-05 season. The Chanticleers knocked down an average of 7.0 three pointers a game on 36.0 percent shooting.
In the early going this season, CCU has hit on a league-leading 39.6 percent of its three-point attempts and is averaging a league-best 9.8 triples a game, which ranks 10th in Division I as of Dec. 19. Also, sophomore Jack Leasure leads Division I with 5.0 three-pointers per game and also ranks 22nd in three-point field goal percentage at 47.9.
AT YOUR LEASURE: Sophomore Jack Leasure was impressive on the offensive end of the floor in his freshman season. He opened his collegiate career Nov. 19 with 16 points against Indiana State and followed it up with 17 points, including five three-pointers, at Evansville, Nov. 21. Leasure then had a career high 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting against Hawaii Nov. 26. He scored 23 points, including at High Point, Feb. 12, 2004. 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 20.3 points a game (third in the Big South and 31st in the nation) and adding 3.6 rebounds. He has hit a league-best 45 three-pointers (5.0 per game), including a career-best nine in the recent win over Chowan, Dec. 19. His nine three pointers tied for the second-best performance in school history, while his seven three-pointers against Coker, Nov. 30, tied for the fifth best single game in Coastal history. He also has 43 assists (third in the league) and 18 steals (tied for fourth in the Big South) so far this year.
STEPPING UP THE DEFENSE: In winning five of its last seven games, the Chanticleers have made the difference on the defensive end of the floor. In the five victories, Coastal has given up just 58.6 points per game and just 40.6 percent (102-for-251) shooting from the floor. Additionally, the Chants have forced 7.0 more turnovers a game in the wins, including 11.6 steals per game. Coastal has also outrebounded its opponents by 6.0 caroms a game in the five victories.
This doesn't mean Coastal hasn't been solid offensively as well in the wins. The Chants have hit on 48.9 percent (152-for-311) of their shots from the floor, including 42.5 percent (54-for-127) from the three-point arc.
Individually, guard Jack Leasure has been the leader for the Chants in the five victories, averaging 25.8 points per game in the wins. Additionally, Leasure has hit 57.3 percent (43-for-75) of his shots from the floor, including 31 three pointers and 51.7 percent (31-for-60) shooting from beyond the arc. He also has 3.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game in the five victories.
LAST MEETING WITH EASTERN KENTUCKY: The Coastal Carolina mens basketball squad could not convert their small halftime lead, eventually losing to visiting Eastern Kentucky, 77-62, Dec. 4, 2004 at Kimbel Arena.
EKU took the lead off the bat and, though the Chanticleers tied it at 4-4, the Colonels eventually built the lead to as many as 11 at 28-17 with 6:49 to go. Coastal put on a spurt to close out the half, as four Chants contributed to 15-3 run and CCU led 32-31 at the halftime break.
Eastern Kentucky came out in the second half and grabbed the lead again with a 10-2 run to go up 41-34 with 16:55 to play. The Chants cut it to four on a conventional three-point play by senior Clint Nagel to make it 41-37, but that is as close as CCU would get, as an 8-2 EKU run pushed the advantage to 10 and never let it slip below six the remainder of the game.
The Colonels blistered the nets, hitting 58.8 percent from the field, including 65.4 percent (17-for-26) in the second half. CCU did outrebound the visitors 32-31, but points in the paint and points off turnovers were the differences, as EKU outscored the Chants 42-28 in the paint and 22-13 off turnovers.
Coastal was led by junior Pele Paelay with 14 points, while Nagel added 12 and senior Alvin Green had a season-high 11 points and four assists. Eastern Kentucky had four players in double figures, led by Jason McLeish with 19 points. Alonzo Hird chipped in a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Michael Haney and Matt Witt added 16 and 12, respectively.
STEPPING UP INSIDE: Sophomore forward Chad Ferguson has been active on the interior for Coastal this season. After averaging just 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game last year, Ferguson is currently averaging 7.5 points and 3.1 rebounds a contest. He posted a career-best 11 points in the win over Jacksonville, Dec. 11, and had already set new career bests in points, rebounds, assists and steals within the first five games this season.
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 a 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 15.7 points (seventh in the Big South) and 4.8 rebounds in the first nine contests. He had his best game of the season so far at Minnesota, tallying a game-high 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from the three-point arc. He added two rebounds, five assists and one steal in the effort. He tied that mark with 23 points in the home win over Jacksonville, Dec. 11.
MAKING THE DEBUT A POSITIVE ONE: Freshman Matt Brennan had a positive impact in the opener at Jacksonville State, Nov. 21. In his collegiate debut, Brennan started and played 28 minutes, scoring 15 points, including 3-for-3 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free throw line.
Brennan is currently fifth for Coastal in scoring at 5.0 points per game and is third on the squad in rebounding at 4.2 boards per contest.
WHERE'S THE BENCH?: Coastal is continuing to look for support from the bench after its first nine games of the season and found it in its most recent outing. The Chanticleers got a season-high 50 points from the reserves in the victory over Ohio Valley, Dec. 28.
For the season, Coastal has gotten 135 points off the bench in the first nine contests of the year, just 20.9 percent of the offensive production for the Chanticleers. The second-best output came in the South Carolina State game, as the bench chipped in 22 points (30.6 percent) in CCU's third consecutive home victory over South Carolina State Dec. 14.
TONIGHT'S INJURY REPORT: For the game against Eastern Kentucky, guard Mario Sisinni (concussion) is questionable, while forward Logan Johnson (right knee) is out.
YOUTH IS SERVED THIS YEAR: Of the 16 players on the Coastal roster to open this season, eight are freshmen new to the team, while a ninth redshirted last year. Among the returners, there are two seniors, two juniors and three sophomores.
A RESOUNDING RETURN FROM THE BREAK: The Coastal Carolina mens basketball team returned from an eight-day holiday break to defeat Ohio Valley, 109-76, Dec. 28 in Kimbel Arena. This is the first time that Coastal has eclipsed the 100-point mark since Dec. 28, 2003 when CCU scored 115 in a win over Lees-McRae.
It was a running game throughout, as OVU got the opening bucket and actually led on two other occasions, including an 11-10 margin with 13:28 to go in the game. However, Coastal put on a spurt, scoring the next 17 points of the contest to take a 27-11 lead the Chants would never relinquish. The CCU lead was cut to 12 at 38-26 on Austin McGee's layup with 5:44 to go in the half, but Coastal pushed the advantage back out with a 15-1 run over the next three minutes to lead 52-27 before settling for a 56-35 halftime advantage.
The Chants shot a stellar 59.0 percent (23-for-39) in the first half, while the Fighting Scots hit on 50.0 percent (15-for-30) from the floor. The difference in field goals could be directly attributed to turnovers, as CCU forced 17 Ohio Valley miscues compared to just five for Coastal. The Chants then outscored the Scots 28-2 off those turnovers in the opening stanza.
CCU was led by guard Jack Leasure with 16 points, including four three pointers, and also chipped in five assists. Guard Pele Paelay was behind him with 13 points. Ohio Valley was paced by center Marlon Pierre with 11 points, while guard Will Spencer had nine at the intermission.
Coastal continued to maintain their stronghold throughout the second half, leading by no fewer than 22 in the final period and pushing the margin to as many as 39 at 96-57 with 7:25 to play. With the lead, all 14 Chanticleers dressed saw playing time in the contest, with 11 registering in the scoring column.
The Chants finished the game hitting 58.9 percent (43-for-73) from the floor, including 46.2 percent (12-for-26) from the three-point arc. Ohio Valley was 49.2 percent (30-for-61) from the field and 50.0 percent (7-for-14) from beyond the line. The difference came down to turnovers, as CCU had 38 points off 26 OVU turnovers, with the Chants collecting 17 steals. The Chants also got out on the break, tallying 35 fast-break points and getting a season-high 50 points from the bench.
Paelay led all scorers with 20 points, as the Chants had six players in double figures and two more with at least eight points. Leasure added 19 points, nine assists, five steals, three rebounds and just one turnover. Senior guard Colin Stevens scored a season-high 12 points, while forwards Matt Brennan and Moses Sonko and guard Steven Sexton each contributed 11. Sexton's was a season-best for the freshman.
Ohio Valley was led by Spencer with 18, with forward Chris Cobbina and Pierre finishing with 17 and 14, respectively.
GETTING THE WIN HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAYS: The Coastal Carolina mens basketball team fought through a sluggish shooting game but came away with a 81-59 win over visiting Chowan, Dec. 19 in Kimbel Arena. The last time CCU went into the break at .500 or better was the 2002-03 season, when Coastal was 5-4 heading into the Christmas holiday.
The Chanticleers came out in strong fashion, opening the game with an 11-2 run over the first three minutes of the first half. However, Chowan scrapped throughout the opening period, keeping the deficit under double figures the entire half. The visiting Braves cut the margin to just two at 24-22 with 5:57 to play on a Marcus Artis jumper. The Chanticleers then closed the half out strong, going on an 13-6 run, capped off by guard Jack Leasures three-pointer to end the half, and CCU entered the lockerroom with a 37-28 halftime advantage.
The game remained close in the early minutes of the second half, but back-to-back triples by Leasure pushed the margin to 15 at 51-36 with 14:52 to play. CCU led 53-40 with 11:26 to go and went on a 9-0 run from there over the next three minutes to make the lead 62-40. Chowan continued to fight, but Coastals lead never went below 14 the remainder of the game.
Coastal shot 45.5 percent (30-for-66) for the game, including a solid 60.7 percent (17-for-28) in the second half. CCU was an even better 50.0 percent (14-for-28) from the three-point arc and outrebounded the visitors 41-30.
Leasure led all scorers with 29 points, including a career-best nine three pointers, the second most in school history. Guard Pele Paelay had 20 points and a team-high seven rebounds, while forward Moses Sonko added 16 points. Chowan was led by Artis with 11 points, while guard Trayvon Lathan was the only other Brave in double figures with 10 points.
A SURPRISING PRESEASON POLL: Coastal was picked to finish second in the 2005 Big South Preseason Poll, announced at the league's annual Media Day in Charlotte, N.C., Oct. 15. The poll, voted on by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members, selected Winthrop as the first-ever unanimous favorite, as the Eagles return all five starters from last year's championship team. UNC Asheville was selected third, one point behind Coastal. Liberty was picked fourth, followed by High Point, Birmingham-Southern, Radford, Charleston Southern and VMI, respectively.
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.