Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Cliff Ellis
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Big South moving 2016 conference tournament

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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.

The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.

It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.

Big South Preview: Can John Brown take down Coastal Carolina?

High Point v Ohio State
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Big South Conference.

A month before the Big South Tournament started, seven teams were tied for first place in the conference standings. Once the tournament began, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds were bounced in the quarterfinals. Despite all the parity and chaos in the league, the tournament champion remained the same.

Coastal Carolina is eyeing a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament in its final season in the Big South before moving to the Sun Belt Conference.

The Chanticleers bring back Elijah Wilson, the Big South Tournament MVP, point guard Shivaughn Wiggins and power forward Badou Diagne. That trio could make a three-peat possible. Coastal Carolina boasted one of the conference’s most efficient offenses and defenses, and tops in both offensive and defensive rebounding 2014-15. The production of graduating guards Warren Gillis and Josh Cameron won’t be easily replaced, but if they defend and crash the boards like they’ve done in the past, the Chanticleers will be in a good position when they host the Big South Tournament again in March.

Like the Chanticleers, many of the teams across the Big South have lost start players. Of the 15 players named to the all-conference teams last March, only two of them return this season.

One of them is High Point senior John Brown, the ultra-athletic and physically imposing forward. Through his first three years he’s averaged 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He’s helped the Panthers win at least a share of the last three regular season titles, but has no NCAA tournament appearances to show for it. Click here and check out some of the dunks he’s thrown down over the years. Now imagine him playing on the first Thursday or Friday of the NCAA tournament. Fun, right? Surrounded by a cast of upperclassmen, Brown could finally get that shot this spring.

Winthrop graduated two double-digit scorers, including first-team selection Keon Moore. Keon Johnson will be the key holder over in a new-look perimeter that could feature not one, but two Division II transfers. Jimmy Gavin’s amazing journey was chronicled back in May. Roderick Perkins, a 6-foot-5 wing, was the second-leading scorer in all of D2 in 2013-14. Winthrop’s defense, rated as the most efficient in the Big South, returns a pair of shot-blockers — Xavier Cooks and Duby Okeke — the frontline. Zach Price, the former Louisville and Missouri big man, is eligible this season, as well.

Longwood could be a dangerous team, especially if the Lancers can get quality play from the back court. The Lancers have one conference’s best front courts. Shaquille Johnson is one of the league’s top athletes. Lotanna Nwogbo, the 6-foot-8 forward, is back after missing the last 17 games of conference play with a thumb ligament tear. In three full Big South contest, he was averaging 19.3 points and 12.0 boards per game. Gardner-Webb is dealing with the loss of Jerome Hill and Tyler Strange, but returns six of its top nine scorers, including Tyrell Nelson. Radford should be another potential sleeper. YaYa Anderson is joined by senior Rashun Davis and Cameron Jones, the potential breakout star of the league.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE

  • Favorite: “In my mind, it would probably be High Point. There will be several teams that have really good players back, but High Point has several really good players back and John Brown has been one of the top players in the league for the last three years. Probably the team with the most experience, top to bottom, coming back is Coastal. I think they have four starters back, but I think they lose two really good players. On paper, as you look at it, Coastal makes sense to pick first.”
  • Sleeper: “I think a lot of people would say Longwood. I think they have a talented roster and they have a player on their team (Lotanna Nwogbo) I think a lot of people would talk about having a chance to be one of the better players in the league. He got hurt the second or third game in the conference season.”
  • Star to watch: “I’d say John Brown should be the favorite for preseason player of the year. There are a lot of good ones, but he’s definitely been really good for a long period of time. I think it starts with his motor and how hard he competes and how physical he is. He just stays after it every possession. He really plays so hard on both ends. He’s great at working at working on catching the ball at the rim and using his size and athleticism to score in the paint. Then he’ll get stuff in transition and on the offensive glass. He’s a monster.”

PRESEASON BIG SOUTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Brown, High Point

Brown, maybe the best dunker in all of college basketball, returns for his senior season after averaging 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2014-15. The 6-foot-8 nightmare matchup plays with a consistent motor. He understands angles and where to position himself on the floor in order to get easy buckets. Brown also creates opportunities for himself in the open floor and offensive glass.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON BIG SOUTH TEAM:

  • Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb: The 6-foot-7 center was top-10 in the Big South in both scoring and rebounding at 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a night.
  • Elijah Wilson, Coastal Carolina: Had a strong finish to last season, earning Big South Tournament MVP honors. The 6-foot-4 guard is the top returning scorer at 11.3 points per game.
  • Shaquille Johnson, Longwood: The best athlete in the conference not named John Brown, Johnson averaged 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game last season.
  • DeSean Murray, Presbyterian: The Blue Hose will rely heavily on the 6-foot-5 sophomore, who recorded five double-doubles during conference play last season.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @BigSouthMBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Coastal Carolina
2. High Point
3. Winthrop
4. Longwood
5. Gardner-Webb
6. Radford
7. Charleston Southern
8. UNC Asheville
9. Campbell
10. Presbyterian
11. Liberty

Coastal Carolina moving to Sun Belt

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Coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in men’s basketball, Coastal Carolina will move all sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, to the Sun Belt beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, the conference announced on Tuesday.

The football team, formed in 2003, will remain in the FCS level for the 2016 season before elevating to the Sun Belt in 2017.

With the addition of Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt becomes a 12-team basketball league in 2016-17. There is talk of Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson creating two separate divisions to split the conference, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

This is a good move for Coastal Carolina’s basketball program, which has shown great consistency with five postseason appearances over the last six seasons. Now they get to play in a stronger basketball league that includes Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, UL-Monroe and Georgia Southern all coming off of strong seasons. The Sun Belt has also produced some recent NBA players in R.J. Hunter and Elfrid Payton, so some of the best talent in the country has come from the league the last few seasons.

The Sun Belt also adds some depth in basketball with this move and it gives them a program who has sustained some recent success under head coach Cliff Ellis. Coastal Carolina moves from the Big South, where they finished 24-10 overall and 12-6 in league play before winning the Big South tournament title.

Coastal Carolina to become first college basketball team to visit Cuba

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Per NCAA rules, college basketball programs are allowed to take an overseas trip once every four years. While there are the on-court benefits of playing exhibitions against teams from other parts of the world and having ten practices before departure, the trips can also serve as an educational experience for the coaches and players. Coastal Carolina will be taking a trip this summer, and they’re headed to a country that has never hosted a college basketball program.

Tuesday morning Coastal Carolina announced that it will take a trip to Cuba in early August, arriving August 6 and staying until the 14th. Cliff Ellis’ team will play three games against Cuba’s national team, which will be in the midst of preparations for the FIBA America/Olympic qualifying tournament that’s scheduled to be played in Mexico from August 31 to September 12.

Coastal Carolina, which has appeared in each of the last two NCAA tournaments, returns four starters from a team that won 24 games a season ago led by guards Elijah Wilson and Shivaughn Wiggins.

“This foreign tour to Cuba is a great honor for our program as the United States begins to open its relationship with Cuba,” Ellis said in the release. “For us to be the first team to travel to Cuba is a testament to our success over the past several years. We will rely on NCAA tournament experiences to play competitive basketball against the Cuban’s top-notch national team.

“It is not only an opportunity to get additional time together as a team prior to opening the season, but also an immense educational experience for our student-athletes.”

Strained relations between the United States and Cuba have improved some of late, with a bill being introduced to Congress in mid-February to lift the trade embargo that existed between the two countries for decades. That move came on the heels of legislation that sought to loosen travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba.

Earlier this month the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) played an exhibition in Havana against Cuba’s national team, which is preparing for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Cosmos were the first American professional sports team to play in Cuba since 1999, when the Baltimore Orioles played the first of two exhibitions against the Cuban national team (the second was played in Baltimore).

Sunday’s Snacks: Coastal Carolina, Northern Iowa and North Florida headed to NCAA tournament

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GAME OF THE DAY: William & Mary 92, Hofstra 91 (2OT)

Marcus Thornton, who scored 37 points, forced overtime by making two free throws with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, and his pass to Daniel Dixon led to the game-winning three with eight tenths of a second remaining in double overtime. Thornton’s point total is a CAA tournament single-game record, and Omar Prewitt added 33 points as the Tribe moved to within one win of its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Juan’ya Green led the Pride with 26 points and seven assists, and Dion Nesmith added 21 points and five assists before fouling out. Not only was this the game of the day, but it was also one of the best games of the season to date.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 11 Northern Iowa 69, Illinois State 60

Bubble teams across the country can breathe a sigh of relief (for the time being), as the Panthers erased a 14-points halftime deficit to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Seth Tuttle, who was held in check in the first half, got going in the second and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and Nate Buss added 15 points off the bench. And Jeremy Morgan’s contributions can’t be overlooked either, as he hit two key three-pointers during UNI’s early second half surge. Daishon Knight scored 16 points and Deontae Hawkins added 14 for the Redbirds, who may have played their way into an NIT berth with their showing this weekend.

2. No. 6 Wisconsin 72, No. 23 Ohio State 48

The Badgers capped their regular season with a dominant win in Columbus, and outside of the Buckeyes closing to within ten early in the second half this one wasn’t all that close. Frank Kaminsky scored 20 points and Bronson Koenig added 15 for Wisconsin, which will be the top seed in the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State’s loss means that Purdue will be the four-seed, and they get the final double-bye in Chicago as a result.

3. No. 10 Maryland 64, Nebraska 61

The Terrapins capped their inaugural season in the Big Ten with a 14th victory, as they beat the Huskers in Lincoln. Melo Trimble accounted for 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Dez Wells posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way. Maryland, which has won seven straight games, will go into the Big Ten tournament as the two-seed. As for Nebraska, they’ll be the 12-seed and their loss makes Minnesota the 11-seed.

STARRED

1. William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton

Thornton scored 37 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Tribe’s 92-91 double overtime win over Hofstra.

2. Iona’s A.J. English and Isaiah Williams

Enghlish scored 29 points and Williams 27 in the Gaels’ 95-77 win over Monmouth. The two combined to shoot 16-for-25 from beyond the arc.

3. Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney

Warney tallied 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in the Seawolves’ 79-77 win at Vermont to advance to the America East title game.

4. South Dakota’s Brandon Bos

Bos shot 7-for-12 from the field and 10-for-11 from three, scoring a career-high 29 points in the Coyotes’ 82-73 win over Fort Wayne. Bos also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists.

STRUGGLED

1. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson

While Thompson did grab six rebounds, he scored just two points and shot 0-for-7 from the field.

2. Mercer’s Jibri Bryan and Phillip Leonard

The guards struggled in the Bears’ 52-49 loss to Furman, combining to score six points (all by Leonard) on 1-for-16 shooting from the field.

3. Western Carolina’s James Sinclair Jr. 

Sinclair Jr. scored 16 points in the Catamounts’ loss to Wofford, but he did so on 5-for-19 shooting from the field.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 22 SMU won its first regular season conference title since 1993, as they beat Tulsa 67-62 in Dallas. The Mustangs won despite Tulsa’s James Woodard going off from three, as he shot 10-for-16 from beyond the arc and scoring 30 points.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East semis: Stony Brook will get another shot at earning that elusive NCAA tournament berth, as they won 79-77 at Vermont with Jameel Warney scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. They’ll visit regular season champion Albany next Saturday, as the Great Danes held off New Hampshire 60-58. Will Brown’s team is looking to make its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
  • Atlantic Sun final: North Florida will make its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat USC Upstate 63-57 in Jacksonville. Matthew Driscoll’s team went on a 12-0 second half run after the Spartans took a 48-44 lead with 9:13 remaining.
  • Big South final: Cliff Ellis’ Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will make their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat Winthrop 81-70. Warren Gillis tallied 22 points and six assists, and Elijah Wilson added 19 off the bench to lead the way for the Chanticleers.
  • MAAC semis: Top-seed Iona made a MAAC tournament single-game record 19 three-pointers in their 95-77 win over Monmouth. Isaiah Williams was responsible for nine of those makes, scoring 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting from deep. And for the third consecutive year Iona will take on rival Manhattan in the title game, as the Jaspers eliminated Saint Peter’s. Iona won in 2013, with Manhattan returning the favor last season.
  • Patriot semis: Both road teams won Sunday, with Lafayette beating regular season champ Bucknell 80-74 and American winning 73-62 at Colgate. Lafayette will host the title game Wednesday night. Bucknell’s loss means that this is the first time in the history of the Patriot League tournament that the top seed has not at least reached the final.
  • SoCon semis: Top-seed Wofford is now one win away from its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat Western Carolina 73-61. Spencer Collins led the way for the Terriers with 17 points, shooting 10-for-13 from the foul line. They’ll take on 10-seed Furman on Monday, as the Paladins (the lowest seed in the tournament) continued their improbable run through the tournament with a 52-49 win over Mercer.
  • Summit quarters: Brandon Bos scored 29 points as South Dakota beat Fort Wayne 82-73. The Coyotes led by 19 at the half, but the Mastodons scored 50 second-half points to close the gap. Also advancing was Oral Roberts, which made eight of ten free throws over the final 38 seconds to hang on for a 58-56 win over IUPUI. Monday’s semifinals: No. 1 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 South Dakota, No. 2 North Dakota State vs. No. 3 Oral Roberts.

NOTABLES

  • D.J. Newbill’s three-pointer as time expired gave Penn State a 79-76 win over Minnesota, which has now lost eight conference games by six points or less. On Wednesday the Nittany Lions (13-seed) will take on Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and Minnesota (11-seed) will play Rutgers the same day.

Introducing Cinderella: Meet the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

BSouth Gardner Webb Coastal Carolina Basketball
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source: AP
(AP)

Conference: Big South

Coach: Cliff Ellis

Record: 24-9 (12-6 Big South)

Rankings and ratings:

Kenpom: 149
RPI: 139
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: 16

Names you need to know: Senior guard Josh Cameron (12.9 ppg in only 21.4 mpg), senior guard Warren Gillis (12.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.1 rpg), sophomore guard Elijah Wilson (10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg), junior forward Badou Diagne (9.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg)

Stats you need to know: Despite a roster that isn’t particularly big inside, Coastal Carolina is outrebounding opponents by 13 rebounds per game. Although the Chanticleers only shot 35 percent from 3-point range on the season, all five starters are capable of hitting the trey ball and must be accounted for.

Tendencies: Coastal Carolina is a balanced, guard-driven team that will rely on the experience of four returning starters. With five players averaging between 9.5 and 12.9 points per game, the Chanticleers will spread the wealth and look for good shots using multiple isolation threats and all five starters can hit the 3-pointer. Defensively, Coastal Carolina won’t alter a lot of shots or get in the passing lanes for steals, but they play steady positional defense.

Big wins, bad losses: The Chanticleers had respectable road losses to UCLA (by 13) and Ole Miss (by three) and defeated Auburn on the road to highlight the non-conference slate. In conference play, Coastal Carolina went 3-1 against the Big South’s top two teams (Charleston Southern, High Point) but had a puzzling double-digit league loss to 10-22 Presbyterian on Feb. 26.

How’d they get here: Things went haywire quickly in the Big South Tournament when top two seeds Charleston Southern and High Point both lost in the first round. That left No. 3 seed Coastal Carolina with a golden opportunity and they capitilized. The Chanticleers beat No. 6 seed UNC Asheville, 74-57, before ousting No. 7 seed Gardner-Webb, 73-70. In the title game, Coastal Carolina beat No. 5 seed Winthrop, 81-70.

Outlook: Returning four starters from last season’s No. 16 seed that gave Virginia a scare, Coastal Carolina won’t be intimidated playing against the big boys in the Big Dance. They’ll likely bow out in the Round of 64, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they kept things close.

How do I know you?: Coastal Carolina valiantly battled Virginia in the NCAA Tournament last season as the Chanticleers led the No. 1 seed Cavaliers, 35-30, at the half before finally relinquishing the lead for good with about 9 minutes left. Virginia came back to win, but it was one of the closest 1-16 matchups in recent memory. Coastal Carolina has also been a steady postseason presence the last five seasons. With their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014-15, the Chanticleers have played in the postseason in four out of five seasons.