Coastal Carolina’s hugely successful year could end with a massive thud.
After winning 22 straight games, the Chanticleers have lost two straight Big South games and stand at 25-4 overall. They’re unlikely to snag an at-large bid to the Big Dance, which makes the conference tournament paramount.
And they’re doing it was just eight players. Two are ineligible, one was dropped from the team after a fight and a starting guard is injured.
Adding to the worry? The NCAA is investigating a player.
As Pete Thamel of the N.Y. Times writes in this lengthy article detailing Coastal Carolina’s issues, there’s a lot to consider right now, starting with coach Cliff Ellis, who’s been at two previous places (Clemson, Auburn) that also dealt with NCAA infractions and eventually received probation.
“Let’s make that clear,” he told Thamel. “You wish that everything would be the way that you want it to be. I don’t know of a program that hasn’t made mistakes.”
Thamel paints the programs as a small college that wanted to win big, so it took a chance and now might pay the price. But school president David A. DeCenzo told Thamel that was hardly the case.
“We did our due diligence with the NCAA,” DeCenzo said. “There was no record. There were no infractions. Cliff was by far the best candidate that we had.”
Whether anything comes of the investigation into Desmond Holloway, the team’s leafing scorer who was suspended last week, remains to be seen.
The only thing that’s certain is that if the Chanticleers win their second-second straight league crown only to miss out on the Big Dance for the second straight year, they’ll spend the summer wondering if it all was worth it.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.