Conference Tip-Off Primer: Big South

Rich Barnes

The Big South is totally up for grabs. Who are the teams and players to watch heading into conference play this Wednesday?

Conference Standings:

Rank School Record
1 Radford Highlanders 10-5
2 VMI Keydets 7-6
t-3 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 7-7
t-3 Winthrop Eagles 6-6
5 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs 7-8
6 Charleston Southern Buccaneers 6-7
7 UNC Asheville Bulldogs 6-8
t-8 Campbell Camels 6-9
t-8 Liberty Flames 6-9
10 Longwood Lancers 5-10
11 High Point Panthers 4-9
12 Presbyterian Blue Hose 4-11

Leading Scorers:

Rank Player PPG
1 Q.J. Peterson (VMI) 19.8
2 Jordan Downing (PC) 19.3
3 John Brown (High Point) 18.1
4 Tristan Carey (Longwood) 17.4
5 Andrew Rowsey (UNCA) 16.4

Top Rebounders:

Rank Player RPG
t-1 El Hadji Ndieguene (Coastal)
D.J. Cunnigham (UNCA)
9.2
3 William Truss (PC) 9.1
4 John Brown (High Point) 7.7
5 D.J. Covington (VMI) 7.4

Assists Leaders:

Rank Player APG
1 Lucas Woodhouse (Longwood) 6.8
2 Tyler Strange (GWU) 5.8
3 Saah Nimley (CSU) 5.5
4 Austin Anderson (PC) 5.0
5 Rodney Glasgow (VMI) 4.9

Biggest Surprise:

It's not a tremendous surprise to me, but the biggest surprise across the conference has to be High Point's play. The Panthers went on a seven game skid after losing Allan Chaney for the year (and his career) and finally snapped that streak this past weekend by beating Division II Lees-McRae by 7 in a game the Panthers had to rally to win. I get that Chaney was a tremendous player, but shouldn't a team that was picked to run away with the North Division still be competitive without him. The Panthers guard play has been downright bad (a deficiency I picked out in our preseason preview) and the contract extension Scott Cherry got this offseason isn't looking that great. Cherry and High Point had to know they were playing with house money with Chaney and their was a strong chance something like this could happen. Right now for High Point either John Brown disappears or they have no secondary scoring option, one of those two things has to change on a night to night basis.

Player of the Year:

The voting panel for the Big South would likely give this to John Brown because of the number's that he posts but I think two other guys stand out right now, Radford's Javonte Green and VMI's D.J. Covington. Right now my vote would go to Green who is averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebound, and 2 steals per game for the Highlanders, all while shooting over 55% from the field. Green has scored in double-figures in every game this year except for the season opener and the Highlander's final out-of-conference game against Hampton when he ran into some foul trouble.

Biggest Storyline:

Who the heck is going to take control of this conference? Charleston Southern had some strong performances this year in a tough non-conference slate, but also had some head scratching losses. Radford has looked very good, but then went out and laid dud against Hampton this past week. Winthrop was looking strong early, but has struggled lately. Asheville looks like they can contend, so does Gardner-Webb and Liberty at times. Conference play is going to be fun and I think any team can win on any given night, and that includes the conference tournament.

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