Checking in with CSU Men's Basketball - Jan. 30

Charleston Southern head basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh posed a simple question last Saturday after his Bucs defeated Winthrop for their third consecutive victory: “How good can we be?” The answer to that query will play out in February, but CSU’s latest win provided yet another reason to believe there could be some March hoops on the horizon as well.

On the surface, a 75-64 win over a struggling Presbyterian College team is nothing special, but the way the Bucs dealt the Blue Hose their seventh straight loss was particularly impressive.

For starters, this was precisely the type of game a contending team doesn’t lose. And despite the best efforts of PC big-man Al’Lonzo Coleman (25 points), the Bucs turned back a senior laden and capable (PC downed then No. 20 Cincinnati in the Queen City on Nov. 19) Blue Hose club even after falling behind 37-30 early in the second half.

The reasons for that comeback were manifold, as CSU once again showcased its array of options while PC could not muster much offensive firepower outside of Coleman’s powerful post game.

Arlon Harper took the lead in a rather pedestrian first half, drilling three treys to spark a 15-2 run which erased an early 7-0 deficit and allowed the Bucs to stay within striking distance heading into halftime.

Saah Nimley entered intermission without a single point, but Harper’s backcourt mate took the game over in the final twenty minutes with a resolve and competitive zeal that his coach compared to that of Kelvin Martin. Nimley poured in 16 points, time and time again breaking down PC defenders off the dribble to get in the lane and to the free-throw line, where he converted 7-of-8 attempts as part of team-effort which tallied an 18-for-21 final mark.

As he always is in one way or another, Martin was a factor as well. The senior was a catalyst for the Bucs in halting the Blue Hose before they could swell the advantage to double digits, scoring six of his 14 markers during the opening six-plus minutes of the second half. Martin also addressed the Bucs about committing defensively (cited by Nimley in a postgame interview) and provided yet another highlight with a steal and two-hand dunk on a fast break which gave CSU the lead for good.

CSU’s second most experienced player was the unsung hero of the night. Jeremy Sexton finished with only four points and one assist in 19 minutes of action off the bench, but the junior guard’s two buckets were huge. They came back-to-back midway through the second half, as Sexton twice went off the bounce late in the shot clock to hit tough mid-range jumpers.

And there was Mathiang Muo. At 24, the well-traveled junior forward is sometimes jokingly referred to by teammates as old-man Muo, and the Sudan native has shown a knack for hitting big shots. That ability was first on display in the closing minutes of regulation against Coastal Carolina when he drove to the rim for several scores. Muo resorted to his favorite spot at the three-point line versus PC, connecting on four triples total, including two dagger threes late in the contest.

By virtue of Campbell’s loss to UNC Asheville, CSU (14-7, 8-3) sits alone at third in the Big South Conference standings, and has a chance to vault into second next weekend. The Bucs head to Buies Creek to face off against a Fightin’ Camels squad looking to avenge an 18-point loss at the Buc Dome Jan. 5. Then it’s on to Conway for a rematch with Cliff Ellis’ Chanticleers, who handed CSU a heart-breaking 80-77 overtime defeat in Charleston on Jan. 7. Should be a fun weekend. And you can hear all the action on 106.3 WJNI Thursday starting at 6:50, followed by a 1:50 matinee air-time on SportsRadio 1450 Saturday.

Now that I have my self-serving radio plug out of the way, it’s on to the more important business of sharing the odds and ends of another road trip with the CSU basketball program. Enjoy, in bullet format.
• Tip of the cap to Charleston Southern Director of Basketball Operations JT Blair for his itinerary. Not only did we stick to the times almost to the minute (no easy task), but Mr. Blair also managed to include a fun-fact: PC is home to Cyrus, the largest bronze statue of a Scotsman in the world. Nothing like random tidbits, and I’m still upset I didn’t find a way to work that in on the broadcast.

• Another tip of the cap to our bus driver, Terry Cummings, for turning me on to the poppy seed rolls at FATZ. It was this northerner’s first trip to the southern restaurant chain and the bread – served with a delicious cinnamon butter – definitely made pre-game meal.

• Apologies for providing some incorrect information in my game notes. Through a conversation with Brad Dobbels and Ahmad Smith, I discovered that Mr. Dobbels was not a member of the 1986-1987 CSU team that went 21-9 and captured the Big South Conference Tournament. Dobbels arrived a year later from junior college, and contribute to a Buccaneers squad which posted a 17-12 mark en route to finishing second.

• Got a chance to talk to Coach Smith about my New Jersey/New York roots, and I don’t think he was terribly surprised when I told him I had not played too much ball at the city’s famed Rucker Park. My skills didn’t carry me too far beyond the glory days of grade-school, although I still take pride in the sixth-grade intramural championship squad of which I was an integral part.

• Close but no cigar to BJ McKie for guessing that I hailed from White Plains. It’s as good a guess as any, but I’m Staten Island born and bred and was exposed to some pretty good mid-major basketball up on Grymes Hill at Wagner College. The Seahawks have it rolling this year at 17-4 and 8-2 in the Northeast Conference. It would be a good one if Dan Hurley’s club got together with CSU. Too much to ask for a BracketBusters matchup?

Buccaneer BasketBlog: Shay Jones

What's cracking Buc Fans and Family
Shay here, to tell you guys how big of a week we have had since Thanksgiving. Going hard and beating each other up in practice has been our emphasis in practice through out the week. By doing that we exceeded expectations and got two very very huge road game victories over our cross town rivals College of Charleston and yes the ACC Clemson Tigers. Well I'll start off by saying WE ARE THE CITY CHAMPS for two straight years. We hit the Cougars hard with our defensive pressure the entire game which means we pressed them the whole game. By pressing them, we forced 32 mistakes and in turn 36 points for us. We held the Cougars to 45 points, which is a big deal for us. We really proved to ourselves how defense can win games. Also, with Coach Lambert being a former player ,and graduate of The College, it was pretty awesome for her to sit on the CSU bench and beat her alma mater -lol.

Moving forward to the big time win over Clemson. Boy it feels so good to beat an ACC team! I don’t think they had any idea what we were capable of! We started the game focused and determined to come out with a W. WE LEAD THE GAME THE ENTIRE first half. The second half was an exhausting battle and we lost the lead a couple of times, but that did not stop us as we tried to capitalize on every offensive possession we got. Winning the last four minutes of the game was crucial in helping us come out victorious. It was teamwork that won the game, but a huge part came from our “too legit to quit” post player, Lakeitha Alston, who scored 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Her awesome performance was recognized by our conference as well as she was named the Big South Player of the Week. This was also a big time win for Coach Calvert who graduated from Clemson and also worked with the women's team. To beat both of these teams in the same week, was an awesome accopmlishment for our coaching staff who had personal relationships with both universities. (I think Coach Newland and Coach G were pretty happy too)

Well hope we are making you guys proud and anxious to come watch. All is left to say is BIG SOUTH WATCH OUT AND DON'T LET THE SIZE FOOL YOU!!!

Shay Jones #5

Bucaneer Basketblog:Helen Terry

What’s up all my Buc fans? It’s your girl Helen aka H-Teezy or HT, which ever you prefer. HaHaHa! I hope you all are as excited about the upcoming season as I am.

This past Saturday we kicked off our season with an exhibition win over the University of the South Sewanee 114 to 35. What better way to come out and play in front of our special visitor that we had in attendance! We came out and dominated the Tigers in every stat line. It felt great to finally be out on the floor again in front of our fans and see our freshman play as well as they did. Everyone came out and did what they needed to do to get the win for the Bucs. After the great victory we are looking forward to a week of hard work in practices as we have three games in FOUR DAYS this weekend. We face Furman Friday night @ 7pm, whom we fell short of a victory to last season by 1 point in a great game. I really look forward to this game because we are hungry for revenge. I'm excited to see how we will do this time. Saturday night @ 7pm we have a quick turn around and play Southern Wesleyan before we hit the road Sunday for our first road game Monday night @ 7pm against Western Carolina.

I look forward to seeing all of our great fans in the stands supporting us and I know we are ready to do some big things this year in Big South! With that being said Presbyterian, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, UNCA, Radford, Liberty, Campbell, High Point and Coastal Carolina better watch out! We have a great cast of returning players to go along with some awesome freshmen that have joined us, and we are ready to show the Big South how we roll! We definitely have a lot to prove this season, and we will be BIG SOUTH CHAMPIONS this year! Believe that!

-Helen Terry #12