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October 5, 2010

League preview: Big South Conference

We continue with our league breakdowns for the upcoming season; we'll work backward from league No. 32 to our top-ranked league.

The breakdowns will become more in-depth as the leagues get bigger.

28. Big South

By Gary Mondello

South Carolina's loss will be Coastal Carolina's gain -- again.

Last season, Gamecocks transfer Chad Gray was a first-team Big South player for Coastal Carolina even though he only started two games. This season, Gamecocks transfer Mike Holmes will start the season on the bench, but he will play a big role for the Chanticleers once he's eligible in December. Add in sophomore Kierre Greenwood, who showed flashes of brilliance last season as a freshman, and Coastal Carolina has a great chance to defend its regular-season title.

Winthrop, last season's Big South tourney champ and NCAA representative, should be solid defensively and will be in the title hunt. Reggie Middleton, who made the All-Big South tournament team last season, appears ready to take the reins of the Eagles' offense.

UNC Asheville, a team that plays well together and has lots of experience, also will be near the top of the league standings. UNCA senior John Williams is as explosive as any player in the Big South, and J.P. Primm runs the offense, can shoot and is a pesky defender.

Presbyterian, which isn't eligible for the postseason, could be a contender for the regular-season title thanks to a trio of redshirts, led by Al'Lonzo Coleman. Coleman may be a 20-point, 10-rebound guy for Presbyterian, and he may have the biggest impact of any player in the league.

High Point, led by player-of-the-year candidate Nick Barbour, and Liberty could be sleepers in the league race.

ALL-LEAGUE FIRST TEAM
C Al'Lonzo Coleman, Presbyterian (6-7/230, Jr.)
F Chad Gray, Coastal Carolina (6-7/197, Sr.)
G Nick Barbour, High Point (6-3/175, Jr.)
G Austin Kenon, VMI (5-11/180, Sr.)
G Jamarco Warren, Charleston So. (5-11/165, Sr.)
ALL-LEAGUE SECOND TEAM
F Mike Holmes, Coastal Carolina (6-8/240, Sr.)
F Kelvin Martin, Charleston Southern (6-5/207, Jr.)
F John Williams, UNC Asheville (6-4/215, Sr.)
G Reggie Middleton, Winthrop (6-1/190, Jr.)
G Jesse Sanders, Liberty (6-3/200, Jr.)

PLAYER OF YEAR: G Nick Barbour, High Point
NEWCOMER OF YEAR: F Mike Holmes, Coastal Carolina (6-8/240, Sr./transfer from South Carolina)

ORDER OF FINISH
1. Coastal Carolina
2. Winthrop
3. UNC Asheville
4. Presbyterian
5. High Point
6. Charleston Southern
7. Liberty
8. VMI
9. Radford
10. Gardner-Webb

FACTS AND FIGURES
New coaches: Chris Holtmann at Gardner-Webb (had been assistant at Ohio)
Regular-season winner last season:
Coastal Carolina
Tourney winner last season: Winthrop
League RPI rank in each of past 3 years: 27th in 2009-10, 25th in 2008-09, 27th in 2007-08
Last NCAA tourney win by a league team: 2007, Winthrop as a No. 11 seed in first round
2011 conference tournament: March 1, 3, 5, TBD



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