Charleston Southern has been chosen as the 2013-14 Big South South Division favorite in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches and media panel. The announcement was made today at the Sheraton Convention Center Hotel as part of the Big South Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon.
The selection marks the second straight year CSU has been picked as the South Division favorite. Ninth-year head coach Barclay Radebaugh and the Bucs received 28 of the 30 first-place votes and 177 out of a possible 180 points, finishing ahead of second-place Gardner-Webb and third-place Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers received the other two first-place votes, and were followed in the poll by UNC Asheville, Winthrop, and Presbyterian.
High Point was selected as North Division favorite, earning 25 of the 30 first-place votes and 175 of a possible 180 points. Liberty, the defending Big South Tournament Champion, was picked second and received three first-place votes. Radford finished third, while VMI checked in at fourth and garnered two first-place votes. Campbell and Longwood rounded out the poll.
CSU returns three starters and eight letterwinners from a 2012-13 squad that won 19 games, captured the Big South South Division title, and advanced to the NIT. The Bucs reached national postseason play for the second time in program history behind a high-powered offense that finished 39th in the country in scoring, and second in made three-point field goals per game.
CSU backed up its selection as the preseason favorite by starting 7-0 in Big South play as part of an eight-game winning streak that ranked as third longest in program history. Led by the backcourt duo of Arlon Harper and Saah Nimley (both 2013-14 Big South Preseason All-Conference First-Team selections), the Bucs finished at 19-13 and 12-4 in Big South action and earned a spot in the Big South Tournament Championship Game for the first time since 2005. CSU fell short in that title game against Liberty, but impressed in the NIT at top-seeded Southern Miss, challenging the Golden Eagles to the wire in a 78-71 loss in Hattiesburg.
The Bucs open the 2013-14 season on Friday, November 8, hosting Johnson University (Tenn.) for an 8 p.m. tipoff at the Buc Dome. CSU's out-of-conference schedule includes home matchups with UNC Wilmington and Delaware, and road contests at New Mexico, Baylor, Alabama and Florida State. Radebaugh and the Bucs will start their Big South South Division title defense on Wednesday, January 8, welcoming rival Coastal Carolina to the Buc Dome.
Also, Charleston Southern junior guards Arlon Harper and Saah Nimley have been voted to the 2013-14 Big South Preseason All-Conference First-Team, the league announced Wednesday at its annual Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon.
High Point redshirt-sophomore forward John Brown was selected as the Big South Preseason Player of the Year. High Point senior forward Allan Chaney and VMI senior center D.J. Covington rounded out the all-conference first-team, as voted on by the Big South's head coaches and media panel.
Harper and Nimley are expected to lead a CSU team picked to win the South Division in the Big South's Preseason Poll. The duo is part of a veteran unit that has produced back-to-back 19-win seasons under ninth-year head coach Barclay Radebaugh.
"Saah and Arlon are very deserving of the accolades they receive," Radebaugh said. "They'll be the first to tell you this is a team sport. They'll be the first to tell you that the strength of our team is our depth. That being said, we also recognize that they're very talented and very deserving of the recognition. They bring a great confidence and swagger to our team, and we are excited to see them continue to grow as upperclassmen."
Harper was a second-team all-conference performer in 2012-13 after averaging 15.3 points and nearly two steals a game. He finished fourth in the Big South in steals, and eighth in scoring and field goal percentage. Harper's play was instrumental toward CSU's eight-game winning streak last season, as he recorded four consecutive 20-point games during the stretch. The College Park, Ga. native was at his best in the Bucs' Big South Tournament Semifinal victory over VMI, tallying a career-high 33 points to lead CSU into the championship game for the first time since 2005.
Nimley received nine first-place votes for Big South Preseason Player of the Year coming off a 2012-13 season in which he earned first-team honors after averaging 16.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in league play, and 15.9 points overall. The Bucs' sparkplug had six double-doubles, enjoyed 13 20-point games, and ranked fourth in the Big South with 151 assists. Nimley spurred a late comeback bid against Southern Miss in the first round of the NIT, scoring 21 of his 24 points after halftime and connecting on a career-high seven three-pointers in the 78-71 loss.
CSU opens the 2013-14 season against Johnson University (Tenn.) on Friday, November 8. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The 2013-14 Big South Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference First and Second Teams are listed below.
2013-14 Big South Conference Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
John Brown, High Point, R-Soph., F, 6-8, 205, Jacksonville, Fla.
Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern, Jr., G, 5-8, 158, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Arlon Harper, Charleston Southern, Jr., G, 6-2, 180, College Park, Ga.
Allan Chaney, High Point, Gr., F, 6-9, 240, Baltimore, Md.
D.J. Covington, VMI, Sr., F/C, 6-9, 235, Virginia Beach, Va.
Javonte Green, Radford, Jr., F, 6-4, 205, Petersburg, Va.
John Caleb Sanders, Liberty, Sr., G, 6-0, 180, Sugar Land, Texas
Davon Marshall, Liberty, Sr., G, 5-11, 170, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Donta Harper, Gardner-Webb, Jr., G/F, 6-7, 205, Winterville, N.C.
Tristan Carey, Longwood, Sr., G, 6-4, 185, Colonial Beach, Va.
The entire Big South Men's Basketball Preseason Poll is below.
2013-14 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
Rk North Division (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 6 Points
1. High Point (25) 25 5 -- -- -- -- 175
2. Liberty (3) 3 17 6 2 2 -- 137
3. Radford -- 5 15 1 7 2 104
4. VMI (2) 2 1 2 19 5 1 93
5. Campbell -- 2 6 5 12 5 78
6. Longwood -- -- 1 3 4 22 43
Rk South Division (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 6 Points
1. Charleston Southern (28) 28 1 1 -- -- -- 177
2. Gardner-Webb -- 15 4 5 5 1 117
3. Coastal Carolina (2) 2 7 8 10 3 -- 115
4. UNC Asheville -- 6 7 8 8 1 99
5. Winthrop -- 1 10 7 12 -- 90
6. Presbyterian College -- -- -- -- 2 28 32