Two games in two days is a pretty rare occurrence for any college basketball team outside of these early season tournaments, but that is is what Coastal Carolina had today with Methodist University today. On the drive away from the arena last night I was listening to CCU coach Cliff Ellis on the radio post game wrap-up following the game against Covenant. He had mentioned that Methodist was going to be a step up in level of competition, so I had to check things out. Was this a lurking non D-1 power that I didn't know about? No this was a 10-16 Division 3 team last year, so this seemed to be more like another scrimmage for Coastal. The LSU game is lurking on Tuesday and some are billing it as the biggest home game in Chanticleer history. This was the last chance for Coach Ellis to figure things out.
I normally try to print out the game notes before each game so I can be familiar with the CCU opponents, but I think Coastal is truly treating these first 2 games as exhibitions since there no game notes and the media guide has not even been posted yet. I got to the game about 15 minutes early and was able to get a parking spot about 100 yards from the entrance of Kimbel. The box office said the game was already sold out, but inside the arena only had about 800 people throughout the game. The student section was packed though as they have to attend tonight's game and Monday's women's game for chance to get LSU tickets.
The game started out quickly for the Chants as they ran out to an 8-2, but Methodist came back strong to take a 17-14 lead. James Whitehead for Methodist was impressing everyone in the stands with a some solid defense and great shooting. Many were wondering why this 6 ft sophomore wasn't playing at a higher level. The first half turned into a game of runs as CCU would turn the momentum when Dexter Moore tossed an alley-oop to Chris Gradnigo, that I thought he had no chance of reaching, which finally got the crowd into the game. Gradnigo went on to easily show he was the best scorer and athlete on the floor for the rest of the half. Many had been worried about his defense and effort as he seemed a bit lackadaisical in the first game, but he brought it on both sides of the floor tonight.
With the score at half of 48-32 CCU, there was not much doubt in which way this game was headed. The halftime entertainment was a performance of the Coastal dance team before a round of basketball musical chairs. Why they don't do this every halftime is beyond me, it keeps the crowd interested and kills a good amount of time. It sure beats looking at nothing while random Top 40 music plays which is what we would get from time to time.
The second half seemed to zoom by as CCU added to its lead by forcing turnovers and racking up the transition points. I spent much of the half wondering why the Coastal student section was so lazy. For the past 4 years there has always been a group of about 8 to 10 students that will paint their chests, wear wigs and "wacky" outfits and stand in the front row at center court. The rest of the students seem to think of them as inconvenience. They will mostly sit the entire game and won't be into the it at all. Granted, during a big rivalry game or a Big South Tourney game more of the students will get into it, but I asked my friend Justin if he's ever seen any other school like this. He said he'd been to Towson and even there the student section will stand the whole game. Every mid-major TV game I've seen the students are at least standing the whole game. It just makes me wonder why they even show up at all.
As the game wore down and the backups started flowing in, the only thing that did big illicit a reaction out of the crowd was if CCU would hit 100 points. The pep band would cheer "9 More Points!!" "7 More Points!!" and so on, until junior college transfer Bisi Addey would get the layup and the foul with 2 minutes to go to hit 99. The crowd would have to wait until after the media timeout for Addey to sink his free throw to cause the biggest cheer of the night. The final would end up being 104-61 sending the home crowd happy and looking forward to the big game on Tuesday against LSU.
at COASTAL CAROLINA 104, METHODIST 61 11/12/2011
COASTAL CAROLINA 2-0 (0-0) -- S. McLaurin 3-5 0-1 6; A. Raffa 7-15 2-5 17; C. Gradnigo 9-17 4-4 23; J. Pack 2-2 2-2 6; K. Greenwood 6-8 2-3 14; D. Moore 3-4 4-4 12; B. Crawford 1-3 3-3 5; W. Gillis 3-4 1-2 7; J. Griffin 1-3 2-2 5; C. Ashford 0-1 0-3 0; W. Kirkland 0-1 2-2 2; B. Addey 3-3 1-3 7; R. Berry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-67 23-34 104.
Three-point goals: - , CCU 5-12 (C. Gradnigo 1-3; A. Raffa 1-4; D. Moore 2-2; J. Griffin 1-2; R. Berry 0-1); Rebounds: , CCU 44 (C. Gradnigo 8); Assists: , CCU 17 (K. Greenwood 6); Total Fouls -- , CCU 20; Fouled Out: -; CCU-None.