CONWAY — Halfway through the Big South basketball slate, a curious trend has emerged that has Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis as surprised as anyone.
With 54 conference games completed, visiting teams are an even 27-27, debunking any notion of a home-court advantage existing this year in the league.
And the Chanticleers know that as well as any team.
While winning four-straight road games in Big South play, Coastal has dropped two conference home games – including a 77-74 thriller to High Point on Wednesday night.
“What I’m seeing is there’s just not a lot of difference in being at home or on the road,” Ellis said. “I don’t know who’s got a home-court advantage. I don’t know of anybody who’s really just taking names at home. I don’t know why, but if you look at it, there’s more road wins than you’ll ever see in the Big South.
“But I will say this – therefore the team that wins the most at home is going to have an advantage. … We’re not going to win this league if we don’t win at home.”
Which is what the Chants will try to do Saturday afternoon when they host a struggling Longwood team inside The HTC Center.
Coastal’s loss Wednesday dropped it to 6-3 in the league and into a tie with UNC Asheville atop the congested South Division standings with two other teams just a game back.
“We’re in the second half [of the conference schedule] and this thing is stacked up,” Ellis said. “It’s a situation where every game’s important.”
Longwood (7-17, 2-7 Big South) has dropped three straight and 10 of its last 12 under first-year head coach Jayson Gee.
The Lancers are one of the few teams not in the middle of the conference race at this point, and this is a game the Chants (13-10) need to have to stay in control of their own championship hopes.
And along with trying to buck the trend of home setbacks that have befallen Big South teams, Ellis is also still working to build up the atmosphere inside The HTC Center before the Chants host the conference tournament next month.
He has been outspoken about his desire to see a larger and louder crowd at home games, has often taken to waving his arms in the second half of games to rouse the fans, and prior to the game Wednesday night, Coastal athletic director Hunter Yurachek took the microphone and encouraged the fans to try to recapture the atmosphere the team produced a few seasons ago in the old, cramped Kimbel Arena.
“Home-court advantage involves several things,” Ellis said after the High Point game. “No. 1, your team’s got to play. [And] you’ve got to have energy in the stands. I think the energy was good tonight – it was better, it was better.”
Saturday will provide the next gauge – in the stands and on the court.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.