Coastal Carolina

CCU Notebook: Will Brooks Stadium be ready for the football season opener?

Construction continues on Brooks Stadium on Saturday as the Coastal Carolina football team practices nearby.
Construction continues on Brooks Stadium on Saturday as the Coastal Carolina football team practices nearby. For The Sun News

Coastal Carolina has a little more than a month to have Brooks Stadium ready for the 2017 football season opener against Massachusetts on Sept. 2, and director of athletics Matt Hogue is confident a stadium expansion project will be completed in time.

The university was required to expand the stadium for its move this year to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and seating is increasing from 9,214 to approximately 15,500 seats. The construction project began in early March.

“It’s been a race to the finish from the beginning and we know that,” Hogue said. “But we have a contractor that has to meet that deadline, they know it, and so far so good. They’re working as hard as they can around the clock. I feel good where we are.

“I think we’ve had a good run of weather, and obviously that’s the unforeseen part. But I feel confident we’re going to be good to go Sept. 2.”

This year’s project is part of Coastal’s $32 million plan that will eventually expand the seating capacity to more than 20,000 in 2018.

This year’s first phase includes adding seats to completely connect seating on both sides to the field house behind the north end zone, expanding the lower sections on both sides toward the south scoreboard, and expanding the upper deck on the east side (press box side) to match the length on the lower deck.

“We’re at a stage where it’s really just the installation of the seats,” Hogue said. “The underground work, the floor work is all wrapping up.”

Next year’s second phase will include adding a large enclosed luxury suite that can house 300 to 350 people with an accompanying 230 outdoor club seats, and adding an upper deck to the west side as well as additional features such as new entrances. Total seating could approach 21,000, plus additional standing capacity.

“That contract will be awarded earlier, so we’ll have a longer and probably more normal period to get that complete,” Hogue said.

Bamba wins gold

Rising sophomore Amidou Bamba helped Canada win its first ever gold medal in a FIBA men’s basketball tournament, as the Canadians took gold in the U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt, last month.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Toronto native was among 21 players invited to try out for the team and one of 12 retained by coach Roy Rana, head coach at Ryerson University in Canada.

The team played three exhibition games in France against France, Spain and Lithuania before the 16-nation tournament.

In seven tournament games over nine days, the Canadians defeated Mali, lost to Spain, then defeated Japan, Angola and France before shocking the heavily favored U.S. team coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari 99-87 behind 38 points from 17-year-old phenom R.J. Barrett, who is expected to play in this year’s Beach Ball Classic at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in December.

A 79-60 rout of Italy earned the gold medal.

Bamba played in all seven games, averaged 10 minutes per game, shot over 40 percent from the field and averaged 2.3 points and 4.4 rebounds. He contributed six points and seven rebounds in the gold medal game.

During his freshman year at CCU, Bamba shot 54.5 percent from the field while averaging 16 minutes, 4.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.73 blocks per game. The international experience will likely help Bamba improve upon those numbers.

Garren names assistant

Jeremy Alcorn, who spent the last three seasons on the Texas Tech men’s golf staff, was named an assistant coach on Tuesday by new CCU head men’s golf coach Jim Garren.

Alcorn helped Texas Tech make NCAA Regional appearances in each of his three years, as well as the NCAA Championship in 2015 after placing second in the NCAA Lubbock Regional that season. The Red Raiders have also finished in the top four at the Big 12 Championships in each of the past three seasons.

In 2017, the Red Raiders produced three PING All-Central Region Team picks and had eight players named Academic All-Big 12.

Alcorn has a degree in education from Baylor, where he won four collegiate tournaments from 2003-07, played on the Adams Pro Golf Tour and caddied for two years on the PGA Tour – most notably for Brice Garnett – before beginning his coaching career.

Garren, 33, was hired about two weeks ago after spending the past three years as an Oklahoma assistant, helping the Sooners win the 2017 NCAA Championship.

Penner joins softball

Danielle Penner, who has spent the past 12 years as the head coach at Barry University in Florida, has been named CCU’s new Associate Head Coach in softball.

Penner joins head coach Kelley Green’s staff as Barry’s all-time winning coach after compiling a 404-210 record, including a 184-99 mark in the Sunshine State Conference. In Penner’s 12 seasons, the Buccaneers had 11 winning seasons and won 32 or more games nine times.

She led the Bucs to six NCAA Tournament bids and the SSC Championship in 2008, when they won 35 consecutive games.

As a pitcher at California University Pennsylvania (CUP) from 1994-98, she went 80-0 in conference play and led CUP to the Division II national title in 1997, when she was 50-3 with a nation’s-best 0.51 earned-run average. She has both a master’s degree in sport management and Master of Business Administration from Barry University.

Softball adds three

Green has signed three players for the upcoming 2018 season in Taylor Sweigart of Mertztown, Pa., Nathalie David of Evansville, Ind., and Wabash Valley Junior College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., and Taylor Schmidt of Hobe Sound, Fla., and Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Sweigart is an infielder who batted .592 as a senior and led her team to a 24-3 record, and David is a catcher and outfielder who batted .531 with 24 home runs as a sophomore at Wabash while being named a co-MVP in her conference.

Schmidt was a dual-threat this past season, going 11-4 on the mound with a 2.70 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 76 innings, and batting .469 with 34 RBI and 10 home runs while playing first base.

Academic success

The Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) released its Top-25 All-Scholar Team Grade Point Average (GPA) Awards and the CCU women’s golf team ranked seventh among all NCAA Division I teams with a 3.82 team GPA. All seven players posted better than 3.0 GPAs and each made either the CCU Dean’s List or President’s List.

CCU women’s lacrosse players Maggie Carr, Taylor Pascale, Lauren Thomas, Gabby Vujanic, Rachel Wagner and Haley Kyger have been named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’s 2017 Zag Sports Division I Academic Honor Roll.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a junior, senior or graduate student and have earned a cumulative academic GPA of 3.50 or greater. Since starting lacrosse for the 2013 season, the Chants have been honored by the IWLCA as a team for academic achievement in each of their five seasons.

In addition to smart players, lacrosse coach Kristen Selvage also has a new assistant in Rainey Hodgson, a four-year letter winner at Ohio State from 2013-16 who served as a Buckeyes student assistant coach in 2017.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin