Coastal Carolina believes its tough non-conference schedule and recent close games will help it compete in its second season in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Chanticleers will find out quickly as they begin conference play at 7 p.m. Friday with the class of the league in reigning regular-season conference champion Texas-Arlington, which was picked by the league’s coaches to repeat this season, coming to the HTC Center.
A national audience will see as well, as the game is being broadcast on ESPN2.
With some future NBA players competing in the Beach Ball Classic at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center this week, the Mavericks bring their own NBA talent to the area.
The Mavs feature 6-foot-9 senior forward and reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year Kevin Hervey, who is averaging a league-high 23.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and has been projected as a possible NBA first-round draft pick, and senior point guard Erick Neal, who leads the conference in assists with 9.1 per game and may also get a look from NBA teams.
“We’re in the conference now and we take on the big guy right off the bat,” CCU coach Cliff Ellis said. “It’s a big start for us and they’re the team to beat. We’ve been playing the best and we’re going right to the best [in the conference].”
The Mavs are 9-4, with single-digit losses to ranked teams Creighton and Alabama.
Coastal is 6-7 with losses in three of its past four games to South Carolina, Wake Forest and College of Charleston by a combined eight points. The Chants have had a legitimate chance to win all three games.
“We’re a really hard-working team and we’re right there,” said CCU sophomore guard Artur Labinowicz. “Like coach says, we’re at the top of the cliff we just need to get over it. We’re right there, we’re climbing, we’ve just go to get over this hump. It’s been a tough couple weeks. We’ve been really close to some great teams. But I think this will build us up for the conference and we’ll come back.”
The Chants are led by 6-7 junior Zac Cuthbertson’s 17.9 points per game and senior point guard Jaylen Shaw’s 16 points and five assists per game. Coastal was picked to finish eighth in the league after tying for sixth at 10-8 in conference play in its foray into the league last season.
“As a group we’re all looking forward to it, to compete, play our best basketball and show them what Coastal Carolina basketball is about,” Labinowicz said. “We think we can improve a lot. We see that as a shot to our backs that they don’t believe we’ve been working this summer and we had the right people come in. We’ve just been working hard and we’ll prove them wrong and have a great season.”
The Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team also begins conference play against UTA on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
The CCU women are coming off a 67-51 win last Wednesday at home over Wofford to complete their non-conference schedule at 6-5. They outscored Wofford by 25 points in the second half. The Chants are led by senior Jas Adams, who is averaging 18.5 points per game and has already earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors earlier this month.
Pierrot gets invite
Following an award-winning career at Coastal Carolina, Frantzdy Pierrot has been invited to the 2018 Major League Soccer Adidas Player Combine.
Pierrot is one of 60 NCAA Division I college players invited by MLS to showcase their talents in front of representatives from all 23 of the MLS clubs. The Combine will be held in Orlando, from Jan. 11-17.
All of the players invited to the Combine are eligible to be selected in the 2018 SuperDraft on Jan. 19 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, which is held in conjunction with the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Convention.
Pierrot was named the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, was a three-time all-conference honoree and last summer was named to the Haitian National Team.
In 35 career matches at CCU, Pierrot scored 37 points on 15 goals and seven assists, with seven game-winning goals.
Baseball America periodically surveys college coaches to compile a list of 10 assistants with bright futures as head coaches, and for the second time Coastal Carolina associate head coach Kevin Schnall was recognized.
Baseball America asked current Division I head coaches to list three top coaching prospects among the ranks of current assistants, excluding their own staffs. More than 75 coaches responded and Schnall ranked sixth among the top 10 vote-getters. The survey was last taken in 2012.
Schnall provided an instant impact in 2016 when he returned to his alma mater after three seasons on the staff at Central Florida and helped Coastal Carolina to its first national championship. Since his return, Coastal was Big South champion and was the 2017 Sun Belt regular-season champion.
Seven CCU players were named to the 2017 Sun Belt All-Conference football team.
Senior linebacker Shane Johnson was voted to the second team while senior running back Osharmar Abercrombie and wide receiver Malcolm Williams were voted to the third team.
Junior punter Evan Rabon, redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Trey Carter, redshirt-freshman linebacker Silas Kelly and senior receiver Chris Jones were named honorable mention.