Wednesday, November 23, 2011
2011-12 looked like a rebuilding year for Cliff Ellis after Holloway (18.5 ppg) turned pro following his junior season, solid guard Danny Nieman left the team, and seniors Chad Gray (14.6 ppg) and Mike Holmes graduated. Coastal entered the season having to replace 49.5% of its scoring and 44.8% of its rebounds, and with LSU and Clemson on the early-season schedule, rebuilding seemed the operative word on the Grand Strand.
Cliff Ellis has your rebuilding right here. After earning the Bible Belt's enmity by dusting Covenant and Methodist, Coastal topped LSU, 71-63, on the strength of a 53-34 rebounding edge. The win was the second in as many years over the Bayou Bengals. Coastal then doubled up Spalding (they'll get nothing, and like it), 87-43, before going on the road to face Clemson, a team tabbed by many to be competitive in the ACC.
Coastal spotted the Tigers a 12-point first-half advantage before Chris Gradnigo tipped in his own missed jumper at the buzzer to give the Chanticleers a surprising 60-59 win. Gradnigo and Anthony Raffa (from Sentence of Dave-approved Sea Isle City, NJ) each scored 21 in the upset. Point guard Kierre Greenwood and forward Sam McLaurin join Gradnigo and Raffa in averaging double figures for the balanced Coastal offense. The Chants have dominated the glass thus far, averaging 45 rebounds per game to their opponents' 28 behind a starting front line that goes 6'7", 6'8", and 6'11".
Our last adopted squad, the 2009-10 Baby Deacons of Wake Forest, went 7-11 after we anointed them, flaming out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We expect much bigger things from Coastal Carolina, a school with which we have significant G:TB familial ties. With only moderately tough opposition (Florida International, College of Charleston, and East Carolina) standing between them and the Big South season, Coastal Carolina has a little bit of a 1978-79 Indiana State look to them, minus the tight shorts, feathered hair, and transcendent superstar.
(Before you get all lathered up, we don't actually believe that last part. But we're pleased to jump on the Chantwagon, nonetheless.)