CSU hosts Coastal in key Big South clash

Photo provided by CSU Athletics Charleston Southern's Saah Nimley leads the Big South in scoring at 20.6 points per game.

Charleston Southern men’s basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh learned a lot during his seven years as a member of Eddie Fogler’s coaching staff at South Carolina.

One thing Radebaugh learned from his mentor is to stay as level-headed as possible over the course of a long season.

“It’s Eddie Fogler 101, never too high, never too low,” said Radebaugh. “Taking every game one at a time, never letting a loss keep you down or allowing a win to get you too high.”

Radebaugh is putting that lesson to good use with his current squad. The coach is managing his team through the highs and lows of this season pretty well. CSU enters Wednesday night’s Big South Conference clash with Coastal Carolina in a first-place tie in the standings, sitting at 14-9 overall and 8-4 in league play.

Last week, Charleston Southern was hammered by Winthrop, 77-55, in what was CSU’s worst performance in a conference this season. The Bucs went to league leader Radford on Friday night and won, 79-71, in one of their best performances.

“You have to keep every loss and every win in perspective,” Radebaugh said. “Our performance at Winthrop was bad, really bad. But we played really well on Friday and beat a great Radford team. My job as a coach is to hopefully find a way for us to sustain the type of 40-minute effort that we had against Radford over these last two weeks or so.”

The Big South has never been as deep or balanced as it is this season with seven teams having a legitimate shot of winning the regular-season title. Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina are two of the teams in contention, with the Chanticleers holding a slight edge by virtue of their 83-74 win in Conway on Jan. 3.

Wednesday night’s contest, like all of the final six, will go a long way in determining the champion. CSU also has remaining games with High Point and Gardner-Webb, two of the seven teams also sitting in contention.

Radebaugh, however, is not putting any more emphasis on this game than he has any other game during the conference season.

“We preach all year, the game in front of us is our most important game of the season because it’s our next one,” Radebaugh said. “This is 1/18th of our schedule, nothing more. We have to keep it all in perspective and give this game all of our focus and effort. Win or lose, we move on to Longwood on Saturday with the same focus and effort.”

Wednesday night’s matchup promises to be as competitive and close as recent games between the two rivals. Last season, CSU and Coastal Carolina split during the regular season, but Coastal Carolina captured a double-overtime win in the second round of the Big South tournament on its way to the tournament title. The teams also split games two years ago.

“It’s going to be a 40-minute game, we expect that,” Radebaugh said. “They’re very talented and they are coached by a man (Cliff Ellis) that in my mind is a future Hall of Famer.

“Every game in this league seems to come down to the final minute or so. It’s a wide-open race really, and we’re excited to be in it. If we can play our best basketball here in the last two weeks, we will have our opportunity. For us to be playing meaningful games in mid-February when a lot of other teams are not is a great credit to our players.”

Radebaugh said fans hoping to attend Wednesday night’s clash may want to come early to ensure a seat at CSU Fieldhouse. CSU is 10-2 at home this season.

“Our home environment is like no other, and I fully expect the Buc Dome to be overflowing for this game,” said the coach.