A League On The Rise

By - October 11, 2006

The overwhelming sentiment in Charlotte is that the Big South is a league on the rise. And the numbers would agree.

After bottoming out with an RPI of .4614 in the 2001-02 season -- dead last in Division I (even worse than the collection of Independents!) -- the league has plotted a steady improvement on a year-by-year basis. The Big South ranked No. 28 in '02-03, No. 28 again in '03-04, No. 27 in '04-05 all the way up to No. 19 this past season.

"I've seen this league improve and not just on the court," said Eagles coach Gregg Marshall, who returned to Rock Hill after a near-departure to College of Charleston during the offseason. "It's the administration and the leadership as well. Our league has improved dramatically over the last eight years to have the quality of athletes and coaches that we have today.

"The league has never been more competitive."

Added High Point coach Bart Lundy: "We didn’t get the respect [several years ago] that we're starting to get now. Outside of the league, occasionally our teams would make a splash and win a big game. We won 19 games that first year and I thought the league was a little bit watered down. Now, there’s not a night that you can go anywhere and not have a dogfight on your hands. I think the coaches are all very aggressive in the league, and the recruiting is notched up if you look at the rankings of the recruits that are coming into the league."

Winthrop's Torrell Martin looks at the improvement -- and its publicity -- as a double-edged sword, noting that Big South schools won't be sneaking up on anybody.

"We're not much of a secret anymore," Martin said. "I'm not sure if that's a good thing. People tend to overlook the teams from the smaller conferences."

Posted by at 02:25 PM on October 11, 2006

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