Friday, October 17, 2008

Big South includes 2 new members

When the Big South Conference begins playing basketball next month, it will feature two new members, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian. And GW coach Ricky Scruggs couldn’t be happier.

Gardner-Webb — you may remember that the Bulldogs won at Kentucky last year — had been playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference, where travel was a bit more difficult and the member schools might not have been as well-known to GW students. Scruggs discussed the move this week.

“I think it helps us in a couple of easy ways,” he said. “This cuts down on our travel; the Atlantic Sun was good to us, gave us a home when we didn’t have a home. And now we hope we have a permanent home in the Big South; that’s where we really wanted to be.”

The Big South offers three other North Carolina schools.

“I think the rivalries of being that close to Winthrop and that close to UNC-Asheville and High Point, it’s going to create an atmosphere where our students can go to away games and have more people from (other schools) coming to our home games,” Scruggs said.

Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, not far from Shelby.

Kentucky isn’t on the schedule this year, but the Bulldogs will play at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wichita State and Kansas State. The big boys better pay attention.

The win in Lexington, by the way, brought Scruggs phone calls from Bobby Knight and former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, among many others.

“I probably got a thousand phone calls and a thousand emails, easily,” Scruggs said.

— Stan Olson