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Only time will tell Longwood's impact on Big South

The Big South Conference is back to 12 members, but the impact of Longwood's addition to the league won't be known for a few months.

On Monday, the Virginia school made official the expected move.

While many expect that will push them to divisional play in the future, that's far from a slam dunk, according to officials.

Winthrop athletics director Tom Hickman said there's much to discuss before they change the geography of the league. With four schools each in Virginia (Longwood, VMI, Radford and Liberty), North Carolina (UNC Asheville, Gardner-Webb, High Point and Campbell) and South Carolina (Winthrop, Presbyterian, Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern), the first wave of creating divisions seems easy.

But splitting the North Carolina schools may not be the simplest process. High Point's an easier drive to the Virginia schools, and Gardner-Webb's closer to South Carolina's, but where to put UNC Asheville and Campbell is the bigger issue.

There's also the matter of scheduling, at least for men's basketball and the league's other 12-team sports.

Big South assistant commissioner Mark Simpson said the 2012-13 basketball schedule has already been drawn up, and the league's in the process of getting input from coaches prior to their meeting in May.

If the league decides to stick with an 18- or 19-game schedule, it could always drop back from playing two teams once each to adding another single. But if a division format is undertaken (which would mean a 16-game league slate), they'd have to start the process over.

"We're not sure what it means just yet," Hickman said. "As a league, we're still discussing how to organize ourselves. I know a lot of people think divisional play with 12 teams is a natural fit, but that's going to have a big impact on our conference schedule, so it's going to take some time to sort it out."

Taking some time: Winthrop practiced Monday, but coach Randy Peele's giving the Eagles today off in hopes of getting their legs back underneath them.

The Eagles went 2-3 during their five-game, 10-day stretch, and looked exhausted near the end of Saturday's 77-66 loss at Charleston Southern.

Players also had Sunday off in hopes of getting fresh for their next two home games, Thursday and Saturday against Liberty and High Point. The Eagles are back on the Thursday-Saturday loop for the next two weeks, with their next Tuesday game on Feb. 14.

"Hey, it's hard, but that's the schedule," Peele said after the loss.

Close games: When the Eagles trailed by 18 in the second half at Charleston Southern on Saturday, it was time to research their biggest losses.

You have to go back to find any bigger than the 11-point final margin in conference play.

In fact, their 88-67 loss to UNC Asheville on Jan. 6, 2011 was not only Winthrop's biggest league loss since, but also a rarity.

Between that blowout and the most recent loss, the Eagles had lost 11 conference games by a total of 47 points (4.3 per game), and five of those were by a single possession.

"That's what it's like in this league," Peele said. "Every single game, for the most part, is going to come right down to the final minute."

Tough loss: Saturday's game was a rough one for point guard Reggie Middleton in many respects, and the result was only part of it. The senior found out Friday his aunt had passed away, and was playing with a heavy heart. A number of family members, including his mother, were on hand.

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