Eagles gear up for Missouri State

Winthrop players run up the court during practice at the Winthrop Coliseum on Wednesday.
Winthrop players run up the court during practice at the Winthrop Coliseum on Wednesday.

After finishing second in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, Winthrop's Eagles were back at practice Wednesday.

Coach Randy Peele pushed the Eagles through more than two hours of work in preparation for Sunday's 2 p.m. home game against Missouri State.

The Eagles worked on what they didn't do well in the loss to Baylor -- running the offense and playing as a team. Against the Bears, the Eagles had too many breakdowns when players didn't run the offense and tried to play too much one-on-one.

"A lot of people told me we had the best team in the field," Peele said, "and that made me feel good. But we let one get away."

Senior guard Michael Jenkins admitted, after beating Queens 68-61 in the opener, he and a lot of other folks didn't know what to expect from the Eagles. But after the Jam, he's optimistic.

"I didn't know how we'd played because we were so young and it was a good field," Jenkins said after Wednesday's practice. "I thought we could play that way, but not this early.

"But the two games we won, everybody bought into what we wanted to do and we played well."

A couple of Eagles didn't practice Wednesday.

Chris Gaynor was sidelined with a bruised thumb on his left hand. He watched practice while getting treatment. He's expected to practice on Friday and play on Sunday.

Center Andy Buechert, who took a nasty fall in the Georgia Tech game, watched while he got treatment for a high right ankle sprain and stretched Achilles on the same foot.

Buechert took a hard fall and banged his head, but also had a Tech player land on his ankle.

According to trainer Jeff Lahr, Buechert's injury may be a day-to-day situation.

• EAGLES ON TV: Winthrop's Sunday game will be televised by the Missouri State network and Winthrop has arranged for area fans to be able to watch it as well.

Rock Hill Cable Channel 18 will carry the game live at 2 p.m.

• RANKINGS: Winthrop is No. 39 in the latest Sagarin rankings. The next best ranking for a Big South team is UNC Asheville at 120. High Point, the league's preseason favorite, is No. 229.

Winthrop is No. 7 in the latest Mid-Major top 25, up five spots from last week. UNC Asheville received votes the past two weeks.

• BEST START: The most surprising start in the league belongs to UNC Asheville. The Bulldogs are 5-0 for the first time in school history, following Tuesday night's 83-73 road win at Western Carolina.

Coach Eddie Biedenbach has loosened the schedule a bit this year, but has also benefited from a veteran roster and the improved play of 7-7 Kenny George.

The Bulldogs have wins over Furman (78-75), Lees-McRae (74-48), Brevard (75-35), Campbell (83-71) and WCU.

George, who has had problems with stamina, is averaging 21.6 minutes, about twice what he played last year. He's averaging 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and shooting 73 percent. He's also averaging 6.1 blocks.

In the win at Campbell, George recorded the first triple-double in school history with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 of the team's school-record 16 blocks. George has had two 10-block games.

The Bulldogs have five players averaging in double figures led by point guard K.J. Garland (17.8).

• BEST EVER: The talk around High Point is coach Bart Lundy and staff have signed the best recruiting class in school history.

The Panthers brought in Steadman Short, a 6-9 forward from Hillcrest High in Simpsonville; Jacob Iati, a 5-11 point guard from Catholic High in York, Pa.; Chad July, a 6-9 center from Gainesville (Fla.) High School; and David Singleton, a 6-3 point guard from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.

Lundy called Short, who was also recruited by Winthrop, "a signature recruit for our program." Short averaged 16.5 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a junior.

Iati averaged 22 points and was a three-time all-state pick., a national recruiting service, ranked July the top incoming post player in the Big South.

Singleton averaged 11 points per game and holds school records for rebounds and steals.

The Panthers will also add 6-9, 240-pound Jourdan Morris, a transfer from St. Bonaventure who is sitting out this season.

• NOTHING'S CHANGED: VMI has continued its frantic style of offense and set a school record in the 135-81 win over West Virginia Wesleyan with 84 first-half points.

The Keydets took 114 shots in the game, including 55 3-pointers. Through three games, VMI had launched 120 3-pointers.

• ROUGH STRETCH: After a 2-0 start, Coastal Carolina dropped a two-game road swing through Ohio, getting thumped by Cincinnati and Wright State.

The Chants, under first-year coach Cliff Ellis, played Anderson College at home Wednesday night, part of a seven-game, 16-day stretch, with five of those on the road.

"You don't make excuses when you play seven games in 16 days," Ellis told the (Myrtle Beach) Sun News. "It's tough on anyone. It's like an NBA schedule. I think it will help us. We are finding out what we are."

Coastal hasn't won a non-conference road game since winning at Marist in 2003.

Some good news for the Chants is the shooting of senior guard Jack Leasure, who was averaging 23.8 points heading into last night's game.

• THREE-POINTERS: Coastal's Anthony Breeze, a 6-5 freshman, is off to a fast start, averaging 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds ... High Point's Arizona Reid has moved up to 13th place on the league's all-time rebounding list (710). He's 244 rebounds shy of the league record ... VMI's Reggie Williams (1,940) needs 60 points to become the fourth player in league history to hit 2,000 for a career and needs just 272 to break the record set last year by Liberty's Larry Blair ... If Winthrop's Gaynor plays 29 games this season, he'll become the league's all-time leader in games played (124). He would break the mark held by former Eagles Craig Bradshaw and Billy Houston.