I just need some advice on XP deployment with SCCM

With a small reference image I don't have too much of an issue. With an image loaded up with our students "base" software(things like MSDN, Visual Studio 2008, VS6 etc) the image is 9.8GB compressed, (25GB uncompressed) and takes forever to deploy with SCCM. I am still deploying software on top of that to keep the image size to a minimum but I couldnt possibly deploy all the software needed via task sequence due to the sheer volume! The problem is the 9.8GB image takes 45 minutes to transfer, 20 minutes to unpack then 10-15 mins to apply and thats without the rest of the task sequence! If I did the same deployment via Ghostcast I could deploy the same base image within 20-25 minutes(it doesnt do the 3 stage deployment of the OS)

Should this really take this long? Would I be better off ghosting the base image out and then using SCCM to install the remaining software via a task sequence?(this isnt going to be ideal either because a newly deployed system wouldn;t get picked up by sccm straight away). It also would make use of the driver database in sccm?

None of this is a problem for our staff and light user machines using sccm. Our mini base reference image is perfect. It's mostly our library and computing areas that require massive amounts of software resorting in a bigger base image

Any advice would be appreciated