JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 16, 2004) - The East Tennessee State University men's basketball team - the two-time defending Southern Conference champions - opened preseason practice for the 2004-05 season Saturday at Memorial Center.
Second-year head coach Murry Bartow put his squad through its paces with a two-hour morning session and another two-hour afternoon workout. The squad - which has enjoyed two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament -- returns eight players from last year, including senior James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) and juniors Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.).
The Bucs, who were picked to finish atop the Southern Conference North Division for a fifth-straight year at the SoCon's preseason media tipoff event earlier in the week, will open their 2004-05 season at home on Nov. 20 against UVa.-Wise. In addition to the high team expectations, Smith was named the SoCon's preseason player of the year.
With the successes of recent years, including a 27-6 record a year ago, Bartow was asked if his team feels any added pressure as it enters this season.
"I don't think so," Bartow said. "Every year is different and every year is a new year. I've always said you want high expectations because when you have high expectations you must have pretty good players. We think we're going to have another good year and who knows how many wins that will bring, but we think we have a chance to have a good team."
Fans of ETSU basketball are invited to be a part of the preseason excitement Sunday, as both the men's and women's teams will host Fan Appreciation Day in Brooks Gym at Both teams will participate in scrimmages, and fans will have the opportunity to win door prizes and get their favorite player's autograph.