CLEMSON, S.C. (Jan. 1, 2012) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will get its last chance to knock off a BCS conference program Sunday afternoon, as the Buccaneers travel to take on Atlantic Coast Conference foe Clemson inside Littlejohn Coliseum. Tip is set for 4 p.m.
The Bucs (5-6) are coming off a near victory over Tennessee, having lost 66-63 to the Volunteers back on Dec. 23. ETSU will also be looking for its first-ever win over the Tigers.
ETSU will return to Atlantic Sun Conference play following the matchup with Clemson, taking on USC Upstate inside the Dome on Jan. 4.
For more on Sunday’s game, click on the game notebook link located to the right, or read the game notes below.
We are “ETSU”
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called “ETSU” ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.
While posting its highest RPI since the 2003-04 season, head coach Murry Bartow led the ETSU men’s basketball team to another successful season in 2010-11, a campaign that included 24 wins and ultimately ended with a run to the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament … Led by seniors such as Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and all-conference performer Micah Williams (Manchester), the Bucs enjoyed impressive road wins at Atlantic 10 Conference member Dayton and Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State, while also finishing second in the A-Sun Conference standings … Along with Smith and Williams, fellow senior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) continued to impress fans with his high-flying dunks, which twice landed him as the No. 1 play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter and earned him a spot in the national slam dunk championships … Unfortunately for the Bucs, Smith, Williams and Tubbs have departed, leaving the team with the unenviable task of having to replace over 42 points of offensive production from a year ago – equal to 60 percent of the team’s scoring in 2010-11 … The Bucs will begin looking for those offensive numbers from returning starters such as senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), while senior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) – a 2010 A-Sun all-conference and all-tournament performer – will return to the floor after taking a medical redshirt season a year ago … Other returning players looking to improve their production will include junior guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Jarvis Jones (Memphis), junior forwards J.C. Ward (Marietta) and Lukas Poderis (Tampa), and redshirt freshman point guard Ryan Woumn (Lynn, Mass.) … The Bucs have also added a talented recruiting class that includes three true freshman and one junior college transfer.
The series versus Clemson
The Bucs and Tigers have met seven times over the years, with Clemson holding an unblemished 7-0 record against ETSU ... The last meeting came on March 14, 2007, as the Bucs dropped a 64-57 contest in the first round of the postseason NIT.
Last time out against Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. (March 14, 2007) - Sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) scored a game high 25 points and senior Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for his career, but the Clemson Tigers used a dominating performance on the glass to drop ETSU 64-57 and survive a first round match up with the Buccaneers in the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday evening inside Littlejohn Coliseum. ... Despite being held to just 38 percent shooting by the ETSU defense, Clemson out-rebounded the Bucs 51-32 - 19-6 on the offensive end of the floor - to overcome a 49-48 deficit late in the game and hold on for the win. With the victory, Clemson (22-10) advances to the second round of the NIT where it will face the winner of Appalachian State/Ole Miss. Meanwhile, the Bucs (24-10) watched their season come to a close after winning a regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship and After leading 29-25 at the brea, Clemson opened the second half with a 3-pointer to take the lead to 32-25, ETSU bounced back with a 6-0 run to make it 32-31 and force the Tigers to take a 30 second time out to stop the bleeding. Later, ETSU actually had a chance to take the lead on a missed lay up by Pigram, but the Tigers took advantage with a 4-0 run to make it 40-35. The Bucs answered to stay within one for the next several minutes, and at 46-45, Pigram was fouled and went to the line with a chance to give ETSU their first lead of the second half with 7:49 remaining in the contest. Pigram hit one of two to tie the game, but moments later, the Bucs actually managed to finally take a lead on a lay up by Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif) with 6:48 remaining. ... While Pigram was the only Buc in double figures, Clemson had four players reach double digits.
Last time out
KNOXVILLE (Dec. 23, 2011) – After taking a 59-51 lead with 5:36 minutes left in the game, the ETSU men’s basketball team watched the Tennessee Volunteers go on a 15-4 run to close out the contest and take a 66-63 win over the Buccaneers inside Thompson-Boling Arena. ... With the loss, ETSU drops to 5-6 on the season, while the Volunteers improved to 5-6. ... The Bucs got a game-high 19 points from senior Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who also pitched in seven rebounds and seven assists. Meanwhile, fellow senior Tommy Hubbard (Boston) netted 18 points and nine rebounds. ... ETSU enjoyed a great start to the game, outscoring the Vols 24-15 over the first 12 minutes thanks mainly to 14 first-half points from Hubbard. However, Tennessee – shooting at a 6-of-12 clip from 3-point range – managed to comeback and tied the game at 29 on a long-range shot from Cameron Tatum with 2:10 left before the intermission. ... The Bucs did not cave at that point though, outscoring UT 4-0 to close out the half and lead 33-29 at the break. Along with his 14 points, Hubbard also had five rebounds in the first half, while Sollazzo scored seven points and dished out four assists in the first 20 minutes. ... ETSU forced 10 Tennessee turnovers in the first half, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 78 percent from the foul line. Meanwhile, UT’s 50 percent shooting from 3-point range kept them within range of the Bucs. ... After the break, Tennessee used a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game and hold a 44-41 advantage with 14:15 left in the game. ETSU once again did not crack under the pressure of the Vols’ homecourt, weathering that storm and going back ahead by four at 55-51 thanks to a Jarvis Jones (Memphis) 3-pointer with 7:21 left. ... From there, ETSU added four more points to make it 59-51 on a Sollazzo basket with 5:36 left. Unfortunately, from there it was all Tennessee. ... The Bucs twice cut the game to one point at 62-61 and 64-63, but a missed 3-pointer by Jones that would have given ETSU the lead with 25 seconds left rimmed out, and Sollazzo later missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left that would have tied the game.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last seven games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures six times ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 16.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 6.3 rebounds, and is shooting 45 percent from the floor.
Bucs showing “flex”-ability with offense
In ETSU’s game against Appalachian State back on Dec. 10, the Bucs debuted a new offensive wrinkle, utilizing one of basketball’s most traditional offenses ... The “flex” is an offense that utilizes multiple screens and a great deal of slashing throughout the paint ... The results were good for the Bucs, who enjoyed several layups and dunks against the Mountaineers, as they won 65-48 to snap a four-game losing streak.
Bucs, Cooley among nation’s best in steals
Key to the Bucs’ wins this year has been the ability to swipe the ball from opponents ... Through games of Dec. 18th, ETSU ranked fifth in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.3 steals a contest ... Meanwhile, junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) has been on a torrid pace this season and a big reason for the Bucs’ success in the steals category, averaging 2.6 steals per game ... Through games as of Dec. 18th, he ranked 18th nationally in steals per game.
Block party for Brown
With a block in last season’s finale against Iona, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) set a new school record for blocks in a single season, swatting away a total of 71 shots on the year ... For his career, he now stands fourth on the all-time list at 159, but is just 23 blocks behind the program’s all-time leader Zakee Wadood ... In addition to those marks, Brown’s six-block performance against Belmont last year also matched the program’s single-game record ... At the time, Brown joined six other ETSU players who have had six-block games, including former standouts Brad Nuckles, Eryk Thomas, Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood, Greg Dennis and Greg Hamlin.
Getting to the free throw line a key for the Bucs
In recent years, the Bucs have focused on playing stingy defense, but also driving to the basket on offense and trying to get “tough” points thanks to fouls ... One way for the ETSU coaching staff to determine how successful the Bucs have been is charting free throw attempts and makes ... Well if this statistic is a true indicator, then the Bucs did just as the coaches would like ... Last season, ETSU set a school record for free throw attempts, putting up a total of 856 free tosses ... The Bucs also made their share of those attempts, ranking second on the all-time list with 580 makes ... The 2010-11 edition of the Bucs came up just nine makes short of the all-time record, held by the 1991-92 Bucs at 589. ... However, this season the team has continued to make it to the line, but is shooting just 63 percent from the stripe -- in other words not capitalizing.
On their way to 1,000 points
As they begin their seniors seasons, ETSU’s trio of Isiah Brown, Adam Sollazzo and Tommy Hubbard are all eying the 1,000 point mark for their careers. After the season opener at Virginia Tech, here is where each stands:
Isiah Brown........................................................................ 911 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 665 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 702 points
To reach 1,000, the three would have to average the following during the regular season:
Isiah Brown..................................................... 7.0 points per game
Tommy Hubbard....................................... 14.7 points per game
Adam Sollazzo............................................ 14.8 points per game
Bucs add to postseason resume
The ETSU men’s basketball team has enjoyed its share of postseason success and ranks as one of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs ... The Buccaneers have earned berths to the NCAA Tournament nine times (1969, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and NIT twice (1983, 2007) ... In 2011, the Bucs made their first ever appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, winning twice and advancing to the semifinals of that event ... It was the program’s 12th postseason tournament appearance all-time.
ETSU picked among nation’s best “Prestige” programs
Since the beginning of the modern era for NCAA Division I-A basketball – marked by the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field to 64 teams in 1984-85 – the ETSU men’s basketball program ranks in the Top 30 percent of the 300 programs that were eligible for the postseason at that time, this according to ESPN.com’s “Prestige” ranking released back in 2008 ... Since that time, the Bucs have only added to their list of prestigious honors … The Buccaneers -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT and one CIT berth, 14 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships since 1984-85 -- ranked tied for 82nd out of 300 teams, meaning they were in the Top 27 percent of schools making the list. ETSU was ranked ahead of every current Atlantic Sun Conference team, as well as former Southern Conference rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.