JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 4, 2012) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will return to Atlantic Sun Conference action on Wednesday night, facing off with USC Upstate inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
The Buccaneers, who have played just one home game over their last nine contests, will enjoy three straight at home this week, as they will also play Mercer on Saturday and Kennesaw State on Monday, Jan. 9. ETSU (5-7 overall, 0-2 A-Sun) is 7-1 all-time against USC Upstate and will be looking for its first A-Sun victory of the season. The Spartans actually picked up their first win ever over the Bucs in the A-Sun opener a year ago.
For more on Wednesday’s game, click on the game notebook link to the right, or read the game notes located 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 USC Upstate
ETSU holds a 7-1 all-time record against the Spartans ... The Bucs did lose its first of two games against Upstate last season, but ETSU avenged that defeat with a 67-52 win back on Jan. 23, 2011.
Last time out against USC Upstate
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2011) - Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) scored a game-high 22 points and eclipsed 1,500 points for his career, leading the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 67-52 win over Atlantic Sun Conference foe USC Upstate inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Along with Smith’s 22, the Buccaneers got 18 points from junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and 16 points from senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester). ... Smith, Williams and Sollazzo, along with sophomore guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) accounted for 62 of the Bucs’ 67 points on the night. ETSU shot 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range, while also connecting on 79 percent of its shots from the foul line. ... Meanwhile, the ETSU defense was stifling, forcing 14 turnovers and holding the Spartans to just 31 percent shooting from the floor and 17 percent from 3-point range. However, the Bucs were outrebounded by nine (39-30). ... The Bucs overcame a sluggish start in the first half after falling behind by as many as five points at 15-10 with just over 12 minutes left before the intermission. Breaking out its “white” pressing defense, ETSU gave the Upstate offense fits, creating multiple turnovers and putting together a 7-0 run to close out the half and enjoy a 31-24 lead heading to the locker room. ... In the first half, both teams struggled to score with the Spartans shooting just 33 percent and committing eight turnovers. Meanwhile, ETSU shot just 38 percent from the floor and 22 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Upstate out-rebounded the Bucs 19-17, but ETSU was a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line. ... After the intermission, ETSU raced ahead by 12 at 48-36 but Upstate answered with a 10-5 run to cut the lead to six at 55-49 with four minutes left in the game. From there, though, the Bucs ramped up the defensive pressure and outscored the Spartans 12-3 the rest of the way. ... Upstate got a team high 11 points each from Torrey Craig and Carter Cook.
Last time out
CLEMSON, S.C. (Jan. 1, 2012) – In a repeat storyline from its loss just over a week ago at Tennessee, the ETSU men’s basketball team had a BCS conference foe on the ropes but was unable to seal the deal Sunday afternoon at Clemson. ... Leading by nine points early in the second half, the Buccaneers scored just 17 points over the final 17 minutes as the Tigers turned up their defensive pressure and took a 65-58 victory over ETSU inside Littlejohn Coliseum. ... The loss overshadowed another fantastic game for ETSU seniors Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston). Sollazzo scored a career high 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists, while Hubbard netted 19 and hauled in eight boards. Meanwhile, Clemson got a game-high 22 points from Devin Booker. ... For two teams who have built a reputation this season for strong defense, the game opened with both the Bucs and Tigers shooting lights out from the floor and trading the lead multiple times over the first 10 minutes. ETSU ultimately grabbed the advantage at 21-20 with 9:51 left on the clock and never relinquished the lead for the rest of the half, even though both teams struggled offensively at that point. ... In fact, after Clemson tied the game at 28-28, the Bucs closed out the half with four unanswered points highlighted by a traditional three-point play from Hubbard, making it 32-28 at the break.... In the second half, ETSU opened on a 9-4 run to make it 41-32 with 16:04 left on the clock. However, Clemson ramped up its defensive pressure at that point and used a 12-2 run of its own to regain the lead at 44-43, while also grabbing the momentum in the process with 11 minutes left in the game. ... ETSU did not back down though, as a Cooley basket regained the edge for ETSU at 45-44. However, Clemson went back ahead by four at 51-47 with 5:49 left and later pulled ahead by as many as 10 at 65-55.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last eight games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures seven times ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 17.5 points, 4.6 assists, and 6.3 rebounds, and is shooting 46 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (14.8 ppg) and assists (4.9 rpg), and is second in rebounds (6.3 rpg).
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 Jan. 1, ETSU ranked eighth in the country in steals per game, averaging 9.8 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 2.4 steals per game ... Through games as of Jan. 1, he ranked 23rd 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 160, but is just 22 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 62 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........................................................................ 913 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 684 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 729 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.