JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 7, 2012) – After picking up their first Atlantic Sun Conference win of the season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will be attempting to make it two-in-a-row Saturday, as the Buccaneers take on league foe Mercer inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 4 p.m.
The Bucs (6-7 overall, 1-2 A-Sun) will need to play well, as Mercer has been one of the A-Sun’s most impressive teams in the early portion of the season.
For more on Saturday’s game, click on the game notebook 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.
The series versus Mercer
The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 11-2, and currenlty holds a three-game winning streak over the Bears ... ETSU won the last meeting 82-75 back on Jan. 31, 2011.
Last time out against Mercer
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2011) - In a heated battle that included three technical fouls between the two squads, the ETSU men’s basketball team overcame Mercer’s hot 3-point shooting to take an 82-75 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference play at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Buccaneers, who improved to 16-8 overall, 11-2 in A-Sun action, got a career high 28 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), while Smith’s roommate and fellow senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) netted 23 points. Meanwhile, the Bears - who were playing without two of their top scorers due to knee injuries - shot 12-of-21 (57 percent) from 3-point range to stay in it most of the way. ... Along with Smith and Williams, senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) returned from an injury sustained three games ago to score 13 points and collect eight boards. Mercer was led by a career high 23 points from Justin Cecil, while Mark Hall and Brian Mills contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively. ... What has become a heated series in the past continued that way at the outset on Monday, as Mercer’s bench received a technical foul midway through the half and ETSU’s coaching staff was warned as well. Both teams committed some physical fouls and it resulted in a back-and-forth battle. ... The Bears’ bad luck continued, though, as their third leading scorer Brandon Moore went down with a right knee injury early in the game. ... In he first half, the Bucs pulled ahead by seven at 20-13 thanks to a 9-0 run with 12 minutes left on the clock. The Bears responded by outscoring ETSU 14-6 over the next seven minutes to regain the lead on a Brian Mills free throw with 5:02 remaining on the clock. ... ETSU finally pulled back ahead and got five straight points from Smith to close out the half and lead 38-34 at the break. ... In the second half, Mercer clawed its way back into the game by yet again hitting from outside. After ETSU overcame a technical foul on junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) and ultimately built a 55-47 lead with 12:23 left, but Mercer rallied to hit four straight 3-pointers to tie the game at 59-59. ... However, with the score 63-59 in favor of ETSU, Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman was hit with the game’s third technical foul. Smith hit both free throws and ETSU connected on another shot from the charity stripe on the ensuing possession to go ahead by seven at 66-59. From there, Williams scored nine of the Bucs’ next 10 points to increase the advantage to 77-65 and ETSU never looked back.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 4, 2011) – The ETSU men’s basketball team found the perfect way to ease the mourning heart of its head coach Murry Bartow. ... Give him a win over USC Upstate. ... Bartow, whose legendary coaching father Gene Bartow passed away on Tuesday evening after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, looked on as his Buccaneers raced out to an 18-point halftime lead and then finished off an 88-73 victory over the Spartans in Atlantic Sun Conference action Wednesday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Bucs certainly did respond to the circumstances, shooting 56 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range, while forcing Upstate into 24 turnovers off of 12 steals. ETSU also placed six players in double figures, with junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) leading the way with a season high 20 points and senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) netting 18 points and dishing out four assists. ... ETSU also got a career high 14 points to go with six rebounds from junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.), while junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) added 11 points, and senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) both scored 10. ... In the first half, the Bucs relied on their aggressive, trapping full-court defense to force 16 turnovers by the Spartans and race out to a 29-11 lead over the first 12 minutes of action, ultimately leading 39-21 at the break. ... In the second half, both teams turned on the offensive firepower and netted a combined 101 points (52-49 in favor of Upstate). However, the Spartans could get no closer than 13 points. Upstate got a game-high 29 points from forward Torrey Craig to lead their attack. ... However, for the game the Spartans shot 42 percent from the floor and just 35 percent from 3-point range. The Bucs held a 44-26 advantage on points in the paint.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last nine games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures eight times ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 assists, and 6.0 rebounds, and is shooting 48 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (15.0 ppg) and assists (4.9 rpg), and is third in rebounds (6.0 rpg).
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.
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.
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 162, but is just 20 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 64 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........................................................................ 917 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 694 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 747 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.