JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2012) – As the race for the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title continues to take its usual twist and turns, the ETSU men’s basketball team will look to maintain its current four-game winning streak and build even more momentum as the Buccaneers take on North Florida Monday evening inside the UNF Arena.
Tip is set for 7 p.m.
The Bucs, who have moved to 9-7 overall, 4-2 in A-Sun play, are currently tied for second place in the league standings and just one game back of first-place Belmont. ETSU will also be attempting to avenge its one and only loss ever to UNF, which came in the semifinals of last season’s A-Sun Tournament.
For more on Monday’s game, click on the game notes link to the right, or read the game notes below. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.
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.
The series versus North Florida
ETSU and North Florida have met 12 times, with ETSU leading the all-time series 11-1 ... UNF picked up their first and only win over ETSU in the semifinals of last season’s A-Sun Tournament, dropping the Bucs 59-55.
Last time out against North Florida
MACON, Ga. (March 4, 2011) - The ETSU men’s basketball team had never lost to North Florida. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, that is no longer the case. ... Despite struggling offensively throughout the contest and trailing by as many as nine points in the second half, junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) still had a potential game-tying attempt miss the mark with 20 seconds left and the Bucs fell to North Florida 59-55 in the semifinals of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at Mercer’s University Center. ... Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) did all he could to break the Bucs out of their offensive funk, scoring a game-high 20 points. However, it was not enough to overcome a 35.2 percent shooting percentage and hitting on just 12.5 percent from 3-point range. ... Meanwhile, North Florida had four players in double figures, with both Parker Smith and David Jeune leading the way with 13 points apiece. ... As in their quarterfinal game against Campbell, the Bucs struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the first half and the Ospreys took advantage. With the game tied at 19-19, UNF manufactured a 10-1 run to take its largest lead of the game at 29-20 and seemed to be pulling away. However, ETSU responded with its own 7-2 in the final two minutes to make it 31-27 at the break. ... After the intermission, ETSU scored first to get within two, but once again the Bucs’ offense could not muster any efficiency and UNF pulled back ahead by nine at 48-39 with 9:42 left in the game. A 3-pointer by Tubbs finally seemed to ignite the Bucs’ spirits with just under nine minutes left, as ETSU went on a 9-2 run and made it 50-48 with 3:12 remaining in the contest. ... UNF ultimately led by five at 55-50 with 2:02 left, but ETSU managed to cut the lead to one at 56-55 with 32 seconds on the clock. After Juene hit one of two free throws, Sollazzo raced to the other end of the floor and put up a shot from in front of the rim, but with 14 seconds on the clock it rimmed out. ... Juene then iced the game with a pair of free throws.
Last time out
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2012) – Using a first half scoring surge, the ETSU men’s basketball team built a 19-point halftime lead and went on to take a 72-58 win over Jacksonville in Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball play at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. ... With the win, the Buccaneers improved to 9-7 overall, 4-2 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, the Dolphins dropped to 2-15, 0-6. ... The Bucs got a game-high 18 points from senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), while fellow senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) provided a 16-point, nine-rebound effort. Along with that duo, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) had 13 points, and junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) netted 11. ... In the first half, ETSU led just 15-14 with 12 minutes left before the break, but closed out the first 20 minutes on a 23-5 run to take a 38-19 lead into the locker room. ... The Bucs shot a blistering 55.2 percent from the floor in the first half, while holding the Dolphins to just 36.4 percent shooting and forcing 10 turnovers by JU. ETSU got a team-high 12 points from Hubbard in the first half, as the Bucs held a 26-12 advantage on points in the paint and a 12-2 edge on points off turnovers. ... In the second half, ETSU led by as many as 21 points at 60-39 with 8:38 left. However, Jacksonville managed to cut into that deficit and made it an 11-point game at 63-52 with 4:04 remaining. ... ETSU answered at that point with a 6-0 run to make it 69-52 and ended any JU chance for a rally.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last 12 games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures 11 times ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 18.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 5.0 rebounds, and is shooting 49 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (16.0 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg), and is third in rebounds (5.3 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. 8, ETSU ranked second 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 2.3 steals per game ... Through games as of Jan. 8, he ranked 20th nationally in steals per game. ... As a team, the Bucs have four players who rank in the Top 10 among Atlantic Sun Conference players in steals per game, they are: Cooley (2.3), Tommy Hubbard (T3rd, 1.7), Adam Sollazzo (T3rd, 1.7), Isiah Brown (8th, 1.5)
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. ... This season, after starting out the year shooting poorly from the foul line, the Bucs are have improved those numbers and are now shooting 65 percent from the charity stripe.
Poderis reaches career mark for rebounds
In recent weeks, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) has become a truly valuable part of the Buccaneers attack ... In the win over Mercer, Poderis picked up a career high 10 rebounds, and that effort came two days after he matched his career high for points with 14 against USC Upstate ... In the win over Kennesaw State in the Bucs’ last game, he posted another nine-rebound effort ... For the year, Poderis is averaging 5.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.8 minutes 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 165, but is just 17 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.
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.
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........................................................................ 956 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 728 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 808 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.