SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2012) – In need of a momentum-changing victory, the ETSU men’s basketball team will hit the road to take on Atlantic Sun Conference foe USC Upstate Friday evening inside the Hodge Center.
The game, which will air on regional cable television courtesy of CSS, will tip at 7 p.m.
The Bucs (10-9 overall, 5-4 A-Sun) are currently tied for fourth place in the league standings and two games back of front runners Mercer and Belmont. Meanwhile, USC Upstate has been the most improved team in the conference so far this season, with a record of 12-9, 6-3.
For more on Friday night’s game, click on the game notebook 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.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 23, 2012) – The ETSU men’s basketball team scored an impressive 58 points in the second half of its game with the Belmont Bruins Monday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The problem for the Buccaneers was they scored just 12 in the first half. ... Falling behind 27-12 by halftime, the Bucs were unable to mount a serious comeback threat and dropped a critical 82-70 contest to their preeminent Atlantic Sun Conference rivals. With the loss, ETSU (10-9 overall, 5-4 A-Sun) falls two games back of both Belmont and Mercer for first place in the league. The Bruins improved to 14-7, 7-2. ... The first half was an offensive nightmare for the Bucs, who shot a paltry 16 percent from the field and just 1-of-6 from 3-point range. It was so bad that even though Belmont – a perennially strong 3-point shooting team – had only one made 3-pointer in the first half, the Bruins were still able to build a 15-point lead by the intermission at 27-12. ... In fact, both teams struggled so much offensively that the Bruins led just 13-9 with eight minutes left in the first half. However, they went on to outscore the Bucs 14-3 the rest of the half to build a substantial lead. ... After the break, the Bruins pounded the ball inside and ultimately outscored the Bucs 48-16 in the paint in hopes of icing the game away. However, the Bucs battled throughout the final 20 minutes, scoring 58 points themselves and pulling to within nine points at 79-70 with 35 seconds left in the contest. ... For the game, ETSU shot just 37 percent from the floor while the Bruins connected on 53 percent of its attempts. The Bucs did hold the Bruins to just 26 percent from 3-point range, while ETSU was a solid 40 percent (8-of-20) from outside the arc. ... The Bucs did force 19 turnovers on 14 steals, but the poor shooting in the first half was too much to overcome. ... ETSU guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) each scored a game-high 18 points, while senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) pitched in 16. For Belmont, five players reached double figures led by senior forward Mick Hedgepeth with 17 points.
The series versus USC Upstate
ETSU holds an 8-1 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. ... Earlier this year, ETSU dropped Upstate Jan. 4, 2012.
Last time out against USC Upstate
JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 4, 2012) – 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. The Bucs shot a strong 50 percent from the field and 3-point line, while holding Upstate to 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from long range. ... Cooley led the way for the Bucs in the first half, netting a team-high 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. ETSU also picked up eight steals and dominated the glass 18-13. ... 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.
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. 22, ETSU ranked fifth in the country in steals per game, averaging 9.9 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 a conference best 2.3 steals per game ... Through games as of Jan. 22, he ranked 32nd nationally in steals per game. ... The Bucs have three players ranked in the Top 10 among A-Sun Conference players in steals: Cooley (1st, 2.3), Tommy Hubbard (3rd, 1.9), Adam Sollazzo (7th, 1.6).
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last 15 games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures 13 times, eclipsing 20 points in five of those games ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 17.5 points, 4.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds, and is shooting 46 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (15.7 ppg) and assists (4.9 apg), and third in rebounds. (5.5 rpg).
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 64 percent for the year.
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 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.1 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 third on the all-time list at 169, but is just 13 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 Bucs’ last game, here is where each stands:
Isiah Brown........................................................................ 997 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 779 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 867 points
To reach 1,000, the three would have to average for the 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.
Florida connection proving valuable to Bucs
For much of the past 10 seasons, the Buccaneers have enjoyed a pipeline of quality players coming from the “Sunshine” state ... A glance at this year’s current roster shows that trend continuing ... Entering Friday’s game, these have been the contributions of ETSU’s current Floridians:
Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) 15.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists
Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) 4.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists
In all, ETSU’s Florida players are averaging a combined 40.5 points,
19.5 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 5.8 steals per game so far this season.
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.