JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2013) – Having won three of its last four games, the ETSU men’s basketball team will be looking to build even more momentum when the Buccaneers host Atlantic Sun Conference rival Mercer Saturday afternoon.
Tip inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center is set for 4 p.m., and the game is part of an afternoon doubleheader which will begin when the Lady Bucs take on the Bears at 1:30 p.m.
ETSU fell to the Bears earlier this year when they visited Macon, Ga., and the Bucs have now lost two in a row against Mercer dating back to last season. However, ETSU holds a dominating 12-4 advantage in the all-time series, and will look to even the season series on Saturday.
For more on the matchup, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 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.
After several years of quality returning players and at least some level of certainty regarding what to expect heading into the winter months, the 2012-13 ETSU men’s basketball team entered this new campaign with several questions and concerns. ... The loss of standout seniors such as Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) will be hard to overcome, considering that group combined for a total of 3,091 points in their careers ... A year ago, the Bucs enjoyed quality wins such as a road victory over Atlantic 10 Conference foe Charlotte, and finished with a respectable 17 victories on the season ... The team finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 10-8, reaching the league tournament semifinals. ... This season, the Bucs’ top two returning starters were guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.), who both combined to score 19.7 points per game a year ago. ... However, both Cooley and Dubose have been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules and policies ... Along with those two, fellow guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) and forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) are the only other ETSU seniors to be returning after playing significant minutes last year, but Poderis is now lost for the season with a left foot injury and will be forced to redshirt, while Jones missed the first seven games of the year for academic reasons ... Jones returned against Ole Miss on Dec. 14 ... With so few returning, experienced players, ETSU has looked to some unproven returning players, as well as a recruiting class that includes three incoming freshmen and a pair of junior college transfers, to come in and make an immediate impact. ... Sophomores Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and John Walton (Memphis), along with redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville) have increased their production this year, while true freshmen guards Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), Mario Stramaglia (Birmingham, Ala.), and Yunio Barrueta (Miami, Fla.) are blossoming into early contributors. ... On the interior, Walton has been getting help from junior college transfers Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) and Hunter Harris (Nashville).
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2013) – Sophomore forward John Walton (Memphis) scored a career high 23 points and the ETSU men’s basketball team led wire-to-wire in a 79-70 win over Kennesaw State Thursday night at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Along with Walton’s game-high 23, the Bucs also got 22 points from senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), while sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) matched his career high with 18 points. The Bucs shot an impressive 53 percent from the floor and 48 percent from 3-point range in the victory. ... Walton was certainly the story of the game, but his play was particularly notable in the first half, as he eclipsed his previous career high in the opening 20 minutes by scoring 17 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and 5-of-5 at the foul line. His efforts helped propel the Bucs on a 14-0 run early in the game and staked ETSU to a 17-point lead at 26-9. ... However, the Owls battled back to make it a 10-point game by halftime thanks to an 8-0 run of their own at the end of the half. Before the intermission, ETSU shot an impressive 63 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range, while forcing Kennesaw State into eight turnovers. ... After the break, the Owls got to within single digits on multiple occasions and actually made it a four-point contest at 51-47 with just over 12 minutes left in the game. The Bucs responded at that point with a 13-4 offensive run of their own to make it 64-51 with 8:08 remaining, and KSU never mounted a serious challenge from there.
The series versus Mercer
The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 12-4, but ETSU has lost two straight in the series, including a 78-59 decision earlier this year in Macon, Ga.
Last time out against Mercer
MACON, Ga. (Jan. 17, 2013) – While the ETSU men’s basketball team overcame a 19-point second half deficit to win in its last outing, the Buccaneers could not work that same magic Thursday night against the Mercer Bears. ... Falling behind by 18 points in the second half, the Bucs could get no closer than 11 points and ultimately dropped a 78-59 decision to Mercer in Atlantic Sun Conference play at Hawkins Arena. ... While Mercer was a sterling 19-of-23 from the foul line and hit nine shots from 3-point range, ETSU missed 11 of its last 12 free throws of the contest and finished 5-of-15 from the line for the game. ... For the Bears, four players scored in double figures with Travis Smith netting a game-high 18 points to lead the way. ETSU got a team-high 12 points from senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), and he was the only Buccaneers’ player in double figures. ... In the first half, the Bucs and Bears traded offensive runs early on and the game was tied at 22-22 on a jumper by Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) with just over 6:20 left before the break. However, from that point forward Mercer put together a 17-6 run to build a 39-28 advantage at the break.... After the intermission, the Bucs allowed the Bears to open on an 11-4 run and take a 50-32 advantage with 15:19 left in the game and never got closer than 11 back the rest of the way.
Young Bucs still face obstacle with experience
At no time in the tenure of ETSU head coach Murry Bartow have the Buccaneers had less experience ... Currently, the team has 10 players who are eligible and healthy enough to play, and of that group there are only six total years of Division I experience ... On average, that’s less than a half year of experience per player ... With four freshmen and two junior college transfers that means 66 percent of the team is competing in their first season of Division I basketball.
Bucs hope to extend winning streak
For the first time this season, the Buccaneers have won back-to-back games and are looking to make it three in a row on Saturday against Mercer ... This is the deepest into the season ETSU has gone without winning back-to-back games since the 1984-85 campaign.
Bucs earning reputation as “Comeback Kids”
With their comeback from 20 points down to beat Stetson on Feb. 9, the Buccaneers just continue to build a reputation as a team that won’t go away no matter the score ... The Bucs have now won five of their eight games after being down significantly ... In wins over Charleston Southern (Nov. 20), FGCU (Jan. 12) and Stetson (Feb. 9), the Bucs were down by as many as 19 points and still won ... ETSU also came back from second-half deficits to drop North Florida (Jan. 26) and Lipscomb (Feb. 2).
Walton breaks out in win over Kennesaw State
Sophomore post John Walton (Memphis) has shown signs of his potential on-and-off throughout his first two seasons in Johnson City ... Against Kennesaw State on Valentine’s Day, Walton finally put together a complete game ... Setting career highs for points (23), blocks (3) and minutes played (39), Walton powered the Bucs to a 79-70 victory ... He went 8-of-9 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds and collecting a pair of steals in the game.
Jones meeting expectations for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow expected the return of senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) would improve his team’s efforts on the offensive end of the floor … He was right. … Recently, Jones almost single-handedly won the game for the Bucs against Lipscomb (Feb. 2), scoring a career high 36 points and hitting three straight 3-pointers in overtime -- including the game winner ... Since returning to the team in the middle of December, Jones has averaged a team-best 16.6 points per game.
Rembert heating up from outside, nearing national mark
Sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time this season, having made a 3-pointer in 24 straight games and currently ranks third in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 42 percent on the season ... Against Jacksonville, he gave ETSU’s coaches even more reason to utilize him ... Hitting on 5-of-7 attempts from 3-point range against the Dolphins and counting the six games since that time, Rembert has made 50 3-pointers on the year.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 26 games this season ... Injuries and dismissals have left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination, as the team currently stands at 9-18.
ESPN names Wilson to nation’s Top 25 freshmen list
While circumstances have forced the ETSU men’s basketball team to struggle in the early going this season, talented redshirt freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) has still given the Buccaneers reason for hope. ... Wilson, who is averaging 15.3 points per game, was listed as one of the Top 25 freshmen in college basketball Thursday by ESPN hoops writer John Gasaway. The list – which included players such as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, UCLA’s Jordan Adams, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon – had Wilson ranked at No. 25. ... Wilson has posted six 20-plus point games so far this season.
Three-point streak for Bucs dates back nearly 20 years
Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 791 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.
Bucs have tradition of postseason appearances, success
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
In 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 Bucs -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA 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 team, as well as former SoCon rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. In addition, at that time 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 Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson and Fla. State.