JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 21, 2013) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will begin a special stretch of games tonight, as the Buccaneers play their first of three contests inside Freedom Hall Civic Center as part of the First Bank and Trust Roundball Showcase.
The Bucs first opponent in the showcase will be future Southern Conference rival Samford, with tip is set for 7 p.m. Thursday evening. ETSU will also play Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 23) and Marshall (Nov. 30) over the next week and a half, while the ETSU women’s basketball team will play one game inside Freedom Hall as part of a doubleheader tonight beginning at 4:45 against Morehead State.
Information regarding the Freedom Hall games can be found by clicking on the link to the right.
For more on tonight’s game with Samford, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 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.
The ETSU men’s basketball program was glad to see the 2012-13 campaign come to an end, following a season which saw the team face multiple obstacles and challenges -- such as a brutal schedule that featured the likes of North Carolina, Arizona, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Hawaii ... Other issues for the team included senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) missing the season with ankle injury that he suffered in the preseason, senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) being academically ineligible for the first two months of the year, and two other senior guards who were expected to be major contributors were dismissed from the team in early November for violations of team rules … This left head coach Murry Bartow and his coaching staff with a young, inexperienced group of underclassmen, several true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and a pair of junior college transfers … Those obstacles proved to be tough to overcome, as the Buccaneers posted a 10-22 record and finished 8-10 in Atlantic Sun Conference play … It was the toughest campaign in Bartow’s 10 seasons at ETSU, a tenure that has produced many championships, postseason tournament appearances and 20-win campaigns … In all, Bartow’s teams have earned three NCAA Tournament invitations (2004, 2009 and 2010), one NIT appearance (2007), and one CIT berth (2011), and the Bucs have eclipsed 20 wins five times. … This year, the Bucs will once again take to the floor with a young squad made up of several new faces … In fact, despite the return of the 6-fooot-9 Poderis, the Bucs have just five players back this season who played significant minutes a year ago.
The series vs. Samford
The Bucs are 2-0 all-time against Samford, but it’s been 33 years since the teams have met ... Those two previous games were in 1979 and 1980 ... ETSU won the 1979 matchup 64-63, and the 1980 game 86-78.
The Bucs return to Freedom Hall
Over the next week and a half, the ETSU men’s basketball team will play three games inside Johnson City’s Freedom Hall as part of the First Bank and Trust Company Roundball Showcase ... The Bucs will play Samford (Nov.. 21), Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 23) and Marshall (Nov. 30) at the facility, and the women’s team will play one game against Morehead State as part of a doubleheader on Dec. 21.
Last time out at Freedom Hall
While ETSU teams have played inside Freedom Hall from time to time over the 90-plus year history of the program, this will be the first game inside the building in nearly 12 years ... The last ETSU game at Freedom Hall occurred on Dec. 15, 2001, an 84-57 victory over James Madison ... In that game, senior guard Dimeco Childress (Columbia, Tenn.) scored 25 points and the Bucs forced 16 James Madison turnovers to cruise to the win.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 19, 2013) – ETSU head coach Murry Bartow says consistency is the key to his team’s performance this season. Unfortunately for Bartow, his Buccaneers were once again unable to deliver a consistent effort Tuesday night against Winthrop. ... Despite a 15-0 offensive run that turned around a 48-34 deficit and gave the Bucs a 49-48 lead with 12:43 left in the game, the Eagles responded with their own 14-2 burst to pull back ahead and never relinquished that advantage in a 76-66 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Winthrop was led by forward Joab Jerome with a game-high 18 points, while forward James Bourne pitched in 12, guard Keon Johnson netted 11, and guard Andre Smith added 10. For the Bucs, senior forwards Hunter Harris (Nashville) and Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) led the way with 18 points and 16 points, respectively, while junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) collected 12. ... In looking at the final statistics, the Bucs inconsistency was obvious, as the team shot just 29.2 percent from the floor in the first half, but was an impressive 64 percent from the field in the second half. ETSU also scored just 25 points in the first half, compared to 41 in the second half. That poor offensive effort in the first half allowed Winthrop to build a lead of 35-25 at the intermission, and they extended that lead to 48-34 with 16:15 left in the game. ... At that point, Gadsden-Gilliard scored eight straight thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers and a field goal, helping power the Bucs’ comeback that ended with a 3-pointer by senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) that made it 49-48. From there, though, Winthrop outscored the Bucs 28-17. ... Again, the Bucs were out-rebounded 36-31 and committed 17 turnovers in the game. ETSU did shoot better from the floor with a 45.7 percent clip for the game, but Winthrop shot 49.2 percent on the night. The Eagles also shot 47.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Merriweather continues to shine, posts double-double
Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has certainly made an impression in the early going this season, and he continued to make more news against Morehead State (11/12) ... The 6-2 guard collected his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with a pair of assists, a block and a steal in 35 minutes of play ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and second in steals (1.5 spg), fifth in scoring (8.0 ppg), and third in minutes played (27.8).
Bucs improve defensively, but inside game struggling
A year ago, ETSU allowed teams to shoot a high percentrage from the field and from the 3-point line ... This year, ETSU’s defensive efforts have paid off as the Bucs have held teams to just 40 percent shooting from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range ... However, as the Bucs have improved on the perimeter, the team has struggled in the paint ... Currently, ETSU’s rebound margin is -9.7, and the Bucs have been out-rebounded by a total of 169-30 ... Those numbers have led to more second chance points for opponents and the reason for two close losses for the team.
KGG, Merriweather enjoy strong debuts at Charlotte
With his career-high, 31-point effort in the loss at Charlotte (11/8), senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) certainly made an impression on those inside Halton Arena. ... Along with KGG’s showing, freshman A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) did not shy away from the challenge of his first college game and the assignment of defending Charlotte guard Pierria Henry ... While KGG finished with career bests for points (31), field goals made (10) and 3-pointers made (4), Merriweather finished with 10 points to go along with team highs for rebounds (7) and steals (3) in 29 minutes of play.
Young Bucs still face obstacles with experience
The last two seasons, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has faced the challenge of developing a roster with minimal experience ... As the 2013-14 Buccaneers begin play, Bartow is once again looking at a team with several new faces and limited playing time ... In all, the Bucs return just six players who saw time on the floor last sesaon, while there are a total of seven newcomers to the program ... When counting the entire 15-man roster, the Bucs have a total of just 11 varsity seasons between the team for an average of less than a season per player ... The most experienced player on the team is fifth-year senior Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.), but he is returning from an injury which made him miss the entire 2012-13 campaign.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
Last season, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 32 games ... Injuries and dismissals left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination all season. ... Bartow hoped to find more stability with his rotation in 2013-14, however he has now used four different starting lineups in four games so far this season.
Rembert hoping to stay hot as 2013-14 season begins
Junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time over the last two seasons, having made a 3-pointer in 33 straight games dating back to last season ... Last season, Rembert ranked fourth in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.7 percent for the year. ... This year, Rembert has shown signs of expanding his offensive productivity, as he averaged 21.0 points per game in the Bucs’ exhibitions against Milligan (10/29) and Mars Hill (11/2) ... In fact, he put up a stunning 33 points on nine made 3-pointers in the win over Milligan.
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.
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 798 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.
ESPN names Wilson to nation’s Top 25 freshmen list
While circumstances forced the ETSU men’s basketball team to struggle last season, talented redshirt freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) gave the Buccaneers reason for hope. ... Wilson, who is averaged 13.0 points per game, was listed as one of the Top 25 freshmen in college basketball 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.
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.