JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2013) – With the week of Christmas Day approaching, the ETSU men’s basketball team will look to get the festivities off to a merry start when the Buccaneers host in-state foe Austin Peay Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Tip is set for 4 p.m., inside the Dome.
The Buccaneers (5-6) have won five of their last seven games, and have an opportunity to begin their Atlantic Sun Conference schedule with a record above .500 if they can finish 2013 with home victories over the Governors and Valparaiso (Dec. 29). Meanwhile, Austin Peay will be looking to avenge a loss they suffered to the Buccaneers earlier this season in Clarksville as part of a non-conference, home-and-home series.
Fans are encouraged to bring their children to games this year to take advantage of the special Sweet Frogs $5 kids’ ticket during men’s basketball games.
For more on Saturday afternoon’s game, 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 University 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. …
The series vs. Austin Peay
This marks the second time this season the Bucs and Governors have played, representing a rare home-and-home, non-conference series this season ... The Bucs won the earlier meeting this year 80-74 in Clarksville back on Dec. 4 ... ETSU has a long history with Austin Peay on the basketball floor, an in-state series that dates back to their time together in the Ohio Valley Conference ... ETSU leads the all-time series 40-30.
Last time out vs. Austin Peay
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 4, 2013) – The ETSU men’s basketball team got its first road win of the season, but it didn’t come easy. ... Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson), along with junior guards Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) and Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) each scored a team-high 18 points – while Merriweather also collected a double-double with 11 rebounds – as the Buccaneers overcame a second half deficit to rally past Austin Peay 80-74. ... Despite a comfortable 11-point halftime lead, the Bucs squandered that advantage quickly in the second half, as the Govs opened on a 21-6 run to take a 54-50 lead with just over 12 minutes left. The Bucs finally managed to get back into a flow on offense, tying the game at 56-56 on a layup by Merriweather with nine minutes remaining on the clock. ... From there it was a back-and-forth game until Rembert scored 10 of the Bucs’ 12 points during a 12-5 run that made it 75-69 with two minutes left in the game. Unfortunately for ETSU, Austin Peay didn’t go away, scoring a basket and then taking advantage of an ETSU turnover to nail a 3-pointer that made it 75-74 with 50 seconds left in the contest. ... At that point, Riley missed a jumper, but Merriweather again came through with a decisive offensive rebound that resulted in a pair of free throw makes by Rembert. That 3-point lead then held up as the Bucs made 3-of-4 foul shots to close out the game.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 16, 2013) – Junior guards Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) and Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) posted career highs and combined to score 54 points, as the ETSU men’s basketball team outpaced Tusculum 108-87 in a non-conference game highlighted by plenty of offense inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Riley finished with a game-high 28 points and Rembert added 26, as the Buccaneers shot 54 percent from the field as a team and improved to 5-6 on the year. ... ETSU also shot 41 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the foul line, out-rebounding the Pioneers 41-30 and outscoring Tusculum 42-28 in the paint. The Bucs also enjoyed a 51-31 advantage in points off the bench.
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 ... Last season, Rembert ranked fourth in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.7 percent for the year. ... This year, he has shown a marked improvement in his style of offensive play, and currently leads the team with 14.1 points per contest.
Difference between winning and losing for ETSU
Rebounding has been a particular indicator for the Bucs this season when it comes to wins and losses ... The statistics below show the differences for the Bucs is several important categories so far this season.
Statistical category Wins (5-0) Losses (0-6)
ETSU scoring 86.2 PPG.................. 65.7 PPG
Opponent scoring 74.4 PPG................. 78.2 PPG
Rebounding margin +4.0............................... -11.3
Shooting % .509.............................. .390
3-pt. shooting % .363.............................. .296
Assists 13.6 APG............... 10.8 APG
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 with his second career double-double in the win over Austin Peay (12/4) ... In that game, Merriweather had career highs with 18 points and 11 rebounds. ... He followed that performance with an 18-point, eight-rebound effort in the loss to Georgia Tech (12/7) ... The 6-2 guard collected his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds earlier this year against Morehead State (Nov. 12) ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (7.1 rpg), fourth in scoring (10.8 ppg), first in steals (1.1 spg), and third in minutes played (27.7 mpg).
All-around effort by Gadsden-Gilliard impressive
Setting new personal bests with 12 rebounds and six assists in the win over Samford (11/21), senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) had people thinking “triple-double” when he added an 18-point effort to his statistical line ... The Bucs hope that KGG can make these types of efforts more consistent ... KGG responded to that expectation by putting together a 19-point, seven-rebound and seven-assist outing against Marshall in an 88-78 victory on Nov. 30.
Merriweather named A-Sun Newcomer of the Week
The Atlantic Sun Conference office announced Monday morning that ETSU freshman A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has been named the league’s newcomer of the week. ... Two weeks ago, Merriweather averaged a near double-double in the Buccaneers’ two games against Austin Peay (Dec. 4) and Georgia Tech (Dec. 7). The 6-foot-2 guard netted 18 points in both contests, while grabbing 11 rebounds in the win over Austin Peay and seven boards in the loss to Georgia Tech. ... This is the first newcomer of the week award for Merriweather.
Giplaye makes return following open heart surgery
Earlier this year, the Buccaneers got a serious scare when junior forward Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.) had to undergo open heart surgery for a condition that was described as “life threatening.” ... Following the successful procedure, Giplaye has slowly regained his strength and was able to play two minutes against Tennessee Tech (11/27), marking his first competitive compeition since the 2011-12 season when he played at Providence. ... He then played five minutes in the loss to Georgia Tech (12/7), scoring his first two points in an ETSU uniform and grabbbing three rebounds.
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.
Shuffling starters was 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 ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination all season. ... Bartow hoped to find more stability with his rotation in 2013-14, but he had used five different starting lineups in the first five games of the year. ... Since that time, he has played with the same starting lineup in six of the last seven games, with the team going 5-2 in those contests.
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 805 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA, just behind Arkansas at 813 and ahead of Oakland at 780.
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.