JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 13, 2014) – Facing the final two-week stretch in its Atlantic Sun Conference regular season schedule, the ETSU men’s basketball team will host Florida Gulf Coast Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Still aiming for a home tournament game and currently tied for fourth place in the league standings, the Buccaneers (14-12 overall, 7-6 A-Sun) will have quite a challenge from the first-place Eagles (16-9, 10-2), who are still flying high following their 2013 run to the Sweet 16 and continue to build the hype surrounding “Dunk City.”
However, the Bucs were in fact one of the few teams to best the Eagles a year ago, rallying in the second half to beat them by 10 points inside the Dome back on Jan. 12, 2013. ETSU hopes to repeat that type of performance on Thursday.
Fans are also 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 this game, read the game notes below or click the game notebook link located 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 injurythat 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. FGCU
The Bucs lead the all-time series against FGCU 9-4, and were one of the few teams to beat the Eagles a year ago during their historic Sweet 16 season ... That 85-75 victory came inside the Dome back on Jan. 12, 2013 ... However, FGCU has won the last two meetings, which includes a 90-62 win earlier this year at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.
Last time out vs. FGCU
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2014) – Amid an Atlantic Sun Conference road swing through the state of Florida, the ETSU men’s basketball team picked a terrible time to struggle offensively. ... Still suffering a hangover after missing several close-range shots in their loss to Stetson on Thursday night, the Buccaneers shot just 29 percent from the field on Saturday night while Florida Gulf Coast looked like the same team that made a run to the Sweet 16 a year ago and dominated from start to finish in a 90-62 win over the Bucs at Alico Arena. ... The Bucs also shot just 30 percent from 3-point range and 59 percent from the foul line in the loss, and only two players reached double figures with junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) scoring 18 and 11 points, respectively. ... Meanwhile, the Eagles shot 52 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the arc, and 75 percent from the foul line en route to the win. ... In the first half, two big runs by the Eagles – a 9-0 spurt early on and a 15-0 surge midway through the half – led to 32-9 lead with 7:41 left before the break. During that span, the Bucs went nearly seven minutes of game play without a field goal, and ended up hitting just two shots over the final 14 minutes of the half to trail 42-22 at the break. ... After the intermission, the Bucs got to within 18 points and 42-24 as a bucket by senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) opened the half. However, this would be as close as ETSU would get the rest of the way.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 10, 2014) – When combining the start of both halves Monday night, the ETSU men’s basketball team was outscored a combined 29-4 by USC Upstate. It was simply too much to overcome. ... In a battle of two teams that entered the game tied for third place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Spartans took advantage of the Buccaneers’ slow offensive starts to take sole possession of third place in the league with a 75-63 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Bucs got a game-high 26 points from junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) and a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville). ... ETSU got off to a slow start in the first half, scoring just three points over the first seven minutes of play and falling behind by as many as 10 points. However, a 13-2 ETSU run midway through the half and another 17-7 burst just before the intermission led to a 33-31 halftime lead when an alley-oop slam dunk by Wilson with 28 seconds left capped the scoring. ... After the intermission, the Bucs again struggled, as USC Upstate opened on a 17-4 run and later built a lead of as many as 18 points at 64-46 with six minutes left in the contest. ETSU never recovered from there.
Riley breaks out; continues great “sixth man” play
For weeks, those around the ETSU men’s basketball team have argued that junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) may be the best “sixth man” in the league ... Recently, Riley has been proving those people right ... In his last five games -- which includes a career-high, 30-point effort against Lipscomb (2/8) -- the junior guard has eclipsed double digits each time, averaging 19.6 points a game, while shooting 51 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range, and 87 percent at the foul line.
Free throws key to ETSU victories this season
What a difference a year can make ... Last season, the Buccaneers struggled for consistency at the foul line, but this year has been a different story ... The Bucs currently lead the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 74 percent shooting clip from the charity stripe, and their numbers are also good enough to rank 20th in the country in free throws made as of Feb. 9 with 468 ... In fact, earlier this year the Bucs hit a remarkable 32-of-33 free throws in a single game ... In games against NKU and Lipscomb last weke, they were 12-of-13 at the line against NKU (2/6) and then 35-of-41 at the stripe in the win over Lipscomb (2/8).
Resurgent Wilson giving Bucs a lift on offense
Sophomore Lester Wilson (Knoxville) was expected to be a major offensive weapon for the Buccaneers this season, but only recently has the forward made his presence felt ... In three of the Bucs last five games -- from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2 -- Wilson averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, shooting 54 percent from the field and from 3-point range ... He reached double figures in all three games, despite only reaching double figures once in the previous seven games ... Against USC Upstate, he posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds ... By comparison, before his recent streak, Wilson had averaged 7.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game on just 33 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Bartow gets win No. 300 overall and No. 200 at ETSU
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow won his 300th career game on Jan. 4 against Kennesaw State, and captured his 200th win on the ETSU bench on Jan. 25 against Jacksonville ... Bartow is the second winningest coach in program history, behind only legend Madison Brooks’ 370 victories for the Blue and Gold. In addition, Bartow’s .580 winning percentage also ranks second in the modern era for the Bucs, behind only Alan LeForce’s .607 percentage.
Rembert hoping to stay hot as A-Sun schedule 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, and currently ranks third this year with a 43 percent mark ... This year, he has shown a marked improvement in his style of offensive play, and currently leads the team with 15.7 points per contest ... He also is second in the league in made 3-pointers with 2.8 per game ... In fact, his numbers are good enough to rank him nationally in both percentage and total makes from 3-point range (see NCAA list to the left).
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 (13-0) Losses (0-12)
ETSU scoring 82.4 PPG....................... 66.4 PPG
Opponent scoring 72.3 PPG........................ 78.6 PPG
Rebounding margin -0.5........................................ -7.7
Shooting % .480.................................... .380
3-pt. shooting % .399................................... .304
Assists 13.0 APG..................... 10.7 APG
Merriweather continues to shine, posts double-double
Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has certainly made an impression this season, and he continued to make more news with his third career double-double in the win over Kennesaw State (1/4) ... In that game, Merriweather also netted a career high with 19 points, while grabbing 10 rebounds ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (6.2 rpg), fourth in scoring (10.4 ppg), first in steals (1.4 spg), and third in minutes played (27.0 mpg). ... He followed that effort with a career high 20 points in the loss at Mercer (1/6).
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.
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 820 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 and ahead of Oakland.
Shuffling starters was the “new normal” for Bucs
Last season, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 33 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 19 of the last 21 games, with the team going 12-7 in those contests.
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.