JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (November 14, 2003) - Coming off a 2002-2003 season that saw the East Tennessee State men's basketball team win their third-straight Southern Conference North Division title, the SoCon Tournament championship, and make a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, there was understandably a great deal of excitement Friday as the team hosted its annual media day inside Memorial Center.
"I can't tell you any specific goals, but we want to stay healthy and be as good as we can be," first-year head coach Murry Bartow told the media. "Obviously, we would love to win the league and we'd love to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but this conference has a lot of good players and it is never easy."
The Buccaneers were 20-11 last season, picking up their first 20-win season since 1992. This year, the team returns all five starters from a year ago and eight of the team's top nine players.
ETSU was picked by both the SoCon media and coaches to capture its fourth-straight North Division championship, and senior Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) was picked as the preseason player of the year. In addition, fellow senior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) and sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) were selected to the preseason all-conference team, making the Bucs the only squad in the SoCon to have multiple selections with three.
The Bucs will open their 2003-04 season next Friday with a two-game road swing through Texas, playing Conference USA foe Houston on Nov. 21 and Big 12 opponent Texas Tech on Nov. 23. The game with Texas Tech will be broadcast on WAPK, the Tri-Cities' UPN network affiliate. Tip for the Houston game is set for 8:30 p.m. (EST) and the Texas Tech game will tip at 7:30 p.m. (EST).