NASHVILLE (March 4, 2008) -- Having won its final three games of the regular season, the ETSU men's basketball team enters the 2008 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament this weekend with momentum and the hopes of reaching a pair of goals -- eclipsing the 20-win pinnacle for the season and earning its fourth postseason trip in the last six years.
The Buccaneers, 18-12 overall, 11-5 in A-Sun play, have made the field of 64 for the NCAAs twice (2003 and 2004) and the NIT once (2007) in the previous five seasons. Their first obstacle to making a fourth trip in six years will be the host school, Lipscomb, at 9:15 (EST) Thursday night, with the game schedule to air on regional cable live on CSS and throughout the world on ASun.TV.
The 2007-08 Bucs are hoping to use the tournament experience this week to sweeten what became a sour season midway through February, as ETSU went from a tie for first place on Feb. 9, to a fourth seed heading into this weekend's tournament. The Bucs are led by 2006-07 A-Sun Player of the YearCourtney Pigram, a junior guard who is averaging a team best 15.9 points per game. Meanwhile, junior forward Kevin Tiggs (15.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), senior guard Travis Strong (10.8 ppg, 41% from 3pt range), senior post Andrew Reed (9.8 ppg, 6.2 rbg) and senior swingman Kenyona Swader (8.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) power the squad.
For more on the Bucs as they head into this week's tournament, click on the game notebook link located above. And for fans unable to attend the games, click on either the live video or audio streaming links above to keep up with the team's progress throughout the tournament.
A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers entered the 2007-08 season coming off a regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship with a 24-10 overall record, and a 16-2 league mark a year ago ... The Bucs returned the 2006-07 A-Sun Player of the Year in junior guardCourtney Pigram (Memphis), as well as the A-Sun Coach of the Year Murry Bartow and All A-Sun Freshman team pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) ... Along with returning players like Pigram and Smith, the Bucs also return significant contributors to last season's success such as senior post Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.), senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna), and senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) ... Newcomers to the Bucs who have contributed greatly to the 18 wins this season include junior college transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who was the JuCo Division II National Player of the Year last season, and lightning quick JuCo point guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) ... Several Bucs are currently leading A-Sun statistical categories, see page 6 of this notebook for more information on those players and their rank ... In addition, see where the Bucs ranks as a team and individually on the national charts on Page 4.
The Bucs All-Time in the A-Sun Tournament
Entering just their third Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the Buccaneers are 2-2 all-time, having lost in the first round of the event in 2006, and then advancing to the finals in 2007 ... In conference tournaments all-time (including the Southern and Ohio Valley), the Bucs are 32-20, having gone 6-3 in league championship finals.
Last time out in the A-Sun Tournament
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 3, 2007)- Second-seeded Belmont earned its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament with a dominating 94-67 win over ETSU in the championship game of the 2007 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Championship ... The Bruins did it the hard way, beating the Bucs on their home floor inside Memorial Center. Of course, Belmont has made Johnson City its home away from home since ETSU joined the A-Sun, winning all eight games inside the mini-dome ... The Bruins were in control of the game from the opening tap and never relented. They were a remarkable 14-for-29 from 3-point range, but that only tells part of the story. Their sizeable early was built in the opening 20 minutes and came on the strength of remarkable shooting display from beyond the arc. A 22-7 run in the first seven minutes showed what kind of game it was going to be. Belmont started with six different players making 3-pointers ... It kept going from there. An 11-point lead at that point kept growing as the half wore on. ETSU tried to make a couple of runs to put a dent in the Belmont armor, but poor shooting snuffed out the early comeback attempts ... Meanwhile, Belmont kept firing and making from long range, sinking 12-of-19 from long distance before the break. The last one was really a dagger to the Bucs comeback chances. ETSU's Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) finally got one to fall with four seconds left but tournament MVP Justin Hare raced downcourt and hit a running, double-pump 3 at the buzzer to keep momentum on the side of the Bruins ... Wicke knocked down four triples in the first half with Hare nailing three more and Keaton Belcher knocking down two ...
Last time out
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 1, 2008)- On the same day he eclipsed the 1,000 point mark for his career, senior Travis Strong (Memphis) hit a running lay up to force overtime, and junior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) went on to score seven critical points in the extra period to lift the ETSU men's basketball team to an 86-80 win over USC Upstate in the regular season finale for both teams at the G.B. Hodge Center ... Davis' efforts came when the Buccaneers needed it most , as junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) fouled out in the final minutes of regulation after scoring 18 of his team-high 22 points in the second half to rally the Bucs from a nine-point halftime deficit. Along with Davis, junior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) added five of his 15 points in the overtime period to pace the Bucs' offensive effort ... The first half was all Upstate, as the Spartans shot 44 percent from 3-point range and took advantage of ETSU's 14 turnovers to lead by as many as 18 points 43-25 with 2:06 left before the intermission. At that point, the Bucs did manage a small rally, getting four points off the bench from Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and scoring the final nine points of the half to trail 43-34 at the break ... Also in the first half, Strong - who entered the game four points shy of 1,000 for his career - hit a 3-pointer in the early going and later eclipsed that special mark with a 3-pointer from the left wing at the 9:10 mark of the first half. Strong finished with 16 points on the night, including the overtime-forcing lay up with 17 seconds remaining in regulation ... In the second half, ETSU slowly chipped away at the Upstate lead, ultimately taking the advantage at the 9:47 mark 54-53 on a jumper by Swader. In overtime, Swader scored the first three points, followed by five straight from Davis to make it a seven-point game at 79-72. Upstate senior guard Luke Payne hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes to make it 81-78, but the Bucs held on for the win ... While Pigram scored a team-high 22 points, he was joined in double figures by Strong with 16, Swader with 15 and Davis with 11. Senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) finished with a game-high 13 rebounds. The Bucs shot 51 percent for the game, and grabbed 12 steals on the night ... For Upstate, Payne scored a game-high 24, while Jeremy Byrd netted 13 and Bobby Davis added 12. The Spartans forced 24 ETSU turnovers, but were out-rebounded 43-36.
ETSU in conference finals
The Buccaneers have played in eight previous tournament finals and hold an impressive 6-3 mark ... The following is a breakdown of those games:
1983 -- vs. Chattanooga, 70-62 (L)
1989 -- vs. Marshall, 96-73 (W)
1990 -- vs. Appalachian State, 96-75 (W)
1991 -- vs. Appalachian State, 101-82 (W)
1992 -- vs. Chattanooga, 74-62 (W)
1993 -- vs. Chattanooga, 86-75 (L)
2003 -- vs. Chattanooga, 97-90 (W)
2004 -- vs. Chattanooga, 78-62 (W)
2007 -- vs. Belmont, 67-94 (L)
Strong reaches 1,000 point mark against USC Upstate
It was a fitting shot forTravis Strong (Memphis) to make ... Having built a reputation as a talented outside shooter, Strong -- a fifth-year senior guard -- sank a long range bomb from the left wing at the 9:10 mark of last week's game with USC Upstate, giving him 1,002 points for his career ... Strong, who now stands at 1,012 points for his career, is the final link to the 2004 NCAA Tournament team at ETSU, and became the sixth player from that squad to reach 1,000 points ... The others to reach that mark from the 2004 squad include Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood, Tim Smith, Ben Rhoda and Brad Nuckles ... At present, Strong ranks No. 28 on ETSU's all-time scoring list.
Bucs' RPI, Strength of Schedule rank among best in nation
Though the Bucs are now 18-12 on the year, the team's slow start at the beginning of the year was understandable when considering ETSU played an exceptionally tough early season slate ... As of Jan. 21 the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) ranked 74th in the country according to RealtimeRPI.com ... That SOS rank is obvious when looking at the RPI of ETSU's opponents in the early season schedule, which included -- at the time -- St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th) ... In fact, until just recently the Bucs SOS was as high at 18th in the country, before entering conference play ... As for RPI, the Bucs rank a respectable 150th out of 342 Division I teams.
Pigram eclipses 1,000 points
Beginning just his third season at ETSU, junior guardCourtney Pigram (Memphis) has already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with a jump shot from the right corner at the 17:52 mark against Chattanooga (11/28) ... That basket gave Pigram 1,000 for his career and following the contest with the Mocs ... The junior now stands at 1,417 for his career and ranks for 7th on the all-time program scoring list ... The 6-1 shooting guard scored 325 points as a freshman and then netted a remarkable 614 as a sophomore ... His 614 points a year ago ranks 6th on the single season list.
Another championship banner
With a win against Stetson (2/22), the Bucs wrapped up an outright 2006-07 A-Sun regular season title and garnered the No. 1 seed in the week's league championship tournament ... For ETSU, it was the continuation of a recent string of success that dates back to the 2000-2001 season ... In all, the Bucs have captured championships in five of the last seven seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and a trip to the NIT in 2006-07 ... Here is the championship breakdown:
2000-2001-- Southern Conference North Division Championship
2001-2002 -- SoCon North Division championship
2002-2003 -- SoCon North Division championship; SoCon Tournament Championship
2003-2004 -- SoCon North Division championship, SoCon Regular Season Championship, SoCon Tournament Championship
2006-2007 -- Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship
Tiggs taking over
With two A-Sun Player of the Week honors in his possession, junior forwardKevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) is certainly making an impression on the ETSU basketball program and the Atlantic Sun Conference in his first season wearing the Blue and Gold ... After several strong performances, Tiggs is second in scoring (15.2 ppg), is second in rebounding (5.5 rpg), and is first in steals (1.6) on the team ... In the league, he ranks fourth in field goal percentage (55 percent) and is sixth in free throw percentage (79 percent) ... This season, he has already posted three double-doubles, and has reached double figures in scoring 18 times.
1,127 wins and counting
With a win Jan. 25, 2007 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,127-906.
Home Sweet Dome
Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 118-38 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 76 percent ... The Bucs had won five straight at Memorial Center during the 2006-07 season before a loss to Belmont (1/2) ... The Bucs then rattled off 10 straight at home to stand at 15-1 on the Memorial Center floor that season, but fell to Belmont in the final game of the year in the championship of the A-Sun Tournament ... This year, the Bucs are 11-2 at Memorial Center.
Chilton's No. 42 comes out of retirement
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2007)- For many years, Tom Chilton's No. 42 has held a special place in ETSU basketball's history. Next season, fans will see that special number on the floor once again ... Chilton, who ranks first all-time with 26.1 points per game and fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,801, has agreed to allow junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) to wear his No. 42 jersey for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 season. Chilton, who now makes his home in Madison, Ind., said he was honored a current player would want to wear his number ... "I wish him the best and I'm honored he wants to wear No. 42," said Chilton, whose 42 is the only retired number in ETSU's program history. "I hope he always considers that the number doesn't make the player, but the player makes the number. A lot of hard work and effort went into that number during my time there, but ETSU gave a lot back to me and I wouldn't be where I am today without that university, so I'm happy to allow the number to be worn again." ... ETSU head coach Murry Bartow said he was appreciative Chilton would allow the number to come out of retirement, and he reiterated that the number will go back into retirement two years from now ... "Tom Chilton was one of the finest players to ever wear an ETSU uniform, and his willingness to allow Kevin to wear the number shows he is still proud to be a part of our program's tradition," Bartow said. "It's our expectation that Kevin understand the importance of the number and the responsibility that goes with wearing it." ... Tiggs, the 2007 National Junior College Division II Player of the Year, said he certainly understood the history behind the number ... "Mr. Chilton was and is a legend here, so wearing his number comes with a great deal of responsibility," Tiggs said. "I just want to play in a way that would make him proud."