JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2008) -- They may only be five games into the Atlantic Sun Conference schedule, but the ETSU Buccaneers face a critical league matchup Friday night when they meet the Jacksonville Dolphins at Veterans Memorial Arena. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast regionally on CSS.
The Bucs (9-9, 3-2) can get back into the conference race with a win over the Dolphins (9-8, 5-0), who currently lead the league with a unblemished conference mark. ETSU is coming off a 1-1 trip through Nashville, falling to Belmont before coming from behind in the final six minutes to drop Lipscomb on their home floor.
ETSU is 3-3 all-time against Jacksonville, but the Dolphins did enjoy a win over the Bucs in this same venue one year ago.
For more on Friday night's game, click on the game notes link above or read the notes below. Fans unable to attend or watch the game on CSS can also listen to the free live audio feed link above.
A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers enter 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 return 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 for the Bucs that are expected to contribute early and often 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 series against Jacksonville
ETSU and Jacksonville have met six times overall, with the series tied 3-3 ... The Bucs are 3-1 against the Dolphins since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06 ... ETSU had lost the first two meetings against Jacksonville in the early 1970s, when the Dolphins were a national title contending program.
Last time against the Dolphins
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2007)- Committing 27 turnovers and losing the battle of the boards, the ETSU men's basketball team watched its 10-game winning streak come to an end against Jacksonville, falling to the Dolphins 74-66 inside Veterans Memorial Arena ... Inept offense cost the Bucs throughout the game. In the first half, ETSU built its largest lead of the game at 20-14 with 8:44 remaining before the break, but Jacksonville needed just 38 seconds to tie the contest at 20-20, and the Dolphins eventually took a 36-32 lead into the break. In all, the Bucs turned the ball over 16 times and were out-rebounded 19-16 before the intermission ... In the second half, Jacksonville jumped out to an eight point lead at 43-35 with 17:14 remaining in the contest, but ETSU answered to actually regain the advantage 50-49 thanks to a lay up by freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) with 13:26 left on the game clock. The game was tied three times and the lead changed hands four times before Jacksonville took the advantage for good at 58-57 with 7:24 remaining in the game ... What cost the Bucs most was having both junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and Smith foul out with over eight minutes remaining in the contest. Compounding those issues was the fact that junior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) missed the game due to a family tragedy and was at home back in Tennessee. Swader is expected to be back with the team after this weekend ... In all, the Bucs held Jacksonville to just 39 percent shooting for the game, but were out-rebounded 39-29 and gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Dolphins. ETSU was led offensively by sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) with 23 points, while Smith matched his career high with 20 points ... For Jacksonville, Ben Smith finished with a team-high 14 points, Jess Kimbrough posted 13, and Tyrone Curnell netted 12.
Last time out
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 19, 2008)- Just when a third straight Atlantic Sun Conference loss seemed eminent and its regular season championship hopes fading, the ETSU men's basketball team found a way to get it done ... Trailing 73-62 on the road with 6:54 left on the clock inside Lipscomb's Allen Arena, the Buccaneers rallied to outscore the Bisons 24-8 the rest of the way and take an 86-81 league win Saturday in front of 2,330 fans. The frantic comeback was led by a bevy of Bucs, with senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) and Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) scoring a game-high 18 points each, while junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) tossed in 13 points, senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) added 11 and freshman guard Micah Williams (Manchester) pitched in 10. ... After trailing much of the game and having trouble with Lipscomb's half court offensive sets, the Bucs certainly used their fullcourt defensive pressure to change the pace of the game. With the score 77-69, ETSU's efforts produced a 12-0 run sparked by seven points from Pigram, a 3-pointer by Swader and two free throws from Tiggs, building a four-point lead at 81-77 with 3:02 remaining in the game ... As the clock wound down, Lipscomb got a free throw from forward Eddie Ard and a layup by post Brandon Brown to make it 81-80, but Tiggs answered. After missing a jumper from the top of the key, Swader tapped the ball out to Tiggs, who immediately went to the hoop and scored from the block to make it 83-80 with 32 seconds left in the game. From there, Lipscomb's Adnan Hodzic hit a foul shot with 16 seconds left, but Swader and sophomore Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) hit four straight free throws to ice the game ... In the first half, Lipscomb took an early nine-point lead at 17-8 when Josh Slater's 3-pointer from the wing found the bottom of the net. But thanks to a trio of treys from the Bucs - one by Williams and two from Strong - ETSU manufactured a 9-2 run to make it 19-17 with 9:55 left before the intermission. From there, the Bucs tied the game at 40 thanks to a lay up from Tiggs, but Lipscomb outscored ETSU 4-1 to finish the half up 44-41 ... For the game, ETSU hit on 55 percent of its shots from beyond the arc (12-of-22), while shooting 49 percent from the field for the game. Lipscomb out-rebounded ETSU 37-34, but the Bucs forced 15 turnovers on eight steals, which became crucial statistic in the final minutes ... Lipscomb got a team high 17 points from guard Josh Slater, while Ard added 14, Hodzic netted 13 and Brown pitched in 11. The Bisons dropped to 8-11 overall, 2-3 in league play.
Bucs' RPI, Strength of Schedule rank among best in nation
Though the Bucs are off to a 9-9 start, it's understandable when considering ETSU has only played seven home games so far this season ... More importantly, as of Jan. 21 the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) currently 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 includes 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 ranked a respectable 123rd out of 342 Division I teams.
Home Sweet Dome
Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 113-37 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 76 percent ... The Bucs ETSU 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 6-1 at Memorial Center so far.
The Bucs at the Rainbow Classic
Spending a week in Hawaii during the winter months is always enjoyable, but ETSU's second trip ever to the Rainbow Classic was a bittersweet experience ... While the Bucs picked up their first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 1991-92 with a 76-58 victory over Georgia in the first round, the team finished the trip 1-2 after falling in back-to-back games to St. Mary's and Louisiana-Lafayette ... While the St. Mary's game was expected to be difficult -- considering the Gaels were ranked No. 2 in the RPI -- the 82-80 overtime loss to a 3-7 Lafayette team kept the Bucs from evening their season record to 6-6 coming home from the islands ... In two trips to the Rainbow, the Bucs are now 2-4 all time.
Non-conference home win streak at 16
Over the last three seasons, the Bucs have fared well against non-conference opponents within the confines of Memorial Center ... In fact, the Bucs have won 16 straight non-conference homes games since losing a 90-73 contest to Fresno State back on Nov. 27, 2004 ... ETSU has enjoyed wins over teams such as Marshall (2), Chattanooga, Central Michigan, Morehead State, Tennessee Tech, UNC Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Radford and Appalachian State in that time frame ... Against conference opponents, the Bucs have won 10 straight regular season conference games.
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
New starting five
During the Bucs recent trip to the Rainbow Classic, head coach Murry Bartow used a completely new starting five, with junior guardJocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.), junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) ... While that group went only 1-2 on the trip, they did pick up the win over SEC foe Georgia and lost a close overtime battle with Louisiana-Lafayette ... However, the Bucs reshuffled the lineup again versus Appalachian State, moving Pigram to the point position, and inserting seniors Travis Strong (Memphis) and Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) to go with Tiggs and Reed ... That starting five is now 3-1 on the year, but the starting lineup was shuffled once again Thursday night against Belmont, as junior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) was inserted into the lineup at point guard, moving Pigram to the two guard over Strong ... That lineup went 1-1 this past weekend in Nashville, losing by three to Belmont and beating Lipscomb by five.
Davis, Pigram and assist/turnover ratio
One positive to come from the early season schedule as been the play of both junior guardsJocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) and Courtney Pigram (Memphis) ... From a distribution of the basketball and offensive production standpoint, both have shown an ability to pick up assists without turning the ball over ... Currently, Davis ranks third in the A-Sun with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.6 ... As for assists per game, Pigram ranks 6th with 3.6 a game, while Davis is 8th with 3.4 a contest
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 1,224 for his career and ranks tied for 15th 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.
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."
1,118 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 1,118-901-27.
Bucs on the Tube
Along with the new ASun.TV package which will video stream all ETSU men's and women's home games on the Internet, the Bucs will again have a significant presence on the television screen as well this year ... In fact, ETSU's trips to Oklahoma State (Dec. 8) and Syracuse (Dec. 15) both aired live locally, with the Oklahoma State game showing on WKPT (ABC) and the Syracuse contest aired on WJHL (CBS) ... The Bucs will also appear on regional cable through the Friday night CSS Atlantic Sun Game of the Week with the Jan. 25th trip to Jacksonville and the Feb. 1 home game against Mercer scheduled for air on CSS ... In addition, Charter Main Street will air its weekly ETSU replay on Charter 13 and Comcast 14 Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., with the weekly games beginning on Dec. 4th with the Tennessee-Wesleyan game ... For a complete schedule, visit ETSUBucs.com.
Bucs dominate Preseason All A-Sun Picks
Last season, ETSU won its first Atlantic Sun Conference men's basketball title, but Belmont denied the Buccaneers the conference's automatic bid in the final of the General Shale Brick Men's Basketball Championship ... Entering the 2007-08 season, both the coaches and the media predict that the Buccaneers will again be battling the Bruins for conference supremacy ... Both chose ETSU as the favorite to win the conference and defend its regular-season title with Belmont second ... The Bucs were the clear choice by the media to win the tournament ... The Buccaneers, who have gone 28-10 in A-Sun play in their two years in the league, will continue to be led byCourtney Pigram (Memphis). The junior from Memphis, Tenn. was named the preseason Player of the Year following up his Player of the Year award for the 2006-07 season ... As a sophomore, Pigram averaged 18.1 points per game, second-best in the conference and also ranked in the top 10 in steals (2nd, 2.62 SPG), 3-point field goals per game (3rd, 2.62 3-pt FG per game) and assists (7th, 3.74 APG). He turned in one the league's virtuoso performances of the season when he dished out a conference-record 18 assists against Mercer on February 24 to go along with 29 points and eight rebounds. The 18 assists set an A-Sun record, were one off the school record, and were the second-highest single-game total in Division I in the last two seasons.