Bucs prep for Georgia in first round of Rainbow Classic
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HONOLULU (Dec. 18, 2007) -- After a 22-hour adventure that took the squad from Syracuse to the Hawaiin islands, the ETSU men's basketball team has begun final preparations for first round action in the Rainbow Classic later this week.

The Bucs (4-5) will meet Southeastern Conference foe Georgia early Friday morning, with the tip scheduled for 12:30 a.m. (EST), which is 7:30 p.m. in the evening on Thursday for islanders.

ETSU is hoping to rebound from a disheartening 125-75 loss to the Orange, which marked the largest deficit for the Bucs since the Ed DeChellis-coached Bucs suffered a 97-47 loss to Southern Conference foe Davidson in 1997. 

For more on the Bucs as they enter the Rainbow Classic, click on the game notes link above or read the game notes below. A link to the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network's live radio coverage of the tournament can also be found above.

Buc Shots

A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers ended 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 guard Courtney 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.), sophomore point guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville), 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 ranked as a team and individually on the NCAA charts last season on page 4.

The Bucs vs. the Rainbow Classic field

When ETSU begins play in the Rainbow Classic, they will face a field of teams with which they have little or no history ... Below is a breakdown of ETSU's results against the other seven teams battling in the tournament this week:

Team Record Last Meeting

Georgia 1-1 1984

Hawaii First meeting

Louisiana-Lafayette First meeting

Ohio 1-0 1969

St. John's First meeting

St. Mary's First meeting

Tulane First meeting

The Bucs at the Rainbow Classic

This will be ETSU's second trip to the Rainbow Classic in program history ... The last venture to the islands came in 2003, with the Buccaneers posting a 1-2 record ... ETSU fell to IUPUI in the first round 85-81, beat Lamar 75-62 in the second round, and then dropped a 71-66 contest to American in the consolation finals ... While the Bucs may not have been pleased with their trip to Hawaii in 2003, that tournament did refocus the squad for the rest of the season, as the Bucs won their next 16 games, and 19 of their final 20 to finish 27-5 with a conference regular season and tournament championship ... The 27 wins was the second best win total in school history and the Bucs made the program's seventh trip to the NCAAs.

Last time out at the Rainbow Classic

HONOLULU (Dec. 30, 2003) - Struggling through a poor shooting night and failing to capitalize on a late comeback attempt, the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team dropped the consolation championship of the Rainbow Classic to American University 71-66 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii ... With the loss, the Buccaneers drop to 8-4 overall as they prepare to return to Southern Conference play next week with back-to-back road games at Furman (Jan. 5) and at UNC Greensboro (Jan. 10) ... At the Rainbow Classic, the Bucs finished 1-2, with a loss to IUPUI in the first round, and a win over Lamar in the first round of the consolation bracket ... The Bucs stumbled out of the gate, shooting just 30 percent from the floor in the first half, while American hit on 8-of-11 shots (73 percent) from 3-point-range. The Eagles' Linas Lekavicius led the assault with 17 points before the intermission on 6-of-9 shooting, helping American to a 15-point lead at the break, 40-25 ... After failing to make much of a challenge to the Eagles' lead early in the second half, the Bucs got a major spark from freshman guard Travis Strong (Memphis, Tenn.) at the 1:50 mark. Trailing 66-54, Strong nailed back-to-back 3-point shots and hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to 66-61 with 1:24 left ... However, from there the Eagles hit their foul shots and iced the game at the line. For American, Lekavicius led the way with 22 points, while Jernavis Draughn scored 20 points and Andre Ingram added 11 ... ETSU got a team-high 15 points from Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), while James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) added 11 and Strong collected 10. The Bucs shot just 37 percent from the floor, while American hit on 46 percent of their shots. In addition, the Eagles held a rebounding advantage of 45-31.

Strong enough?

With his play in recent games, it is obvious that senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) has been trying to work his way into the starting lineup ... A starter in the past, Strong missed last season with a serious knee injury and had filled the role as first off the bench to backup the perimeter this season ... But against Tennessee Wesleyan, Strong was given a starting spot for the first time this season and responded with a game high 21 points, matching his career high with five 3-pointers ... In the three games prior to the Marshall game (12/4), Strong had eclipsed 20 points twice and has scored 59 points (19.7 ppg) ... Most recently, Strong finished with 19 points thanks to matching a career high with five 3-pointers against Syracuse (12/15) ... Currently, Strong stands at 789 points for his career for an average of 8.5 ppg.

Pigram eclipses 1,000 points

Beginning just his third season at ETSU, junior guard Courtney 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 1,091 for his career ... 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

Swader, Tiggs breaking out

Entering this season, a great deal was expected of both junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) ... Following eight games, the two are definitely meeting or surpassing those expections ... In the Bucs' win at UNCA, Tiggs scored the game winner with 1.7 seconds left and also picked up 20 points ... In the first Marshall game, Tiggs broke out with a game-high 26 points, and setting career marks in most every statistical category ... In all, Tiggs has scored at least 20 points in four of the Bucs' nine games, and currently stands tall on the Atlantic Sun stat sheets, ranking seventh in scoring, second in field goal percentage, and seventh in free throw percentage ... Meanwhile, Swader has provided an immediate offensive threat in his first six games, currently standing fifth on the team with 7.2 points per game ... Currently, Swader is second in the A-Sun with a 48 percent 3-point field goal percentage.

Foul issues

With 201 fouls in their first nine games -- an average of 22.3 a contest -- the Buccaneers are certainly hearing the whistle too much ... By comparison, ETSU opponents have committed just 166 fouls against the Bucs ... In particular, during the Bucs' first three losses of the season -- all on the road -- they were whistled 26 times (Dayton), 27 times (Marshall) and 30 times (Chattanooga) ... In all three games, the Bucs had multiple players leave the game with five fouls, including three players against UTC ... Against the Mocs, those 30 fouls led to a lop-sided foul shot differential, as the Mocs were 31-of-44 from the line compared to just 17-of-23 for ETSU.

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."

Non-conference home win streak at 15

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 15 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 and Radford in that time frame.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 110-36 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 75 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 this season, but fell to Belmont in the final game of the year in the championship of the A-Sun Tournament.

Bucs leading the A-Sun in field goal


Currently, the Bucs sport four of the best shooters in the Atlantic Sun Conference, as Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and Travis Strong (Memphis) rank 2nd, 4th and 8th, respectively ... For a complete breakdown of the Bucs' standing in the Atlantic Sun Conference stat sheets, see the column on Page 6 of this notebook.

A great season in 2006-07

With 16 wins in its last 19 games a year ago, ETSU enjoyed a 2006-07 record of 24-10 overall, 16-2 in A-Sun play ... It was the best overall and conference record for the Bucs since the 2003-04 season ... That season, the Bucs were 27-6 and 15-1 in Southern Conference play, losing by three points to Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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 airing 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 by Courtney 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.

1,113 wins and counting

With a win Jan. 25 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,113-891-27 all-time after dropping Marshall on Dec. 4.