Bucs set to face Kentucky in opening round of NCAA Tournament
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (March 17, 2010) - With hopes of picking off another major program in the NCAA Tournament, the ETSU men's basketball team will take its ninth crack at a national championship beginning Thursday at 7:15 p.m., when the No. 16 Buccaneers face No. 1 seed Kentucky inside the New Orleans Arena.


The Buccaneers - who have made previous trips to the NCAAs in 1968, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004 and 2009 - already hold first round wins over Florida State (1968) and Arizona (1992), while also giving others teams a significant scare through the years.


In 1989, the 16th-seeded Bucs lost by just one point to No. 1 Oklahoma, and the team later lost three-point games to Iowa (1991), Wake Forest (2003) and Cincinnati (2004), as well as a 10-point loss to No. 1 Pittsburgh a year ago. In two previous No. 16 vs. No. 1 pairings, the Bucs lost by an average of just 5.5 points.


This season, a peaking ETSU squad enters the tournament with six straight wins and a defensive-minded team that has overcome many odds in 2009-10. Beginning the year with the tragic death of rising sophomore Seth Coy (Washington, Ind.) to a car accident in July, and the later loss of senior guard and 1,000-point scorer Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) to a knee injury, the Bucs overcame those issues to win the Atlantic Sun Tournament and return to the NCAAs.


Led by a trio of hard-working juniors in forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), along with guards Micah Williams (Manchester) and Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), this edition of the Buccaneers once again take aim at making another run in the NCAAs.


For more on the Bucs' first round game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link above. More information from the ETSU pregame press conference will be added later today.



Buc bits

With their longest winning streak of the season standing at six games and fresh off their second straight Atlantic Sun Conference title, the ETSU men's basketball team enters its ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament ... The Bucs will face No. 1 seed Kentucky, and the Bucs are 0-2 all-time against the Wildcats, with those games coming in 1981 and 1984 ... ETSU now stands at 20-14 overall thanks to its championship run through the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and win over Mercer 72-66 in the final ...  While senior guard and 1,000-point scorer Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) is taking a medical redshirt season after missing the year with a knee injury, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), along with junior guards Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and Micah Williams (Manchester) have stepped up in his place ... In fact, Hubbard has posted double-doubles 13 times this season on way to being named second team All Atlantic Sun Conference  and A-Sun All-Tournament ... Meanwhile, Williams was picked as the league tournament MVP, while both he and Tubbs were All-Tournament first team picks ... Currently, Hubbard leads the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game, and is averaging a team-best 8.3 boards a contest ... Williams and Tubbs are averaging 12.5 and 12.0 points per game, respectively.


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" throughout the 2010 NCAA Tournament ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics both on CBS and ESPN, please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.


ETSU in the NCAA Tournament

The Buccaneers are making their ninth trip all-time and their second straight visit to the NCAA Tournament ... ETSU first made the NCAA postseason in 1968, defeating Florida State before being eliminated by losses to Ohio State and Marquette ... The Bucs later made trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004 and 2009 ... Highlights for ETSU in the tournament include wins over Florida State (1968) and Arizona (1992) in the first round, as well as a near miss as the No. 16 seed in 1989, losing to Oklahoma by one point in that game ... The Bucs have also had near-miss upsets in four other trips to the NCAAs, losing by just three points to Iowa (1991), Wake Forest (2003) and Cincinnati (2004), and also giving No. 1 Pittsburgh a scare one year ago before falling 72-62 ... For more ETSU NCAA History, see Pages 10-12 of this posteason guide.


ETSU has fared well in No. 1 vs. No. 16 games

While no No. 16 seed has ever defeated a No. 1 in NCAA Tournament play, the ETSU Buccaneers have a strong history of making the most out of the matchup ... Having faced this scenario twice in the past 21 years, the Buccaneers have fallen twice, but only by a total of 11 points ... ETSU dropped a 72-71 decision to Oklahoma in 1989, followed by a 72-62 loss to Pittsburgh a year ago ... With an average deficit of just 5.5 points a game.


Last time in the NCAA Tournament

DAYTON, Ohio (March 20, 2009) -  Two decades removed from nearly stunning the college basketball world, the ETSU men's basketball team took another shot at a No. 1 seed and once again the Buccaneers gave the giant a scare. ... Having lost to No. 1-seeded Oklahoma 72-71 back in 1989, the Buccaneers have a history of making things interesting in the NCAA Tournament, and Friday afternoon inside the UD Arena, ETSU found itself trailing the No. 1 seed and Big East Conference's Pittsburgh 59-57 with just over four minutes left in regulation. However, the Bucs were unable to complete the upset bid, ultimately falling to the Panthers 72-62. ... With the loss, the Bucs' season comes to an end while Pittsurgh advances to the second round where the Panthers will meet Oklahoma State on Sunday afternoon. ... The Bucs' effort was unquestionable on this day, as ETSU forced 18 Pittsburgh turnovers and dominated the offensive glass en route to a 25-7 advantage in second chance points. However, while the competitiveness was there, the Bucs offensive efficiency was not at its best as ETSU shot just 31 percent from the floor (23-of-75) and 50 percent from the foul line (12-of-24) for the game. ... Despite the poor shooting effort, the Bucs full court press and man-to-man defense consistently caused Pittsburgh problems and kept ETSU in the game. In fact, the Bucs tied the game five times in the second half and pulled to within two at 59-57 with just over four minutes left. ... At that point, ETSU forced yet another turnover and had a shot to tie the game. However, a turnover by senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) led to a 3-point play by Pittsburgh's 6-foot-7, 265-pound center Dejuan Blair to make it 62-57. From there, Tiggs hit a pair of free throws to make it 62-59, but that was as close as the Bucs could get the rest of the way, as they were forced to foul and Pittsburgh pushed the lead out to the final 10-point deficit by hitting its free throws. ... For the game, Tiggs led ETSU with a team-high 21 points, while fellow senior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) pitched in 17. Meanwhile, senior Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) led the Bucs with 10 rebounds and played well in trying to defending the power inside game of Blair. For Pittsburgh, Blair posted a double-double with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while teammates Sam Young and Ashton Gibbs pitched in 14 and 10 points, respectively. ... ... The Bucs' 10-point loss was the closest a No. 16 seed has come to beating a No. 1 since Fairfield lost to North Carolina, 82-74. It was also the closest any 16 seed out of the Atlantic Sun Conference has come to beating a No. 1.


Hubbard steps up game in 2009-10

Much has been written and reported about junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and his efforts to improve his offensive game, and those strides have led to some solid numbers ... He currently leads the Bucs with 14.1 points per game and 8.3 rebounds a contest ... while he has posted 13 double doubles on the year, his efforts began to pay off on the offensive end against Chattanooga back on Nov. 17 ... Setting career bests for points (26) and rebounds (13), Hubbard collected his first career double-double against the Mocs ... In addition, he hit his first 3-point shot in three seasons with the Bucs, and didn't stop there -- ultimately finishing with four long-range bombs on the night.


Williams bringing more offense table

Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) has worked his way into the starting lineup thanks to more consistent play on the offensive end ... He has scored in double figures in 20 of his last 25 games, and most recently played the best offensive game of his career with personal bests for points (32), field goals (nine), 3-point goals (four) and free throws (10) in the Bucs' quarterfinal win over Campbell (3/4) ... He followed that effort with 20 points against Kennesaw State in the A-Sun Semifinals, and a 13-point showing in the finals against Mercer ... He finished as the tournament MVP, and is currently second on the team with 12.5 ppg.


Sollazzo honors Coy with number change

When ETSU's rising sophomore forward Seth Coy (Montgomery, Ind.) was tragically killed in a car accident this summer, it left the entire Buccaneer community with a deep sense of loss ... As is often the case, those that are left to mourn have looked for ways to remember the Bucs' 6-foot-11 "Gentle Giant." ... For sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who was Coy's roommate, the answer was simple ... Changing his jersey number from No. 20 to Coy's No. 43, Sollazzo will play the 2009-10 season to honor his friend and have that memory with him each night. ... In addition, the Bucs were a special "43" batch on their uniforms this season in honor of their fallen friend and teammate.


Last time out

MACON, Ga. (March 6, 2010) - A 2009-10 season that began with the tragic death of rising sophomore Seth Coy (Washington, Ind.) in a car accident ended in celebration Saturday evening, as the ETSU men's basketball team earned its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a 72-66 win over host Mercer in the finals of the 2010 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center. ... In a game that featured four lead changes and four ties, the Buccaneers (20-14) never led by more than seven points in the second half, but made plays down the stretch to get the win. Among those plays were a timely 3-pointer from junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) with just over a minute to play that made it a 65-61 game, a drawn charge by freshman forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) on Mercer's next possession with 59 seconds left, and a 9-of-12 effort from the foul line over the final minute. ... ith the win, the Bucs will make the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAAs, which includes four trips to the dance over the last eight years. And the Bucs also enjoy their third A-Sun title in four seasons. ... The Bucs placed three players on the all-tournament squad, led by tournament MVP Micah Williams (Manchester), who posted 13 points against the Bears on Saturday and averaged 22 a game during the three-game stretch. Meanwhile, Tubbs and junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) joined Williams, as Tubbs pitched in a game-high 18 points and Hubbard added 14 in the victory. ... Other ETSU players in double figures scoring included sophomore post Isiah Brown (Miami) with 12, while sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) - wearing Coy's No. 43 jersey - came off the bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. The Bears were led by E.J. Kusyner with 16 points, while Brandon Moore netted 13. ... Playing in front of a raucous sold-out crowd on Mercer's home floor, the Bucs stormed out of the gate in the first half with a strong inside attack and led 21-10 early on. However, the Bears would outscore the Bucs 25-13 over the next 10 minutes to take the lead at 35-34. Kusyner powered the run by hitting four of his game-high five 3-pointers during that run. The Bucs, though, finished the first half with a 3-0 spurt to lead 37-35 at the break ... In the second half, ETSU led 52-45 only to see the Bears tie it at 60 with 2:11 left in the contest. At that point, Williams hit a pair of free throws and with the game at 62-61, Tubbs buried his double-clutched 3-pointer to give the Bucs a 65-61 edge. Sollazzo then made it 67-61 with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds left, but Mercer rallied to cut it to 68-66 on a pair of free throws from Daniel Emerson with 34 seconds remaining. From there, though, the Bucs went 4-of-5 at the line and made two defensive stops to seal the victory.


ETSU the "only" A-Sun team picked among

nation's best "Prestige" programs

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (July 22, 2008) - Since the beginning of 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 a new "Prestige" ranking released by ESPN.com ... The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed six NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, seven 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 Conference team, as well as former Southern Conference rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. The Bucs also were placed ahead of every current member of the Colonial Athletic Association with the exception of Old Dominion ... In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as other major programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.