Bucs, Owls set for A-Sun battle Wednesday in Kennesaw
Bucs, Owls set for A-Sun battle Wednesday in Kennesaw
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan. 5, 2011)
-- After surviving Monday evening with a one-point win over Mercer, the ETSU men's basketball team will be looking for an Atlantic Sun Conference road swing sweep Wednesday night when the Buccaneers take on Kennesaw State inside the KSU Convocation Center. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Bucs (7-7 overall, 2-1 A-Sun) have enjoyed four straight wins and are riding a wave of momentum after a last-second victory over the Bears. Junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has been key to the Bucs' resurgence, averaging a team-best 15.3 points per game over the last four games and shooting 72 percent from the field during this stretch. He was named A-Sun Player of the Week on Tuesday for his recent play.

For more on Wednesday's game, click on the game notes above or read the notes located below. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.

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" ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.
Buc bits
The ETSU men's basketball team only added to its rich history of success during the 2009-10 season, capturing its second straight Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and earning the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament ... Posting the program's fourth 20-win season in the past seven years, the Bucs overcame multiple challenges during the season before dropping Mercer in the A-Sun finals ... Only losing senior guard Jocolby Davis off the roster from 2009-10, the Bucs will add Smith back to the mix after receiving a medical redshirt a year ago, and a trio of incoming recruits will also add to the talent pool.
The series versus Kennesaw State
The Bucs are 9-1 all-time against the Owls, including an 69-64 win over Kennesaw State in their last meeting, which occurred in the semifinals of last year's A-Sun Tournament.
Last time against Kennesaw State
MACON, Ga. (March 5, 2010) - Freshman forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) sank a critical jump shot, blocked an attempted score and pulled down an important defensive rebound in the final seconds, as the No. 5-seeded ETSU men's basketball team rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to take a hard-fought 69-64 win over No. 8-seeded Kennesaw State in the semifinals of the 2010 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center on the campus of Mercer University. ... The Buccaneers, who are the defending A-Sun Tournament champions, led the game 63-62 with 59 seconds left when Ward sank his 18-foot jumper to make it 65-62, and he later grabbed a missed foul shot by the Owls to help seal the win. Junior guards Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and Micah Williams (Manchester) then combined to hit four straight free throws down the stretch, helping send the Bucs to their second straight A-Sun championship game. ... Along with Ward's play down the stretch, Williams returned from his career best 32-point effort in Thursday's quarterfinal win to score a team-high 20 points against the Owls. In addition, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) pitched in 18 points, while freshman Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) had 11. ... Leading 31-29 at the half, the Bucs continued to play well early on in the second half as they pushed the lead out to eight points at 45-37 on a layup by Tubbs. However, from there the Owls hit three straight 3-pointers in an 11-0 spurt to race past the Bucs and hold a 52-47 edge with 10 minutes left in the game. ... ETSU managed to rally at that point, regaining the lead at 55-54 and not trailing again even though the Bucs never held an advantage of more than four points down the stretch. In fact, though Ward's bucket made it 65-62, Kennesaw State's Kevin McConnell quickly scored and was fouled, going to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. The free toss missed however, and Ward was there to pull down the board. From there, both Tubbs and Williams hit free throws to ice the win.
Last time out
MACON, Ga. (Jan. 3, 2011) - ETSU junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) became the hero, but not until a desperation, half-court shot by the Mercer Bears inexplicably rolled off the back of the rim, giving the Buccaneers a 62-61 win in Atlantic Sun Conference play Monday evening inside the University Center. ... The final seconds played out like a movie scene, as a drawn charge by sophomore post Lukas Poderis (Tampa) gave the Bucs the ball with just 11.3 seconds left and ETSU trailing 61-60. Sollazzo then took over, driving the length of the court, going down the baseline, and making an awkward, hooked bank shot to make it 62-61 with 3.7 seconds left. ... Mercer then inbounded the ball and their freshman guard Langston Hall heaved a half-court shot at the buzzer. The ball hit the front of the rim, bounced high in the air, came down to bounce twice on the back bracket and somehow managed to not fall in, rolling off to the left as the buzzer sounded. ... Making the win even more remarkable, the Bucs were playing the final two and a half minutes without junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), sophomore forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.), and senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.). All three had fouled out of the game, marking the first time since Nov. 28, 2007 against Chattanooga that the Bucs had that many players out of the contest. ... The Bucs continued to struggle offensively in the early going, as they fell behind by a score of 14-4 with just under 12 minutes left before the intermission. Despite those struggles, ETSU used a 6-0 run midway through the half and a basket by Sollazzo in the final five seconds to cut the deficit to 27-25 at the break. ... In the second half, the Bucs tied the game twice in the opening two minutes, but later fell behind by seven at 40-33 following a Bears' streak of four straight 3-pointers. ETSU finally came to life in a big way at that point, putting together a 13-1 run that was capped by the first two baskets of the night for senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), making it 46-41 with just over eight minutes left in the game. ... Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Bears answered with a 15-5 offensive burst thanks to 12 points from senior forward Brian Mills, and led 56-51 with less than three minutes to go in the game. Without Brown, Ward and Smith, the Bucs still managed to scrape back into it in the final minutes to set up Sollazzo's heroics.
Sollazzo wins his first A-Sun POTW honor
MACON, Ga. (Jan. 4, 2011) - With his late-game heroics against Mercer and solid offensive efforts in ETSU's last two games, Buccaneers' junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday. ... It is the first ever POTW honor for Sollazzo, whose baseline layup with 3.7 seconds on the clock lifted the Bucs to a 62-61 win over Mercer Monday evening. In addition, the 6-foot-6 point guard has averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists over his last two games, while shooting an impressive 75 percent from the floor (12-of-16). ... Last week against Campbell, Sollazzo posted a career high 17 points as ETSU dropped the Camels 72-59 inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Sollazzo has scored in double figures for four straight games, as the Bucs have posted a 3-1 overall record and 2-0 league mark in those contests. ... The Bucs have now picked up the last two A-Sun POTW awards, as senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) won the honor last week.
Williams chasing 1,000; Smith moving up scoring list
While senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) is already a member of the 1,000-point club, fellow senior Micah Williams has a shot at making it to the group., Meanwhile, Smith continues to climb the all-time scoring chart. Below are numbers for both players:
Name            Current Points
Micah Williams               862
With those point totals, Williams would need to average 8.1 points a game for the Bucs' final 17 regular season games to reach 1,000. Smith stands at 1,372 points, and just recently overtook former Buccaneer great Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) for No. 10 on the ETSU all-time scoring list. Here are is the breakdown:
Name                Place     Points
Zakee Wadood No. 8    1,382
Mike Smith        No. 9    1,372
Harley Swift      No. 10 1,367
Jerald Fields       No. 11 1,351
Sollazzo rolling in last four games for ETSU
Junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has really found his rhythm in the last three games, leading the team with an average of 15.3 points per game, while shooting an astounding 24-of-33 from the field for a 73 percent clip ... He is also averaging four rebounds and five assists a game during this stretch.
"Big 3" hitting on all
cylinders key to
Bucs' success
Coming into this season, the Bucs were counting on quality offensive production from their "Big 3" senior guards in Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and Micah Williams (Manchester) ... All three have had double-figure scoring seasons in the past, and expectations were for much of the same in 2010-11 ... However, so far this season, six of the Bucs' seven losses have coincided with poor output from the trio ... In fact, when all three score in double figures, the Bucs have won each of those games (Tennessee Tech, Milligan and Dayton) ... But when one or two is having an off night, the Bucs have difficulty winning.
Bartow among best in the country over last five years
When looking at coaches across the country, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow stands among a select group ... Of those coaches that have been at their current school for at least five years, only 24 have averaged better than 20 wins a season ... That list includes coaches such as Dayton's Brian Gregory, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, UConn's Jim Calhoun, Florida's Billy Donovan, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Duke's Mike Kryzewski, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Kansas' Bill Self, Maryland's Gary Williams and North Carolina's Roy Williams ... The list also includes Bartow, who is average 20.2 wins a year since 2005-06.
Bucs help bolster A-Sun to strong RPI standings
With a pair of signature wins already this season, the ETSU men's basketball team - along with other members of the Atlantic Sun Conference - is doing its part to put the league in some impressive company on the national hoops stage. ... With wins over Atlantic 10 Conference stalwart Dayton and Southeastern Conference West Division favorite Mississippi State, the Buccaneers have helped the A-Sun generate plenty of waves across the board in the national RPI rankings. As a result, one month into the 2010-11 NCAA men's basketball season, the Atlantic Sun Conference is ranked ahead of other mid-major leagues including the Southern, Ohio Valley, Big South, West Coast, Mid-American, WAC and Sun Belt. ... The A-Sun remains among the top half of the conferences in the country. CollegeRPI.com ranks the A-Sun 14th, immediately behind the Horizon, Conference USA and Missouri Valley, and ahead of the conferences mentioned above. Against the Southern, Big South, Sun Belt and Ohio Valley conferences, the A-Sun owns a 15-8 mark. ... The conference has more than held its own against the BCS conferences. With ETSU's win at Mississippi State, the conference grabbed its fifth win against the "Power-6" leagues. No conference eligible for consideration for the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll owns as many BCS wins as the A-Sun. The five wins represent the most for the league since they also picked up five wins in 2007-08.