Men's basketball continues road swing at Florida Gulf Coast
Men's basketball continues road swing at Florida Gulf Coast
Friday, December 2, 2011

FORT MYERS, Fla. (December 2, 2011) - After dropping its Atlantic Sun Conference opener to Stetson on Thursday night, the ETSU men's basketball team will look to get back on track against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday evening inside Alico Arena. Tip-off is set for 5:15 p.m.

The Bucs (3-3) will be facing a first-year head coach for the second straight game. FGCU (2-5) is led by head coach Andy Enfield, who was a longtime assistant coach at Florida State. Saturday's game will be the conference opener for the Eagles. ETSU swept the season series against Florida Gulf Coast last year.

For more on Saturday's game, click on the game notes link to the right, or read the game notes below. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit and click on the men’s basketball 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.

Bucs bits
While posting its highest RPI since the 2003-04 season, head coach Murry Bartow led the  ETSU men’s basketball team to another successful season in 2010-11, a campaign that included 24 wins and ultimately ended with a run to the semifinals of the Postseason Tournament … Led by seniors such as Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and all-conference performer Micah Williams (Manchester), the Bucs enjoyed impressive road wins at Atlantic 10 Conference member Dayton and Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State, while also finishing second in the A-Sun Conference standings … Along with Smith and Williams, fellow senior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) continued to impress fans with his high-flying dunks, which twice landed him as the No. 1 play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter and earned him a spot in the national slam dunk championships … Unfortunately for the Bucs, Smith, Williams and Tubbs have departed, leaving the team with the unenviable task of having to replace over 42 points of offensive production from a year ago – equal to 60 percent of the team’s scoring in 2010-11 … The Bucs will begin looking for those offensive numbers from returning starters such as senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), while senior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) – a 2010 A-Sun all-conference and all-tournament performer – will return to the floor after taking a medical redshirt season a year ago … Other returning players looking to improve their production will include junior guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Jarvis Jones (Memphis), junior forwards J.C. Ward (Marietta) and Lukas Poderis (Tampa), and redshirt freshman point guard Ryan Woumn (Lynn, Mass.) … The Bucs have also added a talented recruiting class that includes three true freshman and one junior college transfer.

The series versus FGCU
In a series that began in 2008, the Bucs own a 6-1 advantage in the all-time record books against FGCU ... ETSU’s last meeting with the Eagles came on Feb. 4, 2011, a 66-59 victory.

Last time out against FGCU
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2011) - Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second half and the ETSU men’s basketball team overcame some uncharacteristic offensive droughts to drop Atlantic Sun Conference foe Florida Gulf Coast 66-59 Friday evening inside Alico Arena. ... With the win, the Buccaneers stay one game back of Belmont in the league race, improving to 17-8 overall, 12-2 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, the Eagles dropped to 5-16, 2-10. ... In a matchup of two of the Atlantic Sun Conference’s large, public institutions, the Bucs endured two stretches of offensive futility - one for eight minutes in the first half and another five-minute stretch in the second half. But on the defensive end, the Bucs forced 20 turnovers and cashed those in for a 26-12 advantage in points off turnovers. ... Along with Smith, fellow senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) scored 15 points to lead the ETSU attack. Meanwhile, FGCU’s Christophe Varidel scored a game-high 19 points, while Anthony Banks and Kevin Cantinol had 11 each. ... In the first half, ETSU raced out of the gates with a 12-1 run over the first four minutes of play. However, at that point the Bucs went cold from the field, not scoring for the next eight minutes of game time and allowing FGCU to take a 17-16 lead on Kevin Cantinol’s dunk with 6:56 left in the half. ... The Bucs regrouped from there and regained the advantage, ultimately leading 30-23 at the break. ... In the second half, Smith found his rhythm offensively after scoring just two points in the first half. He netted 11 of the Bucs first 21 points of the second half and helped his team to a 51-34 advantage with 12:04 left in the game. ... However, for the second time in the game, ETSU went into an offensive funk and scored just two points over a five-minute period. This allowed the Eagles to cut into the ETSU lead and go on a 14-2 run to make it 53-48 with 6:54 left in the contest. ... From there, a 3-pointer from the left wing by Smith and a pair of free throws from Sollazzo made it 60-51, and ETSU went on to go up by as many as 11 with just over two minutes left. While FGCU was able to whittle away at the lead a bit in the final minutes, but finished seven points back at 66-59.

Last time out
DELAND, Fla. (Dec. 1, 2011) – A nightmarish start to the second half doomed the ETSU men’s basketball team Thursday night inside the Edmunds Center, as the Stetson Hatters used a 24-7 offensive run to build a 22-point lead and ultimately drop the Buccaneers 73-65 in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both teams. ... The Buccaneers (3-3 overall, 0-1 A-Sun) dropped their second straight game on this current three-game road swing, while Stetson improved to 4-3 overall, 1-0 in A-Sun play. ... In the first half, ETSU struggled to find a rhythm offensively and Stetson used the Bucs’ slow start to build a lead of as many as nine points at 25-16, thanks primarily to a 7-0 offensive run late in the half. However, ETSU clawed its way back into the game by outscoring the Hatters 9-3 to make it 28-25 at the break. ... The second half started as a nightmare for the Bucs, as the Hatters went on a 10-0 run early on and ultimately used a 24-7 spurt to make it 58-36 with 9:12 left in the game. From there, Stetson maintained a 20-point plus edge until the 7:26 mark, but at that point ETSU did manage a rally thanks to a 17-2 run that made it 67-60 with 30 seconds left in the game. ... But from there, Stetson hit a basket and went 4-for-4 from the foul line to complete the eight-point victory. ... For the game, a key stat that hurt the Bucs’ effort was in the paint, as Stetson held an impressive 45-28 advantage on the boards. Meanwhile, Stetson shot a blistering 46 percent (11-of-24) from 3-point range, as ETSU struggled at the foul line with a 54.2 percent (13-of-24) clip. ... The Bucs also committed 16 turnovers.

Early season scouting report for ETSU
After playing six games so far this season, the Buccaneers have seen some statistical regularities -- some positive and some negative. On the positive side, the Bucs are holding opponents to just 40 percent shooting from the floor and have forced an average of 20 turnovers a game ... In addition, the Bucs are collecting 10.2 steals a contest and averaging 11 assists per game ... However, on the negative side, ETSU is shooting just 28 percent from 3-point range so far this season, and is being out-rebounded by an average of 5.2 rebounds a game ... The team is also shooting just 58 percent from the foul line.

Cooley among nation’s best in steals
Junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) has been on a torrid pace this season, averaging 3.8 steals per game ... Through games as of Nov. 27, he ranked second nationally in steals.

Block party for Brown
With a block in last season’s finale against Iona, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) set a new school record for blocks in a single season, swatting away a total of 71 shots on the year ... For his career, he now stands fifth on the all-time list at 151, but is just 31 blocks behind the program’s all-time leader Zakee Wadood ... In addition to those marks, Brown’s six-block performance against Belmont last year also matched the program’s single-game record ... At the time, Brown joined six other ETSU players who have had six-block games, including former standouts Brad Nuckles, Eryk Thomas, Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood, Greg Dennis and Greg Hamlin.

Florida connection proving valuable to Bucs
For much of the past 10 seasons, the Buccaneers have enjoyed a pipeline of quality players coming from the “Sunshine” state ... A glance at this year’s current roster shows that trend continuing ... Entering Thursday’s game, these have been the contributions of ETSU’s current Floridians:
Adam Sollazzo (Tampa)               11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists
Sheldon Cooley (Tampa)                9.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.)              13.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists
Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.)    3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.2 assists
In all, ETSU’s Florida players are averaging a combined 38.4 points,
18.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 6.0 steals per game so far this season.

Getting to the free throw line a key for the Bucs
In recent years, the Bucs have focused on playing stingy defense, but also driving to the basket on offense and trying to get “tough” points thanks to fouls ... One way for the ETSU coaching staff to determine how successful the Bucs have been is charting free throw attempts and makes ... Well if this statistic is a true indicator, then the Bucs did just as the coaches would like ... Last season, ETSU set a school record for free throw attempts, putting up a total of 856 free tosses ... The Bucs also made their share of those attempts, ranking second on the all-time list with 580 makes ... The 2010-11 edition of the Bucs came up just nine makes short of the all-time record, held by the 1991-92 Bucs at 589. ... However, this season the team has continued to make it to the line, but is shooting just 58 percent from the stripe so far -- in other words not capitalizing on the opporunity.

On their way to 1,000 points
As they begin their seniors seasons, ETSU’s trio of Isiah Brown, Adam Sollazzo and Tommy Hubbard are all eying the 1,000 point mark for their careers. After the season opener at Virginia Tech, here is where each stands:
Isiah Brown    866 points
Tommy Hubbard     614 points
Adam Sollazzo     621 points
To reach 1,000, the three would have to average the following during the regular season:
Isiah Brown    7.0 points per game
Tommy Hubbard    14.7 points per game
Adam Sollazzo    14.8 points per game

Bucs add to postseason resume
The ETSU men’s basketball team has enjoyed its share of postseason success and ranks as one of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs ... The Buccaneers have earned berths to the NCAA Tournament nine times (1969, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and NIT twice (1983, 2007) ... In 2011, the Bucs made their first ever appearance in the Postseason Tournament, winning twice and advancing to the semifinals of that event ... It was the program’s 12th postseason tournament appearance all-time.

ETSU “only” A-Sun team picked among
nation’s best “Prestige” programs
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’s “Prestige” ranking released back in 2008 ... Since that time, the Bucs have only added to their list of prestigious honors … The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, 11 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. 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.