KNOXVILLE (Dec. 23, 2011) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will attempt to get the Christmas weekend off to a good start, as the Buccaneers take on in-state rival and Southeastern Conference member Tennessee Friday night inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tip is set for 7 p.m.
The Bucs will play the Volunteers and Clemson (Dec. 30) over the holidays before returning to Atlantic Sun Conference action at the start of the new year. ETSU (5-5 overall) will be looking for their first win over the Vols since 1991.
For more on Friday’s game, click on the game notebook link to the right or read the game notes below. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com.
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.
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 CollegeInsider.com 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 Tennessee
In a series that dates back to 1960, the Volunteers hold an 11-2 advantage over the Buccaneers ... ETSU won back-to-back games in 1989 and 1991, but have since dropped six straight to Tennessee, including a 78-66 loss back in 2009.
Last time out against Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 2, 2009) -- Facing the nation’s No. 11-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, the ETSU men’s basketball team found itself within striking distance late, but was unable to make a run when it was needed and dropped a 78-66 contest inside Thompson-Boling Arena. ... Junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville) posted a game-high 22 points, and the Bucs also got double-digit scoring from junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) with 11 and freshman point guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) with 10, but despite those efforts ETSU could do no more than give the Vols a significant scare. ... Against a team that prides itself on forcing turnovers, the Bucs only turned it over 13 times and shot well both from the floor (44 percent) and free throw line (85 percent). ETSU also held its own in the paint, being out-rebounded only by two at 34-32. ... Tennessee came out on fire in the first half, shooting 75 percent from the floor over the first 10 minutes of play and building a lead of as many as 14 points at 26-12 with 9:39 left before the intermission. However, from there ETSU did not fold, outscoring the Vols 19-10 the rest of the way to finish the half just five back at 36-31. ... In the first 20 minutes, the Bucs held their own in most every statistical category, but UT dominated in the paint by outscoring ETSU 24-10 under the basket. ETSU stayed close thanks to a 75 percent clip at the foul line, where they were 6-of-8 and shot well above their season average of 60 percent. ... In the second half, the Bucs cut the Tennessee lead to three at 42-39 with 15:36 thanks to a layup by Tubbs. ETSU stayed within striking distance most of the way in the second half and trailed just 64-58 with 4:37 left, but an 8-3 spurt by UT ended with a three-point play by Tyler Smith that made it 72-61 with 1:25 left. From there the Bucs got the game within single digits a couple times but were unable to turn the tide. ... Tennessee got a team-high 15 points from Smith, while Scotty Hopson added 10.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Dec. 19, 2011) – Junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) scored a game-high 20 points and senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) pitched in 18 as the ETSU men’s basketball team cruised to an 83-43 win over Milligan College in non-conference hoops action Monday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Along with Dubose and Sollazzo, junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) added 14 points in the winning effort, as the Buccaneers improved to 5-5 on the season. Meanwhile, the Buffaloes (4-7 overall) got a team-high 14 points from Tyler DeVault. ... The Bucs, who will take on in-state SEC rival Tennessee at 7 p.m. Friday night, will be looking for their first win over the Volunteers since Nov. 25, 1991. ... After Milligan managed to tie the game at 2-2, ETSU dominated the rest of the first half. In all, the Bucs would outscore the Buffs 49-17 before the intermission, shooting 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the 3-point line. ... It was the ETSU defense that made the lop-sided half possible, as the Bucs forced 14 turnovers on six steals and held Milligan to just 26 percent shooting from the floor. ... In the second half, the two teams basically traded baskets with ETSU ultimately outscoring the Buffs 34-26 and finishing with the 40-point victory. The Bucs enjoyed a 32-18 edge on points in the paint and outscored the Buffs 21-8 off turnovers. ... For the game, senior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) led the Bucs attack on the glass, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds and helping ETSU to a 54-32 advantage in that statistical category. ETSU also improved at the foul line on this night, shooting 73 percent from the charity stripe. ... ETSU forced 20 turnovers for the game on nine steals, and blocked seven shots.
Bucs showing “flex”-ability with offense
In ETSU’s game against Appalachian State back on Dec. 10, the Bucs debuted a new offensive wrinkle, utilizing one of basketball’s most traditional offenses ... The “flex” is an offense that utilizes multiple screens and a great deal of slashing throughout the paint ... The results were good for the Bucs, who enjoyed several layups and dunks against the Mountaineers, as they won 65-48 to snap a four-game losing streak.
Bucs, Cooley among nation’s best in steals
Key to the Bucs’ wins this year has been the ability to swipe the ball from opponents ... Through games of Dec. 18th, ETSU ranked fifth in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.3 steals a contest ... Meanwhile, junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) has been on a torrid pace this season and a big reason for the Bucs’ success in the steals category, averaging 2.6 steals per game ... Through games as of Dec. 11, he ranked 18th nationally in steals per game.
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 157, but is just 25 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.
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 61 percent from the stripe -- in other words not capitalizing.
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 Monday’s game, these have been the contributions of ETSU’s current Floridians:
Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) 13.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists
Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) 7.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) 5.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists
In all, ETSU’s Florida players are averaging a combined 38.5 points,
20.1 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 5.7 steals per game so far this season.
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........................................................................ 907 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 647 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 683 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 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, winning twice and advancing to the semifinals of that event ... It was the program’s 12th postseason tournament appearance all-time.
ETSU 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 ESPN.com’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 and one CIT berth, 14 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 programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.