Bucs, Bruins set for pivotal A-Sun matchup Monday in the Dome
The Bucs and Bruins have had the most successful A-Sun programs in recent memory.
Bucs, Bruins set for pivotal A-Sun matchup Monday in the Dome
Sunday, January 22, 2012

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 23, 2012) – Recovering from the sting of a disappointing home loss to Lipscomb on Saturday afternoon, the perfect cure for the ETSU men’s basketball team could come in the form of a win Monday night over Atlantic Sun Conference rival Belmont.

The Buccaneers and Bruins – the only two teams to represent the A-Sun in the last six NCAA Tournaments – will write another chapter in their captivating series at 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.

With a win, the Bucs (10-8 overall, 5-3 in A-Sun play) would move into a tie with Belmont in the league standings, and a Mercer loss as well on Monday would put ETSU in a tie for first place in the conference race.

For more on Monday’s matchup, click on the game notes to the right or read the attached notes below. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, 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.


Last time out

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 21, 2012) – While ETSU’s men’s basketball team struggled to make shots, Lipscomb’s Jordan Burgason hit nine 3-pointers and scored a career high 33 points to lift the Bisons to a 73-65 win over the Buccaneers in Atlantic Sun Conference basketball action Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... A crowd of nearly 4,500 fans looked on as ETSU had its five-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 10-8 overall, 5-3 in A-Sun action. Meanwhile, Lipscomb improved to 10-10, 5-3 on the year. ... While Burgason and the entire Lipscomb team combined to hit 15-of-26 3-pointers (57.7 percent), ETSU shot just 37 percent from the floor for the game and only 20 percent (5-of-25) from 3-point range). ... Even so, ETSU had its chances to win after going on a 17-0 run early in the second half which gave the Bucs a 51-44 lead after having trailed by 10 at 44-34. ETSU junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) was the key to the Bucs 17-0 run, scoring 11 points during that run and finishing with a career high 18 points in the contest. ... However, at that point Lipscomb hit four straight 3-pointers to regain the advantage at 59-56, and the Bisons never relinquished that edge the rest of the game. ... The Bucs trailed throughout the first half and had gotten to within three at 33-30 before Lipscomb closed out the half with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 39-30 at the break. ... For the contest, ETSU had an impressive 24 offensive rebounds, took 18 more shots than the Bisons, and actually hit one more field goal for the game. However, the fact the Bisons had 10 more made 3-pointers negated any of those positive stats for the Bucs. ... For ETSU, Jones led the way with his 18, while senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. Junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) pitched in 10 points in the losing effort.


The series versus Belmont

The Bucs and Bruins have met 20 times in their histories, with the Bucs trailing the series, 8-12 ... The Bucs were a perfect 5-0 against Belmont prior to 2005, when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Since that time, ETSU is 3-12 against Belmont ... Three of those games have gone to overtime, with ETSU going 1-2 in those contests, ... The last meeting between the two was a 68-58 Belmont win back on Feb. 17, 2011 in Nashville.


Last time out against Belmont

NASHVILLE (Feb. 17, 2011) - In a game that mirrored the matchup earlier this season, the ETSU men’s basketball team found itself in a tie contest with just over six minutes left, but ultimately fell 68-58 to the Belmont Bruins in Atlantic Sun Conference basketball action Thursday evening inside the Curb Event Center. ... Back on Jan. 23, the Bucs were also tied with five minutes left but lost at home to the Bruins, 72-62. With the loss, ETSU dropped to 19-10 overall, 14-4 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, Belmont improved to 24-4 overall, 16-1 in league play, and the Bruins wrapped up the A-Sun regular season title as well as the No. 1 seed in the league tournament. ... In a game that featured the conference’s top two defensive teams, the Bucs shot just 37 percent from the floor while Belmont also struggled to a 35.7 percent clip. However, the key to the game was ultimately at the foul line and on the boards, where the Bruins were 26-of-30 (87 percent) and the Bucs were just 19-of-29. In the paint, Belmont held a 44-28 edge. ... Despite the loss, the game did not begin this way. ... ETSU enjoyed a strong start to the game, pulling ahead by as many as nine points at 23-14 with 8:22 left before the break. Belmont battled back to cut the lead to four at one point, but after holding it for an apparent last shot before the break, the Bruins turned the ball over and senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) was fouled on the other end with .9 seconds left. ... Smith was shooting a 3-pointer on the play and went on to hit two of three at the charity stripe, making it 31-24 at the break. It was only the third time this season that the Bruins have trailed at halftime, and it was nearly their lowest point total of a first half this season (23 against Tennessee on Dec. 23). ... After the break, Belmont used a methodical 13-2 run to take the lead 40-38. During that stretch, the Bucs went five minutes without a score. ETSU finally answered to tie the game at 40 on a pair of free throws from senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.). ... From there, it didn’t get any better for the Bucs, as Belmont continued to ramp up the defensive pressure and ultimately built a lead of 61-51 with three minutes left in the game.


Sollazzo earns A-Sun player of the week honors

MACON, Ga. (Jan. 17, 2012) – Fresh off leading the ETSU men’s basketball team to a pair of wins over the weekend, ETSU senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) was selected as the Atlantic Sun Conference player of the week on Tuesday, the conference office announced. ... Sollazzo, whose weekend was highlighted by a game-winning free throw in Monday’s 64-63 win over North Florida, averaged 19.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and two steals per game this past week. He scored game-highs in both the North Florida (21 points) and Jacksonville (18 points) games, helping lead the Bucs past the Dolphins by 14 points on Saturday. ... It was the second career A-Sun POTW honor for Sollazzo, and the second time this season the Bucs have had an honoree – Marcus Dubose won the honor for the week of Nov. 29.


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 Jan. 19, ETSU ranked third in the country in steals per game, averaging 9.9 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 a conference best 2.3 steals per game ... Through games as of Jan. 19, he ranked 27th nationally in steals per game. ... The Bucs have three players ranked in the Top 10 among A-Sun Conference players in steals: Cooley (1st, 2.3), Tommy Hubbard (3rd, 1.8), Adam Sollazzo (8th, 1.6).


Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game

Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last 14 games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures 12 times, eclipsing 20 points in five of those games  ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 assists, and 5.4 rebounds, and is shooting 47 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (15.7 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg), and third in rebounds. (5.6 rpg).


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. ... This season, after starting out the year shooting poorly from the foul line, the Bucs are have improved those numbers and are now shooting 64 percent for the year.


Poderis reaches career mark for rebounds

In recent weeks, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) has become a truly valuable part of the Buccaneers attack ... In the win over Mercer, Poderis picked up a career high 10 rebounds, and that effort came two days after he matched his career high for points with 14 against USC Upstate ... In the win over Kennesaw State in the Bucs’ last game, he posted another nine-rebound effort ... For the year, Poderis is averaging 5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20.2 minutes 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 third on the all-time list at 168, but is just 14 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.


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.


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 Bucs’ last game, here is where each stands:

Isiah Brown........................................................................ 979 points

Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 746 points

Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 835 points

   To reach 1,000, the three would have to average for the 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.