Bucs return home to take on CAA foe James Madison
The Bucs are in danger of falling below .500 again this season.
Bucs return home to take on CAA foe James Madison
Sunday, January 29, 2012

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 30, 2012) – Mired in its second three-game losing streak of the season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will be hoping the familiar surroundings of the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center can help the team get back to its winning ways.

The Buccaneers (10-10 overall) will step out of conference action for a rare January battle with a non-league foe, as the Colonial Athletic Conference’s James Madison will invade the Dome Monday evening. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

For more on Monday’s game, click on the game notebook link to the right, or read the game notes located 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

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2012) – Offensive struggles have haunted the ETSU men’s basketball team in recent games, and once again Friday night those same issues sank any chance of a Buccaneers’ victory. ... Despite leading the majority of the contest, ETSU looked on as upstart USC Upstate took the lead in the final moments and held on for a 58-54 win over the Buccaneers in Atlantic Sun Conference basketball action inside the Hodge Center.  ... In front of a regional cable audience on CSS, the Bucs lost for the third straight game, dropping to 10-10 overall, 5-5 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, Upstate improves to 13-9 overall, 7-3 in league action, and remains alone in third place in the league standings. ... During the game, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) became just the 34th player in program history to score 1,000 career points, reaching that mark with a layup at the 14:07 mark of the first half. However, that would be the only memorable moment from the contest for ETSU. ... In the first half both teams struggled from the outside, as the Bucs and Spartans combined to go 0-of-18 from 3-point range and shot just 21-of-64 (33 percent) from the floor. Even so, ETSU used an early 12-2 run and a 6-2 spurt to close out the half, finishing with a 26-20 advantage at the intermission. ... The Bucs’ fullcourt press and match-up zone worked well during the first 20 minutes, forcing 10 turnovers as ETSU picked up eight steals. Meanwhile, USC Upstate owned the paint, out-rebounding the Bucs 26-19 and holding an 11-5 edge in offensive boards. ... After the break, Upstate slowly chipped away at the Bucs’ advantage and finally tied the game at 36-36 with 9:51 remaining in the game. ... It was a back-and-forth game from there until Upstate scored five straight, highlighted by a Mario Blessing 3-pointer that made it 52-47 in favor of the Spartans with 1:15 left in the game. USC Upstate continued to pour it on at that point, scoring another six points to make it 58-47 with 22 seconds left. ... The Spartans out-rebounded the Bucs 47-37, and won despite turning the ball over 17 times on 13 ETSU steals. ETSU shot just 40 percent from the floor. ... ETSU was led by 14 points from junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa), while Brown and senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) netted 11. USC Upstate got a game-high 16 from Jodd Maxey, while teammates Ricardo Glenn and Torrey Craig had 17 and 10 rebounds, respectively.


The series versus James Madison

The Bucs lead the all-time series with James Madison 6-4 ... The two teams met for the first time in 1974 and the last meeting was in 2002 ... ETSU won the last game between the two teams, 84-57, and the Bucs have won the last two games.


Last time out against James Madison

JOHNSON CITY (Dec. 15, 2001) - Senior Dimeco Childress (Columbia) scored 25 points and the East Tennessee State defense forced 16 James Madison turnovers as the Bucs cruised to an 84-57 men’s basketball victory this afternoon at Freedom Hall.  ... It was the fourth win in a row for ETSU (5-3) and the second consecutive game that Childress has reached the 20-point plateau. James Madison (3-3) drew first blood in the contest on a inside basket from Pat Mitchell for the 2-0 lead. ... Junior Ryan Lawson (Rogersville, Tenn.) then drained a three-point shot that gave the Bucs a 3-2 lead, one that they would not give up the rest of the afternoon. Sophomore Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) then took over, scoring the next eight points for ETSU, leading the Bucs to an 11-7 lead. He and Childress each scored 12 points in the first half, as the Bucs went on to take a 41-33 lead into the locker room at the half. Mitchell kept the Dukes in the game with 13 first-half points. ... East Tennessee State’s defense made the difference in the second half, holding James Madison to just 26 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. The Bucs, on the other hand, shot over 50 percent in each half and slowly extended their lead. A Childress jumper with 10:37 left to play gave ETSU a 59-42 lead; and the Bucs went on to outscore JMU 25-15 the rest of the way to cruise home with the win. ...  For the game ETSU shot 52 percent from the floor while holding JMU to 37 percent shooting. The Dukes also committed 16 turnovers to just nine for the Bucs, ETSU’s lowest number of miscues this season. Childress led all scorers with his 25 points, with Fields adding 15 and Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) contributing 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. David Fanning led James Madison with 16 points, while Mitchell finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards. East Tennessee State will swing back into action quickly, hosting Shenandoah University on Monday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Center.


Home Sweet Dome

Despite losing its last two games inside the Dome, since the 1996-97 season the Buccaneers are an amazing 149-47 overall inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 77 percent ... But when looking at the past 10 years, the Bucs are an even more impressive 45-4 against non-conference opponents ... Last year, the Bucs went 13-2 at the Dome ... This year the Bucs are 6-2 in Johnson City.


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. 26, ETSU ranked third in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.1 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. 26, he ranked 23rd 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, 1.9), Adam Sollazzo (5th, 1.8).


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 171, but is just 11 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.


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. While Brown has now reached the mark, Hubbard and Sollazzo are still in the hunt. After the Bucs’ last game, here is where each stands:

Isiah Brown.................................................................... 1,008 points

Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 787 points

Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 878 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

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 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.


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.


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 63 percent for the year.


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.


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)               15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists

Sheldon Cooley (Tampa)                9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.)              10.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.)    4.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists

In all, ETSU’s Florida players are averaging a combined 40.4 points,

19.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 6.0 steals per game so far this season.


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.