JOHNSON CITY (Feb. 11, 2012) – Facing a crossroads moment in its season, the ETSU men’s basketball team enters a stretch which will provide the Buccaneers with four of their next six games inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center, beginning Saturday against North Florida.
Tip off for this Atlantic Sun Conference matchup is set for 4 p.m., inside the Dome.
The Bucs (12-11 overall, 6-6 A-Sun) are in danger of falling under .500 in league play once again, and are seeing their stretch of three-straight 20-win seasons put in jeopardy. However, the team could enjoy a change of momentum with a win Saturday against the Ospreys, and the Bucs could right the ship as they begin a stretch run for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament later this year in Macon, Ga.
For more on Saturday’s game, click on the game notes 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
MACON, Ga. (Feb. 6, 2012) – The ETSU men’s basketball team did the job defensively Monday night against the Atlantic Sun Conference’s top team. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, their offensive effort was a different story. ... Shooting just 27 percent from the floor for the game, the Buccaneers posted just 17 first-half points and dropped a 54-46 contest to the Mercer Bears Monday evening inside the University Center. With the win, Mercer improves to 19-7 overall, 11-2 in A-Sun play and remains atop the conference standings, while the Bucs fall to 12-11, 6-6. ... The Bucs held Mercer to just 37 percent shooting from the floor and an astounding six percent from 3-point range. However, the Bears out-rebounded the Bucs 42-31 and shot 83 percent (19-of-23) from the free throw line. ... In what has become a theme for the season, the Buccaneers were extremely ineffective in the early going offensively, scoring just 17 points in the first half and shooting only 26 percent from the floor. Despite those issues, the Bucs led 14-13 with 8:02 left before the intermission, but looked on as the Bears went on an 11-3 run to close out the half. ... The Bucs’ defense kept them in the game in the first half, forcing seven Mercer turnovers and denying the Bears from hitting any shots from 3-point range. However, Mercer dominated in the paint with a 21-13 advantage in rebounds, and outscored the Bucs 16-8 on points in the paint. ... After the intermission, the Bucs methodically battled back and got to within three at 37-34 with 7:20 left on the clock. At that point, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) had a chance to get the Bucs even closer, but after missing the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, Mercer took advantage and went on an 8-0 run to build a 45-34 lead with 5:15 remaining in the game. ... The Bucs again answered with a 6-0 run of their own to make it 45-40, but after Mercer grabbed yet another offensive rebound on a missed shot, guard Travis Smith sank a basket to stop ETSU’s run and make it 47-40 with 1:37 left. ... From there, the Bucs began fouling and were able to cut the lead to four at 50-46, but that would be as close as they would get. ... ETSU was led offensively by a 13-point, eight-rebound effort from senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), while junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) pitched in 11. For Mercer, Bud Thomas, Langston Hall and Smith scored 11 points apiece.
The series versus North Florida
ETSU and North Florida have met 13 times, with ETSU leading the all-time series 12-1 ... UNF picked up their first and only win over ETSU in the semifinals of last season’s A-Sun Tournament, dropping the Bucs 59-55 ... The Bucs avenged that loss earlier this season, dropping the Ospreys 64-63 on their home floor back on Jan. 16.
Last time out against North Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2012) – ETSU senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) scored 19 second-half points, including a go-ahead free throw with 2.4 seconds left to lift the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 64-63 win over North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball action inside the UNF Arena. ... The Buccaneers, who trailed by 15 points in the first half and only shot 31 percent from the field before halftime, connected on 68 percent of its shots in the second half and outscored the Ospreys 23-7 at one point to rally for the win. ... The victory also marked win No. 1,200 all-time for the ETSU’s men’s basketball program. ...The Bucs picked up the victory despite the fact UNF’s Matt Sauey tossed a perfect inbounds pass the length of the court with 1.7 seconds left and found forward Travis Wallace under the basket. Wallace’s shot with less than one second left missed the mark as he fired up a shot over Sollazzo. ... In the first half, ETSU led 10-9 before the Ospreys went on a 21-5 run powered in part by five 3-pointers. After the smoke cleared, the Bucs trailed 30-15 with just under four minutes left before the break. The Bucs managed to regroup to some degree and outscored UNF 8-4 to close out the half and trailed 34-23 at the break. ... It was a different offensive story for the Bucs in the second half, as the team shot 68 percent from the floor. After going 1-for-7 in the first half, Sollazzo connected on 9-of-11 shots from the field to net a game-high 21 points. ... The result was a rally that brought the Bucs back from an 11-point deficit, thanks mainly to a 21-7 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) to make it 53-50 with 6:06 left in the game. It was ETSU’s first lead since early in the first half. ... From there, UNF managed to tie the game at 61-61 and 63-63, but ETSU outlasted the Ospreys thanks to a pair of free throws from senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) with 49 seconds left, and Sollazzo’s game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds left. ... Along with Sollazzo, ETSU got a 15-point effort from Brown, 12 points from Dubose, and 11 points from junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa). For UNF, Jerron Granberry led the way with 14 points, while Parker Smith netted 12, and both Andy Diaz and Travis Wallace added 11 points each.
Bucs lead nation in steals, Cooley ranks 11th
Key to the Bucs’ wins this year has been the ability to swipe the ball from opponents ... Through games of Feb. 9, ETSU ranks No. 1 in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.5 steals a contest ... In fact, in the Bucs’ last game, the team swiped 18 steals against James Madison (1/30) ... 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 2.4 steals per game ... He currently ranks 11th nationally in steals per game. ... The Bucs have four players ranked in the Top 10 among A-Sun Conference players in steals: Cooley (1st, 2.4), Tommy Hubbard (2nd, 2.0), Adam Sollazzo (5th, 1.7), and Isiah Brown (9th, 1.5).
Rembert breaks out
Freshman guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa), who was recruited for his ability to score the basketball, came off the bench to provide valuable minutes in the Bucs’ win over Kennesaw State (2/4) ... Going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range, Rembert netted 11 points for ETSU during a critical stretch midway through the game ... Afterwards, head coach Murry Bartow commented how Rembert was probably the player of the 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 is now tied for second on the all-time list with former Buc great Greg Dennis at 174, but is just eight 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.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last 19 games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures 17 times, eclipsing 20 points in five of those games ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 17.1 points, 4.4 assists, and 5.5 rebounds, and is shooting 46 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (15.7 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg), and third in rebounds. (5.56rpg).
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, he posted another nine-rebound effort ... For the year, Poderis is averaging 4.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.8 minutes a 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.
On their way to 1,000 points
As they began their seniors seasons, ETSU’s trio of Isiah Brown, Adam Sollazzo and Tommy Hubbard were 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:
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 929 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 807 points
To reach 1,000, the three would have to average for the season:
Adam Sollazzo............................................ 14.8 points per game
Tommy Hubbard....................................... 14.7 points per game
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 as a team.
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.
Bartow gets wins No. 250 overall and 150 at ETSU;
ranks among best coaches in last five years
With his team’s win over Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 8, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow picked up his 250th career victory ... He then collected his 150th win at ETSU when the Bucs downed Jacksonville on Jan. 15 ... 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.