SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 28, 2013) – Finding itself right back in the Atlantic Sun Conference race, the ETSU men’s basketball team faces a tough challenge on the road Monday night, taking on an up-and-coming USC Upstate team.
Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. inside the G.B. Hodge Center and the game will air on ESPN3.
The Buccaneers (4-4 in A-Sun play) are once again just one game back of first place in the league’s loss column. However, the Bucs have developed a reputation as a come-from-behind, second-half team and will be looking to be more consistent for a full 40 minutes against the Spartans.
For more on Monday’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link located above. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 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.
After several years of quality returning players and at least some level of certainty regarding what to expect heading into the winter months, the 2012-13 ETSU men’s basketball team entered this new campaign with several questions and concerns. ... The loss of standout seniors such as Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) will be hard to overcome, considering that group combined for a total of 3,091 points in their careers ... A year ago, the Bucs enjoyed quality wins such as a road victory over Atlantic 10 Conference foe Charlotte, and finished with a respectable 17 victories on the season ... The team finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 10-8, reaching the league tournament semifinals. ... This season, the Bucs’ top two returning starters were guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.), who both combined to score 19.7 points per game a year ago. ... However, both Cooley and Dubose have been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules and policies ... Along with those two, fellow guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) and forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) are the only other ETSU seniors to be returning after playing significant minutes last year, but Poderis is now lost for the season with a left foot injury and will be forced to redshirt, while Jones missed the first seven games of the year for academic reasons ... Jones returned against Ole Miss on Dec. 14 ... With so few returning, experienced players, ETSU has looked to some unproven returning players, as well as a recruiting class that includes three incoming freshmen and a pair of junior college transfers, to come in and make an immediate impact. ... Sophomores Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and John Walton (Memphis), along with redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville) have increased their production this year, while true freshmen guards Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), Mario Stramaglia (Birmingham, Ala.), and Yunio Barrueta (Miami, Fla.) are blossoming into early contributors. ... On the interior, Walton has been getting help from junior college transfers Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) and Hunter Harris (Nashville).
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 26, 2013) – North Florida threw the first offensive punch, but it was the ETSU men’s basketball team that delivered the knockout blow. ... After allowing UNF to shoot 68 percent in the first half and build a lead of as many as 17 points before the intermission, the Buccaneers clamped down on defense and scored a season-high 56 points in the second half to pull away with an 89-75 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Junior forward Hunter Harris (Nashville) led the way for the Bucs, scoring a season-high 25 points as ETSU improved to 6-15 overall, 4-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. Meanwhile, UNF drops to 8-14, 3-6. ...
Indeed, the Bucs once again needed an impressive comeback for the win, as North Florida led 30-13 with less than 10 minutes left in the half. At that point, ETSU began chipping away at the Ospreys’ lead and ultimately pulled to within 11 at 45-33 by the break. ... In the second half, Harris began to take over and scored five of his 25 points during a 9-0 spurt by the Bucs in the opening minutes. ETSU followed that burst with another 17-3 run that saw Harris score another eight points and fuel the Bucs to a 69-60 lead with five minutes left in the contest. ... North Florida – who got a game-high 26 points from shooting guard Parker Smith – was unable to cut the deficit to closer than five points the rest of the way. ... Along with Harris, ETSU got a double-double effort from freshman guard Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) netted 19 points and sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) pitched in 12. Freshman point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) played a strong game as well, dishing out eight assists while scoring seven points without any turnovers.
The series versus USC Upstate
ETSU holds an 8-2 all-time record against the Spartans ... Upstate won the last meeting between the two schools back on Jan. 27, 2012.
Last time out versus USC Upstate
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2012) – Offensive struggles have haunted the ETSU men’s basketball team in recent games, and 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. ... 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.
Jones meeting expectations for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow expected the return of senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) would improve his team’s efforts on the offensive end of the floor … He was right. … After posting a career-high 21 points against No. 4 Arizona, followed by a team-high 14 against Hawaii and another team-best 17 against San Francisco, Jones is now averaging 14.2 points per game since returning from academic probation against Ole Miss back on Dec. 14. ... Jones is currently second on the team in scoring.
Rembert heating up from outside
Sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time this season, and against Jacksonville he gave ETSU’s coaches even more reason to utilize him ... Hitting on 5-of-7 attempts from 3-point range against the Dolphins and then going 2-of-4 from outside against UNF, Rembert is now hitting on 41 percent of his 3-point attempts for the season and has connected 33 times from outside this year ... He now ranks second in the A-Sun behind UNF’s Parker Smith for 3-point field goal percentage.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has used 14 different starting lineups in the team’s 20 games this season ... Injuries and dismissals have left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination, as the team currently stands at 5-15.
McClain a “key” to success for ETSU’s offense
When freshman point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) missed several games early in the year with ankle injuries, ETSU’s coaching staff kept pointing out how much better the Bucs’ offense would be when he returned ... They were right ... As an example, McClain dished out eight assists and did not commit a turnover in the win over North Florida (1/26), and helped the Bucs to a season high 56 points in the second half against the Ospreys ... In that game, McClain also pitched in seven points.
Young Bucs still face obstacle with experience
At no time in the tenure of ETSU head coach Murry Bartow have the Buccaneers had less experience ... Currently, the team has 10 players who are eligible and healthy enough to play, and of that group there are only six total years of Division I experience ... On average, that’s less than a half year of experience per player ... With four freshmen and two junior college transfers that means 66 percent of the team is competing in their first season of Division I basketball.
Freshmen trio shine in win over FGCU
When Florida Gulf Coast built a 19-point lead over the Bucs back on Jan. 12, few would have thought a youthful ETSU team could pull off the victory ... However, a freshman trio that included redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville), and true freshmen Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) and Mario Stramaglia (Birmingham, Ala.) had a different plan ... Helping power an ETSU comeback, the young Bucs ultimately came back and won 85-75 ... Wilson finished the game with a game-high 21 points, while McClain pitched in 10 points and eight assists at the point position, and Stramaglia came off the bench to score 14 points and grab five rebounds ... The question for ETSU fans is whether these youngters can continue to grow and become more consistent.
Gadsden-Gilliard shows signs of production
Early in the season, ETSU coaches spoke openly about the potential junior transfer Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) to produce quality numbers ... Thirteen games into the season KGG had struggled to meet those predictions, but that changed against Lipscomb (1/5) ... Setting or matching personal bests for points (13), rebounds (7), assists (3) and free throws (3) in 30 minutes of action, KGG played arguably his best game of the season so far. ... KGG has followed that game up with better performances, including another career night against Jacksonville (1/24), as he posted a double-double and set personal bests for points (15), rebounds (10), free throws made (8), assists (5) and minutes played (40).
ESPN names Wilson to nation’s Top 25 freshmen list
While circumstances have forced the ETSU men’s basketball team to struggle in the early going this season, talented redshirt freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) has still given the Buccaneers reason for hope. ... Wilson, who is averaging 15.3 points per game, was listed as one of the Top 25 freshmen in college basketball Thursday by ESPN hoops writer John Gasaway. The list – which included players such as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, UCLA’s Jordan Adams, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon – had Wilson ranked at No. 25. ... Wilson has posted six 20-plus point games so far this season.
Three-point streak for Bucs dates back nearly 20 years
Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 785 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.
Bucs have tradition of postseason appearances, success
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.