JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2013) – With the end of the regular season approaching and in need of improving its seed for the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships, the ETSU men’s basketball team will look to get back on the winning side of the ledger Saturday when the Buccaneers take on conference foe Jacksonville.
Tip is set for 3:15 p.m. inside the Veterans Memorial Arena and the game will air live on ESPN3.
Coming off a loss Thursday night against North Florida, the Buccaneers are once again hopeful that they can play well on Saturday in league action. So far this year, the Bucs have lost only once in Saturday A-Sun games.
For more on this matchup, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 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
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2013) – Entering Thursday’s game against North Florida, the ETSU men’s basketball team had never lost a regular season meeting to the Ospreys in 14 previous games. That streak no longer exists. ... Shooting poorly for much of the game and struggling to find any offensive rhythm, the Buccaneers were unable to begin their weekend Jacksonville swing in a winning way, dropping a 77-64 decision to their Atlantic Sun Conference foe inside the UNF Arena.... For the second game in a row, the Buccaneers struggled mightily on the offensive end. In fact, ETSU shot just 13 percent from the floor during the first 10 minutes of the game and fell behind by as many as 14 points at 18-4. ... It only got worse from there, as UNF’s lead increased to 29-12 with five minutes left before the break. The Bucs did manage to cut the halftime deficit to 12 at 33-21, but it wasn’t a pretty first half as the team shot just 27 percent from the field before intermission. ... After the break, ETSU managed to cut the lead to eight at 46-38 on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) with just under 12 minutes left in the game. But that would be as close as ETSU could get the rest of the way. ... Following a dunk by forward Yunio Barrueta (Miami, Fla.), the freshman was tagged with a technical foul for taunting a UNF player which seemed to ignite the UNF offense, resulting in an 8-2 run that inflated the Ospreys’ lead back to 59-42. The Ospreys never looked back from there.
The series versus Jacksonville
The Bucs are 11-6 all-time against the Dolphins, having split in the two meetings a year ago ... JU won the last game between the two back on Jan. 24 by a score of 83-80.
Last time out against Jacksonville
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 24, 2013) – In a game that featured two teams putting on an offensive clinic, the ETSU men’s basketball team’s second half rally came up short as the Jacksonville Dolphins enjoyed an 83-80 win over the Buccaneers in Atlantic Sun Conference play Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Trailing 65-52 with just under 12 minutes left in the game, the Buccaneers battled back to regain the advantage at 76-75 with less than two minutes left in the game. However, JU outscored the Bucs 8-4 the rest of the way, and a desperation 3-point attempt by ETSU freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) missed the mark as time expired. ... ETSU led by as many as 11 points in the first half, as the Bucs shot 54 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes. However, at that point Jacksonville combined to finish the first half on a 14-5 run and then opened the second half on another 23-6 burst to build its 13-point second half advantage. ... The Bucs then outscored JU 24-10 over the next 10 minutes and took the lead 76-75 on senior guard Jarvis Jones’ (Memphis) 3-pointer with 1:56 left in the game. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. ... Jacksonville was led offensively by a game-high 23 points from Keith McDougald, while Dylan Fritsch and Javon Dawson scored 17 and 16, respectively. JU finished the game shooting 54 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range.
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.
Bucs earning reputation as “Comeback Kids”
With their comeback from 20 points down to beat Stetson on Feb. 9, the Buccaneers just continue to build a reputation as a team that won’t go away no matter the score ... The Bucs have now won five of their eight games after being down significantly ... In wins over Charleston Southern (Nov. 20), FGCU (Jan. 12) and Stetson (Feb. 9), the Bucs were down by as many as 19 points and still won ... ETSU also came back from second-half deficits to drop North Florida (Jan. 26) and Lipscomb (Feb. 2).
Walton breaks out in win over Kennesaw State
Sophomore post John Walton (Memphis) has shown signs of his potential on-and-off throughout his first two seasons in Johnson City ... Against Kennesaw State on Valentine’s Day, Walton finally put together a complete game ... Setting career highs for points (23), blocks (3) and minutes played (39), Walton powered the Bucs to a 79-70 victory ... He went 8-of-9 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds and collecting a pair of steals in the game. ... He followed that with a 12-point, six-rebound effort against Mercer (2/16).
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. … Recently, Jones almost single-handedly won the game for the Bucs against Lipscomb (Feb. 2), scoring a career high 36 points and hitting three straight 3-pointers in overtime -- including the game winner ... Since returning to the team in the middle of December, Jones has averaged a team-best 16.6 points per game, and currently ranks third in the A-Sun in scoring ... He also ranks second in steals per game (2.0), 10th in free throw percentage (75%) and first in minutes played (37.0).
Rembert heating up from outside, nearing national mark
Sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time this season, having made a 3-pointer in 26 straight games and currently ranks second in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 42 percent on the season ... Against Jacksonville last month, 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 counting the six games since that time, Rembert has made 50 3-pointers on the year.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 28 games this season ... Injuries and dismissals have left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination, as the team currently stands at 9-20.
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 792 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.
ETSU picked among nation’s best “Prestige” programs
In 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 Bucs -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA 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 team, as well as former SoCon rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. In addition, at that time 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 Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson and Fla. State.