BOWLING GREEN, KY. (Nov. 16, 2013) – With hopes of breaking through with its first victory of the 2013-14 season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will travel to take on former Ohio Valley Conference rival and current Sun Belt Conference foe Western Kentucky Saturday night.
Tip is set for 8 p.m. (EST) inside the E.A. Diddle Arena, and fans can listen live on the Buccaneer Sports Network’s family of radio stations or by clicking on the live audio link at ETSUBucs.com.
The Bucs (0-2) could easily be undefeated this season, having lost two hard-fought contests against Charlotte and Morehead State. A win at Western Kentucky – a perennially strong basketball program – could be a huge boost for the Bucs, especially considering the team will play seven of its next 10 games at home following the trip to WKU.
For more on Saturday evening’s matchup, read the game notes below or click the game note link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 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.
The ETSU men’s basketball program was glad to see the 2012-13 campaign come to an end, following a season which saw the team face multiple obstacles and challenges -- such as a brutal schedule that featured the likes of North Carolina, Arizona,
Virginia Tech, Georgia and Hawaii ... Other issues for the team included senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) missing the
ankle injury that he suffered in
the preseason, senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) being academically ineligible for the first two months of the year, and two other senior guards who were expected to be major contributors were dismissed from the team in early November for violations of team rules … This left head coach Murry Bartow and his coaching staff with a young, inexperienced group of underclassmen, several true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and a pair of junior college transfers … Those obstacles proved to be tough to overcome, as the Buccaneers posted a 10-22 record and finished 8-10 in Atlantic Sun Conference play … It was the toughest campaign in Bartow’s 10 seasons at ETSU, a tenure that has produced many championships, postseason tournament appearances and 20-win campaigns … In all, Bartow’s teams have earned three NCAA Tournament invitations (2004, 2009 and 2010), one NIT appearance (2007), and one CIT berth (2011), and the Bucs have eclipsed 20 wins five times. … This year, the Bucs will once again take to the floor with a young squad made up of several new faces … In fact, despite the return of the 6-fooot-9 Poderis, the Bucs have just five players back this season who played significant minutes a year ago.
The series vs. Western Kentucky
Despite having a long history against the Hilltoppers, ETSU men’s basketball has not played Western Kentucky since 1980 ... WKU leads the all-time series 36-11, and the Bucs lost that last meeting 71-59 back on Jan. 7, 1980.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 12, 2013) – Despite a 17-0 offensive run in the first half and leading midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team was unable to hold off Morehead State as the Eagles crashed the Buccaneers’ regular season home opener with 71-63 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Morehead State’s key to victory came on the inside, where they out-rebounded the Bucs 45-30 overall, and held a 20-7 advantage on the offensive end of the floor. With the loss, ETSU drops to 0-2 on the season, while the Eagles improved to 2-0. ... Despite holding the Eagles to just 37 percent shooting from the floor and forcing 15 turnovers, the Bucs slowly relinquished their 31-25 halftime lead and fell behind for good when Morehead State’s Angelo Warner sank a 3-pointer with 8:28 left in the game to make it 52-51. ... Warner finished the contest with a game-high 25 points, while teammates Brent Arrington and Drew Kelly pitched in 15 and 11, respectively. For the Bucs, junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) scored a team-high and career-best 21 points, while sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) pitched in 13, and freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) added 12. ... The Bucs trailed 10-4 in the early going, but exploded on a 17-0 run to take a 21-10 lead with 7:04 left in the first half. From there, Morehead State managed to slowly pull closer and ultimately trailed by six at the break. ... In the second half, the Bucs actually got to within two points at 62-60 with 4:59 left, but another Warner 3-pointer extended the Eagles’ lead to 65-60 and ETSU was unable to make another significant challenge the rest of the way. ... ETSU shot 42 percent from the floor for the game, but just 21 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 68 percent from the charity stripe.
Merriweather continues to shine, posts double-double
Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has certainly made an impression in the early going this season, and he continued to make more news against Morehead State (11/12) ... The 6-2 guard collected his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with a pair of assists, a block and a steal in 35 minutes of play ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and steals (4.0 spg), fourth in scoring (11.0 ppg), and second in minutes played (32.0).
Bucs improve defensively, but inside game struggling
A year ago, ETSU allowed teams to shoot a high percentrage from the field and from the 3-point line ... This year, ETSU’s defensive efforts have paid off as the Bucs have held teams to just 38 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range ... However, as the Bucs have improved on the perimeter, the team has struggled in the paint ... Currently, ETSU’s rebound margin is -12.5, and the Bucs have been out-rebounded by a total of 90-65 ... Those numbers have led to more second chance points for opponents and the reason for two close losses for the team.
KGG, Merriweather enjoy strong debuts at Charlotte
With his career-high, 31-point effort in the loss at Charlotte (11/8), senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) certainly made an impression on those inside Halton Arena. ... Along with KGG’s showing, freshman A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) did not shy away from the challenge of his first college game and the assignment of defending Charlotte guard Pierria Henry ... While KGG finished with career bests for points (31), field goals made (10) and 3-pointers made (4), Merriweather finished with 10 points to go along with team highs for rebounds (7) and steals (3) in 29 minutes of play.
Young Bucs still face obstacles with experience
The last two seasons, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has faced the challenge of developing a roster with minimal experience ... As the 2013-14 Buccaneers begin play, Bartow is once again looking at a team with several new faces and limited playing time ... In all, the Bucs return just six players who saw time on the floor last sesaon, while there are a total of seven newcomers to the program ... When counting the entire 15-man roster, the Bucs have a total of just 11 varsity seasons between the team for an average of less than a season per player ... The most experienced player on the team is fifth-year senior Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.), but he is returning from an injury which made him miss the entire 2012-13 campaign.
Merriweather, Riley and Harris standout in exhibition games
Freshmen A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) and Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.), along with JuCo transfer Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) made significant impressions during the Bucs’ two exhibition games ... Merriweather’s numbers were the most guady, as he averaged 22 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals in just 21 minutes per game ... Meanwhile, Harris averaged 7.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the games against Milligan (10/29) and Mars Hill (11/2), while Riley finished with 12.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest.
Rembert hoping to stay hot as 2013-14 season begins
Junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time over the last two seasons, having made a 3-pointer in 30 straight games dating back to last season ... Last season, Rembert ranked fourth in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.7 percent for the year. ... This year, Rembert has shown signs of expanding his offensive productivity, as he averaged 21.0 points per game in the Bucs’ exhibitions against Milligan (10/29) and Mars Hill (11/2) ... In fact, he put up a stunning 33 points on nine made 3-pointers in the win over Milligan.
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.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
Last season, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 32 games ... Injuries and dismissals left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination all season. ... Bartow hopes to find more stability with his rotation in 2013-14.
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 796 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.
ESPN names Wilson to nation’s Top 25 freshmen list
While circumstances forced the ETSU men’s basketball team to struggle last season, talented redshirt freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) gave the Buccaneers reason for hope. ... Wilson, who is averaged 13.0 points per game, was listed as one of the Top 25 freshmen in college basketball 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.
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.