Bucs face critical road game Saturday at North Florida
Junior guard Jalen Riley is currently second on the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game.
Bucs face critical road game Saturday at North Florida
Friday, February 21, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2014) – With an opportunity to improve its chances to lock up a quarterfinal home game in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament next month, the ETSU men’s basketball team will take on conference foe North Florida Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the UNF Arena.

The Buccaneers, who are 16-13 overall, 9-7 in A-Sun play, are currently battling for a spot in the top four along with USC Upstate and North Florida. Entering Saturday’s play, Upstate holds a one-game lead over the Bucs for third place, while North Florida is just a half game back in fifth place.

For more on Saturday’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook 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.


Game Notes

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 University 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.


Buc bits

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,  Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Hawaii ... Other issues for the team included senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) missing the season with 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.


The series vs. North Florida

ETSU and North Florida have met 18 times, with ETSU leading the all-time series 16-2 ... The Bucs won the last meeting between the two teams 99-93 back on Jan. 23, 2014 inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.


Last time out vs. North Florida

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2014) – Hitting 32 of 33 free throws and manufacturing a 16-2 run midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team rebounded from a tough Florida road swing with a 99-93 win over Atlantic Sun Conference foe North Florida Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The offensive effort – especially in the second half – was impressive. ETSU finished the game shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (9-of-18) and 97 percent from the free throw line, while scoring 58 points and shooting 59 percent from the floor in the second half. ... Four ETSU players reached double figures, led by a team-high 24 points from senior post Hunter Harris (Nashville), while junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) added 22 points. In addition, senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) netted 19 points, junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) pitched in 18, and sophomore point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) finished with nine assists and no turnovers. ... The game saw multiple lead changes and ties over the first 32 minutes of play, but the critical stretch for ETSU came with less than eight minutes left in the second half. At that point, Rembert re-entered the contest despite having four fouls and responded by scoring the first seven points of a 16-3 run that took a 70-68 UNF lead, and turned it into an 83-70 ETSU advantage. ... The Ospreys would manage to cut that advantage to just five at 87-82 with 2:21 left, but the Bucs’ finished from there with a perfect 12-of-12 at the line.


Last time out

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2014) – Sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) scored a career-high 31 points and the ETSU men’s basketball team finished just one 3-pointer shy of the school’s single-game record, but those offensive numbers were not enough in a 91-86 loss to Atlantic Sun Conference foe Jacksonville Thursday evening inside Swisher Gym. ... Poor defensive play doomed the Bucs, as the Dolphins shot 55 percent from the field, 53 percent from 3-point range, and scored 57 points in the second half to overcome a seven-point halftime deficit. For JU, guard Jarvis Haywood led five Dolphins’ players in double figures, netting a team-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

With the loss, ETSU drops to 16-13 overall, 9-7 in A-Sun play, while Jacksonville improved to 10-16, 6-9. ... Along with Wilson’s 31 points, the only other player in double figures for ETSU was junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) with 17 points. As a team, the Bucs were 14-of-31 from 3-point range, nearly tying the school record of 15 for a game.


Resurgent Wilson giving Bucs a lift on offense

With his career high 31 points and seven made 3-pointers in the Jacksonville game (2/20), sophomore Lester Wilson (Knoxville) continued his recent resurgence as a major offensive weapon for the Bucs ... Since Jan. 25, Wilson is averaging 15.8 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, while shooting 49 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range,  and 94 percent at the foul line ... By comparison, before his recent streak, Wilson had averaged 7.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game on just 33 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent shooting from 3-point range.


Rembert making place in history during 2013-14

Junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has become one of the most feared shooters in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and this season he is on pace to rewrite ETSU’s record books ... With 84 3-pointers so far this season, Rembert is just three makes away from besting the progarm’s single season record of 86 set by Courtney Pigram (Memphis) in 2006-07. ... Rembert’s numbers are also some of the best in the nation for an outside shooter ... For those statistics, see Page 4 of this notes package.


Riley breaks out; continues great “sixth man” play

For weeks, those around the ETSU men’s basketball team have argued that junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) may be the best “sixth man” in the league ... Recently, Riley has been proving those people right ...  In his last eight games -- which includes a career-high, 30-point effort against Lipscomb (2/8) -- the junior guard has eclipsed double digits each time, averaging 17.0 points a game, while shooting 46 percent  from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent at the foul line.


Free throws key to ETSU victories this season

What a difference a year can make ... Last season, the Buccaneers struggled for consistency at the foul line, but this year has been a different story ... The Bucs currently lead the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 75 percent shooting clip from the charity stripe, and their numbers are also good enough to rank 11th in the country in free throws made as of Feb. 16 with 528 ... In fact, the  Bucs matched the program record for free throw percentage in a game against Jacksonville (2/20), going 18-of-18 for 100 percent at the charity stripe ... Earlier this year the Bucs hit a remarkable 32-of-33 free throws in the win over North Florida (1/23).


Bartow gets win No. 300 overall and No. 200 at ETSU

ETSU head coach Murry Bartow won his 300th career game on Jan. 4 against Kennesaw State, and captured his 200th win on the ETSU bench on Jan. 25 against Jacksonville ... Bartow is the second winningest coach in program history, behind only legend Madison Brooks’ 370 victories for the Blue and Gold. In addition, Bartow’s .581 winning percentage also ranks second in the modern era for the Bucs, behind only Alan LeForce’s .607 percentage.


Difference between winning and losing for ETSU

Rebounding has been a particular indicator for the Bucs this season when it comes to wins and losses ... The statistics below show the differences for the Bucs is several important categories so far this season.

Statistical category          Wins (16-0)                   Losses (0-13)

ETSU scoring                        83.5 PPG....................... 67.9 PPG

Opponent scoring                72.4 PPG........................ 79.5 PPG

Rebounding margin                +1.1....................................... -8.2

Shooting %                              .481.................................... .385

3-pt. shooting %                      .400................................... .320

Assists                                 13.3 APG..................... 11.3 APG


Merriweather continues to shine, posts double-double

Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has certainly made an impression this season, and he continued to make more news with his third career double-double in the win over Kennesaw State (1/4) ... In that game, Merriweather also netted a career high with 19 points, while grabbing 10 rebounds ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (6.5 rpg), fourth in scoring (10.3 ppg), first in steals (1.5 spg), and third in minutes played (27.0 mpg). ... He followed that effort with a career high 20 points in the loss at Mercer (1/6).


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.


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 823 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA, just behind Arkansas and ahead of Oakland.


Shuffling starters was the “new normal” for Bucs

Last season, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 33 games ... Injuries and dismissals left ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination all season. ... Bartow hoped to find more stability with his rotation in 2013-14, but he had used five different starting lineups in the first five games of the year. ... Since that time, he has played with the same starting lineup in 20 of the last 23 games, with the team going 12-8 in those contests.


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.