JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 3, 2014) – Each season begins with questions that must ultimately be answered and the ETSU men’s basketball team will begin that process Monday night as the team hosts nearby Milligan College for an exhibition game at 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.
The Buccaneers, who are coming off a 19-win season and a trip to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament a year ago, will return several players from last year’s squad. However, questions surround the team’s inside game, which boasts a group of newcomers that will battle for playing time. In addition, despite scoring at a prolific pace a year ago, the Bucs’ defensive effort will also be under scrutiny early on this year after struggling to stop opponents last season.
While they open with Monday’s exhibition, the Bucs will not begin regular season play until a road matchup with Valparaiso on Nov. 14. ETSU’s home opener will be played on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at home against Virginia-Wise.
For more on the upcoming season, read the preseason info below or click on the quick facts link located on the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.
The ETSU men’s basketball program enjoyed a solid campaign in 2013-14, winning 19 games on the year and earning a berth into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament ... The trip to the CIT marked the sixth postseason trip for the Bucs in head coach Murry Bartow’s 11 seasons at ETSU (three NCAAs,
one NIT and two CIT trips) ... In addition, the Bucs enjoyed a first round postseason tournament victory in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament over Lipscomb in a thrilling double-overtime game, while also giving Florida Gulf Coast a scare in the tournament semifinals in Fort Myers, Fla. ... ETSU went on to defeat longtime rival and newly-renewed conference foe Chattanooga in the first round of the CIT at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center ... The key to success for the Bucs in 2013-14 was the play of an impressive backcourt and that group will return this year led by rising seniors Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with rising junior Lester Wilson (Knoxville) ... That trio accounted for over 50 percent of the team’s offensive production a year ago, with Rembert and Riley leading the team with 16.8 and 13.4 points per game, respectively ... In fact, Rembert set a school record for made 3-pointers in a year with 108 makes, and finished the season as one of the top outside threats in the country with a 43 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc ... Meanwhile, Riley finished third on the single season list with 169 made free throws, and as a team the Bucs set a new program record with 656 makes and 877 attempts from the charity stripe as a team ... While that trio will return to lead the Bucs, the team will also return starters A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) this season ... Merriweather is coming off a freshman campaign in which he averaged 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds a game en route to all-freshman team honors, while McClain led the squad with 3.3 assists per game ... The one area of concern for the Bucs will be the frontcourt this year, as the team lost all of its contributors from a year ago ... This will leave a group that consists of returners like senior Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.) and sophomore Isaac Banks, along with newcomers such as senior Alex Bates (Greenbelt, Md.), junior Tommy Williams and freshman Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.) to make up for those losses ... Other players who are expected to contribute this season include sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.), who showed great potential at the end of last season, and freshman guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who was a Mr. Basketball selection during his senior year of high school ... The team schedule is loaded with solid mid-major opponents such as Valparaiso (Nov. 14), Winthrop (Nov. 24), Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 16) and Tennessee Tech (Feb. 16), along with trips to programs such as VCU (Dec. 22) and Tennessee (Dec. 31) ... In addition, the team will make a highly-anticipated return to Southern Conference action and begin series once again with teams like Chattanooga, Western Carolina, UNC Greensboro, and former Atlantic Sun Conference rival Mercer.
Three of the team’s five starters return from a year ago (Rembert, Merriweather and McClain), while Wilson and Riley were typically the first two off the bench for Bartow ... The power forward and center positions will be the most interesting to watch as several newcomers and returning players will battle for those duties.
The team’s perimeter play was impressive a year ago and that entire group returns intact ... Outside shooting and the ability to get to the foul line should continue to be a positive ... The team’s offensive output was also impressive a year ago, ranking as the third most points scored in school history (2,689).
While the Bucs scored an average of 76.8 points a game last year, they also relinquished 76.1 points
per game, meaning that the defensive end of the floor was sometimes problematic ... As for positioning, the team will be looking for players to contribute on the inside -- especially at the center
(or 5) position.
With numbers like he posted a year ago, Rembert has the ability to turn heads and garner national
Rembert, Riley, Wilson and Merriweather have earned all-conference accolades in the past and should be in the running for those honors again this year.
Best all-around player ............................... Rashawn Rembert
Most likely to blossom ......................................... Jalen Riley
Player on the rise ....................................... A.J. Merriweather
Best newcomer ......................................... Desonta Bradford