VALPARAISO, Ind. (Nov. 14, 2014) – With the usual anticipation that accompanies the start of a new season, the ETSU men’s basketball will open its 2014-15 campaign Friday night with a non-conference road matchup with Horizon League member Valparaiso.
Tip is set for 8:30 p.m. inside the Athletics-Recreation Center, and the game will air live courtesy of ESPN3. The game will also be available locally on the radio and via live internet streaming through the Buccaneer Sports Network presented by East Coast Wings & Grill.
The Buccaneers enter the new campaign with a veteran backcourt led by preseason All Southern Conference selection Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), along with senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and junior guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.). While the strength of the team is found on the perimeter, the Bucs’ inside game will be a question mark with several newcomers vying for playing time.
After finishing 19-16 overall a year ago and making an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the Bucs are looking to make another run at their 10th NCAA Tournament trip all-time as they reenter the Southern Conference.
For more on Friday’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 2014-15 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 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.
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 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) ... 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 ... 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 series vs. Valparaiso
This will be the second meeting all-time between the Buccaneers and Crusaders ... ETSU leads the series 1-0, having defeated Valparaiso 73-62 last season back on Dec. 29, 2013.
Last time out vs. Valparaiso
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 29, 2013) – The ETSU men’s basketball team capitalized on Valparaiso’s 18 first-half turnovers, building a 21-point halftime lead and ultimately picking up a 73-62 win over the Crusaders inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... ETSU played its best all-around first half of the season, applying strong defensive pressure, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range, and hitting on 12-of-14 free throws to build a 42-21 lead at the break. The Crusaders did manage to rally and made it a seven-point contest at 60-53 with 5:17 left, but the Bucs made clutch shots late to seal the 11-point win. ... The Bucs had four players reach double figures in the winning effort, led by a game-high 19 points from junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.). In addition to Riley’s production, junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) had 16 points, senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) added 13, and sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) pitched in 10. ... Early on, the Bucs appeared poised to run away with the contest. After falling behind 4-0 in the early going, ETSU’s defensive pressure forced multiple Valpo turnovers, and despite getting out-rebounded 22-12 in the first half, the Bucs still enjoyed a 42-21 advantage at the break. ... However, after the intermission the Crusaders opened on a 14-2 offensive run to make it 44-35, and slowly picked away at the ETSU lead to draw to within seven at 60-53 with five minutes left. At that point, back-to-back 3-pointers by KGG and Rembert powered a 7-0 spurt, and the Bucs hit five foul shots down the stretch to end the Valpo threat. ... For the game, ETSU shot 48 percent from 3-point range (10-of-21), while holding Valparaiso – a team that entered the game averaging eight made threes a contest – to just 4-of-19 for the game. While the Crusaders did hold a whopping 45-28 edge on the glass, ETSU grabbed 14 steals and forced Valpo into a total of 24 turnover – compared to just nine turnovers for the Bucs. ... Valpo was led in scoring by LaVonte Dority with 14, while Alec Peters and Vashil Fernandez had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 3, 2014) – It took 15 minutes of game play for the ETSU men’s basketball team to knock off the rust of the offseason. However, once the Buccaneers did get their feel back, the final 25 minutes of Monday’s exhibition game against NAIA member Milligan College went about as expected. ... Junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) posted a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) collected 23 points as the Buccaneers used a late first half and early second half offensive surge to race past nearby foe Milligan College 94-77 in exhibition basketball play at Freedom Hall. ... For most of the first half, Milligan stayed within one possession of the Bucs on the scoreboard and actually tied the game at 26-26 with 4:15 left in the half on a basket by Julian Bailey. However, from there the Bucs closed the half on a 13-4 run to lead 39-30 at the break. ... The Bucs shot 42 percent from the field in the first half compared to 34 percent by the Buffs. Wilson led ETSU with 11 points in the half, while Bailey netted nine to pace Milligan. ... After the break, the Bucs’ offense stayed hot, outscoring Milligan 21-6 over the first six minutes to build a lead of 24 points at 60-36 with 14 minutes left in the game. The Buffs continued to battle, however, getting back to within 16 at one point, but that would be as close as Milligan could get in the game. ... The Buffs’ Gabriel Logan and Bailey each had a team-high 12 points, while Mickey Woods and Kurt Brooks each had 12 and 10 points, respectively. Bailey also enjoyed a double-double with 10 rebounds on the night. ... For the game, the Bucs shot 45 percent from the floor, but a preseason concern for ETSU is the team’s defense, and on this night the Buffs shot 43 percent and score 77 points.
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 829 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.
Rembert making his place in ETSU hoops history
Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has become one of the most feared shooters in the country over the last two years, and after a 2013-14 season in which he led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring (16.8 ppg) while also setting a new ETSU program record for 3-pointers in a season with 108, expectations are high as the 2014-15 campaign begins ... The quality numbers don’t stop with purely scoring and 3-point shooting, as he posted a Top 10 ETSU single season mark for free throw shooting percentage last season (.842), while also helping the Bucs finish with the top season marks ever for free throws made (656) and attempted (877) ... Rembert was also an Ironman on the floor, average 36.1 minutes per game, the fourth highest total in program history ... A preseason All Southern Conference pick, Rembert will be the focus of many defensive game plans this year.
Bartow atop list of second generation coaches
Murry Bartow’s coaching lineage is undeniable ... As the son of the late Gene Bartow, he had the fortunate opportunity to grow up learning from one of the most successful basketball coaches in college history ... Setting off on his own career, Bartow has carried on the tradition. ... His 208 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 311 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 919 victories, ranking fourth on the all-time win list for Father/Son coaches.
Perimeter trio accounts for signiciant offensive output
The trio of senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), 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, while Wilson pitched in 10.1 points per game. While Rembert’s numbers were highlighted in the previous note entry, Riley finished third on the single season list with 169 made free throws a year ago, and finished fifth on the all-time free throw attempt list with 202 on the season ... As for Wilson, he found a groove in the later part of last season ... Starting in late January, he finished the year averaging 13.9 points and 4.7 rebounds a game, while shooting 44 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range, and 93 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% shooting from the field and 26% shooting from 3-point range.
Bucs need to get defensive this season
A year ago, ETSU’s offensive production was one of the best ever, as the team finished third on the all-time list with 2,689 points on the year ... However, despite averaging 76.8 points per game, the team also allowed opponents to score an average of 76.1 a game ... Even though Coach Murry Bartow’s team can score the basketball, key to success this year will be the Bucs’ improved defensive effort.
Biggest question for the Bucs in 2014-15? The inside game
Though the Buccaneers return an experienced and talented backcourt, the team’s frontcourt will present the biggest questions for the team as they begin a new season ... Having lost both its starting 4 and 5 position player, the Bucs return only one player on the inside that averaged more than five minutes a game last season ... That lone returning player is sophomore Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.), while transfers Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.), Alex Bates (Greenbelt, Md.) and Tommy Williams (Augusta, Ga.), and true freshman Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.) will round out the team’s options on the inside.
Bucs adds to postseason resume in 2013-14
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) ... A year ago, the Bucs made their second trip all-time to the CIT Postseason Tournament, marking the program’s 13th postseason tournament appearance all-time ... In the Bucs first CIT appearance, ETSU went 2-1 with wins over Furman and Ohio, advancing to the tournament semifinals before losing to Iona in a hard-fought 83-80 contest at the Dome ... Last year, the Bucs went 1-1, defeating fellow Southern Conference member Chattanooga before falling to Towson in the quarterfinals.
ETSU picked to “Prestige” programs list
Since the beginning of 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, with back-to-back NCAA appearances in 2009 and 2010, followed by CIT appearances in 2011 and 2014 … Since the 1984-85 season, the Buccaneers, who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament trips, two NIT berths, two CIT berths, 11 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships in that time, 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 current and former Southern Conference rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. ... In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as other major programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.