New Year's Eve trip to Tennessee next up for Bucs
ETSU's A.J. Merriweather (13) and Isaac Banks (10) will need to play well under the basket for the Bucs against Tennessee's inside game.
New Year's Eve trip to Tennessee next up for Bucs
Tuesday, December 30, 2014

KNOXVILLE (Dec. 31, 2014) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will be looking to close out the 2014 calendar year with a win over in-state foe Tennessee, as the Buccaneers take on the SEC’s Volunteers Wednesday afternoon inside Thompson-Boling Arena.

The New Year’s Eve tip time is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live via the SEC Network. Fans can also listen live on the radio by tuning into the Buccaneer Sports Network presented by East Coast Wings.

Off to their best start since the 2003-04 season, the Bucs (6-3) will be trying to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Volunteers that dates back to the 1996 season. While ETSU won back-to-back games in 1989 and 1991, the Bucs are just 2-12 all-time against Tennessee.

For more on Wednesday’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.

 

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 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 be back to lead the Bucs, the team will also return starters A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) this season ... One major area of concern for the Bucs will  be the frontcourt, as the team lost all of its contributors from a year ago ... Along with the loss of senior Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.) to a knee injury earlier this season, sophomore Isaac Banks, and newcomers such as senior Alex Bates (Greenbelt, Md.), junior Tommy Williams and freshman Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.)  are left to make up for those losses on the inside ... 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. Tennessee

In a series that dates back to 1960, the Volunteers hold a 12-2 advantage over the Buccaneers ... ETSU’s two wins came in back-to-back meetings in 1989 and 1991, but the  Bucs have since dropped seven straight to Tennessee, including a tightly-contested 66-63 loss back on Dec. 23, 2011.

 

Last time out vs. Tennessee

KNOXVILLE (Dec. 23, 2011) – After taking a 59-51 lead with 5:36 minutes left in the game, the ETSU men’s basketball team watched the Tennessee Volunteers go on a 15-4 run to close out the contest and take a 66-63 win over the Buccaneers Friday night inside Thompson-Boling Arena. .. .With the loss, ETSU drops to 5-6 on the season, while the Volunteers improved to 5-6. ... The Bucs got a game-high 19 points from senior Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who also pitched in seven rebounds and seven assists. Meanwhile, fellow senior Tommy Hubbard (Boston) netted 18 points and nine rebounds. ... ETSU enjoyed a great start to the game, outscoring the Vols 24-15 over the first 12 minutes thanks mainly to 14 first-half points from Hubbard. However, Tennessee – shooting at a 6-of-12 clip from 3-point range – managed to comeback and tied the game at 29 on a long-range shot from Cameron Tatum with 2:10 left before the intermission. ... The Bucs did not cave at that point though, outscoring UT 4-0 to close out the half and lead 33-29 at the break. Along with his 14 points, Hubbard also had five rebounds in the first half, while Sollazzo scored seven points and dished out four assists in the first 20 minutes.

After the break, Tennessee used a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game and hold a 44-41 advantage with 14:15 left in the game. ETSU once again did not crack under the pressure of the Vols’ homecourt, weathering that storm and going back ahead by four at 55-51 thanks to a Jarvis Jones (Memphis) 3-pointer with 7:21 left. ... From there, ETSU added four more points to make it 59-51 on a Sollazzo basket with 5:36 left. Unfortunately, from there it was all Tennessee. ... The Bucs twice cut the game to one point at 62-61 and 64-63, but a missed 3-pointer by Jones that would have given ETSU the lead with 25 seconds left rimmed out, and Sollazzo later missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left that would have tied the game.

 

Last time out

RICHMOND, Va. (Dec. 22, 2014) – Trailing by just six points early in the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team ultimately fell victim to VCU’s heralded defensive pressure in the final 20 minutes of regulation, as the Rams raced away to an 84-60 non-conference victory Monday evening inside the Siegel Center. ... After committing a manageable eight turnovers in the first half, the Buccaneers became careless with the basketball in the second half, committing 14 miscues after the break and allowing the Rams to manufacture multiple offensive runs. With the loss, ETSU drops to 6-3 on the season, while the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Rams improve to 9-3. ... For the game, VCU forced a total of 22 turnovers, grabbed 18 steals, and dished out 23 assists. Guard Melvin Johnson led the way for the Rams with 15 points, while teammates Treveon Graham and Michael Gilmore added 13 and 10, respectively. Meanwhile, ETSU got a game-high 18 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), while junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) had 11 and senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) netted 10. ... The Bucs opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Rembert that made it a six-point game at 35-29, but after handling the VCU defensive pressure in the first half the Bucs crumbled after the break. Committing nine turnovers over a nine-minute stretch, ETSU looked on as VCU manufactured a lightning quick 12-0 run to open up an 18-point advantage at 47-29, and the Rams never looked back.

 

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. ... That same group has picked up where it left off a year ago, with Riley leading the team with 19.8 ppg, Rembert second with 17.0 a contest, and Wilson netting 13.9 ppg.

 

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 838 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.

 

McClain making place next to ETSU’s greatest PG

ETSU fans have fond memories over former point guard and All-American Keith “Mister” Jennings, who is considered the program’s greatest player ... What many fans may not realize is that current point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) is quietly making a place next to Jennings in the ETSU record books ... Currently, McClain ranks No. 2 next to Jennings on the Bucs’ all-time assist/turnover ratio list, making him one of the two best guards in school history for protecting the basketball ... McClain also ranks in the Top 10 all-time for total assists (10th) and assists per game (6th).

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. ... The Bucs have been effective defensively in three of their road wins this season, winning at Winthrop, Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky by holding those teams to scoring games in the 60s.

 

Three-dom Hall

Nine games into the season, it’s no secret that the Buccaneers are relying on their 3-point shooting as a major component of the team’s offense this year ... In four home games so far this season, the team has combined to hit 55 3-pointers, and has tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game (15) two times at home -- and a total of three times all together ... Those numbers have led some people to start calling Freedom Hall by a new moniker -- Three-dom Hall ... As a team, the Bucs currently rank second nationally with 11.9 3-pointers per game, and rank 14th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (41.2%) ... Individually, junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), along with senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) are ranked among the nation’s best in 3-pointers per game ... Rembert is 6th (3.9 pg), Wilson is 11th (3.4) and Riley 26th (3.1).

 

Assist, turnover numbers key to ETSU success

So far this season, the Bucs offensive proficiency has relied greatly on taking care of the basketball ... As a team, the Bucs rank 13th in the country in total turnovers (115).

 

Rembert, Wilson, Riley approaching 1,000-point plateau

Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, leaving teammates Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) aiming to join him in that elite group ... While Rembert now stands at 1,074 for his career, Wilson is at 897 points in his two plus seasons, while Riley will need a strong year offensively to reach 1,000, as he stands now at 647 points so far ... Riley certainly got off to a good start this year, netting 27 in the season opener at Valpo (11/14), 21 against UVa.-Wise (11/18), 31 in the win over Western Carolina (12/3), and 28 in the loss to UNC Greensboro (12/13).

 

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.

 

Rembert named Lou Henson award finalist

Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has been selected as a candidate for the Lou Henson Award, which is presented annually to the Division  I “Mid-Major” Player of the Year ... The award is named in honor of Henson who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years. When he left the game in 2005 he was sixth all-time in career Division I wins with 779. ... He is the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the Final Four. ... The 2015 recipient will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 3 in Indianapolis, site of the 2015 men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.

 

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 213 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 317 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 964 victories, ranking fourth on the all-time win list for Father/Son coaches.

 

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.