Bucs back to SoCon play, host high-octane VMI Friday
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow talks with his team during the Bucs' game with Tennessee on New Year's Eve.
Bucs back to SoCon play, host high-octane VMI Friday
Thursday, January 1, 2015

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 2, 2015) – With its focus now moving from non-conference play to winning a Southern Conference regular season title, the ETSU men’s basketball team will begin its longest stretch of league games on Friday, as the Buccaneers host the VMI Keydets.

Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall, while the game will also be available on radio and live web streaming courtesy of the Buccaneer Sports Network presented by East Coast Wings and ETSUBucs.com. Fans can also watch live via web video streaming at socondigitalnetwork.com.

This matchup will feature the two most electric offensive teams in the Southern Conference, as well as the top two teams in NCAA Division I play for 3-point goals per game. Currently, VMI leads the SoCon with 85.5 points per game while the Bucs are second with 77.6 a contest. VMI is also averaging a nation-best 12.3 3-pointers per game, while ETSU is second with 12.0 threes a game.

For more on Friday’s matchup, 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. VMI

The Bucs and Keydets have met 53 times in a series that dates back to 1953, but the series saw most of those games during the Bucs previous years in the Southern Conference from 1979 to 2005 ... The Bucs hold a 43-10 advantage all-time, having won the last eight meetings.

 

Last time out vs. VMI

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 4, 2003) - Head coach Ed DeChellis’ game plan called for East Tennessee State to pound Virginia Military in the paint and under the basket. Apparently, the Buccaneers were attentive pupils this week in practice. ... Setting a career-high in scoring for the second time in three games, junior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) netted a team-high 29 points and fellow junior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) added 21 points and a team-high nine rebounds as the Bucs snapped a two-game Southern Conference skid with a 93-76 league victory over the Keydets in front of 3,329 fans at Memorial Center. ... Indeed, in the Bucs earlier meeting with VMI - a hard-fought 67-62 victory for ETSU back on Jan. 18 - the Keydets took advantage of ETSU’s poor perimeter shooting before halftime and trailed just 24-23 at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va. ... However, after the break the Bucs continuously forced the ball inside and the Keydets were forced to either give up easy buckets or foul. ... Instead of waiting until the second half on Tuesday, the Bucs’ perimeter players continuously passed up open looks at the basket in favor of dropping the ball off inside to players like Wadood, Fields and freshman Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio), who made the Keydets pay with layup after layup. ... Despite the effective game plan, VMI still hung close in the first half and trailed just 45-40 thanks mostly in part to the play of junior Radee Skipworth. The 6-foot-6 guard scored a game-high 33 points, setting a new career high and eclipsing the 1,000 point mark for his career. ... Yet Skipworth’s efforts.

 

Last time out

KNOXVILLE (Dec. 31, 2014) – Leading by four points midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team suffered through an eight-minute scoring drought, allowing SEC opponent Tennessee to regain the lead and escape with a 71-61 non-conference victory over the Buccaneers Wednesday afternoon inside Thompson-Boling Arena.  ... The Bucs (6-4) led 56-52 with 9:39 left, but did not hit another field goal until 1:07 left in regulation. During that time, Tennessee – which finished with a 38-20 rebounding advantage for the game – used its size advantage to go on a 19-5 run and close out the game. ETSU did hit an impressive 13 3-pointers in the contest, but it was not enough to upend the Volunteers, who improved to 8-4 on the year.  ... Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) had seven of the Bucs’ 13 made 3-pointers, scoring a game-high 21 points, while junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) hit four threes and finished with 16. For Tennessee, All-SEC guard Josh Richardson had a team-high 19 points, while post Armani Moore netted 13 and Derek Reese added 12.  ... The Bucs got off to a great start, as Rembert hit three straight 3-pointers and a thunderous dunk by A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) helped ETSU build an early 13-0 lead. Tennessee responded though, outscoring the Bucs 71-48 the rest of the game.

 

Offensive showcase in the making Friday night?

When the Bucs and VMI meet Friday night, it will pit the two best 3-pt. shooting teams in the country ... Entering the game, ETSU is second in the nation in threes per game with 12.0, while VMI is first with 12.3 a game ... It is also a showdown of the two highest scoring teams in the SoCon, with ETSU second with 77.6 points per game, while the Keydets are averaging 85.5 points per game ... It should be pointed out that the ETSU record for total combined points in a game is 228 set during the 1959-60 season in a game with MTSU.

 

Three-dom Hall

Ten 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 12.0 3-pointers per game, and rank 10th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (41.1%) ... 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 3rd (4.2 pg), Wilson is 8th (3.5) and Riley 31st (3.0).

 

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 22nd in the country in total turnovers (128).

 

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 18.7 ppg, Rembert second with 17.4 a contest, and Wilson netting 14.1 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 839 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). ... In his last outing, McClain matched his career high with 11 assists in the loss to Tennessee (12/31).

 

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.

 

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 1,068 for his career, Wilson is at 913 points in his two plus seasons, while Riley will need a strong year offensively to reach 1,000, as he stands now at 656 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 in upper half of “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.