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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Jan. 5, 2015) – Continuing on it first trek through Southern Conference play since rejoining the league for the 2014-15 season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will make their first trip to take on Samford as a SoCon opponent Monday night inside the Hanna Center. Tip is set for 8 p.m. (EST).
The game will be available live via video streaming at SoConDigitalNetwork.com, and fans can also listen live on radio stations throughout the region courtesy of the Buccaneer Sports Network presented by East Coast Wings.
The Buccaneers (7-4 overall, 2-1 SoCon) are hoping to stay hot and remain among the early contenders at the top of the SoCon standings. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have struggled in league play and stand at 0-3 on the season.
For more on Monday’s game with Samford, 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 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. Samford
The Bucs are 3-0 all-time against Samford ... The previous games were played in 1979, 1980 and 2013 ... ETSU won the last meeting 89-75 back on Nov. 21, 2013 in the first game at Freedom Hall.
Last time out vs. Samford
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 21, 2013) – A change of scenery turned out to be just what was needed for the ETSU men’s basketball team. ... Playing a “home game” inside Freedom Hall Civic Center for the first time in 12 years as part of the First Bank and Trust Company Rounball Showcase, senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) collected a double-double performance and sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) netted a team-high 20 points as the Buccaneers overcame a second-half deficit to defeat non-conference foe Samford 89-75. ... The Bucs – who scored their most points in a game since a 90-88 win over Lipscomb back on Feb. 2, 2013 – got 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds from Gadsden-Gillard, along with double-figure scoring nights from Wilson with 20, junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) with 16, freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) with 15, and junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) with 13.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 1, 2015) – In a matchup featuring the nation’s top two teams in 3-pointers made per game, it was ultimately transition scores, dunks and layups that made the difference for the ETSU men’s basketball team inside Freedom Hall. ... Shooting 49 percent from the field while hitting on just four 3-pointers for the game, the Buccaneers’ got a career high 32 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) and a double-double effort of 17 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson), as ETSU picked up a 98-88 win over VMI. ... Along with Riley and Merriweather, fellow Bucs Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), Lester Wilson (Knoxville) and Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) also reached double figures, as the Bucs improved to 7-4 overall, 2-1 in SoCon action. ... In all, the Bucs would outscore VMI 48-28 in the paint and 38-16 in fast break points as ETSU continuously attacked the basket in transition. The Bucs also ended the game outscoring the Keydets – who normally average 12.3 3-pointers per game – by a 50-31 clip in bench points. ... The first half was a fast-paced, highly-entertaining 20 minutes, featuring eight ties and three lead changes as both the Bucs and Keydets made the game a track meet. Neither team led by more than single digits, with ETSU building its largest lead at 45-37 with 3:10 left before the break. ... VMI was able to make it 50-44 by the intermission despite shooting just 33 percent from the floor, thanks mainly to outrebounding the Bucs 29-19 overall and 16-6 on the offensive glass. Those numbers led to a 17-4 scoring edge in second chance points for the Keydets. Meanwhile, ETSU was able to hold the lead by shooting 50 percent from the floor. ... After the break, the Bucs used a 17-4 run to build its largest lead of the game at 80-65, but the Keydets answered with a 11-2 run of their own to make it 82-76 with 4:58 remaining in the game. At that point, a thunderous Merriweather dunk haulted the run and the Bucs sealed the win.
Riley moves into first place on SoCon scoring list
With his 32-point effort in the win over VMI on Friday night, ETSU senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) moved into a percentage-points lead for first place in the SoCon season scoring list ... At 19.9 points per game, Riley is just ahead of VMI’s QJ Peterson, who is averaging 19.7 points per contest.
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 19.9 ppg, Rembert second with 16.9 a contest, and Wilson netting 13.8 ppg.
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 37th in the country in total turnovers (145).
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 840 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).
Eleven 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 third nationally with 11.3 3-pointers per game, and rank 22nd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (39.7%) ... 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 threes per game ... Rembert is 5th (3.9 pg), Wilson is 11th (3.4) and Riley 52nd (2.7).
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. ... So far this year, the Bucs have also held opponents to a 43 percent field goal percentage, which ranks third in the SoCon.
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 1,080 for his career, Wilson is at 924 points in his two plus seasons, while Riley will need a strong year offensively to reach 1,000, as he stands now at 688 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.
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.