JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2013) – Loading the bus for its final two-game road swing of the regular season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will be looking to build some late-season momentum when the Buccaneers take on North Florida Thursday night inside the UNF Arena.
Tip is set for 7 p.m.
ETSU is coming off a loss to Mercer last Saturday, but the team still has a chance to finish as high as third in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings with a strong finish over the final three games of the season. Meanwhile, North Florida is still battling to secure a spot in the postseason tournament and is in need of another victory to improve their league standing.
For more on Thursday night’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link above. For more on ETSU men’s basketball as the team wraps up the 2012-13 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 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.
After several years of quality returning players and at least some level of certainty regarding what to expect heading into the winter months, the 2012-13 ETSU men’s basketball team entered this new campaign with several questions and concerns. ... The loss of standout seniors such as Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) will be hard to overcome, considering that group combined for a total of 3,091 points in their careers ... A year ago, the Bucs enjoyed quality wins such as a road victory over Atlantic 10 Conference foe Charlotte, and finished with a respectable 17 victories on the season ... The team finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 10-8, reaching the league tournament semifinals. ... This season, the Bucs’ top two returning starters were guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.), who both combined to score 19.7 points per game a year ago. ... However, both Cooley and Dubose have been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules and policies ... Along with those two, fellow guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) and forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) are the only other ETSU seniors to be returning after playing significant minutes last year, but Poderis is now lost for the season with a left foot injury and will be forced to redshirt, while Jones missed the first seven games of the year for academic reasons ... Jones returned against Ole Miss on Dec. 14 ... With so few returning, experienced players, ETSU has looked to some unproven returning players, as well as a recruiting class that includes three incoming freshmen and a pair of junior college transfers, to come in and make an immediate impact. ... Sophomores Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and John Walton (Memphis), along with redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville) have increased their production this year, while true freshmen guards Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), Mario Stramaglia (Birmingham, Ala.), and Yunio Barrueta (Miami, Fla.) are blossoming into early contributors. ... On the interior, Walton has been getting help from junior college transfers Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) and Hunter Harris (Nashville).
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2013) – Having rallied back to get within three points midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team was unable to complete another Saturday comeback and dropped a 71-54 decision to Atlantic Sun Conference rival Mercer inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Buccaneers played a dismal first half offensively, shooting just 16 percent from the floor and falling behind by as many as 16 points before the intermission. After the break, ETSU managed to get to within three at 41-38 after a technical foul call on Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman, but looked on as the Bears outscored them 30-16 the rest of the game. ... As in several games so far this season, the Bucs struggled early on in the contest and only had four made field goals by halftime. This obviously allowed the Bears to build a 27-13 halftime advantage. ... Following the halftime break, the Bucs actually found their shooting stroke and went on an 18-10 run to make it 41-38 with 10:39 left in the game. However, from there Mercer put together a 10-0 run of its own with some effective offensive plays and a lockdown defensive effort, and they never looked back. ... ETSU senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) led the Bucs with a game-high 18 points.
The series versus North Florida
ETSU and North Florida have met 16 times, with ETSU leading the all-time series 15-1 ... UNF picked up their first and only win over ETSU in the semifinals of the 2011 A-Sun Tournament, dropping the Bucs 59-55 ... The Bucs avenged that loss with three straight wins over the Ospreys a year ago, and ETSU won the first meeting this season.
Last time out against North Florida
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 26, 2013) – North Florida threw the first offensive punch, but it was the ETSU men’s basketball team that delivered the knockout blow. ... After allowing UNF to shoot 68 percent in the first half and build a lead of as many as 17 points before the intermission, the Buccaneers clamped down on defense and scored a season-high 56 points in the second half to pull away with an 89-75 victory Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Junior forward Hunter Harris (Nashville) led the way for the Bucs, scoring a season-high 25 points as ETSU improved to 6-15 overall, 4-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. Meanwhile, UNF drops to 8-14, 3-6. ... Indeed, the Bucs once again needed an impressive comeback for the win, as North Florida led 30-13 with less than 10 minutes left in the half. At that point, ETSU began chipping away at the Ospreys’ lead and ultimately pulled to within 11 at 45-33 by the break. ... In the second half, Harris began to take over and scored five of his 25 points during a 9-0 spurt by the Bucs in the opening minutes. ETSU followed that burst with another 17-3 run that saw Harris score another eight points and fuel the Bucs to a 69-60 lead with five minutes left in the contest. ... North Florida – who got a game-high 26 points from shooting guard Parker Smith – was unable to cut the deficit to closer than five points the rest of the way. ... Along with Harris, ETSU got a double-double effort from freshman guard Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jarvis Jones netted 19 points.
Young Bucs still face obstacle with experience
At no time in the tenure of ETSU head coach Murry Bartow have the Buccaneers had less experience ... Currently, the team has 10 players who are eligible and healthy enough to play, and of that group there are only six total years of Division I experience ... On average, that’s less than a half year of experience per player ... With four freshmen and two junior college transfers that means 66 percent of the team is competing in their first season of Division I basketball.
Bucs earning reputation as “Comeback Kids”
With their comeback from 20 points down to beat Stetson on Feb. 9, the Buccaneers just continue to build a reputation as a team that won’t go away no matter the score ... The Bucs have now won five of their eight games after being down significantly ... In wins over Charleston Southern (Nov. 20), FGCU (Jan. 12) and Stetson (Feb. 9), the Bucs were down by as many as 19 points and still won ... ETSU also came back from second-half deficits to drop North Florida (Jan. 26) and Lipscomb (Feb. 2).
Walton breaks out in win over Kennesaw State
Sophomore post John Walton (Memphis) has shown signs of his potential on-and-off throughout his first two seasons in Johnson City ... Against Kennesaw State on Valentine’s Day, Walton finally put together a complete game ... Setting career highs for points (23), blocks (3) and minutes played (39), Walton powered the Bucs to a 79-70 victory ... He went 8-of-9 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds and collecting a pair of steals in the game. ... He followed that with a 12-point, six-rebound effort against Mercer (2/16).
Jones meeting expectations for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow expected the return of senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) would improve his team’s efforts on the offensive end of the floor … He was right. … Recently, Jones almost single-handedly won the game for the Bucs against Lipscomb (Feb. 2), scoring a career high 36 points and hitting three straight 3-pointers in overtime -- including the game winner ... Since returning to the team in the middle of December, Jones has averaged a team-best 16.7 points per game, and currently ranks fourth in the A-Sun in scoring ... He also ranks second in steals per game (2.0), eighth in free throw percentage (75%) and first in minutes played (37.3).
Rembert heating up from outside, nearing national mark
Sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) has made the most of his increased playing time this season, having made a 3-pointer in 25 straight games and currently ranks second in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage at 41 percent on the season ... Against Jacksonville, he gave ETSU’s coaches even more reason to utilize him ... Hitting on 5-of-7 attempts from 3-point range against the Dolphins and counting the six games since that time, Rembert has made 50 3-pointers on the year.
Shuffling starters the “new normal” for Bucs
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow has used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 28 games this season ... Injuries and dismissals have left the ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination, as the team currently stands at 9-19.
ESPN names Wilson to nation’s Top 25 freshmen list
While circumstances have forced the ETSU men’s basketball team to struggle in the early going this season, talented redshirt freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) has still given the Buccaneers reason for hope. ... Wilson, who is averaging 15.3 points per game, was listed as one of the Top 25 freshmen in college basketball Thursday by ESPN hoops writer John Gasaway. The list – which included players such as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, UCLA’s Jordan Adams, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon – had Wilson ranked at No. 25. ... Wilson has posted six 20-plus point games so far this season.
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 792 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.
Bucs have tradition of postseason appearances, success
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) ... In 2011, the Bucs made their first ever appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, winning twice and advancing to the semifinals of that event ... It was the program’s 12th postseason tournament appearance all-time.
ETSU picked among nation’s best “Prestige” programs
In 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 … The Bucs -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA trips, one NIT and one CIT berth, 14 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships since 1984-85 -- 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 every current Atlantic Sun team, as well as former SoCon rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. In addition, at that time the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as programs such as Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson and Fla. State.