JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2012) – With the goal of extending its current three-game winning streak, the ETSU men’s basketball team will take to the road this weekend for what is always an important Atlantic Sun Conference swing through the Sunshine State.
It begins Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., as the Buccaneers take on Jacksonville inside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. ETSU will then face off with North Florida – the team that ended the Bucs’ run at a third straight A-Sun Tournament title last March – at UNF Arena on Monday evening at 7 p.m.
The Bucs (8-7 overall, 3-2 A-Sun) have been progressively moving up the A-Sun standings, and with a pair of wins over the weekend could simply continue to make a push for a regular season league title. For more on the game, click on the game notebook link to the right, or read the game notes below.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 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.
While posting its highest RPI since the 2003-04 season, head coach Murry Bartow led the ETSU men’s basketball team to another successful season in 2010-11, a campaign that included 24 wins and ultimately ended with a run to the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament … Led by seniors such as Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and all-conference performer Micah Williams (Manchester), the Bucs enjoyed impressive road wins at Atlantic 10 Conference member Dayton and Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State, while also finishing second in the A-Sun Conference standings … Along with Smith and Williams, fellow senior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) continued to impress fans with his high-flying dunks, which twice landed him as the No. 1 play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter and earned him a spot in the national slam dunk championships … Unfortunately for the Bucs, Smith, Williams and Tubbs have departed, leaving the team with the unenviable task of having to replace over 42 points of offensive production from a year ago – equal to 60 percent of the team’s scoring in 2010-11 … The Bucs will begin looking for those offensive numbers from returning starters such as senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), while senior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) – a 2010 A-Sun all-conference and all-tournament performer – will return to the floor after taking a medical redshirt season a year ago … Other returning players looking to improve their production will include junior guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Jarvis Jones (Memphis), junior forwards J.C. Ward (Marietta) and Lukas Poderis (Tampa), and redshirt freshman point guard Ryan Woumn (Lynn, Mass.) … The Bucs have also added a talented recruiting class.
The series versus Jacksonville
The Bucs are 10-4 all-time against the Dolphins, including a pair of wins over JU a year ago ... ETSU has won five straight in the series ... The Bucs won the last meeting 80-64 back on Feb. 11, 2011.
Last time out against Jacksonville
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 11, 2011) - Putting together a dominating offensive effort in the first half, the ETSU men’s basketball team built a 24-point halftime lead and held off a Jacksonville rally late in the second half to take an 80-64 win in Atlantic Sun Conference play inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Buccaneers shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and dominated statistically. But after the break, Jacksonville managed to battle back into the game and cut the ETSU lead to just 10 points at 70-60 with 3:09 left in the contest. However, the Bucs then hit 10-of-10 from the line to ice the victory. ... ETSU put four players in double figures, with senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) leading the way with a game-high 23 points. Meanwhile, fellow senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) posted 21 points, while junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) had 13 points and seven assists. Junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) also had a strong showing, posting a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. ... The Bucs roared out of the gates in the first half, as Smith scored 11 of the Bucs first 22 points and ETSU led 22-7 with 14 minutes left on the clock. JU managed to battle back at that point, going on a 15-6 run of its own to cut the deficit to just six at 28-22 on back-to-back lay ups from Ayron Hardy. ... However, ETSU was unfazed by the Dolphins’ rally, as the Bucs bombed away from the field and from 3-point range. ETSU ultimately went on a 23-5 run to close out the half and enjoyed a 51-27 edge at the break. ... JU cut the lead to 10 points late in the second half, but could get no closer.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 9, 2012) – Overcoming an uninspired first half effort, the ETSU men’s basketball team went to a man-to-man defense and turned up the full-court pressure in the second half, rallying for acting head coach Scott Wagers as the Buccaneers enjoyed a 73-69 win over Kennesaw State inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... Wagers, who was standing in so head coach Murry Bartow could attend funeral services for his father Gene in Birmingham, Ala., looked on as the Bucs won for the third straight time and improved to 8-7 overall, 3-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. ... The Bucs, who were down by as many as 11 early in the second half, went on a 22-6 run at that point to gain a five-point edge 49-44 with 10 minutes left in the game. From there, KSU went back on top at 54-51, but again ETSU answered the run and led the rest of the way to pick up the victory. ... ETSU’s senior trio of Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) were key to the victory, with Hubbard posting a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Sollazzo scoring a team-high 20 points, and Brown pitching in 10 points and five boards. ... Meanwhile, Jarvis Jones – the junior guard from Memphis – scored 13 second-half points, and fellow junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) netted 12 points. ... In the first half, Kennesaw State used runs of 9-0 early in the game and another 11-2 spurt in the final five minutes on the half to take a 31-23 advantage at the break. ... However, the second half was a different story for ETSU – thanks mainly to a switch from zone to man-to-man, as well as a re-energized full-court defensive attack. Even so, Kennesaw State still led 54-53 with just over five minutes left in the game. ... From there though, the Bucs hit on 12-of-14 shots from the foul line and got timely baskets from Sollazzo, Jones, Cooley and Hubbard in the final minutes.
Sollazzo stepping up his offensive game
Senior point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has found a strong offensive rhythm in recent games ... In his last 11 games, Sollazzo has scored in double figures 10 times ... Over that time frame, he has averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 assists, and 5.2 rebounds, and is shooting 49 percent from the floor. ... Sollazzo currently ranks first on the team in points (15.9 ppg) and assists (4.9 rpg), and is third in rebounds (5.5 rpg).
Bucs, Cooley among nation’s best in steals
Key to the Bucs’ wins this year has been the ability to swipe the ball from opponents ... Through games of Jan. 8, ETSU ranked second in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.3 steals a contest ... Meanwhile, junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) has been on a torrid pace this season and a big reason for the Bucs’ success in the steals category, averaging 2.3 steals per game ... Through games as of Jan. 8, he ranked 20th nationally in steals per game. ... As a team, the Bucs have four players who rank in the Top 10 among Atlantic Sun Conference players in steals per game, they are: Cooley (2.3), Tommy Hubbard (3rd, 1.7), Isiah Brown (T9th, 1.5), Adam Sollazzo (T9th, 1.5)
Getting to the free throw line a key for the Bucs
In recent years, the Bucs have focused on playing stingy defense, but also driving to the basket on offense and trying to get “tough” points thanks to fouls ... One way for the ETSU coaching staff to determine how successful the Bucs have been is charting free throw attempts and makes ... Well if this statistic is a true indicator, then the Bucs did just as the coaches would like ... Last season, ETSU set a school record for free throw attempts, putting up a total of 856 free tosses ... The Bucs also made their share of those attempts, ranking second on the all-time list with 580 makes ... The 2010-11 edition of the Bucs came up just nine makes short of the all-time record, held by the 1991-92 Bucs at 589. ... This season, after starting out the year shooting poorly from the foul line, the Bucs are have improved those numbers and are now shooting 65 percent from the charity stripe.
Poderis reaches career mark for rebounds
In recent weeks, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) has become a truly valuable part of the Buccaneers attack ... In the win over Mercer, Poderis picked up a career high 10 rebounds, and that effort came two days after he matched his career high for points with 14 against USC Upstate ... In the win over Kennesaw State in the Bucs’ last game, he posted another nine-rebound effort ... For the year, Poderis is averaging 5.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game.
Block party for Brown
With a block in last season’s finale against Iona, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) set a new school record for blocks in a single season, swatting away a total of 71 shots on the year ... For his career, he now stands fourth on the all-time list at 165, but is just 17 blocks behind the program’s all-time leader Zakee Wadood ... In addition to those marks, Brown’s six-block performance against Belmont last year also matched the program’s single-game record ... At the time, Brown joined six other ETSU players who have had six-block games, including former standouts Brad Nuckles, Eryk Thomas, Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood, Greg Dennis and Greg Hamlin.
Bucs showing “flex”-ability with offense
In ETSU’s game against Appalachian State back on Dec. 10, the Bucs debuted a new offensive wrinkle, utilizing one of basketball’s most traditional offenses ... The “flex” is an offense that utilizes multiple screens and a great deal of slashing throughout the paint ... The results were good for the Bucs, who enjoyed several layups and dunks against the Mountaineers, as they won 65-48 to snap a four-game losing streak.
On their way to 1,000 points
As they begin their seniors seasons, ETSU’s trio of Isiah Brown, Adam Sollazzo and Tommy Hubbard are all eying the 1,000 point mark for their careers. After the season opener at Virginia Tech, here is where each stands:
Isiah Brown........................................................................ 943 points
Tommy Hubbard ........................................................... 712 points
Adam Sollazzo ................................................................ 790 points
To reach 1,000, the three would have to average the following during the regular season:
Isiah Brown..................................................... 7.0 points per game
Tommy Hubbard....................................... 14.7 points per game
Adam Sollazzo............................................ 14.8 points per game
Bucs add to postseason resume
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
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 … The Buccaneers -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament 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 Conference team, as well as 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 programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.