MACON, Ga. (March 2, 2012) – Well, the ETSU men’s basketball team just could not let the Belmont Bruins leave without one more matchup with conference title implications.
The only two teams to have won the Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball championship since 2006 will meet once again, as the Buccaneers and Bruins face off Friday evening at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the 2012 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championship.
Belmont, which has won this tournament in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, will be leaving the A-Sun for the Ohio Valley Conference at the end of this season. Meanwhile, the Bucs, who won the league title in 2009 and 2010, don’t want the championship going home with a team that’s packing their bags and planning a move.
For more on Friday’s game, visit click on the game notebook link to the right or read the game notes located below. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the A-Sun championship, visit ETSUBucs.com or AtlanticSun.org for complete coverage.
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.
The Bucs in the A-Sun Tournament
Entering just their seventh Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the Buccaneers are 11-4 all-time and have won eight of their last nine games in tournament play ..Recently, ETSU enjoyed a perfect 3-0 run through the tournament back in 2010 ... The Bucs’ previous trips included a loss in the first round of the event in 2006, advancing to the finals in 2007, falling in the semifinals in 2008, and winning the tournament in both 2009 and 2010 ... In 2011, the Bucs lost to UNF in the semifinals. ... In conference tournaments all-time (including the Southern and Ohio Valley), the Bucs are 41-22, having gone 8-3 in league championship final games.
Bucs hoping to add one more NCAA trip
Having already made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament in its history, the ETSU men’s basketball team would like to add another conference tournament trophy to the case in the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center ... The Bucs’ current stretch of success under head coach Murry Bartow is arguably the second best run in ETSU hoops history ... The most memorable stretch was from 1989 to 1992, when the Bucs made four straight trips to the NCAAS, were ranked in the Top 10 nationally (1991), and defeated Arizona in the NCAA first round in 1992 ... The Bucs only other trip prior to that run came in 1968 ... While head coach Ed DeChellis took the Bucs to the tournament in 2003, Bartow has taken the Bucs to the tournament three times (2004, 2009 and 2010), while also leading ETSU to the 2007 NIT and the 2011 CIT.
Last time out at the A-Sun Tournament
MACON, Ga. (March 1, 2012) – Senior Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) scored a game-high 22 points and broke the ETSU all-time record for blocked shots on a critical play with 57 seconds left, lifting the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 68-66 win over North Florida during first round play at the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championships Thursday afternoon inside Mercer’s University Center. ... Brown was joined in double figures by junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) with 13 points, while seniors Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) pitched in 13 and 11, respectively. The Buccaneers (17-13 overall) shot 51 percent from the floor for the game, on their way to setting up a semifinal matchup with league rival Belmont Friday evening at 6 p.m. ... hat game will air on regional cable courtesy of CSS, and will also be available at ASun.TV. ... In a game that ETSU led most of the way, the Bucs still never led by more than seven points. It led to some nerve-racking final moments. ... After tying the record of 182 career blocks held by former ETSU standout Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) by stuffing a shot earlier in the game, Brown denied a 3-point attempt by UNF sharp-shooter Parker Smith in the final minute and the Bucs leading 66-64. On that play, Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) later stole the ball and scored a lay-up to make it 68-64. ... From there, UNF later made it 68-66 and after a missed free throw by Dubose, the Ospreys had one final opportunity to tie or win the game. Instead, ETSU’s defense swarmed over UNF and held for the final 22 seconds. The only opportunity UNF managed was a long, desperation shot by Smith as time expired. ... The Bucs now turn their attention to Belmont, who they have not met in league tournament play since defeating the Bruins in the semifinals of the 2009 A-Sun Tournament. Since that game, Belmont is a perfect 4-0 against the Bucs.
The series versus Belmont
The Bucs have lost four straight regular season games to the Bruins, but ETSU’s last win over Belmont came in the 2009 A-Sun semifinals as the Bucs were headed to the tournament title ... The Bucs and Bruins have met 22 times in their histories, with the Bucs trailing the series, 8-14 ... The Bucs were a perfect 5-0 against Belmont prior to 2005, when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Since that time, ETSU is 3-14 against Belmont ... Three of those games have gone to overtime, with ETSU going 1-2 in those contests, ... The last meeting between the two was a 80-58 Belmont win back on Feb. 18, 2012 in Nashville.
Last time out against Belmont
NASHVILLE (Feb. 18, 2012) – Consistently victimizing ETSU’s zone defense and connecting on 11 3-pointers on the night, the Belmont Bruins handed the Buccaneers an 80-58 defeat in Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball action Saturday evening at the Curb Event Center. ... It marked ETSU’s sixth loss in its last nine A-Sun games, and dropped the Bucs to 13-13 overall, 7-8 in conference action. Meanwhile, Belmont improved to 21-7 overall, 13-2 in A-Sun play, and now owns sole possession of first place in the league standings. ... Losing for the sixth time in the last seven trips to the Curb, the Buccaneers suffered an offensive drought midway through the first half and looked on as the Bruins put together a decisive 22-6 run that helped result in a 16-point halftime lead. ... For the first 10 minutes, ETSU held its own with the first-place Bruins and the Buccaneers found themselves tied at 15-15. However, at that point Belmont manufactured its run powered by five 3-pointers – including three from senior guard Drew Hanlen – and ultimately led 37-21 at the break. ... Belmont shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and hit on 46.7 percent of its 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, ETSU was 0-of-5 from beyond the arc and shot just 32.3 percent from the field. ... The story did not get better after the break, as Belmont built a lead of as many as 26 points at 51-25 and cruised to the victory. It was the first 20-plus point loss for the Bucs since a 71-50 defeat to Ole Miss back on Dec. 18, 2010. ... For ETSU, junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) scored a team-high 13 points, while senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) netted 12. The Bucs shot just 37 percent from the floor and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
Block party for Brown
With two blocks in Thursday’s win over North Florida, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) set a new school record for career blocks, surpassing the 182 blocks recorded by former star Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) from 2000-04 ... Brown started his attack of the record books last year, setting a school record for blocks in a single season, swatting away a total of 71 shots in 2010-11... 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.
Hubbard returns to double-double play at A-Sun
Already with 18 double-doubles in his career, senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) added another to his list in the quarterfinals against North Florida ... Hubbard posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, but also had a career high six steals in the game ... His play has been a key to ETSU’s success for the last four seasons, and Thursday night that was the case again.
Sollazzo named to 2011-12 All A-Sun First Team
MACON, Ga. (Feb. 27, 2012) – Following a regular season that saw him lead the ETSU men’s basketball team in scoring and assists, while also eclipsing 1,000 points for his career, senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.) was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team, the league office announced Monday ... Picked in voting by the league’s coaches, Sollazzo scored in double figures 22 times and eclipsed 20 points on five different occasions. He finished the season averaging 15.5 points, 4.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds a game. While he led the team in scoring and assists, he ranked third in rebounding and third in steals (1.7 spg). ... He flirted with a triple-double in multiple games this season, including an impressive individual 19-point, seven-assist, seven-rebound effort against Tennessee back on Dec. 23, as well as another 19-point, eight-assist, and eight-rebound outing against Florida Gulf Coast in the Bucs’ last regular season game on Feb. 25. ... He finished the year ranked in the A-Sun Top 5 for points (3rd), assists (3rd), steals (4th) and minutes played (4th).
Brown, Sollazzo reach 1,000 points; Hubbard comes up short
As they began their seniors seasons, ETSU’s trio of Isiah Brown, Adam Sollazzo and Tommy Hubbard were all eying the 1,000 point mark for their careers ... While Brown and Sollazzo have both reached that mark, Hubbard remains the only senior short of that mark ... He currently stands at 862 points for his career.
Bucs 2nd nationally in steals, Cooley ranked 11th on list
Key to the Bucs’ wins this year has been the ability to swipe the ball from opponents ... Through games of Feb. 26, ETSU ranks No. 2 in the country in steals per game, averaging 10.4 steals a contest ... Meanwhile, junior Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) has been on a torrid pace this season and is a big reason for the Bucs’ success in the steals category, averaging a conference best 2.5 steals per game ... He currently ranks 11th nationally in steals. ... The Bucs have four players ranked in the Top 10 among A-Sun players in steals: Cooley (1st, 2.5), Tommy Hubbard (2nd, 2.1), Adam Sollazzo (4th, 1.7), and Isiah Brown (8th, 1.5).
Rembert breaks out
Freshman guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa), who was recruited for his ability to score the basketball, came off the bench to provide valuable minutes in the Bucs’ win over Kennesaw State (2/4) ... Going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range, Rembert netted 11 points for ETSU during a critical stretch midway through the game ... Afterwards, head coach Murry Bartow commented how Rembert was probably the player of the game.
Brown sets new career mark
With his 27-point effort in the win over North Florida, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) set a new career high for single-game scoring ... Brown, who was honored prior to the UNF game for recently eclipsing 1,000 points for his career, put on an offensive show against the Ospreys ... For the 6-foot-8 senior, it was his best game since a 25-point effort against Kentucky in the 2010-11 opener.
Walton provides valuable minutes off the bench
Having waited patiently for an opportunity to contribute, freshman forward John Walton (Memphis) made the most of his opportunity in the Bucs’ win over Lipscomb (2/20) ... With senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) out with an injury early in the game, Walton came on and set new career marks for minutes played (21), rebounds (3), blocks (3) and steals (4) ... He also pitched in a pair of free throws ... For the 6-foot-8 forward, it was a chance to show what he can bring to the Bucs’ lineup.
Poderis reaches career mark for rebounds -- twice
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 ... He rewrote the record books for his rebounding with a new personal best of 11 boards against Stetson (2/23) ... In the win over Kennesaw State, he posted another nine-rebound effort ... For the year, Poderis is averaging 4.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 20.3 minutes a game.
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 64 percent for the year as a team.
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.