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Bucs aim to ground Flyers in opener at Dayton
Thursday, November 08, 2007
DAYTON, Ohio (Nov. 8, 2007) -- The ETSU men's basketball team will open its 2007-08 season Saturday at Atlantic 10 foe Dayton, with tip scheduled for 2 p.m. in the University of Dayton Arena.
The Buccaneers, who are coming off a 2006-07 season in which they won 24 games and the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title, face a daunting early season schedule which begins with this meeting against the Flyers, but also includes road matchups with Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Georgia, Marshall and Chattanooga.
Fans unable to attend the game in Dayton can listen live to the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network broadcast at ETSUBucs.com, and Dayton will offer live video streaming of the game at their website. The link to Dayton's stream is located above.
For more on the Bucs as they enter the 2007-08 season, read the season preview below:
A seven-time NCAA Tournament participant, the ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2007-08 season fresh off an Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship and the program's second trip to the National Invitation Tournament. With a 24-10 overall record and a 16-2 conference mark a year ago, the Bucs have built a great deal of excitement and momentum heading into the upcoming campaign.
The Bucs, who will be looking to make their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six seasons, will be led by junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who comes off a season in which he averaged 18.1 points and 3.7 assists per game on way to being named the A-Sun Player of the Year. While Pigram is the team's most heralded star, he is joined by a group of talented returning players including A-Sun All-Freshman team selection guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), sophomore guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville), senior post Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna). In addition, fifth-year senior Travis Strong (Memphis), the only remaining link to the Bucs' last NCAA Tournament trip in 2004, returns from a knee injury that cost him the 2006-07 season, while redshirt freshman Micah Williams (Manchester) hopes a year of working out and developing his talents pays off.
One newcomer that will be looked upon to provide significant playing time includes JuCo Division II Player of the Year Kevin Tiggs (
While the Bucs have the type of returning players and newcomers to build some preseason enthusiasm, a brutal pre-conference schedule will test the Bucs early and often. For instance, along with home games against 2007 NCAA Tournament participant Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 17) and 2007 NIT participant Appalachian State (Dec. 30), the Bucs will play a three-game road swing beginning at Big 12 member Oklahoma State (Dec. 8), then facing Big East foe Syracuse (Dec. 15), and meeting SEC opponent Georgia (Dec. 21) in the first round of the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii.
Along with Pigram, 2007 A-Sun Coach of the Year Murry Bartow will enter his fifth season at the helm of the Buccaneer ship with the core of his backcourt still intact. Smith returns after a season in which he finished second on the team with an average of 11 points and 3.7 rebounds a game at the wing, with Twilley back after averaging a team-best 4.0 assists per game in 27 minutes of action a contest as a freshman. Along with that trio, the Bucs can also play Swader and Tiggs at either the small forward or wing position, while Davis, Williams, Hubbard and Strong also give the team a great deal of depth on the perimeter.
With a transition oriented offense and stingy defensive style of play a year ago, the Bucs won 24 games and a conference title, so it is likely the team will take on a similar look again this year. In 2006-07, ETSU led the A-Sun in steals (9.9 spg), while also ranking second in assists per game, giving a clear indication of how important those two aspects of perimeter play are to the Bucs' success.
With the departure of senior's Brad Nuckles and Eryk Thomas, the Bucs have lost their two most dependable inside defenders and shot blockers from a year ago. That leaves Reed, along with sophomore Blake Mishler (
Again, the Bucs face a daunting schedule this year, which includes home games against former Ohio Valley Conference rival
In addition, the team will participate in the ESPN Bracketbuster Saturday, facing an opponent yet to be determined in the nationally televised annual event scheduled for late February. The Bucs' game with Georgia will be played in the first round of the Rainbow Classic, which will see the Bucs play three games in total during their stay in Honolulu, Hawaii. All those games and a 16 game conference slate will prepare the Bucs for another run at the NCAA Tournament in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships March 5-8 in