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Bucs set to face SEC's best in Kentucky
Thursday, November 11, 2010
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 11, 2010) -- In one of the most anticipated season openers in school history, the ETSU men's basketball team will face off with perennial power Kentucky Friday evening inside storied Rupp Arena at 7 p.m.
The game, which will be broadcast on numerous teleivision and internet outlets (check local listings), will feature an experience ETSU team that returns many of the same players who have enjoyed back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips. Meanwhile, Kentucky once again has highly-touted and talented players but is trying to rebound from losing as many as five players to the NBA Draft.
For more on the game, read the game notes below or click on the game notes 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.
The ETSU men's basketball team only added to its rich history of success during the 2009-10 season, capturing its second straight Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and earning the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament ... Posting the program's fourth 20-win season in the past seven years, the Bucs overcame multiple challenges during the season before dropping Mercer in the A-Sun finals ... The Bucs were led by a team of "role" players that included forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), guard Micah Williams (Manchester), guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.), post Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), and post J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) ... Hubbard finished the year as a second team All ASun player after leading the Bucs in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg), and was named to the league's All-Tournament squad ... Meanwhile, Williams finished the year on a tear, scoring in double figures in 11 straight games, including a 32-point effort against Campbell en route to being named the A-Sun Tournament MVP ... Only losing senior guard Jocolby Davis off the roster from 2009-10, the Bucs will add Smith back to the mix after receiving a medical redshirt a year ago, and a trio of incoming recruits will also add to the talent pool ... For those reasons, there is certainly reason to be excited and expectations will be high.
The series versus Kentucky
The Bucs and Wildcats have met three times previously, with Kentucky winning all three matchups … Prior to dropping ETSU 100-71 in the NCAA Tournament last season, the Wildcats had hosted the Bucs in Rupp Arena on two other occasions - during the 1980-81 and 1984-85 seasons … In those two matchups, the Bucs played well, losing 62-57 in the season opener back on 1980, while dropping a 69-54 contest in 1984.
Last time out against Kentucky
NEW ORLEANS (March 18, 2010) - Giving up a season high 54 points in the first half and facing a team that was hitting on all cylinders offensively, the 16th-seeded ETSU men's basketball team had no answers for No. 1 seed Kentucky Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the New Orleans Arena. … The Wildcats, considered by many to be the most talented team in the tournament, certainly looked and played like a team destined to win a national championship en route to a 100-71 victory over the Buccaneers. It was the largest deficit in ETSU's nine trips to March Madness. … Kentucky (33-2) definitely shot the ball much better than the Bucs had expected, making a season high 15 3-pointers, shooting 52 percent from the field, and 46 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Wildcats posted an impressive 27 assists on 31 made field goals. … Individually, the Cats were led by guard Eric Bledsoe, who netted a game-high 29 points and was 8-of-9 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, forward Patrick Patterson posted 22 and guard John Wall had 17. … For the Bucs, four players reached double figures, with junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) leading the way with 19. While Williams did not back down from one of the nation's best teams, other ETSU players also performed well, with junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) pitching in 15 points, sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) netting 14 all in the second half, and sophomore forward Isiah Brown (Miami) adding 11. … In the first half, the Buccaneers began the game with a strong showing, as a pair of 3-pointers from Tubbs helped ETSU to an early 10-9 lead at the 15:48 mark. But the Wildcats answered in a big way from that point, outscoring the Bucs 45-16 the rest of the half to lead 54-26 at the break … ETSU showed a great deal more fight and battled in the second half, as Kentucky managed to just outscore the Bucs 46-45 in the second 20 minutes.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 8, 2010) - Using an offensive surge in the opening minutes of the second half and posting another strong defensive effort, the ETSU men's basketball team rolled to another exhibition victory by dropping Tusculum 78-41 Monday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Bucs, who will open their 2010-11 regular season slate Friday evening at 7 p.m. against SEC foe Kentucky, got a game-high 16 points and double-double effort thanks to 13 rebounds from junior Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.). Meanwhile, senior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) added 15 points and fellow senior Micah Williams (Manchester) pitched in 10 points in the winning effort. ... ETSU did not get off to a good start in this one, trailing by a score of 7-2 five minutes into the game. However, the Buccaneers would outscore the Pioneers 30-9 over the next 15 minutes and ultimately led 36-21 at the break. ... After the intermission, the Bucs did not repeat their mistakes of the first half and for the second straight game used their aggressive full court press to ultimately outscore Tusculum, 42-20 the rest of the way. ETSU held the Pioneers to just 29 percent shooting for the game, while hitting on an impressive 59.3 percent clip.
The Bucs will be without freshman guard Ryan Woumn (Lynn, Mass.) against the Wildcats, as he is recovering from a foot injury … Meanwhile, senior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) continues to recover from a pair of leg injuries and is questionable for the game Friday night … Junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) will also not be available, as plans are for him to redshirt this season.
Bucs counting on "experience edge" against Wildcats
The Bucs will be looking for any edge they can find when taking on the country's most successful and storied college basketball program Friday night, and when it comes to experience - on paper ETSU looks good … All told, the Bucs have 33 years of previous college experience on its 15-man roster, while Kentucky is has just seven years of previous experience … The Wildcats said good bye to five NBA Draft picks one year ago, so the team that ETSU faced last March in the NCAA Tournament has had a significant face lift … The Bucs have many players with multiple years of experience, including three fifth-year seniors (Mike Smith, Micah Williams and Justin Tubbs), and a fourth-year junior (Isiah Brown).
Smith happy to be back on the floor with Bucs
One year ago, the Bucs were forced to play all put four games without the services of guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) due to an injury … However, Smith is back and brings his 1,157 career points with him … Without Smith, the Bucs struggled to score points last season (69.3 points per game) and relied heavily on its defensive efforts to win games … This year, the Bucs hope to continue to hold team's down offensively, while returning to their normal "high scoring" ways … In 104 career games, Smith is averaging 11.1 points per game.
Sollazzo continues number change in honor of Coy
When ETSU's rising sophomore forward Seth Coy (Montgomery, Ind.) was tragically killed in a car accident during the summer of 2009, it left the entire Buccaneer community with a deep sense of loss ... As is often the case, those that are left to mourn have looked for ways to remember the Bucs' 6-foot-11 "Gentle Giant." ... For junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who was Coy's roommate, the answer was simple ... Changing his jersey number from No. 20 to Coy's No. 43, Sollazzo will played the 2009-10 season in honor of his friend ... In addition, the Bucs were a special "43" batch on their uniforms this season in honor of their fallen friend and teammate … Sollazzo and the team have chosen to continue to honor Coy in this manner this season.
ETSU the "only" A-Sun team 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 eight NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, nine 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. The Bucs also were placed ahead of every current member of the Colonial Athletic Association with the exception of Old Dominion ... 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.