Highlights from Stetson Win

East Tennessee State Buccaneers

Here are some highlights from Saturdays thrilling come from behind 62-61 victory versus Stetson, including the game winning 3-point shot from Rashawn Rembert

I’ve seen a lot of Buc comebacks in my time but this game has to be one of the craziest. While the Bucs did not play well most of the game they fought back after being down 20 points with 10 minutes left in the game and hit a huge 3-pointer with 5.5 seconds left to beat Stetson.

The Bucs next play on Thursday night versus KSU in Johnson City.

Highlights

Coach Bartow Postgame Interview

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New Lighting and Banner Setup in the Dome

The ETSU Facebook page posted this photo a few hours ago of the new lighting and banner setup inside of the mini dome.

I think it looks good but I was also under the impression that more seating would be added around the court to close up some of those open spaces. It also seems kind of dark in the upper stands behind the benches and bleachers. I’m assuming that part will be more lit up during game day.

Overall I think it’s a nice improvement. My only complaint is I hope more and better seating will be added to surround the court better.

What is everyone else’s opinion?

New lighting inside of the Mini Dome

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Bucs Learn Lessons, Gain Experience in Chapel Hill

ETSU vs UNC
North Carolina and ETSU

Johnson City, Tn. – As the final horn sounded, the mercy of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams could clearly be seen.  The Tar Heels played all 16 players listed on the roster, and would’ve probably played the intramural champions and members of the football team if NCAA rules allowed it.  No player for the Tar Heels played over 23 minutes, with starters James McAdoo and Dexter Strickland showing the way in minutes played.  What clearly could’ve been a record setting day for the Heels in points allowed, points scored and just about every other statistical category, was more of a sign of sportsmanship and the chance to get some role players in the scorer’s book.  Anyone who watched knows this game could’ve been 120-24, easily.

So what did ETSU gain (besides a paycheck) for this game?  With such a young roster, valuable experience, film and the chance to play against one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball.  Players like Lester Wilson, Rashawn Rembert and John Walton will continue to grow as players, which may not help much this season but as upperclassmen will pay huge dividends.  The adversity that this group of young men are having to overcome is something Buc fans haven’t seen in a long time, you have to go back to late in the Alan LeForce era and the early days of Ed DeChellis to find a team so short on scholarship athletes and division I experience.  The Bucs move on Friday to Ole Miss, where all things point to another difficult outing, even if grades are posted on time and Jarvis Jones gets cleared (Hint:  get your butt in gear ETSU and get the grades up).

As we continue through what potentially could be a very difficult season, we’ve seen to this point out of these “Young Bucs” what true ETSU Pride really is.  They’ve gone out in every game, played as hard they can, given the best effort they can night in and night out.  It’s clear it will continue to be a struggle as they learn to play together, and play at the Division I level.  We’re going to continue to see this team struggle, frustrating losses potentially could be the norm this season and not the exception along with some plays that will leave even the most novice of fans

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Bucs’ Bartow Still Feeling the Affects of Losing His Father?

Murry Bartow
Murry Bartow

There is no greater pain in life for a child than the loss of a parent.  From conception on, a child is closer to his or her parents than anyone else.  Even when there’s a disconnect, whether it be from adoption, estrangement, etc… most children still miss their mom and dad.  It’s no secret among Buc fans that head coach Murry Bartow truly is a “Chip off the ol’ block.”  As an undergrad, I remember seeing the late Gene Bartow visit and be at games, much like Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson and his father Wimp Sanderson.

Upon reflection, I’ve noticed the declining health and eventual passing of the elder Bartow has appeared to take a severe physical and emotional toll on the younger Bartow.  His approach to everything he does publically seems different now.  From coaching style, recruiting, interviews and even his physical appearance makes it seem as though he’s lost focus.   He didn’t have discipline issues other than one hiccup in the 04-05 season, which is still his only losing record in his time leading the blue and gold.  One wonders if he’s gotten complacent in his job, multiple trips to the NCAA’s, 20 win seasons and statistically being the most successful coach in school history.  The bottom line is, he’s lost a step the last few years.  The program has been plagued with discipline problems, underage consumption/DUI, domestic assault, and other legal issues are the things that have made the papers.  Whispers off lockerroom issues with teammates who have now left, alleged drug use and even dealing from on campus apartments, and squabbling over who’s getting shots have led to a disconnect among teammates, and an in house cancer has made for a rough patch.

After the abysmal loss to an overly pedestrian James Madison, the Bucs were shown mercy at North Carolina, which to me I would have rather UNC given an honest effort rather than playing the pep band, male cheerleaders, and Phil Ford.  This is a territory that ETSU hasn’t been through in a long time, and one that a man grieving may find challenging to pull out of.  Gene Bartow was more than just a father, he was a colleague, friend, mentor and confidant to his son.  His loss may very well have led to complacency and perhaps even a level of apathy that seems to plague ETSU not just in athletics, but the campus as a whole.  Time will be the factor in telling whether or not Bartow “wakes up” in time to salvage an already tough stretch.

-Scott Lawson

 

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Young and Depleted, Bucs Set to Improve Against 16th ranked North Carolina

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina

Johnson City, Tn. – With ETSU extremely limited in just about every facet of the game, the trip to Chapel Hill might be more of a learning experience rather a shot at shocking the world.  The Bucs will face a nationally ranked North Carolina team expected to contend not just in the perennially tough ACC, but also for a trip to Atlanta for the Final Four.  Head coach Murry Bartow is left again to find a replacement for injured point guard Petey McClain, as he continues to recover from his ankle injury.  Kinard Gadsden Gilliard it looks like will be ready to give it a go on Saturday when the Bucs tip off inside the Dean Smith Center at 7:30 (ESPN3/Buccaneer Sports Network).

The roster woes will continue for the Bucs, as the earliest its’ projected that Jarvis Jones could be back would be for the Ole Miss game, and ETSU alums know how getting grades posted can go.  (Writer’s note:  It can take an eternity for them to be put online.)  Playing a nationally ranked opponent and one that let’s be honest here, is head and shoulders ahead of you will be valuable for a group that at this point has no leadership and is continuing to gain experience by the game.

The Heels are led by the living legend, Roy Williams, and will come at ETSU offensively with multiple looks.  James McAdoo leads the team in several offensive categories (nose hair isn’t one of them) including points per game, shots made, shots taken and minutes.  McAdoo is also the teams leading rebounder.  And while anyone who’s ever watched North Carolina or knows Roy Williams knows that zone defense simply is not an option, until now.  Look for the Tar Heels throw some zone out there just to have some different looks for ETSU as well as future opponents to digest.

After the Bucs were blown out by a pedestrian James Madison squad, Murry Bartow said:  “It’s not that we’re not playing hard, but if you look at the box score no one really played well.”  With guys out of position it’s tough, Rashawn Rembert who is really more of a 2-3 guard and maybe even a small forward was forced into the role of point guard.  Bartow compared that to a tight end playing quarterback.  With Gilliard returning it should provide a little relief to the legs of a young group that will only continue to improve with each passing game.

Side notes:  Saturday is UNC’s Toys for Tot’s game, in short, bring a toy!  Also, ETSU is having another alumni gathering before the game, with a chance to speak with Dr. Noland not just about hoops, but all of the exciting changes that are certain to come at ETSU in the coming days, months and years.  If you’re going to the game, don’t miss out on a great opportunity here.  The only alumni connection I can really think of at this time is two:  Scot Brummet and Gerald Sensabaugh, two of the members of the 2003 football team who transferred to North Carolina at the conclusion of what appeared to be the Bucs last football game.

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Bucs Set to Head North to Take On James Madison

James Madison
James Madison

Johnson City, Tn. – The rebuilding campaign continues for the now REALLY YOUNG Bucs Wednesday night when the travel up I-81 to play 2-5 James Madison in Harrisonburg, Virginia (7 PM tipoff).  After some of the more tumultuous moments in the Bartow era, the Bucs have managed to post a couple of wins and began to move past the off court troubles and back to basketball.   They will do so however with a razor thin roster, as freshman point guard Petey McClain is OUT with an ankle injury, and Kinard Gadsden Gilliard is hampered with ankle issues.  With six scholarship players available, expect the Bucs to dig deep into the roster, with walk on player and Kingsport native Todd Halvorsen seeing some action, if nothing more just to have some age on the court.  When the Bucs take the floor, this will be the youngest and most inexperienced lineup in the Bartow era at ETSU.  One scholarship junior is for sure available in Hunter Harris, the junior college transfer will be playing in his sixth division I basketball game, with the most experienced players being John Walton and Rashawn Rembert.

The outlook for JMU is different, but similar.  Injuries have plagued the Dukes the entire tenure of head coach Matt Brady, and this year is no different.  Returning to the lineup is preseason All CAA selection AJ Davis, as well as leading scorer Rayshawn Goins and leading rebounder Devon Moore.  Andrey Semenov has been bothered by a groin injury and as of this typing it is unclear whether or not he will be a go for the inter-conference tilt.  At 2-5, JMU has certainly seen its’ share of early season struggles, despite having a roster chock full of fifth year seniors, and explosive freshmen who have been seeing time on the floor.  Replacing Humpty Hitchens has been met with somewhat balanced scoring, with the Dukes having three players averaging double figures, but not much else.  Expect Devon Moore to give ETSU fits on the defensive end, but also is solid with ball distribution offensively.

The midweek game gives the Bucs their third road game out of the last four.  It also kicks off a three game road stretch that includes stops at North Carolina and the “Tad Pad” at Ole Miss.  The game can be heard on the same Buccaneer Sports Network stations as usual and be seen online for free through Madizone, JMU’s Official Audio and Video Home for athletics.  As a side note, Murry and Gene Bartow rank fourth all time in NCAA wins as a father/son duo.

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Lack of Accountability a Cause For Concern for Buc Fans

Johnson City, Tn. – Times they are tumultuous on State of Franklin these days.  As the new wears off for ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland, he continues to deal with a recurring theme with its’ most visible entity, men’s basketball.  Just in 2012, he’s dealt with a botched sweepstakes, armed robbery, fraud, and the most recent, a drug bust involving two seniors that were supposed to be the “leaders” of this years’ squad.  The fact is in the last few years, ETSU basketball has seen a developing trend in off the court issues that are starting to show up on the stat sheets as well as the win/loss column.

Think back a few years, the late Seth Coy made a mistake and was charged with DUI and underage consumption.  He was driving drunk in front of the university, separate of the tragic events a short time later, but still a huge mistake.  While Coy was “disciplined internally,” the whole thing quietly went away and Buc fans dismissed it as kids being kids.

Enter Tommy Hubbard.  A 2010 arrest on a vandalism charge after he destroyed his girlfriends’ laptop following an on campus domestic dispute.  After being suspended indefinitely by head coach Murry Bartow, he was allowed back.  He never missed a minute of game action for this.

Fast forward to 2012.  This past February, former ETSU player JC Ward was involved in another incident that just quietly went away with Sheldon Cooley where he was charged with filing a false police report.  This, after an alleged break in at their on campus apartment.  Ward withdrew from the university without facing any punishment, and Cooley missed a total of four games, two in the regular season and two in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

All this brings us to present day, where Cooley and Marcus Dubose have been suspended indefinitely following arrests from a Drug Task Force, in which Dubose was found to have enough of a Schedule VI narcotic in his posession that he was charged with Posession with intent to resale.  The paraphenalia charge was a set of scales.  All of this without mentioning the halftime fiasco where ETSU didn’t ensure its’ halftime promotion properly for a halfcourt shot (2nd time that’s happened) AND senior Jarvis Jones was declared academically ineligible for the fall semester.  A timeline of events where there’s not truly been accountability for the basketball players, and it’s shown on the court.  Fans see a clear decline in ETSU basketball, where this year it’s really showing up on the stat sheet and the wins column.  Barring the amazing performance at Charleston Southern where the Bucs came back from being down double digits, ETSU has been abysmal in the regular season.  In the latest rankings, The Bucs are in the 300’s in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage.  Out of 347 Division I playing men’s basketball teams, that translates to the Bucs being ranked in the bottom 50 in three major offensive categories.  And oh by the way, in the one offensive category that a guard oriented team SHOULD be good at in free throw percentage, the Bucs are a pedestrian 63 percent.

It’s clear there are problems, the message isn’t coming from the dome anymore, it’s coming from the President’s office, in a recent interview on WJHL-TV Dr. Noland let it be known that individuals “will be held accountable.”  The question is, as the losses are piling up, fans are staying away in droves, and the on court product continues to show the same lack of discipline and accountability as its’ off court product, who will be held accountable?  Players?  Coaches?  Administrators?  Only time will tell, but it’s clear that after this dark cloud passes over, ETSU needs to sweep the “Front Porch of the University.”

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Opponent Preview: Georgia (Fri., Nov. 23, 7:00pm EST, Stegeman Coliseum)

Note: The following preview has been compiled from information gathered from espn.com, blueribbonyearbookonline.com, etsufans.com, etsubucs.com and the opposing school’s website.  Information in this report is as of Oct. 1.

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs

 

 

 

 

 

Enrollment: 33,337

Location: Athens, GA

Basketball Facility: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523)

Stegeman Coliseum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athletic Conference: SEC

SEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Versus ETSU:  ETSU leads series 2-1.  Last meeting ETSU 76 – UGA 58 in Hawaii (2007)

 

Last Season 15-17 (.469)
Conference Record 5-11 (t-10th)
Starters Lost/Returning 1/4
Coach Mark Fox (Eastern New Mexico ’91)
Record At School 50-46 (3 years)
Career Record 173-91 (8 years)
RPI Last 5 years 99-194-109-52-104

 COACH AND PROGRAM

Head Coach Mark Fox
Head Coach Mark Fox

Georgia coach Mark Fox isn’t ready to say the rebuilding job he inherited is complete, but he likes the progress the program has made in his first three seasons.

“I probably feel better about Georgia basketball today than I ever have,” Fox said. “We felt this was a difficult situation — a complete rebuilder. And we had a couple of curve balls thrown our way with a couple of guys leaving early, and we weren’t in position to withstand that. But I believe we can win at a very high level.”

Those two curve balls were named Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, both of whom declared for the NBA Draft after the 2010-11 season and were chosen in the second round by the Los Angeles Clippers. Kentucky may be able to lose multiple draft picks every year and retool with McDonald’s All-Americans. Not Georgia.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Fox and his staff did bring in 6-5 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a consensus five-star recruit, and he was good as a freshman, earning a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team. But despite Caldwell-Pope (13.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.8 spg) and the presence of two veteran guards, departed seniors Gerald Robinson (14.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg) and Dustin Ware (8.1 ppg, 2.3 apg), the Bulldogs couldn’t finish above .500. Their lack of overall firepower (60.9 ppg, .395 FG, .312 3PT) left them vulnerable.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

But the last five games of the season, the Bulldogs — who started 1-7 in Southeastern Conference play — developed some bite, beating Florida at home and Mississippi State in the first round of the SEC tournament.

Caldwell-Pope was front and center in those two wins, and another freshman, 6-8, 230-pound Nemanja Djurisic began playing like a guy who might one day average a double-double.

Georgia’s play in March gave Fox and his staff reason for hope. So did a recruiting class that saw Georgia land three of the four in-state high school players it targeted — only Tony Parker, a four-star recruit from state power Miller Grove, disappointed with his late-April decision to attend UCLA — helping reverse a long trend of the big state school failing to mine the rich lode of talent within close proximity.

Marcus Thorton
Marcus Thorton

In its last three recruiting classes, Georgia has signed two former Georgia Mr. Basketballs — 6-8, 230-pound junior Marcus Thornton (3.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), whose 2011-12 season was wrecked by injury, and McDonald’s All-American Caldwell-Pope — and three players — Kenneth Gaines, Charles Mann and Brandon Morris — who helped lead their respective high schools to Georgia state championships in 2012.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Fox said about restocking his roster with homegrown talent. “We’re not going to completely solve overnight a problem that’s been around a quarter century, but we’ve made a lot of headway.”  That will be evident this season if Caldwell-Pope takes the next step in his development, Thornton can play without pain in his knees and Gaines, Mann and Morris assume spots in the rotation, which Fox expects to happen.

Caldwell-Pope made a big impact on the SEC — Kentucky’s John Calipari called him “a game changer,” — despite the fact he played out of position at the three. That allowed him to lead Georgia in rebounding, but it hampered his development in other ways.

“Playing out of position every night against older, more physical players hurt his productivity,” Fox said. “Now that I’ve got him back at his natural position [two guard] and he’s a year older, he’s probably going to become the guy that’s the face of our program.”

Caldwell-Pope was probably too reliant on the 3-pointer last year, cranking out 214 shots from behind the arc. He made 65, but his .304 percentage has to improve, as does his .654 free-throw percentage.

Thornton was leading Georgia in rebounding (5.8 rpg) through the first 12 games of last season, but he injured his right knee against Furman and had to undergo arthroscopic surgery. Thornton missed five games and wasn’t nearly as effective after his return. After the season, he underwent surgery on his left knee and wasn’t able to play during the Bulldogs’ trip to Italy in August. That was his third knee surgery in two years.

“Once he’s healthy, we think he can be very effective for us,” Fox said. “He’s extremely powerful. He can guard four positions. He’s a very good rebounder, and his offense is coming along.

“He’s never been able to get comfortable offensively because he’s never been healthy. He’s a great leaper and hasn’t been able to use it because of his injuries. But when he’s healthy, he can drive it to the basket, knock down a three and can post up some.”

Donte Williams
Donte Williams

With Thornton injured, 6-9, 225-pound junior Donte Williams (7.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) had to become a major con-tributor inside. After averaging six minutes a game as a freshman, Williams played 25.9 a game last season and his numbers improved markedly. He led Georgia in blocked shots (51), was second in rebounding and scored in double figures seven times, including a pair of 17-point games against South Dakota State and Kentucky.

Nemanja Djurisic
Nemanja Djurisic

Along with Williams, Djurisic (7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg) also began to emerge in 2011-12. He started 12 times at the four position and showed signs of becoming a legit inside-out player. He put together consecutive double-figure rebounding games in March (10 against South Carolina, 11 against Mississippi State) and shot .364 from 3 (20 of 55), second on the team.

“He’s as versatile an offensive player as we probably have,” Fox said. “He can shoot threes and also post up and score. He’s an excellent passer. Physically, he was probably thrown into the fire before he was ready after Trey Thompkins left, but he was a very good player for us.”

Georgia has some size and depth in the post, if the trio of 6-9, 225-pound sophomore Tim Dixon (0.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg), 6-10, 240-pound sophomore John Cannon (1.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg) and 6-11, 240-pound senior John Florveus (1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg) can take the next step.

Dixon and Cannon played sparingly as freshmen, but Florveus, who transferred from junior college a year ago, played in 32 games, started three times and averaged 12.8 minutes. He blocked 22 shots, second on the team. Florveous added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which should help him do battle in a league that’s traditionally filled with athletic, physical post players.

Two veteran guards will get an opportunity to fend off the challenges of two freshmen. Vincent Williams (2.9 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.3 apg), a 6-0 senior point, started 11 games as a junior, put together a solid assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) and was a respectable 3-point shooter (.333).

“He was very solid,” Fox said. “He was playing behind our best player in Gerald Robinson, but this season he’ll have a great opportunity to play significant minutes.”

Sherrard Brantley (1.7 ppg, 0.8 rpg), a 6-2 senior, was brought in from junior college to make 3s, but in two seasons he’s averaged .288 from behind the arc, including .255 last season (13 of 51).

Brantley had better make more shots if he wants to play, because freshman guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines should quickly move into Fox’s rotation.

At 6-4, Mann is a true point guard who last season averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 assists and led Milton High School of Alpharetta, Ga. to the Class AAAAA state championship. ESPN rated him the No. 21 point guard nationally.

“He has a natural instinct to pass the ball and make people better,” Fox said. “He’ll compete for the starting job with Vincent Williams.”

Gaines, a 6-3 scoring machine from Whitefield Academy in Atlanta, averaged 25.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals last season for a team that won the Class A state title. ESPN rated him the No. 24 shooting guard in his class.

“He’s an explosive scoring guard, a terrific athlete who knows how to put the ball in the basket,” Fox said. “We think he ultimately will be able to play both guard spots, but we probably won’t do that to him his freshman year.”

Fox says both rookie guards can make 3-pointers, which could help shore up a major 2011-12 weakness.

Yet another Georgia freshman helped his high school claim a state title a year ago. Brandon Morris, a 6-7 combo forward, averaged 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks for Miller Grove of Lithonia, Ga. which won its fourth straight Class AAAA championship. Morris was overshadowed in high school by the more heralded Tony Parker, but Fox is expecting big things from him.

“Brandon Morris will probably be the best player out of our freshman class,” Fox said. “He’s going to be a terrific SEC player. He’s another versatile guy who’s long and very athletic. He’s a great rebounder, and I think he will be an awesome defender. He can make an open jump shot and drive it to the basket.”

When Parker opted for UCLA, Georgia knew where to turn for help in its frontcourt. Houston Kessler, a 6-8 freshman, is no Tony Parker, but he is a legacy recruit — his father is Chad Kessler, a four-year Georgia letterman, and his uncle was the late Alec Kessler, Georgia’s No. 2 career scorer.

The younger Kessler, is a stretch four man, is probably ticketed for a redshirt season, and there’s precedent within his family to suggest that could pay dividends.

“His dad was drafted into the NBA,” Fox said. “But his uncle was a lottery pick. The difference was dad did not redshirt, but his uncle did. We’d really like to redshirt Houston if we can. He’s a good shooter and rebounder who can eventually help us.”

Kessler didn’t win a Georgia high school championship in 2012, but he was a first-team Class A pick who ended up as the leading scorer in Landmark Christian School (Fairburn, Ga.) history. Kessler racked up 1,600 career points and more than 1,000 career rebounds.

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: B-
BENCH/DEPTH: C
FRONTCOURT: B-
INTANGIBLES: C+

cheerleader

Early defections to the NBA and injuries have hampered the program under Mark Fox’s watch, but he enters his fourth season in Athens with a full roster that includes nine scholarship players from talent-rich Georgia. If the trend of keeping in-state talent at home continues, this program will rise above the two-steps-forward-one-step-back mode it’s been stuck in the last couple of decades.

As for this season, the Bulldogs will be young and have to answer some questions. Can Caldwell-Pope elevate his game? Can Thornton shake off the knee injuries that have hampered his progress? Can freshman guards Mann and Gaines make immediate contributions?

If the answer to those questions turns out to be yes, Georgia will produce a winning record and could claim a postseason tournament berth. The NCAAs probably aren’t realistic this season, but a spot in the NIT would be a step in the right direction.

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