Opponent Preview: Tennessee Tech (Sat., Nov. 17, 4pm EST, MSHA Athletic Center)

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

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.

Versus ETSU:  ETSU leads series 34-32.  Last meeting 12/7/11; TTU won 83-74 in Cookeville.

Last Season 19-14 (.576)
Conference Record 9-7
Starters Lost/Returning 3/2
Coach Steve Payne (Union College ‘90)
Record At School 19-14 (1 year)
Career Record 19-14 (1 year)
RPI Last 5 years N/A


Head Coach Steve Payne
Head Coach Steve Payne

While Murray State and Steve Prohm demanded all the attention, first year head coach Steve Payne quietly coached TTU to a 19-14 record and took the Golden Eagles to the postseason in his first year at the school.

Despite returning just six players to the 2012-13 squad, the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team still managed to earn some respect from the rest of the Ohio Valley Conference at the league’s annual Media Day. The Golden Eagles who lost a total of eight players from last year’s team were picked to finish third in the newly developed East division.  The Ohio Valley Conference will introduce divisional play for the first time in 2012-13, a move made following the addition of Belmont to the conference over the summer.

Coach Payne, now in his second year as head coach after nine seasons as a TTU assistant,  will rely heavily on returning starters Jud Dillard (Sr. G, 6-5, 200), Dennis Ogbe (Jr. F, 6-7, 220) and Terrell Barnes (Sr. F/C, 6-7, 275).

Dillard averaged 17.3 ppg and 8.8 rebounds (1st in OVC) per game last season that was good for all OVC 1st Team honors.  Despite being just a 6-5 swingman, Dillard managed to lead the conference in boards and was third in scoring.  He returns on the pre-season first team this year as well.

Tech will also look to redshirt freshman Lanerryl Johnson (R-Fr., G, 6-1, 170) and Anthony Morse (Fr. F, 6-8, 210) should add much needed depth up front for TTU as it attempts to reach the 20-win mark.

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Bucs Officially Land Their First Early Signee for ’13-14

A.J. Merriweather
A.J. Merriweather

Johnson City, Tn. – ETSU head basketball coach Murry Bartow is excited to announce that the Bucs have their first signee, 6’4 Jackson, Tennessee native AJ Merriweather.

Merriweather brings more than just on the court accolades such as All Region selections and a double-double average as a junior as Southside High School, he’s also the smartest player on the team. The 195 pound senior will look to lead his high school team this year and in talking with other players in middle Tennessee who have faced him in various games, they all agree that he is a great player and as one unnamed athlete referred to him: “He’s a really cool guy.”

Bartow is paraphrased as saying he’s super excited to AJ in the program as he fits everything ETSU wants in a player. Consistent, athletic and able to play multiple positions on the court. He’s also a fine young man and a super student. Merriweather is excited to join the Buccaneer family as he feels the up tempo, transition style offense coupled with full court press defense plays right into his style of play.

With the signing of Merriweather, the redshirting of injured senior Lukas Poderis and Providence transfer Ron Giplaye, the Bucs will have just two remaining scholarships for the rest of the 2013-2014 recruiting class.

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Young Bucs faced With An Opportunity to knock off Rebuilding Va. Tech

Johnson City, Tn. –  The time has come.  The preseason pomp and circumstance is over, the double suicides have been ran and it’s FINALLY HERE.  Regular season college basketball kicks off in earnest for the ETSU Bucs Saturday against a rebuilding Va. Tech squad, led by first year head coach James Johnson.  Johnson brings a new, up tempo style of basketball to Blacksburg, one that has Hokies’ fans wondering if a team with only 8 scholarship players can maintain for the length of the season.  With one of the top point guards in the ACC in Erick Green, the Hokies will look to distribute the basketball to juniors Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines.  Also, the Hokies will be without Dorian Finney-Smith, who has transferred to Florida.

The Young Bucs have an opportunity on Saturday to do more than just play in what many view a “paycheck” game.  With a razor thin roster in Blacksburg, the Bucs posess enough athleticism and offense to pull off the upset.  ETSU coach Murry Bartow will most likely stick with the same starting five he used in the exhibition win over Carson Newman, but fans should expect to see Knoxville native and offensive threat Lester Wilson for atleast 20-25 minutes on Saturday.  For the Bucs to win however, they will have to find a way to neutralize the abilities of Green to distribute the basketball as well as go to the rack.  A total team effort on offense coupled with closing holes in what was a porous second half defense against the vaunted Carson Newman offense.

For fans wishing to attend the game on Saturday, tickets remain at the Cassell Coliseum box office as well as several second hand ticket outlets for the 2:30 p.m. tipoff.  Also, ETSU president Dr. Brian Noland as well as the ETSU Alumni Office invite all ETSU fans for a gathering at Kem’s Restaurant, located in Christiansburg, Va. on 99 Bradley Drive.  The event is scheduled from 11-1 before the game.  Fans and alums are encouraged to attend and RSVP to the alumni office.   For fans staying home, the game will be available for free viewing through ESPN3 at espn3.com as well as the WatchESPN app.  Fans can also listen by tuning into any of the affiliates on the Buccaneer Sports Network.

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It’s fun to watch the Lady Bucs Again!

Lady Bucs

Contributed by Tom A:

It’s fun to watch the Lady Bucs Again!

Preseason games against inferior competition don’t have a lot of predictive value, but after games against Carson Newman and Young Harris there is good reason to be more upbeat about the Lady Bucs than in the last couple of years.   Last season was such a disappointment:  there was enough talent on the floor to take LSU into overtime – and the Tigers needed a last second shot to avoid losing in regulation.   Too often in other games there was ugly, disorganized, listless play.   But boosted by transfer and freshman talent, the young Lady Bucs have come out strong, averaging 80.5 points and 57 rebounds in two wins.  It has been fun to go the women’s games again.

GUARDS:  Freshman Brianna McQueen has been handed the keys to the car at point, and drives it like an experienced hand.   A little undersized at 5’3”, she’s got speed, a great handle, good vision, the ability to hit from three, penetrate and pull up for the midrange jumper, or take it to the rim, shifting hands for a layup.  She’s averaging 30 minutes a game, 11.5 points (shooting percentages need to be a bit better (8-22 and 2-7 from 3) 4 assists, but too many turnovers at 6.  She also plays tough defense, grabbing 2.5 steals and 4 rebounds a game despite her size.   She needs to be more efficient and better controlled, but the talent here is remarkable.   This gal is almost as much fun to watch as Petey McClain for the men.   Brianna Bogard, now a sophomore, is McQueen’s more efficient counterpart, averaging 16 minutes, with 6.5 points on 5-12 shooting, 3-9 from 3, averaging 3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0 turnovers.  When Brianna entered the game against Young Harris, we were down 9-2.  Five minutes later it was 15-14.  Even though she wasn’t posting big numbers, things just ran well with her on the floor.  Junior Shawn Randall is the biggest and perhaps the most physically gifted guard at 5’7”.  She still struggles with the tendency to follow a remarkable play with a turnover.  She may be improving though – against Young Harris last night, she got 4 assists and only 1 turnover, compared to 1 assist and 5 turnovers against Carson Newman.   She has averaged 18 minutes, 7.5 points and 4 rebounds and 1 steal.  But the up and down nature of her play may be seen in the fact that one game was 14 points, and the other was only 1.

POST:  6’2” Tosha Austin, now a senior, has gotten limited playing time this year, averaging 9 minutes with limited production.  Last season she was the only Lady Buc over 6’0”.  This season, the Lady Bucs have four (4) others: 6’2” freshmen Jasmine Kemp and Imani Martinez, 6’2” transfer Serena Clark, and 6’3” transfer Tiana Burley, who will be eligible next semester.   Tosha may still be valuable, especially as a rebounder and defender, but will have to battle to get on the floor.  The big news inside is 6’2” Clemson transfer Serena Clark, a redshirt sophomore.  She is slim, but strong, and has great length with a tremendous wingspan.  She seems an inch taller than the other gals listed at 6’2”.  She’s averaging 28 minutes, and fourteen (14!!) rebounds, and 9 points on 10-19 shooting.  6’2” freshman Jasmine Kemp is rangy and physical – averaging 16 minutes a game, with 2.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 3 rebounds and 3.5 points on 3-6 shooting.  She is a defense force with a knack for anticipation and stepping into passing lanes.  Just wait till big 6’3” transfer redshirt sophomore Tianna Burley becomes eligible next semester.

FORWARD:  Team leader Destiny Michell, now a junior, seems to be rejuvenated.  Last year, coming off a painful knee injury, she seemed tentative, particularly early in the year.  This year she seems back to her ferocious freshman year play.   She averages 30 minutes, 12 rebounds and 23 points on 20 of 34 shooting and 3 steals with 3.5 assists and 2 turnovers.   I love her play but wish that someone would get her to scrap her willful, pointless, slow motion free throw shooting display.  She could only get better (6-9) if she would get a crisp, focused, repeatable routine.  Much depends on her keeping her intense, productive play… and on avoiding the temptation to get selfish and self important… a temptation that always comes to the best player on the team.  Part of last year’s collapse was a collapse in morale, and that is something that our best player must help us avoid.  Destiny has also expanded her shooting range so that she can face up and reliably knock down the 15 foot jumper.   Sophomore Maria Bond at 5’10” has been starting and averaging 16.5 minutes, with 5 points and 2.5 rebounds.  Sophomore Amy Duke has averaged 22.5 minutes and shown remarkable improvement with 8.5 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a nasty 3.5 steals.   She has added a 12 foot face up jump shot that is money.   At a rangy, powerful, athletic 6’0” she plays with an energy, abandon and grace that is reminiscent of John Walton on the men’s side, and is the lady most likely to be diving for loose balls.  The least heralded of last year’s recruits, she may have the best upside.  She was stunningly effective against LSU’s big strong women last year.  If she can turn that into consistent play this year, it will be a remarkable addition for the Lady Bucs.   Biggest downside for Amy is an average of 3.5 turnovers.  With all the strong front court players this year, a very promising athletic 6’2” freshman, Imani Martinez, has had a hard time getting onto the floor, averaging only 6 minutes, but still pulling down 2 rebounds per game, a better rate per minute than either Amy Duke or Mariah Bond.  She also showed a very nice midrange shooting touch in the Bluenanza.  This gal can play, but may have to wait for her opportunities.   Thinking of redshirt might be worthwhile, if she has the kind of patience that Lester Wilson did.  Redshirt sophomore Ashley Miles 6’1”, recovering from an ACL tear, has had even more limited floor time.

The ASun:  Stetson, led by pint sized warrior and ASun POY Victoria McGowan, returns everyone, including All ASun 6’0” Sasha Sims, and is the team to beat.  FGCU loses 4 of their best 5 players, and still has one of the best returning nuclei with POY candidate Sarah Hansen, Oregon State transfer Britney Kennedy, stud Valpo transfer, 5th year Senior Betsy Adams and sharp shooter Lerrin Cook.  Adams led Valpo in scoring with about 13 points per game and 2.2 from 3 before a knee injury.  She will be eligible to start immediately.  FGCU would have been even tougher but have recently lost 6’3” sophomore Whitney Knight, who was ASun All-Tournament team as a freshman, to a torn ACL.  These two teams are chalk – but not unbeatable.  Everybody else in the ASun are less than strong – we should beat those teams.   FGCU will have a distinct size disadvantage against ETSU, with only 1 player 6’1” (skinny Greek role player Anthi Chatzagiakoumi – NOT an inside threat) and 1 player 5’11”.  Everybody else on the squad is between 5’7” and 5’10”.  Coach Smesko recruits only one specific type of interchangeable do-everything player, who can shift from post to perimeter to create mismatches and shoot the lights out.  But that may leave them vulnerable to an ETSU squad that is both very tall AND athletic.

SUMMARY:  The Lady Bucs are much bigger this year, and will be the longest team in the ASun.  The addition of 4 athletic 6’2” or 6’3” players, transfers Serena Clark and Tianna Burley, along with freshman Jasmine Kemp and Imani Martinez, the improvement of Amy Duke and Mariah Bond, and the rejuvenation of Destiny Mitchell leaves the Lady Bucs strong inside.  Rebounding and interior defense should be a given.  Guard play has the potential to be much improved.  But that needs to be proved on the Court against real competition.   The Lady Bucs are also very young:  only Tosha Austin is a senior.  Outside shooting, and offensive execution remain  the question marks at this point.  But there is more reason to be optimistic than there has been for the last two years, since Sierra Evans and Taronda Wiles graduated.    Young Bucs Brianna McQueen and Jamine Kemp should be ASun All-Freshman.  Imani Martinez has the potential to be, if she can get the time on the floor.  This young team has lots of room to grow.   And right now it is fun to watch them grow.

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Mike Smith drafted by the Iowa Energy in the 2012 NBA D-League draft

Mike Smith

Mike Smith, one of the best Buccaneers of all time, was drafted in the 5th found by the Iowa Energy of the 2012 NBA-Development League draft. During his illustrious career at ETSU, Mike was known for his tireless work ethic, versatility, and desire to win.

Congratulations to Mike with his continued success. The Buccaneer Nation is proud to call Mike one of our own.

2012 NBA D-League Draft:

Junior-year highlights:

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Sloppy Offense, Turnovers Still Lead to Bucs Win

Johnson City, Tn. – In front of an announced crowd of over 3,000, the ETSU Bucs celebrated homecoming on Saturday with a 71-63 victory over Division II Carson-Newman.

The Bucs used a variety of players and lineups as Murry Bartow looks to replace three starters and the majority of its’ offensive production from last year’s squad.  Coming out with a starting lineup mixed with returning players and newcomers, the Bucs struggled on offense for most of the game, managing to shoot less than 40 percent for the game.

The first half saw the Bucs lead by as many as 17 points thanks in part to solid defensive play, but Carson Newman would battle back to cut the lead at the half to 34-20.  The second half saw the Bucs maintain the lead around 17 points until the 12:00 minute mark, when the visiting Eagles would go on a 17-1 run to make the game very uncomfortable the Young Bucs.  It wasn’t until Sheldon Cooley, who led the starters in scoring with 12 points hit a crucial basket to push the ETSU lead back up to four with just under three minutes to go in the game.  Redshirt freshman phenom Lester Wilson, who led all Buccaneer scorers with 17 points iced the game with two free throws to get the Bucs to the final tally.  According to the school’s official release, head coach Murry Bartow said: “I saw a lot of good things on the defensive end and we rebounded well, but we didn’t make enough shots and just looked bad offensively at times.  I love our guys and I loved our energy tonight, but this is going to be a growing process.”

With the exhibition season complete, the Bucs will open the season on the road at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia as they’ll take on the Virginia Tech Hokies.  The game is scheduled for next Saturday, November 10th with tipoff set at 2pm.   Fans wishing to watch the game can do so through Watch ESPN and espn3.com.

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Bucs Open Season With Lots of Questions, Potential

With little over a week before the curtain rises on the 2012-2013 ETSU Bucs basketball season, students, fans and alumni are all asking questions.

Last season, the Bucs ended a disappointing campaign with a resounding thud.  The end result being a record just over .500, a teammate having to leave after an incident involving alleged criminal activity, and another loss to eventual champion and the newest member of the OVC, Belmont.  Gone are seniors Adam Sollazzo, Isiah Brown, and Tommy Hubbard, also known as the majority of the production on last year’s team.  Also gone is JC Ward, a rarely used forward.

This team is essentially brand new, led by seniors Sheldon Cooley, Marcus Dubose, Jarvis Jones; who is ineligible until the end of the fall semester and big man Lukas Poderis, whom we’ve now learned could be sidelined for the season with an injury.  The competition for minutes will be wide open, the need for leadership and production evident as a team who largely underachieved last year now must find a way to win and the Bucs from having its’ first losing record since its’ last year in the Southern Conference in 2004-2005.

To paraphrase the movie “Major League,” Who are these freakin’ guys?  Let’s take a look.  Murry Bartow and staff realized that youth could be an issue, so they went out to the junior college ranks, finding Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard and Hunter Harris.  Providence transfer Ron Giplaye will have to sit this season out due to NCAA transfer rules.  Seldom used sophomores Rashawn Rembert and John Walton will look to an increased presence with this squad, as well as redshirt freshman and Knoxville native Lester Wilson.  Add in freshmen Petey McClain, Yunio Barueta and the Bucs could be in for a full blown rebuilding year.

Time will tell how this team comes together, but one thing is for certain, students, fans and alumni expect this team to win, no matter who is wearing the blue and gold.

-Scott Lawson

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Opponent Preview: Carson-Newman (Exhibition Game) (Sat., Nov. 3, 4pm EST, MSHA Athletic Center)

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.







Carson-Newman Eagles

Enrollment: 2,000

Location: Jefferson City, TN

Athletic Conference: South Atlantic Conference (NCAA Div. II)









Versus ETSU:  ETSU leads series 32-20, wining the last 5.  Last meeting was in 2006.

Last Season 15-14 (.517)
Conference Record 8-10 (t-5th)
Starters Lost/Returning 0/5
Coach Chuck Benson (Carson-Newman ’91)
Record At School 26-30 (2 years)
Career Record 163-125 (9 years)
RPI Last 5 years N/A


Carson-Newman’s men’s basketball team has been slated for a fourth place finish in the South Atlantic Conference in the preseason coach’s poll and is the only SAC team to place two players on the league’s preseason, all-conference team.

Chuck Benson
Head Coach Chuck Benson

The Eagles garnered 57 points, including one first place vote.  Wingate was picked to win the league with 77 points and five first place votes. “It’s nice to think that we’ve earned some respect,” Carson-Newman head men’s basketball coach Chuck Benson said. “But as we told our guys, the day that this poll came out, was the day we tore it up and threw it in the garbage.  We are focused on the preseason and getting ready legitimately.”

After earning spots on the All-SAC Second Team last season, juniors Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) find themselves on the preseason first team for 2012-2013. “I’m glad they’re on our team” Benson said. “They’re both versatile, they both can shoot the three and they both can beat you off the dribble.  They make offensive scheming a little bit easier.”

Davis and Sanders both averaged 16.8 points/game for their sophomore years. “I just need to work harder to make my team better,” Davis said. “Personally, I think if we work hard enough, we can win the league, that’s my goal.”

Ish Sanders
Ish Sanders

Davis scored a career high 27 points in a one-sided win over Cincinnati Christian in November, and reached the 20-point plateau nine times. He scored 25 points twice in conference play with a 25-point effort at home in a loss to nationally-ranked Anderson (S.C.).

Antoine Davis
Antoine Davis

Benson enters his third season as head coach of the Eagles this fall. He led the Eagles to their first winning record in four years last season with a team comprised predominantly of underclassmen.

“We’re focused on getting everyone on the same page,” Benson said. “We’re thinking about improvement and the process of getting everybody ready for the season.”

Carson-Newman finished 2012 with a 15-14 record and an 8-10 mark in the league – good for a fifth place finish.  The Eagles return all five starters from last season’s squad.

Carson-Newman basketball has signed three student-athletes for the 2012-2013 season.  Guard Jay Lane (Manassas, Va.), guard Andrew Barnett (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) and forward Josh Rogers (Bristol, England) have all signed to play for Benson and the Eagles in the upcoming season. The group joins Knoxville-product Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn./West High School) in this year’s class.

“I am very excited about this class,” Benson said. “All four of these young men are quality student-athletes and will represent our institution in a first-class manner.”

Lane joins the Eagles as the all-time leading scorer in Osbourn High School history. The combo guard led his team to the Virginia 3A State Quarterfinals in his junior and senior seasons. He was named to the VHSCA 3A All-State First Team and was a three-year co-captain at OHS. His mother, Terry Sutton, played basketball at East Carolina University.

“Jay (Lane) is going to be a very versatile player for us,” Benson said. “He is a great on-ball defender and is very physical on both ends. He is a good lefty shooter with a smooth stroke from beyond the arc.”

Barnett comes to C-N from nearby Pigeon Forge High School where he scored over 1,000 career points and was twice named his team’s MVP. He was a two-time all-district selection, and was named all-Region as a senior.

“Andrew (Barnett) is a long, lean athlete and a tremendous shooter,” Benson said.” He was a prolific scorer in high school and will build on that here. His athletic ability will surprise a lot of people.”

Rogers, a 6-7 small forward, comes to C-N from Bristol, England, where he was a standout at Cotham School, averaging 19.5 points, 13 rebounds, and 3.5 blocked shots per game.

“Josh is a big perimeter player,” Benson said of the Eagles’ overseas signee. “He’s not a traditional international player though, he’s got an Americanized game. He is very skilled on the perimeter, but he attacks the rim off the drive, and is a factor around the rim on defense and offense.”

The group joins an Eagle team that returns all of its key pieces from a young squad that includes Sanders and Davis.

Carson-Newman will also have the services of Division I transfers Odell Parker (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Cody Henegar (South Pittsburg, Tenn.).

Parker sat out last season after transferring from Wofford, but has been on campus for a full year and practiced for the Eagles all of last season. Heneger transferred at the semester after playing his first two seasons at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he had 12 points against Florida State as a freshman.

Both give the Eagles an improved physical presence inside. Parker is a versatile 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward, while Heneger is a 6-9 post with good shooting ability.

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