Opponent Preview for 1/19/19: UNCG

“We’re not a championship team right now,” said Steve Forbes after watching the Bucs struggle against VMI after blowing out to a 20 point lead. Well, UNCG hasn’t been playing like one either after struggling to get by Western Carolina on the road, being down by 6 points with 5:12 to play. One of those teams will have to stand up and play like one Saturday.

16-3 (7-2 in road games!) UNCG is ranked #115 by Kenpom (to #73 for ETSU), but gets more love in some midmajor polls (11th mid major in College Insider; ahead of ETSU’s 19th). Their schedule is not strong with only 2 high majors, both losses: on the road in a high scoring close one (91-97) at #38 LSU who they matched up with physically much better than Furman did, and on the road at #15 Kentucky, losing 61-78. Their toughest mid major opponent was #40 Wofford who crushed them in Greensboro 43-72, running out to a big early lead and never letting the Spartans in the game. Best wins were over #99 Furman in Greensboro 89-79; #126 Louisiana Tech at a neutral site 80-73; and over #137 Radford in Greensboro 65-58. They struggled mightily on the road at #320 VMI, pulling it out 71-68, but the Bucs struggled just as badly against the Keydets at home last night. Meanwhile UNCG was barely pulling out a road win at Western Carolina.

The Spartans matched up well with the Bucs last year, splitting the regular season and beating us soundly in the tournament.

UNCG’s tempo is faster than last year scoring 4.7 more points and allowing 4.2 more for a similar scoring margin: 11.4 this year to 10.7 last. ETSU has a scoring margin of 14.5. 

Turnover margin this year is an excellent 3rd in D1 +6.2 (only +1.3 last year), as they average 8.6 steals per game now, and make only 11.2 turnovers, 29th in D1. Bucs are a weak -0.63 in turnover margin, next to last in the SoCon and 233rd in D1. The Bucs make 15.3 turnovers a game, 303rd in D1.

The Spartans’ rebounding margin is -0.3, much worse than last year’s excellent +6.8. Big advantage to the Bucs’ 14.4 – IF Jeromy Rodriguez is healthy. That’s uncertain after he started the game with a knee brace and sat out much of the second half against VMI. A rebound advantage on paper didn’t help us on the court against Illinois or Wofford. 

UNCG’s FG% defense is average (.433, 175th in D1) to the Bucs’ .407 (48th in D1). 3pt % defense is weak .352 (249th in D1) to the Bucs’ .328 (135th in D1). Both those figures improved greatly for the Spartans in the latter part of conference play last year. 

6 guys play 23 to 27 minutes: Alonso, Miller, Dickey, Galloway, Troy and Massey. 2 guys get 17 or 18: Rs-Fr Kaleb Hunter and Jr-Tr Eric Hamilton. 
Nobody else gets over 2.5 ppg or 1.8 rebounds

6-3 185 Sr Francis Alonso is much the same player stat-wise as last year – great shooter, clever around the basket, tireless off screens, quick to sell a flop. If Tray Boyd was frustrated at getting called for a foul after getting blatantly hooked by Dimitrijevic (most shameless SoCon hooker since Eric Garcia of Wofford), he’d better lace them up tight for this guy. Can’t let a bad call get to you.

6-0 180 So Isaiah Miller has made himself an all-conference player with 14.6 ppg. He is a bigger, stronger Josh Sharkey with unstoppable quickness and athleticism and ball hawking defense (2.7 steals) and has moved into the starting lineup. Still doesn’t have much of a 3 point game though (.314 with 0.6 makes)

6-0 187 Sr PG Demetrius Troy’s production mirrors his regular season stats of last year (7.5 ppg, 4.2 assists), a big step down from his tournament explosion, but very steady, leading a team that does not turn over the ball (11.2 t.o’s, 29th in D1).

Jr James Dickey missed 6 games to ‘lis franc’ injury at Kentucky. He’s a much less efficient offensive player this year, still with no 3 pt game and his 2 pt% down to .425 from .536. He carried them across the finish line against the Catamounts, though, getting all 8 of his points, 4 rebounds and a steal in the final come-from-behind run.

Jr Kyrin Galloway is getting almost 50% more minutes and almost twice the points, having found a fine 3 point game for the first time (.449 with 1.7 makes) while maintaining .650 from 2 with just as many makes. But he snags the same rebounds per game (4.2) in 7.4 more minutes. 
6-3 Malik Massey gets 9 more minutes for his chippy, physical play (22.9 minutes) this year, but has the same points per game (3.8) and a much worse FG%, .306 down from .467 than last year. Miller has taken the starting role.

The run of UNCG’s “Hamilton” has not gotten rave reviews so far. 6-9 230 Jr Wichita State transfer Eric Hamilton is a solid player with 18.1 minutes, 8.3 ppg and 4.8 rebounds. He gets 9 fewer minutes than Jody Kuiper and similar per game totals in points and rebounds in fewer minutes. But he has not yet been the possible all conference difference maker that some feared. I’d give this performance 3 stars out of 5 to date. 
Much sought after 6-9 255 Nigerian Fr Mohammed Abdulsalam (4 star recruit with offers from UT, Wichita, Providence and Georgia Tech) is not ready to do much yet with 1.1 ppg and 1.7 rebounds. Nor is his high school teammate Angelo Allegri with 2.7 ppg and 1.5 rebounds. 

Except for 6-6 swingman Marvin Smith (no one really takes his place, certainly not Allegri) and Jordy Kuiper (replaced partly by 18 minutes to Eric Hamilton and partly by 9 more minutes to Kyrin Galloway), this is much the same team that came on very strong halfway through conference last season to develop a crushing defense, rule the SoCon and beat ETSU in the tournament. Halfway through conference ETSU was 10-0 looking forward to a final 8 game stretch that seemed easier than the first 10, and UNCG was 7-2 with a loss to hapless Chattanooga. Yet the Bucs finished the Conference 4-4, while the Spartans finished 8-1 and ran the table in the tournament. The Spartans at 5-1 seem to be struggling a bit this year, better in some areas (terrific turnover margin) and worse in others (rebounding). But last year they really picked up the toughness and defense and improved their rebounding the last half of conference season. 

Last year shows that things don’t always end up the way they seem after early conference play. Both UNCG and ETSU enter this game trying to prove they can get back to a championship level. UNCG is 7-2 in road games. Kenpom predicts the homestanding Bucs to win 70-64. If Jeromy is out, or operating at a low level, it’s hard to favor the Bucs. 

Guards:
#10 6-3 185 Sr Francis Alonso; 27.6 minutes, 17.8 ppg on .376 from 3 (2.8 makes), .899 FT%, 2.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 t.o.’s, 1.0 steals
#01 6-0 180 So Isaiah Miller; 26.1 minutes, 14.6 ppg on .306 from 3 (0.6 makes), 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 t.o.’s, 2.6 steals, 
#11 6-0 187 Sr Demetrius Troy; 27.7 minutes, 7.5 ppg on .305 from 3 (1.0 makes), 2.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals
#44 6-4 190 Rs-Fr Kaleb Hunter; 17.5 minutes, 6.6 ppg on .370 from 3 (0.6 makes) but .607 from 2 (2.1 makes), 2.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 t.o.’s, 0.7 steals
#02 6-3 185 Jr Malik Massey; 22.9 minutes, 3.7 ppg, on .273 from 3 (0.7 makes) and .346 from 2 (0.5 makes), 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 t.o.’s, 0.7 steals

Front Court:
#21 6-9 190 Jr James Dickey; 13 games, 23.5 minutes, 6.9 ppg on .167 from 3 (0.1 makes) and .450 from 2, down from .536; .429 FT%, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals, 2.0 blocks
#14 6-8 215 Jr Kyrin Galloway; 26.7 minutes, 10.0 ppg on .449 from 3 (1.7 makes), 4.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.7 t.o.’s, 0.9 blocks
#35 6-9 225 Jr Eric Hamilton; 18.1 minutes, 8.3 ppg, no 3’s, .667 from 2, 4.8 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 1.1 t.o.’s, 0. 6 blocks
#13 6-7 205 Fr Angelo Allegri; 9.8 minutes, 2.7 ppg on .257 from 3 (0.5 makes), 1.5 rebounds
#04 6-7 255 Fr Mohammed Abdulsalam; 7.0 minutes, 1.1 ppg, no 3’s, 1.7 rebounds, 0.1 blocks

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Opponent Preview for 1/17/19: VMI

ETSU will face VMI (6-11) on Thursday in Freedom Hall. The 6-11 Keydets are ranked 329th by Kenpom. They have 3 wins over D1 opposition and no wins in the Socon. Their D1 wins include #319 USC Upstate (home), # 341 Stetson in OT (away) and #320 North Alabama (home) by 21 points 89-68. Stetson is the only road win. Perhaps their best game was coming within 3 of UNC Greensboro at home, 68-71, a game in which Dickey was working his way back into the lineup (9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals in 21 minutes). VMI led by 8 at the half and kept it close all the way. Sounds a little like Mercer against us. 

Six guys get 20 to 33 minutes: 5-11 155 Bubba Parham (the top scorer in the SoCon with 20.2 ppg, shooting .393 from 3), 6-4 200 Garrett Gilkeson (a tough physical Junior who has really improved his shooting from .359 FG% to .477 and has now got a 3 point shot; 10.7 ppg and 6.2 rebounds), 6-3 170 Sarju Patel, 6-5 181 Miles Lewis, and 6-10 245 Jr Tyler Creammer (20 minutes, 6.2 ppg, 6.5 rebounds). A seventh, 6-8 230 Fr Jake Stephens, gets 6.8 ppg and 3.5 rebounds in 16 minutes. Nobody else gets more than 2.7 ppg or 1.7 rebounds. 

They shoot 3’s well, at .344 with 9.7 makes (35th most makes in D1) to ETSU’s .359 with 8.5 makes. But their overall FG% is a low .419. Their FT% of 74.5 is 50th in D1 to the Bucs .680. They turn the ball over less than ETSU: 13.4 per game to 15.4 with both teams having a turnover margin of about -0.6. Considering their record, it is a little surprising to see that they have only a -4.1 scoring margin. They keep things fairly close. Rebounding margin is -2.8. Not so bad, in other words, that they can’t rise up and steal a game if you play like UNCG did. Or like the Bucs in the first half against Mercer. 

Kenpom has the Bucs favored by 22 at home. The Bucs don’t want to come out like they did against Mercer, “like prima donna’s” as Forbes said at the half, or they will find themselves sweating this one out, too. They need to be making strides toward the team they want to be. Get back to the killer instinct they showed against The Citadel.

Guards:
#03 5-11 155 So Bubba Parham; 33.4 minutes, 20.2 ppg, .409 FG%, .393 from 3 (3.4 makes), 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.0 t.o.’s, 
#02 6-4 200 Jr Garrett Gilkeson; 32.4 minutes, 10.7 ppg, .421 from 3 (1.4 makes), 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 t.o.’s, 1.7 steals 
#05 6-4 160 So Greg Parham; 29.6 minutes, 8.6 ppg, .314 from 3 (1.3 makes), 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals
#31 6-3 170 So Sarju Patel; 25.7 minutes, 9.2 ppg, .308 from 3 (1.4 makes), 3.1 rebounds
#12 6-0 173 So Ta’Vonne Bond; 12.2 minutes, 1.7 ppg, almost no 3’s, 1.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.0 t.o.’s, 0.8 steals

Front Court:
#15 6-5 181 So Miles Lewis; 23.5 minutes, 9.0 ppg, almost no 3’s, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals
#25 6-10 245 Jr Tyler Creammer; 20.4 minutes, 6.2 ppg, almost no 3’s, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 t.o.’s
#34 6-8 230 Fr Jake Stephens; 16.5 minutes, 6.8 ppg, .375 from 3 (1.2 makes), 3.5 rebounds
#21 6-7 205 Fr Connor Arnold; 7.5 minutes, 2.7 ppg almost all from 3, .375 from 3 (0.8 makes), 0.9 rebounds

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Opponent Preview for 1/12/19: Mercer

On Saturday, January 12th the Bucs take on the Mercer Bears in Macon who are coming off their first conference victory, an 84-80 win over Western Carolina.

Bob Hoffman has spent the year trying to answer this question: “How do you win basketball games with a team whose 6 best players are 6-4 and under, with one guy 6-7 205. But which doesn’t shoot 3’s very well and is not super athletic?” With a record of 6-10 he hasn’t found a good answer. But in going with “small ball” he’s built a team that is disciplined, doesn’t quit, and has made a habit of falling behind by double digits, but coming back to make it close at the end, doing this against Georgia State (60-62), Harvard (67-71), and NC State (74-78) among others. They are generally closer at the end than they are supposed to be, within a 3 pointer or 2 of pulling off the upset. 

With a 183 rating by Kenpom, Mercer is a better team than most of those that we have played. They are 6-1 at home in Macon, with the only loss coming to Georgia Southern. Best win is probably over 6-11 UNC Wilmington, at home as are all their wins. The Bucs are favored, but only by 4 points (69-65) according to Kenpom. 

6 guys get 20 minutes or more, and it’s “small ball” all the way (6-3 Cummings, 6-4 Stowe, 6-4 Cohen, 6-4 Stair, 6-2 Dimitrijevic, and 6-7 205 Cory Kilby). 6-11 245 Freshman Fardaws Aimaq gets 14 minutes, 5.6 ppg and 5.0 rebounds. Nobody else over 9.4 minutes or with much production. Despite their size, they are not terrible rebounders (more or less breaking even at -0.5, around 194th in D1, middle of the SoCon), and are not very good 3 point shooters with .332 (230th in D1, the worst in the SoCon) and only 7.3 makes (218th in D1, worst in the SoCon). They take care of the ball and turnover margin is a good +2.1, better than the Bucs -0.9. 

Ross Cummings is a fine shooter (31 minutes with 16.2 ppg on .424 with 3.3 makes from 3), but doesn’t do much else very well (2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 0.7 steals). Ethan Stair is the other 3 point threat shooting .379 with 1.4 makes. Dimitrijevic (.250 with 0.9 makes) and Peavy (.625 but only 0.7 makes) are the next best. 6-4 Stair (10.3 ppg and 5.1 rebounds) and 6-4 Jaylen Stowe (10.6 ppg and 5.6 rebounds) are having fine Senior seasons. At 6-4 220 Stowe is the most physical player they have, the only player besides 14 minute per game Aimaq who is over 205.

At the point 6-4 Sophomore Marcus Cohen can penetrate but doesn’t score well (6.1 ppg, no 3’s, 3.4 assists). 6-2 JUCO Jr Djordje Dimitrijevic will try the 3 but only hits .250 with 0.9 makes. He’s a clever scorer averaging 11.9 ppg with 2.7 assists. 

The Bucs need to go at it with the kind of purpose that they brought to the Citadel. Stay focused and keep the foot on the gas or these guys WILL come back and could make you pay. One of these games when they are 2 or 3 down at the end, they will make the big last shot. Don’t let that be against the Bucs.

Bucs are improving and need to keep it up. This team can be special, but there is work to be done. 

As Forbes has said of some of his players: “We don’t want them to be good. We want them to be great.”

Guards:
#20 6-3 180 Jr. Ross Cummings; 31.2 minutes, 16.2 ppg on .424 from 3 with 3.3 makes, 2.6 rebounds 1.6 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 0.7 stls
#00 6-2 180 JUCO Jr. Djordje Dimitrijevic; 24.5 minutes, 11.9 ppg on .250 from 3 with 0.9 makes, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 turnovers 
#22 6-4 205 Sr. Ethan Stair; 32.1 minutes, 10.3 ppg on .379 from 3 with 1.4 makes, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 steals 
#03 6-4 190 So. Marcus Cohen; 22.1 minutes, 6.1 ppg, no 3’s, 1.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.1 steals
#05 6-3 185 Fr. DJ Peavy; 9.4 minutes, 3.8 ppg, .624 from 3 with 0.7 makes

Front Court:
#01 6-7 205 Sr. Cory Kilby; 23.4 minutes, 6.2 ppg, 3.6 rebounds
#02 6-4 220 Sr. Jaylen Stowe; 28.9 minutes, 10.6 ppg, only 5 three’s all year on .208, 5.6 rebounds 1.3 steals
#11 6-11 245 Fr. Fardaws Aimaq; 14.4 minutes, 5.6 ppg, only 1 three all year, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 blocks 
#55 6-10 215 So. Victor Baffuto; 7.7 minutes, 2.5 ppg, 0 three’s, 1.5 rebounds, 0.7 blocks

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Opponent Preview for 1/10/19: The Citadel

On Thursday, January 10th the Bucs take on the Citadel Bulldogs, who is now 9-5 and ranked 204th in Kenpom. They had a brilliant 9-2 start with their only losses coming on the road to Clemson and Texas, and which included road wins over #240 JMU and #154 South Florida. But they are coming off a 3 game losing streak which started with a bad home loss to #247 Longwood, 94-110, and continued with 2 expected road losses to #54 Wofford and #112 Furman. 

Citadel hopes to get back on track at home against the Bucs: they are still 6-1 at home with Longwood being the only loss. Best home wins have been over #175 Mercer 79-69 and #233 High Point 112-87 – the home schedule has not been strong. 

John Hooper’s article, is a fair summary of the strong points of Citadel, discussing shooting guard 6-2 160 Sr Matt Frierson (ranked 2nd now nationally in made 3’s per game with 4.50 for 15.6 ppg), leading ‘big’ man 6-7 220 Sr Zane Najdawi, a native Jordanian now from Midlothian, VA, who plays a great all around game with 13.9 ppg, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and a steal, and the big addition, 5th year Senior point guard 6-1 200 Gr-Tr Lew Stallworth who has exceeded every expectation, ranking 11th nationally in assists with 6.7, with 18.0 ppg and 6.9 rpg. He’s an upgrade in every way over the departed Frankie Johnson.

But note that all of these key players graduate this year. If they don’t make a mark this year, Baucom will be trying to reload next year. 

As usual they play super up tempo, leading the nation in points per game with 96.8, but allowing the second most points with 86.9. Turnovers are -1.5. They lead the country making 13.8 three’s per game, hitting .367. 

They have neither length nor muscle up front: Najdawi is the big man at 6-7 220, backed up by 2 6-6 guys, 6-6 185 Kaiden Rice and 6-6 215 Hayden Brown. They get outrebounded by -1.9. The advantage to the Bucs here is pretty obvious. But they were just as small last year and upset several of the top SoCon teams including ETSU and Furman.

Kenpom expects a close game with ETSU favored by only 5 points, 85-80. This is a better Citadel team than the one that beat us last year. Don’t overlook them and continue to improve. 

Guards:
#13 6-1 200 Gr-Tr Lew Stallworth; 31.1 minutes, 18.0 ppg on .308 from 3 (8 makes all year), 5.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 3.1 t.o.’s, 1.0 steals
#03 6-2 160 Sr Matt Frierson; 31.0 minutes, 15.6 ppg on .438 from 3 (3.9 makes per game), 1.2 steals
#12 6-4 190 Gr-Tr Connor Kern; 23.3 minutes, 8.4 ppg on .404 from 3 (1.5 makes)
#02 5-11 170 Sr Quayson Williams; 13.1 minutes, 4.7 ppg on .259 from 3
#23 6-4 220 Jr Kaelon Harris; 15.5 minutes, 4.4 ppg on .211 from 3 (4 all year), 4.6 rebounds 

Front Court:
#34 6-7 220 Sr Zane Najdawi; 27.0 minutes, 13.9 ppg on .300 from 3 (0.7 makes), 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.0 steals
#11 6-6 185 So Kaiden Rice; 19.5 minutes, 13.1 ppg on .387 from 3 (3.1 makes), 2.9 rebounds 
#25 6-5 210 So Alex Reed; 18.9 minutes, 8.6 ppg on .378 from 3 (1.0 makes), 3.6 rebounds
#33 6-6 215 So Hayden Brown; (only 6 games) 13.7 minutes 7.0 ppg on .250 from 3 (2 makes all year), 3.8 rebounds

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Opponent Preview for 1/5/19: Chattanooga

On Saturday, January 5th the Bucs will face off against rival Chattanooga. The 7-9 Mocs are better than last year, but still probably no better than about 8th in the SoCon, ahead of only Western Carolina and VMI, both of whom they have beaten. They are ranked 289th in D1 by Kenpom. Only 4 of their victories are over D1 teams, the highest ranked being #314 Charlotte. The Bucs, now ranked 92nd with a defensive efficiency ranking of 45th, are favored by 16 points. 

Scoring for Chattanooga is low, 73.1 per game, 9th in Socon 212th in D1 (ahead of only Western Carolina @ 67.6 ppg, 305th in D1). Most stats are commensurate with their ratings – near the bottom of the conference. But they are slightly better than ETSU from 3 (.374 to .353; with 9.0 makes to 8.2 makes) although ETSU defends the 3 better. Everybody except Ramon Villa and Justin Brown shoots 3’s. And all who do hit .341 or better, except for Donovann Toatley with .256. Even 7 footer Thomas Smallwood (a Frenchman with the name and red headed looks of an Englishman) who hits .467 with 0.9 makes. 

They have a somewhat better FT% than the Bucs: 688 to .666.

The only player that we’ve played against before is 6-1 guard David Jean-Baptiste. Everyone else is new to the lineup. 9 guys get at least 10 minutes every game. 6 get 25 to 27 minutes, nobody gets more. 

Front Court:
34 6-6 232 Fr. Kevin Easley; 27.6 minutes, 14.6 ppg on .429 with 1.6 makes from 3, 6.1 rebounds
15 6-8 242 R-So. Ramon Vila; 19.7 minutes, 10.3 ppg, no 3’s, 3.7 rebounds 
1 6-4 200 Jr. Jonathan Scott; 27.7 minutes, 6.7 ppg on .417 from 3, 3.9 rebounds 
33 7-0 241 Sr. Thomas Smallwood; 18.0 minutes, 6.7 ppg on .467 from 3, 5.2 rebounds 
25 6-10 205 R-Fr. Justin Brown; 10.6 minutes, 3.6 ppg, no 3’s, 2.6 rebounds 
22 6-7 211 Fr. Keigan Kerby; 13.4 minutes, 3.0 ppg, 2.6 rebounds 

Guard:
5 5-9 179 Fr. Donovann Toatley, 26.7 minutes, 11.2 ppg on .256 from 3 with 0.7 makes, 3.6 assists 
2 6-1 220 R-Jr. Jerry Johnson, Jr.; 26.3 minutes, 10.1 ppg on .341 from 3 with 1.6 makes, 3.3 rebounds 
3 6-1 191 R-So. David Jean-Baptiste; 25.7 minutes 9.4 ppg on .407 from 3 with 1.5 makes, 
4 6-0 167 Fr. Maurice Commander; (9 games only), 25.4 minutes, 6.7 ppg on .357 from 3 with 1.1 makes

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Opponent Preview for 1/3/19: Samford

On Thursday, January 3rd the Bucs take on the Samford Bulldogs, the most surprising team in the SoCon, at a solid 11-4, ranked 5th in the SoCon by Kenpom at 160th in D1. This after a 10-22 season last year followed by a mass transfer of players. None of their top 7 scorers returned and their leading returning rebounder is 5-10 Josh Sharkey who averaged 2.1 last year. 

But 7-0 240 Senior USF transfer Ruben Guerrero (15.1 ppg but no 3’s; 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) and 6-5 200 Alabama transfer Brandon Austin (11.8 ppg on .428 with 2.6 makes from 3 and 4.3 rebounds) have been big time performers. 6-8 200 true freshman Robert Allen, called a “junkyard dog” by Padgett, scores 8.5 ppg mostly from short range and grabs 7.5 rebounds. 5-10 Jr Josh Sharkey has doubled his scoring from 7.3 last year to 14.5 and has found a 3 point shot (.361 with 0.9 makes up from .173 last year) to go with his 2.86 steals. 

Samford took #75 Belmont to OT in Birmingham, came within 13 of #11 Tennessee in Knoxville and gave #99 UNCG (without Dickey) all they could handle being tied at 75-75 with about a minute left, also in Birmingham. But they almost got whipped at home by non D1 Miles in a schedule that has been fairly weak. Highest ranked D1 wins have been over #139 Jacksonville St at home, #197 Purdue Fort Wayne on the road and #256 Morehead St in OT at home. Conference will be a tougher challenge for the Bulldogs. Once they get tested in the SoCon they could wind up looking better than we think they are now. Or not so good. 

3 pt percentage is a fine .392 (22nd in D1), but with only 7.2 makes (222nd in D1). Shooters are Austin (.436 with 2.6 makes), Kevion Nolan (.538 with 1.9 makes), and Sharkey (.361 with 0.9 makes).

Rebounding margin is +3.0 with 7-0 240 Senior USF transfer Ruben Guerrero snatching 8.5 (to go with 15.1 points), and 6-8 200 true freshman Robert Allen getting 7.6. 

Junior Josh Sharkey is 8th in D1 with 2.86 steals. Turnover margin is a weak -1.3.

FG% defense is a strong .388 (37th in D1) with shot blockers Guerrero (2.1) and Allen (0.8) patrolling the middle

Rotation is heavily dependent on 6 guys: 4 get 29 to 33 minutes (Guerrero, Allen, Brandon Austin and Josh Sharkey). JUCO Jr G Myron Gordon gets 26 and Soph G Kevion Nolan gets 21. Others get 11 minutes (Fr G Deandre Thomas and Fr F Logan Dye) or less with very limited production. 

The ETSU bigs should get a more physical challenge from Guerrero (a fine low post scorer and rebounder) and “Junkyard Dog” Allen than from Furman. Sharkey is still about the quickest guy in the league, although he got schooled by Isaiah Miller – but Daivien shouldn’t try to make it a 1 on 1 matchup. They did play UNCG very tough at home, leading 48-36 at half, and being tied at 75-75 at the end. Kenpom has us a 9 point favorite, 73-64. 

This should be a fun game, and a challenge. ETSU needs to play the kind of consistent 40 minute game we did against Furman. It would be great if they could get the kind of fan support that they got against Furman. Take care of business. 

Samford Guards:
#0 6-5 200 R-Jr Alabama Transfer Brandon Austin, 29.1 minutes, 11.8 ppg on .436 with 2.6 makes from 3, 4.3 rebounds
#3 5-10 170 Jr Josh Sharkey, 33.6 minutes, 14.5 ppg on .361 with 0.9 makes from 3, 4.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 4.7 t.o.’s and 2.86 steals
#4 6-3 180 Jr Myron Gordon, 26.6 minutes, 11.2 ppg on .273 with 0.7 makes from 3, 2.5 rebounds
#1 6-2 170 So Kevion Nolan, 21.5 minutes, 8.7 ppg on .538 with 1.9 makes from 3, 2.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1 t.o., 0.9 steals
#5 6-4 190 Fr Deandre Thomas, 11.6 minutes, 2.9 ppg on .444 from 3 with 0. 6 makes, 1.5 rebounds

Samford Front Court:
#32 7-0 240 R-Sr USF Transfer Ruben Guerrero, 29.3 minutes, 15.1 ppg on .644 FG%, no 3’s, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 t.o.’s, 2.1 blocks
#21 6-8 200 Fr Robert Allen, 30.7 minutes, 8.5 ppg on .250 with 0.5 makes from 3, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 t.o.’s, 0.8 blocks
#22 6-8 235 Fr Logan Dye, 10.6 minutes, 3.5 ppg on .571 FG%, no 3’s, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 t.o.’s
#15 6-7 220 Sr Stefan Lakic, 7.6 minutes, 1.4 ppg, 1.5 rebounds

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Opponent Preview: Stetson

Stetson Hatters
Stetson

ETSU will be visiting the Edmunds Center on Saturday at 3:15PM to take on Stetson (10-13). The Bucs are on a 1 game losing streak and 1-3 in their last four. Stetson comes in on a 1 game winning streak and also 1-3 in their last four. The Bucs lost to the Hatters in Johnson City 72-70 on Jan. 10

ETSU will be looking to improve after a horrible game on Thursday night against FGCU where they lost 67-43. ETSU shot a season low of 22.7% and scored only 43 points, which was also a season low, against the Eagles. Stetson has only lost one conference game in the Edmunds Center this season and is currently tied for 3rd in the conference standings.

Versus ETSU:  ETSU leads series 10-8.  Last meeting ETSU 70 – Stetson 72 in Johnson City.(2013)

Last Season 9-20
Conference Record 6-12 (8th)
Coach Casey Alexander (Belmont University ’95)
Record At School 19–33 (2 years)
Career Record 19–33 (2 years)

A Quick Look at Stetson

Stetson has shown improvement this season over the last and has been a top 3 conference team for most of the year. They are led by senior guard Adam Pegg and junior guard Chris Perez. Last time the Bucs and Hatters met, Stetson shot 50% from the 3-point line with both Pegg and Perez scoring 17 points and hitting 4 three-point baskets between the two of them. Stetson has been strong at home this season with a 6-4 record in the Edmunds center with only one of those losses being a conference game.

A Quick Look at ETSU

The Bucs are coming off an embarrassing loss Thursday night where they looked completely lost on offense at times and had 13 blocked shots against them and probably about the same amount of dunks against them as well. Stetson has been a thorn in the Bucs side the last few years where they are only 5-5 against them in the last four seasons and that trend may continue on Saturday if the Bucs continue to struggle on offense.

Team Stats

Scoring Offense: ETSU 62.9, Stetson 70.4
Scoring Defense: ETSU 71.7 points allowed, Stetson 74.0
Field Goal%: ETSU 40.7%, Stetson 46.2%
Field Goal% Defense: ETSU 46.2%, Stetson 46.1%
3-Point Field Goal%: ETSU 33.4%, Stetson 33.4%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: ETSU 36.5%, Stetson 33.5%
Rebounding Margin: ETSU -4.9, Stetson +0.6
Turnover Margin: ETSU +0.4, Stetson -3.3

For ETSU to Win they will need to try something new on offense. Whatever that was on Thursday it simply did not work. The Bucs must also try to not give up so many easy shots like they against FGCU. In addition to the 2-point buckets, the Bucs must contain Stetson’s shooters as the last time the two teams played Stetson shot 11-22 from the 3-point line. The Bucs showed a lot of signs of frustration Thursday night with a couple of technical fouls in the second half against FGCU, this cannot continue if the Bucs want to win on Saturday.

You can catch the game live on A-sun.TV starting at 3:00PM

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Opponent Preview: Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast

The Bucs will be visiting the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast (16-8) on Thursday night at 7:00PM. ETSU comes in on a 1 game winning streak and 2-2 in their last four, including an exciting overtime victory against Lipscomb. Florida Gulf Coast comes in on a 4 game winning streak and a 8-3 record in the conference that has them in 1st place.

The Bucs hope to pick up where they left off on Saturday, however ETSU has yet to win back-to-back games this season. Coming off their second highest scoring output of the season against Lipscomb, ETSU will look to continue that kind of pace but it will be difficult as FGCU is allowing only 69 points per game.

Versus ETSU:  ETSU leads series 8-2.  Last meeting ETSU 85 – Florida Gulf Coast 75 in Johnson City.(2013)

Last Season 15-17
Conference Record 8-10 (6th)
Coach Andy Enfield (Johns Hopkins University ’91)
Record At School 31–25 (2 years)
Career Record 31–25 (2 years)

A Quick Look at Florida Gulf Coast

FGCU is led by senior guard Sherwood Brown who is averaging close to 16 points per game and is shooting 41% from behind the 3-point line. The Eagles are currently sitting at the top of the Atlantic Sun standings and are 11-1 on their home court including a 12-point victory over The University of Miami back in November. Miami is currently the 8th ranked team in the nation. The Eagles only home loss was an overtime heartbreaker against Lipscomb 3 weeks ago.

A Quick Look at ETSU

While the Bucs have yet to win back-to-back games this season, they have to feel confident about this game despite FGCU’s current first place position in the standings. ETSU handed FGCU one of their only 3 losses in the conference back in January with a big come from behind victory after being down 19 points in the second half. In addition to that, Senior Jarvis Jones is coming off a career high of 36 points, including the game winning shot, against Lipscomb.

Team Stats

Scoring Offense: ETSU 63.7, Florida Gulf Coast 74.2
Scoring Defense: ETSU 71.9 points allowed, Florida Gulf Coast 69.0
Field Goal%: ETSU 41.6%, Florida Gulf Coast 46.8%
Field Goal% Defense: ETSU 46.2%, Florida Gulf Coast 41.9%
3-Point Field Goal%: ETSU 34.1%, Florida Gulf Coast 35.4%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: ETSU 37.0%, Florida Gulf Coast 31.5%
Rebounding Margin: ETSU -5.2, Florida Gulf Coast +1.8
Turnover Margin: ETSU +0.4, Florida Gulf Coast +0.1

For ETSU to Win they will need to contain FGCU’s leading scorer Sherwood Brown. In addition to containing Brown it is vital that ETSU play tough defense behind the 3-point line. The Eagles torched the Bucs with 14 3-pointers the last time the two teams met, even though ETSU still won the results may be different if they allow that many 3’s on the road against a team that is 11-1 on their home court. The Bucs have struggled on the road this season against the top teams in the conference, with double digit losses to both Mercer and USC-Upstate on the road. ETSU can’t afford to go down big in the first half in this game, like they did in the previous game. The Bucs must come out strong and not have to play from behind if they want a chance to win.

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