All Time Series: ETSU leads 7-4 and have won the last three in a row.
Preseason Notes: AJ Davis was selected Preseason All CAA, the Bulldogs predicted finish was 6th.
Returnees: Six seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, five freshman.
Key Returnees: AJ Davis, Rayshawn Goins, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov
Key Loss: Humpty Hitchens
Leading scorer: Rayshawn Goins (15.4 PPG)
Leading Rebounder: Rayshawn Goins (8.3 RPG)
Assists leader: Devon Moore ( 7.1 APG)
Steals: Andre Nation
2011-2012 Record: 12-20
Head Coach: Matt Brady
The Dukes have been hampered by injuries and attrition the last few years, and this season is no different with Andrey Semenov battling a groin injury. Picked 6th in the CAA Preseason poll, JMU is a mix of seniors and freshman. They are the only Division I team in the country that has five redshirt seniors and six total seniors. The Dukes are very similar to ETSU, they’re battling issues with depth, injuries and attrition.
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.”
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.
Johnson City, Tn. – After an anemic offensive output against Va. Tech last Saturday, ETSU is hoping for more production when they host old OVC rival Tennessee Tech, Saturday November 17th inside the dome (WJCW, asun.tv). The cold shooting Bucs shot less than 40 percent for the game and a frigid 19 percent from beyond the three point arc. Defensively, the Bucs gave up 80 points on 40 percent shooting to a Hokies squad that many believe will be at the bottom of the ACC.
This Saturday the competition will be a Tennessee Tech squad who has had some recent success, and is equally young this year. Picked third in the newly formed OVC East Division (Which includes A-Sun alum Belmont), the Golden Eagles look to replace eight players from last year’s team. Tennessee Tech started a freshman and a sophomore in their 107-32 shellacking of Crowley’s Ridge last week. ETSU should provide a much stiffer contest for the next Tech.
A-Sun Newcomer of the week Lester Wilson will look to once again headline the scoring for the Bucs, but more production has to come from seniors Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose, who have both started the new season in offensive slumps. Dubose and Cooley combined for a paltry 3-16 from the field and 14 total points. For the Bucs to have any shot at victory, both players will have to step up.
Defensively, ETSU will have to turn Tennessee Tech over more than the ten times they turned over Va. Tech and create offense from their defense. Perimeter play will also be imperative for ETSU. In the season opening loss, the Bucs gave up 40 percent from three point range.
Ultimately, Tennessee Tech should be a nice barometer for where ETSU is and can be once conference play begins in earnest in January. Tipoff Saturday inside the MSHA Athletic Center is set for 4 p.m. Tickets are still available for purchase and for those wishing to watch online, you can do so for free at asun.tv or listen online/through the radio on any of the radio affiliates of the Buccaneer Sports Network.
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.
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.
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.
“Glory Days, well they’ll pass you by, Glory Days.” -Bruce Springsteen
Those lyrics while referencing baseball tend to resonate with some when thinking about ETSU basketball. Fans reminisce and romanticize about the “Glory Days” of Mister Jennings, Calvin Talford, Greg Dennis, Marty Story, etc… We’ve all heard the tales of magical wins, the great upset of Arizona in the NCAA tournament and how ETSU basketball was the hottest ticket in the Tri-Cities. In that time, coaches Les Robinson and Alan LeForce built a power that was feared and respected among circles all over the nation. It wasn’t IF ETSU would win, it was when they win and by how many points. Fast forward to the Murry Bartow era. Wins losses, the struggles against Belmont, the dreaded zone defense, but memories of greats like Wadood, Fields, Sneed, Tim Smith, Mike Smith, Courtney Pigram, Justin Tubbs, Thomas, and countless others. Buc fans love these guys, we discuss great wins over Fresno State, the amazing comeback at the Roundhouse in 2004, cutting down nets for NCAA appearances. Yet most fans don’t feel as though we’re in a “Glory Days” era.
It got me to thinking, that and a few posts over at etsufans.com. What era has been the most successful in ETSU basketball history? I started looking at wins, losses, conference championships, postseason appearances, and even 20 win regular seasons. I ran everything but attendance and I didn’t run attendance because ETSU under Madison Brooks didn’t have the Mini-Dome to play in. So, after running the tale of the tape, if you base it on wins and postseason appearances alone, Murry Bartow is the most successful coach in ETSU history and we’re living the glory days. He’s had more postseason appearances than Robinson and LeForce combined. And, while Madison Brooks and LeForce are the only ones to win NCAA Tournament games, LeForce was let go after the program slipped from the “Glory days” and Brooks only had one postseason appearance in 15 years though he has the most wins of any coach in ETSU history.
So my opinion, which along with a nominal donation will get you ETSU season tickets available through etsubucs.com or by calling the ticket office, is each era was its’ own Glory days. We’re comparing apples and oranges. Basketball in the 1950’s and 60’s was completely different than the landscape of college basketball in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, and the college game is completely different today. Each of the more celebrated coaches in ETSU’s history have faced different challenges, with really a different style of game in each era. Given the landscape of what ETSU has gone through in the Murry Bartow era with athletics, his accomplishments have been nothing short of amazing. But the same goes for Robinson, LeForce, DeChellis and Brooks. Different eras, different conferences, teams, rules, styles of play, but all of the above should be celebrated by Buc fans with the coaches all being in the ETSU Hall of Fame.