Top 10 Moments in ETSU Basketball: #6

#6: 2003-2004 Season

For the 6th best moment in ETSU basketball history I’ve decided to go with the 2003-2004 season where ETSU finished 15-1 in Southern Conference games and won a total of 27 games, which is second best in school history.

There were a lot of high expectations for ETSU basketball around Johnson City when the 2003-2004 season started. The Bucs returned their two top seniors, Zakee Wadood and Jerald Field, and they also returned their dynamic sophomore PG, Tim Smith. ETSU started out with a few good wins including a win over Houston and UNC-Wilmington. However, the Bucs went 1-2 in the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii losing to both IUPUI and American. I recall being very disappointed after both losses, thinking those should have been easy wins, and I remember many other fans felt the same way, but the Bucs turned things around pretty quickly. After the loss to American the Bucs would pull off a school record 16 straight wins, including a win at Fresno State for the ESPN bracket-buster event. The 16 straight wins still stands as a school record today.

ETSU would go into the final game of the season with a 15-0 record in the conference, however the Bucs failed to get the sweep as they lost to College of Charleston, 89-91, in the final regular season game. That loss did not hurt ETSU’s confidence as they swept through the Southern Conference tournament, winning by an average of 13 points in each of the 3 games.

ETSU finished the season with an impressive 27-5 record and received a 13th seed in the NCAA tournament with a first round matchup against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bucs played one of the most exciting 1st round games in the whole tournament with Tim Smith wowing the crowd on several occasions and the Bucs leading with just a few minutes left, but in the end they fell short, thanks to Cincinnati 3-pointer in the last minute of the game.

I’ve including a few videos from 2004 in this post. The one at the top of the page is a highlight video of Tim Smith from the 2003-2004 season and the two at the bottom is the home game against Chattanooga and the Cincinnati NCAA tournament game.

Keep checking back this week as I’ll continue to count down the top 10 moments in ETSU basketball history.

A recap of the top 10 so far:
#10: 2009 A-Sun Championship
#9: Calvin Talford Winning the Dunk Contest.
#8: First win against Tennessee
#7: 2003 Southern Conference Championship
#6: 2003-2004 Season

ETSU vs Chattanooga in Johnson City

ETSU vs Cincinnati: 2004 NCAA Tournament

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Top 10 Moments in ETSU Basketball: #7

#7: 2003 Southern Conference Championship

For the 7th best moment in ETSU basketball history I’ve decided to go with ETSU’s 2003 Southern Conference tournament championship.

Whenever ETSU won the Southern Conference tournament in 2003 it had been a long 11 year drought for the Bucs which hadn’t made the NCAA tournament prior to that since 1992. In addition to not being to the NCAA tournament in 11 years ETSU also had a couple of very bad season during those times, including two back-to-back 7 win seasons in 1996 and 1997.

Coach Ed Dechellis took over a mess of a team when he was hired in 1997 but slowly he began to rebuild the program. In his 3rd season the Bucs won 17 games and by his 5th season ETSU had won the regular season title. There was still some work to do as ETSU came up short on a NCAA tournament bid in 2001 and 2002, but everyone knew a Socon tournament title was imminent with Zakee Wadood and Jerald Fields entering their Junior season.

In the tournament ETSU had to face the College of Charleston, who was briefly ranked in the top 25 earlier in the year, in the semi-finals in front a very pro-Charleston crowd in the North Charleston Arena. The Bucs were up to the challenge as they took out the regular season champs and faced Chattanooga in the finals. The hard work of rebuilding a basketball team, who was the worst team in the conference just 6 years earlier, had finally paid off as ETSU knocked off Chattanooga in the Southern Conference finals. For me this win was one of the most satisfying wins I’ve ever experienced as an ETSU fan. The long wait of 11 years seemed more like 20 years, especially after experiencing the 1996 and 1997 season when I thought ETSU may never return to the NCAA tournament.

ETSU would go on to face #2 seeded Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament where they nearly pulled off the upset, losing 76-73.

I’ve including a few videos from 2003 in this post. The one at the top of the page is a highlight video of both Zakee Wadood and Jerald Fields in 2003 and 2004 and the two at the bottom is Tim Smith against Wake Forest and a last minute comeback against UNCG in 2003.

Keep checking back this week as I’ll continue to count down the top 10 moments in ETSU basketball history.

A recap of the top 10 so far:
#10: 2009 A-Sun Championship
#9: Calvin Talford Winning the Dunk Contest.
#8: First win against Tennessee
#7: 2003 Southern Conference Championship

Brad Nuckles hit’s last second shot in 2003 game against UNCG

Tim Smith vs Wake Forest in the 2003 NCAA tournament

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