#134 East Tennessee St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic Sun Conference
2009-10: 20-15, 13-7
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Murry Bartow (138-87 at East Tennessee State, 241-160 overall)
East Tennessee State started the 2009-2010 season amid tragedy and injury. Add to that the loss of a few key players, and the expectations for the Buccaneers were very low. Now Mike Smith is back after playing in just four games last year before going down with a season ending injury and a majority of his teammates who stepped up their game to reach the NCAA Tournament are back as well.
Key Losses: G Jocolby Davis
Coach Murry Bartow did an amazing job last season and his good work continued through the offseason. Anthony Johnson and Curtis Wilkinson are a couple of junior college transfers who are expected to make an immediate impact. Johnson, a 6-7 power forward, and Wilkinson, a 6-8 power forward, will both compete for a starting job. At the least, one of them needs to play a big role off the bench and eat up some minutes at the five spot. This team also needed to find a future point guard and Ryan Woumn fits the bill perfectly.
The amount of talent in the backcourt is staggering. Micah Williams and Justin Tubbs turned into the stars of the perimeter after Smith went down with his injury. Williams, a 6-4 wing, averaged 12.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Williams is a capable outside shooter, but also will use his size and speed to attack the basket with relative ease. Tubbs is more of a shooter, although he shot just 32.5 percent from beyond the arc last season. Sheldon Cooley, Adam Sollazzo and Jarvis Jones all averaged at least ten minutes per game last season and will give the group on the perimeter plenty of depth. Cooley is the best ballhandler of the bunch, while Sollazzo adds a balanced scoring attack and Jones is a decent shooter off of the bench.
The depth in the frontcourt is quite impressive too. Tommy Hubbard is the star of the unit and the team. After averaging 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a year ago, big things are expected for his senior season. Hubbard is certainly undersized for a traditional power forward, but he makes up for it with his toughness on both ends of the floor. Ideally, Hubbard would play at small forward and Isiah Brown would move from the five spot to power forward, but that would leave a logjam of talent on the bench on the perimeter. Brown has proven that he can play either position after averaging 7.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during his sophomore campaign. J.C. Ward and Lukas Poderis showed plenty of potential last year, but they will have to battle it out with the newcomers for minutes off the bench.
Who to Watch:
When Smith got hurt ETSU suddenly turned into an average team…at least for a while. During the 2008-2009 season, the 6-6 Vandalia, Missouri product averaged an impressive 15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Smith will score in every way imaginable and can do it on the ball or off the ball. With him back in the mix, the Buccaneers have their leader.
It is important to note that it took ETSU some time to come together last year. That is not surprising considering the circumstances, but this team finished fifth in the conference and got hot at the right time. Most of the conference was not paying too much attention to the Buccaneers until they started making their run late in the season. Now the target is on their back and Coach Bartow needs to do another great coaching feat. For starters he needs to keep everybody happy on a very deep roster and than he needs to keep his team prepared for everybody’s best shot in conference play.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Mike Smith, Senior, Guard, 9.2 ppg
Justin Tubbs, Senior, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Micah Williams, Senior, Guard, 12.7 ppg
Tommy Hubbard, Senior, Forward, 13.9 ppg
Isiah Brown, Junior, Forward, 7.8 ppg
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