Virginia Tech opens up the 2011-12 basketball season tomorrow against a very
dangerous opponent: the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. ETSU has won 20+ games
in four of the last five seasons, and they will present the shorthanded Hokies
with a significant challenge in the first game of the season.
ETSU might be the most successful program in the country that you’ve never
paid attention to. Take a look at what they’ve done over the last five season.
Murray Bartow has done a great job with the ETSU program, and has led them to a
total of three NCAA Tournaments.
The Buccaneers will bring two returning starters to Blacksburg, plus a third
starter who missed all of last season with an injury. Like most small conference
teams, they are perimeter oriented, and they have a number of guys who can shoot
Let’s get a quick rundown on those starters.
Adam Sollazzo: The Tampa native might be the tallest point guard the
Hokies face this season. He scored 14 points against Kentucky in the NCAA
Tournament two years ago, and he runs the offense very well. Sollazzo isn’t a
three-point threat, attempting just eight outside jumpers last season.
Marcus DuBose: DuBose is a JUCO who will be playing his first Division I
basketball game. He averaged 23.8 points per game at Mendocino Community College
last season while shooting an impressive 44% from three-point range. He is a
very good fit for what ETSU likes to do offensively.
Sheldon Cooley: Cooley was one of ETSU’s top players off the bench last
season, averaging 4.5 points per game. His minutes will increase this year, and
his production is expected to increase as well.
Tommy Hubbard: Hubbard missed last season with a foot injury. He lead the
team in scoring in 2009-10, averaging 13.9 points per game. Hubbard also pulled
down 8.2 boards per game that year, and he is especially known for his ability
on the defensive end. Overall, he is ETSU’s best player.
Isaiah Brown: Brown is ETSU’s best interior player. He averaged 10.3
points and 7.3 rebounds a year ago. Brown has long arms and blocked 71 shots a
year ago, while also finishing second on the team with 42 steals.
Defensively, the Hokies will want to focus on shutting DuBose down from the
outside while also denying the ball to Isaiah Brown. It will be key to make
ETSU’s lesser accomplished scorers make plays to win the game.
There will be some capable players coming off the bench for ETSU as well.
Jarvis Jones: The r-junior sat out last season as a redshirt, but he is
known for his ability to shoot the ball from the outside.
Rashawn Rembert: A 6-3 freshman guard who shot over 42% from three-point
range in high school. He should get plenty of minutes for the Bucs.
Ryan Woumn: Woumn is a r-freshman who should serve as ETSU’s backup point
guard this season.
Lester Wilson: Wilson is a 6-4 freshman wing who averaged 27 points per
game as a senior in high school. He is expected to be a big-time scorer at some
point in his career at ETSU.
So far this year, ETSU has won two exhibition games against Tusculum (101-72)
and Carson-Newman (87-59). This is a winning program, and they’ll come to
Blacksburg confident that they can pull the upset.
Virginia Tech is banged up. We know that J.T. Thompson is out for the season,
freshman point guard Marquis Rankin hasn’t practiced yet because of knee
surgery, and starting point guard Erick Green could miss this game as well with
an Achilles injury. However, the Bucs were without Marcus DuBose and Adam
Sollazzo in the Carson-Newman exhibition, and they have been limited in practice
since then. We don’t know if they’ll be ready for tomorrow’s game, or if they’ll
watch from the bench.
ETSU is a solid team, but they don’t have much size or length. The Hokies
need to use that to their advantage, win the battle on the boards, and use their
length to force turnovers and score in transition.