Asheville, N.C. (WJHL) – The ETSU men’s basketball team was voted as the SoCon’s preseason favorite for the first time since rejoining the conference, while the women’s squad earned fourth as the preseason polls were released during Monday’s SoCon Basketball Tip Off event.
The Buccaneer men return their top six leading scorers with redshirt senior forward Jeromy Rodriguez, junior guard Bo Hodges and sophomore guard Daivien Williamson being named to the preseason all-conference team.
It’s good the Bucs were able to nab the top spot, but head coach Steve Forbes knows this is just the beginning of the journey.
“They’ve had a chance to see that type of stuff and they’ve been really level headed about it and know we have a long process ahead of us to get where we want to get,” Forbes said. “Last year was the first time we didn’t get in the championship and don’t think I haven’t used that, a couple times or a hundred times since that happened.”
Last season the Bucs finished 24-10, while going 13-5 in the conference. East Tennessee State fell to Wofford in the conference tournament semifinals, which marked the first time since Forbes took over that the Bucs didn’t reach the championship game.
“We didn’t have a bad year, but we weren’t special and last year to win our league you had to be special and I thought we were just really good,” Forbes said.
The Buccaneer woman pulled in at number four in the preseason poll, following a 10-21 record, going 8-6 in the conference. Even though head coach Brittney Ezell and her crew got a respectable spot in the poll, they’re more focused on improving themselves.
“It’s what do we think of ourselves, did we get the most out of the capabilities that we have,” Ezell said. “Everybody wants to be picked first, you know I’m probably different, pick me to be last.”
The Buccaneers return key pieces like redshirt junior guard Micah Scheetz and junior guard Erica Haynes-Overton. Ezell knows these two will be the backbone of this team.
“My backcourt really anchors us, they’re a little further along than our front court, which is alright at this point,” Ezell said. “Some JUCO transfers, some four year transfers, just trying to get everybody acclimated to our standard.”
This seasons schedule features games against Tennessee, Wake Forrest and Georgia Tech, so Ezell is excited to see how her team handles these obstacles.
“I want to see who this group becomes, I want to see who they become as people, who they become as a team and the way we’re going to handle adversity, because it’s going to hit; the way we handle success because they’re going to have it,” Ezell said.
Both Buccaneer teams get their regular season underway at home with the men battling Newberry on November 6 and the women squaring off with Tennessee on November 5.