ESTERO, Fla. (Nov. 4, 2020) – The details are finally set for the ETSU men’s basketball team’s season opener.
The reigning Southern Conference champions will travel to Florida to play in the bdG Sports’ #BeachBubble at the Gulf Coast Showcase, beginning Nov. 25 when the Buccaneers open up with Abilene Christian. ETSU is guaranteed to play three games over the three-day tournament inside Hertz Arena.
ETSU and Abilene Christian tip-off the first-round match-ups at 11 a.m., with Akron-MTSU following at 2 p.m. The other side of the bracket features Austin Peay-Omaha at 5 p.m. and Indiana State taking on East Carolina at 8 p.m.
The winner of ETSU-Abilene Christian will face Akron-MTSU on Nov. 26 at 5 p.m., while the two losing teams from round one will play Thanksgiving morning at 11 a.m. The championship game is slated for 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. All 12 games will be streamed live and available on-demand on FloHoops.com.
The Bucs, led by first-year head coach Jason Shay, are coming off a historic season where ETSU went 30-4 en route to capturing both the SoCon regular season and tournament championships. The 30 wins set a program-record for the Blue and Gold, while becoming just the fourth team in the 100-year history of the SoCon to accomplish the feat. The 2020-21 Buccaneer roster will have a much different look as ETSU lost all five starters and return three players that saw minutes from last year’s championship squad – Vonnie Patterson, Charlie Weber and Jordan Coffin. Despite all the changes, the Bucs will have four NCAA Division I transfers ready to play. Silas Adheke (Northern Kentucky), Ledarrius Brewer (Southeast Missouri State), Ty Brewer (Southeastern Louisiana) and Serrel Smith (Maryland) have combined to play in 230 games (109 starts), totaling 1,687 points, 817 rebounds, 168 assists, 143 steals and 75 blocks.
Abilene Christian finished the 2019-20 season with an overall record of 20-11 and went 15-5 in the Southland. The Wildcats return 10 players and four starters from a year ago, including junior forward Joe Pleasant who earned all-Southland honors last season. Pleasant, the team’s second-leading scorer, averaged 11.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting 51 percent from the field (118-232).
Akron won the Mid-American Conference regular season crown after going 24-7, 14-4 in 2019-20. The Zips return the MAC Player of the Year in senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson, while John Groce earned MAC Coach of the Year honors. Jackson started all 31 games for the Zips, averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game and posted 22.9 points per game in league play. Jackson also hit 92 three-pointers a year ago, while connecting on 42.8 percent from long distance.
MTSU went 8-23 (4-14 CUSA) last season, while the Blue Raiders return three starters and seven letterwinners from that team. The Blue Raiders return their top leading scorer in sophomore guard C.J. Jones. After transferring from Northwestern, Jones averaged 16.1 points and led the team with 78 made threes. MTSU will also have Jordan Davis – a redshirt junior guard – who sat out last season after transferring from Dayton and guard Jalen Jordan – a transfer from St. Francis (NY) – available. At Dayton, Davis totaled 572 points, 148 rebounds and 119 assists in 64 games (53 starts), while Jordan netted 834 points and 153 made threes in 64 games (63 starts) in two seasons at St. Francis.