Thursday, March 3, 2011

Smith and Bucs Experience Prevail in the End

Late in the game there is no doubt who is going to make plays for the ETSU Buccaneers. Against Campbell Wednesday night, Mike Smith, the unanimous Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year, contributed on the last 13 points for the Bucs with 11 points and a spectacular assist for an Isiah Brown dunk.

The fifth-year senior averaged 16.9 points per outing this season, but the most important play he made in the quarterfinal showdown against the Camels came on the defensive end. With ETSU up by one and Campbell clinging to a chance to upset the second-seeded Bucs, Smith came away with a steal from Camels point guard Junard Hartley to clinch the fifth-straight semifinal appearance for the team from Johnson City.

“I’m one of the leaders of this team so I just wanted to play great for them and the team got the ball into my hands late and I just tried to make plays to help us win. With the game on the line at the end I needed to step up and I was in the right place at the right time and came away with the steal.”

The steal, one of four for Smith on the night, complete an all-around game for the Vandalia, Mo., native, who finished with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists.

As great as Smith was in the game for the Bucs, he did not carry them on his own as fellow seniors Micah Williams added nine points and seven rebounds, while Brown, a junior, added seven points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

“When you have seniors that have been here before in these kind of situations and have been to the NCAA (Tournament) it’s great for your confidence to have that experience and it really helps your momentum in the tournament.”

The Bucs, who have won their last seven A-Sun Championship games, now face the winner of the River City showdown between No. 3 Jacksonville and No. 6 UNF, who play at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. Whomever the opponent, Smith and ETSU will be ready for their next opponent at the beginning of the game and at the end.


  1. Sorry to re-post this from last year but it is still true:

    The Atlantic Sun has to stop holding the Conference games in the local gym. It is embarrassing. I know it helps on the cost savings and provides some local income but if the Atlantic Sun wants to be taken seriously, improve their regular season schedules and play in an arena or stadium. The arena in Greensboro, NC is a nice stadium. Hold the Conference games in a stadium that holds 12 to 17 thousand people or even 10 thousand people. Make it a destination for the fans.

  2. It's a good thought regarding a neutral site. ATL would be a good choice, the most central location in a destination city. I just don't know if the alumni bases are large enough to justify a larger venue. What the conference really needs is a couple of wins in the NCAA tourney, and a few more wins against the power conferences in the regular season.

  3. As a basketball coach and fan of the game, I really enjoy coming to the tourney each year. My only disappointment is that is seems like each year, there are highly questionable calls by the referees in make or break moments in the game. For example, the offensive foul called last night toward the end of the game between Campbell and ETSU that gave the ball back to Campbell was ticky tack. There was no reason for ETSU to foul on that play, and they didn't. Perhaps the ref that made the call was upset that earlier in the game he was getting ready to call a block on ETSU when another ref called a charge on the same play. Or maybe he was upset that the ETSU coach questioned why he hadn't called a blatant foul at the ETSU end when he called a foul just moments later on the Campbell end for the same violation that had occured at both ends. I have seen calls like that in games for years of A-Sun games between all schools. I'm an A-Sun fan..not a particular fan of any school, and love the game. Its just too bad that sometimes the refs seem to make the game about them rather than about the teams. Just call the games straight. A foul is a foul whomever commits it. Watched a Mercer game this year where more than 50 fouls were called in a 40 minute game!! Come on!! Really??? Again, I speak as a basketball coach who has coached for more years than many of those refs have been alive!


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