DeLAND, Fla. — Thursdays are bad. Saturdays are good.
That’s the way the basketball season has unfolded for East Tennessee State since conference play began more than a month ago. The Bucs are 0-5 on Thursday nights but have lost only once on the weekends.
Throw in a split of a couple of Monday night games, and you’ve got the 5-7 worksheet of a seventh-place team in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Why the consistent inconsistency?
“I don’t have an answer to that,” says coach Murry Bartow. “This is a team that makes mistakes and doesn’t look good at times, but it doesn’t quit. I think the way we’ve bounced back in these Saturday games shows we have some fight.”
The Bucs hope the seesaw trend continues today at Stetson, which has always been a tough stop along the A-Sun road.
They were routed 67-43 Thursday night at Florida Gulf Coast, and couldn’t have been more offensively challenged. The first-place Eagles blocked a school-record 13 shots, had 10 steals and limited the Bucs to 22 percent shooting from the field.
Jarvis Jones and Lester Wilson, ETSU’s leading scorers, were a combined 5 of 28. Jones needed 19 shots to get his team-high 12 points.
“It seems like we just didn’t have any energy,” said forward Hunter Harris, whose 3-for-9, 10-point performance was relatively efficient. “We’ve lost every Thursday game, and it’s hard to give an explanation for it. I know it needs to change soon because we’re getting near the end of the season.”
It’s hard to see how much can change at this point. This team has fatal flaws that can only be covered up from time to time — usually on Saturdays.
So it’s on to Stetson, which already owns a 72-70 victory over the Bucs last month in Johnson City. That was part of a five-game winning streak that carried the Hatters into a share of the conference lead.
But they hit the wall with three straight losses, including a 29-point whipping at Florida Gulf Coast, before defeating South Carolina Upstate 73-66 on Thursday night.
The Bucs are flirting with their first 20-loss season since 1996-97, and it’s going to take more than a split of their remaining games to avoid it. Of course, they still haven’t put even two wins together all season.
With Kennesaw State at 1-10, and Northern Kentucky ineligible for the postseason, the Bucs are assured of making the A-Sun tournament in Macon. But nothing more.
If only they could get to Saturday.