Marcus Dubose’s promising debut for the East Tennessee State basketball team last weekend apparently came at a price.
Doctors have discovered that Dubose broke a rib in a fall during the 101-72 exhibition win over Tusculum in which he scored 30 points, and he hasn’t been practicing. The junior guard won’t play Saturday when the Bucs host Carson-Newman in their final tuneup of the preseason.
Making matters worse, the injury bug struck again Monday when starting point guard Adam Sollazzo rolled an ankle in practice. The senior is wearing an orthopedic boot on his left leg and has also been ruled out of Saturday’s game.
“I stepped on the back of somebody’s shoe and rolled it pretty good,” said Sollazzo. “I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks, but we’ll see. This is the first time I’ve ever been in a boot.”
Coach Murry Bartow said both players would be reassessed on Monday, adding that “right now it doesn’t look good” for Sollazzo.
While sophomore Sheldon Cooley will move from shooting guard to the point in Sollazzo’s absence, it’s not clear how the rest of the starting lineup will look against Carson-Newman.
Dubose, the junior-college transfer, had likely earned a chance to start with his 30-point outburst. Now that’s up in the air.
“It’s not what we need right now,” said Bartow.
n The injury to Sollazzo has freed up some playing time for Ryan Woumn.
The redshirt freshman sat out last season with a broken toe and has been working his way back. He said his injury didn’t heal completely until March, but he had a good summer and has been moving well in preseason workouts.
Woumn played eight minutes in the first exhibition without taking a shot.
“I’m playing catch-up,” he said Wednesday. “It feels good to be out there playing with the guys again.”
The youngster from Lynn, Mass., a Boston suburb, says Sollazzo has been mentoring him since he showed up on campus.
“I tried to sit and watch Adam last season,” said Woumn. “He’s an experienced point guard and has taught me so much, on and off the court. We talked last night and he told me to just go out there and run the team. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
n The women’s team plays its first exhibition tonight against Carson-Newman. Tipoff is 7 o’clock in the Dome.
The game marks the return of forward Destiny Mitchell, whose outstanding freshman season ended when she tore an ACL in early February.
“It’s been a long time, so I’m excited to get back out there,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “I feel like I may have to do a little more inside, maybe rebound a little more, since we’re smaller this year. But we’re going to be good.”
Mitchell was very good as a freshman, averaging 14.5 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds. She started all 24 games she played before the knee injury and shot 52 percent from the field.
Mitchell said she’s now 100 percent physically, but coach Karen Kemp thinks there’s still some work to be done.
“Her conditioning is not where she wants it to be just yet,” said Kemp. “Once she gets to that point, I think you’ll see the same Destiny you saw before the injury.”
Senior point guard Tarita Gordon will also be back in the lineup after redshirting last season with a knee injury.
n The Lady Bucs still won’t be at full strength tonight.
Senior forward Gwen Washington is nursing a shoulder injury.
With her out, the starting lineup will include seniors Gordon and Natalie Pickwell, junior Tosha Austin, Mitchell and freshman Amy Duke.
The Lady Bucs have been practicing for a month, and Kemp has learned quite a bit about her team.
“I’ve learned that we’ve got some hard workers,” she said. “I’ve learned that our freshmen are a lot further along that I would have expected.
As for Carson-Newman, the coach doesn’t know much.
“We always try to focus on us this time of year,” said Kemp. “I know they’ve got two of their top scorers back and played at UT last night.”
That exhibition yielded a 105-40 blowout, so the Lady Bucs probably won’t look quite as intimidating. Carson-Newman will close out its exhibition schedule next Wednesday night with another giant, North Carolina.
n The women’s soccer team heads to Ft. Myers, Fla., today with high hopes.
The Lady Bucs are the No. 2 seed for the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament at Florida Gulf Coast and earned a bye into the semifinals. They face Mercer on Friday in a rematch of the regular-season finale last Sunday in Johnson City, in which the Lady Bucs pulled out a 2-1 victory on Ramey Kerns’ goal in the 81st minute.
Mercer, the 6-seed, has since kept its season alive with a 4-2 quarterfinal win over Jacksonville, the 3-seed.
“I think it always helps to have as recent a picture of the opponent as possible,” ETSU coach Adam Sayers said Wednesday. “We know this is a tricky match for us. Mercer is very strong in the midfield, and we had to grind out a victory.
“It’s knockout soccer now, so the circumstances are very different.”
The Lady Bucs have made a surprisingly strong showing in Sayers’ first season as coach. They were picked eighth in the A-Sun preseason poll.
The team ended up second at 7-1-1 and had the player of the year in senior Genna Petersen, the freshman of the year in Jenna Caudle and the coach of the year in Sayers.
“I think we’re confident and our spirits are good,” said Sayers. “It’s quite a young team, so a lot of things this season have been new to them. This is another one of those things – getting a bye into the semifinals. They’re enjoying the journey.”
Florida Gulf Coast is the top seed and will face North Florida in Friday’s nightcap. The Lady Eagles handed ETSU its only conference loss, 3-0, on Oct. 16.
The championship match is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
n On the men’s side, the Bucs scrapped their way into the conference tournament by scoring two late goals and beating South Carolina Upstate 2-1 in a do-or-die match here last Saturday.
They will be the 6-seed and face No. 3 Jacksonville in a quarterfinal next Wednesday night at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
There doesn’t appear to be much momentum for the home team. The Bucs closed out the regular season Tuesday night with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Appalachian State, dropping them to 9-6-3 on the season after a 6-1 start.
“We were disappointed not to get the result last night,” coach Scott Calabrese said Wednesday from Connecticut, where he is recruiting. “We had plenty of chances; we hit the post twice and controlled the game. Basically we need to put that game behind us and look toward the tournament.”
The Bucs are the defending A-Sun champs, and Calabrese thinks they’re capable of making a spirited defense next week.
“We’ve beaten the top teams in the conference, so I think we’ll have a lot of confidence going into the tournament,” he said. “We tend to get results on our home field.”
The Bucs are 5-2-3 at home.