Adam Sollazzo has started looking to score a bit more, and the results have been positive. Now the East Tennessee State basketball team is hoping it translates into victories.
Sollazzo has scored 49 points in ETSU’s last three games, all road losses. In each game, he’s picked up his scoring late in attempts to bring the Bucs back from second-half deficits.
“Adam’s kind of taking what they give him,” ETSU coach Murry Bartow said. “He’s a guy that can score. He penetrates and he’s shooting the ball better. It’s not something we’re doing any differently. It’s been mostly matchup situations.”
Those matchups have allowed Sollazzo to shoot more — 31 times in the last three games — and become an even bigger part of the offense. He’s raised his scoring average to 12.3 points a game while still leading the team with 5.1 assists an outing.
“We want him to be aggressive,” Bartow said. “We want him to look to score, but we want him to get seven, eight assists too.”
In his three previous years, Sollazzo has always been a pass first, shoot second point guard, although he’s had some big offensive games along the way.
“We’ve been down late in the games and I feel I should be more aggressive trying to get us back in the game,” the 6-foot-6 senior said. “Anything that would help us get more wins is good for me, whether it’s shooting more or passing. Passing is what I like to do. I try to get guys involved.”
Tonight, Sollazzo and the Bucs (3-4) will try to break the three-game losing streak when they take on Tennessee Tech in their fourth consecutive road game.
“When you’re on the road, you’ve got to play well to win, I don’t care where you are,” Bartow said. “It’s not like we’re getting blown out. We’re right in the game.
“We’ve just had too may turnovers, not good enough offensive execution and our defense has slipped a little bit over the past week. There’s a lot of things if we can get just a little bit better .. we’re not far off. We just have not been good enough over the last week to win any of those three games.”
In addition to Sollazzo, The Bucs have three other double-figure scorers. Marcus Dubose leads the team at 14.3 points a game. Isiah Brown averages 12.0 and Tommy Hubbard averages 11.3.
The Golden Eagles come in 3-4, but their wins haven’t exactly been over imposing foes. They’ve beaten Reinhardt, Wilberforce and High Point.
Kevin Murphy, a 6-foot-5 junior, leads Tennessee Tech, averaging 19.3 points a game. Jud Dillard, a 6-foot-7 senior, averages 15.9 points and an OVC-leading 8.9 rebounds.
“They’re very athletic and they have two really good wings,” Bartow said.
This will be the 70th meeting between the teams in a series that began in 1923. The Bucs have faced only Appalachian State (124) and Chattanooga (75) more. ETSU leads the series 36-33 and has won the last six.