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Bucs hustle to drum up student interest

Joe Avento • Jan 24, 2020 at 11:00 AM

When Chattanooga comes to town for a basketball game, it’s a big deal around East Tennessee State.

The Bucs players spent some time on campus Thursday making sure the students knew what was coming.

ETSU plays host to the Mocs on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Freedom Hall and the players were handing out tickets to the students before heading to practice.

“It’s the first week back on campus and it’s a rivalry game,” ETSU point guard Isaiah Tisdale said. “We were just out on campus trying to get more students to come. We have good fans out here. We’re just trying to get more students. The loyal fans come out. We’re just trying to get some more.”

ETSU leads the Southern Conference in attendance, averaging 4,231 fans per home game. Freedom Hall holds more than 6,000.

“In 2016 when Tennessee came to town, it was a pretty packed atmosphere,” said Bucs guard Patrick Good, who issued a plea for a sellout on Twitter. “We haven’t had it that packed since. I feel like as we’re approaching these last few home games, I want this to get us over the hump the rest of the way.”

The Bucs are 17-3 and alone in first place in the SoCon at 6-1. Chattanooga, 13-7 overall, is tied for fifth at 4-3 in the league.

“It means a lot,” Tisdale said. “It’s a big rivalry game. We’re very excited to give the fans a good show. It means a lot to the fans and a lot of former guys come to this game.”

NO JEROMY

The Bucs will still be without Jeromy Rodriguez. The senior forward will miss his fifth game in a row with a foot injury.

He watched practice Thursday with his left foot in a boot. It’s the same foot that required surgery before the season.

3-POINT MARK

ETSU has made at least one 3-point shot in 1,021 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in the country.

Vanderbilt went 0 for 25 in a game last week, helping the Bucs move up a notch on the list.

NEW HOME FOR HAYNES-OVERTON

Erica Haynes-Overton is now a Kansas Jayhawk.

The do-it-all guard who played the past two seasons at ETSU has chosen Kansas as her landing place. She entered the NCAA’s transfer portal in mid-December.

Haynes-Overton scored 1,046 points for ETSU. Her career highlight was a 41-point effort against Tennessee to open this season. She only played four games for the Bucs this season before suffering a knee injury. She’ll have one year of eligibility remaining after sitting out this season.

Kansas is 12-5 overall this season, 1-5 in the Big 12.

BASEBALL GETS GOING

Baseball season is right around the corner. ETSU begins official preseason practice on Friday.

The Bucs open the season Feb. 14 with a home game against Toledo. Twelve of their first 14 games are scheduled for Thomas Stadium. The two road games during that period are at Virginia Tech on Feb. 18 and at Clemson on Feb. 25.

FOOTBALL MOVES

Collins Ukwu has a new position with the ETSU football team. Ukuku, who coached defensive ends last season, has moved to coach the defensive line, taking over for the retired Darly Daye.

Ukwu will be in his third season with the Bucs this fall.

In addition, Paul Humphries has rejoined the ETSU staff and will take over the defensive ends. Humphries, a former All-American at Wofford, coached at ETSU from 1999-2000.

MELECKA MOVING UP

ETSU golfer Tereza Melecka is ranked 56th in the latest World Amateur Rankings. She moved up 50 spots since the last rankings and is the highest ranked ETSU player ever. She’s also the top ranked player from the Czech Republic.

Melecka got her second collegiate win at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown last fall. She also won the U21 portion of the Czech International Junior Championship in July, while being the top amateur at the Amundi Czech Ladies Challenge in early August.

Hee Ying Loy had been the highest ranked ETSU player, holding down the 76th spot for a time last year.

MORE GOLF

The men’s golf team returns to action on Feb, 2 at Georgia Southern’s tournament. The Bucs begin the spring season 26th nationally in the Golfstat.com rankings after winning their final fall event, in Hawaii.

Jack Rhea enters the spring as the 31st-ranked individual in the country. Shiso Go is ranked 81st.

SOFTBALL UNDERWAY

The Bucs softball team officially began preseason practice last week. The team opens the season Feb. 7 in a tournament at Statesboro Georgia, where it will take on Army, Rutgers and Georgia Southern.

Brad Irwin is in his 10th year as the Bucs coach.

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