Bucs ready to do battle with Wake

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   It's only fitting that the Bucs' road comes to a head in Tampa.
   The East Tennessee State Buccaneers will be locking up with familiar foes on Friday when they meet the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa, Fla.
   A contest between two coaching friends and two former Southern Conference opponents make the contest at 2:45 p.m. all that more intriguing. While many have been worried about the 15-2 seeded contest, the blue and gold are confident in their chances this week.
   The selection was ironic for ETSU coach Ed DeChellis, who spoke with Wake coach Skip Prosser about exchanging film on Sunday afternoon before the tournament selections.
   "It's funny, because we talked about exchanging tapes earlier," DeChellis said. "They are a great team and one of the best rebounding squads in the country. We've got to take what we've learned and find out what we can and can't do."
   "It's going to be a good matchup with the name recognition being so close," he said. "We were hoping for 13 or 14, but it didn't hold up. We've been to Florida and it could be beneficial. We've had good games against high powered teams and programs."
   Prosser was not surprised with his squad's number two selection in the tournament over a rival tournament champion Duke squad who got a three seed.
   "We won the ACC regular season and that carries more weight than a tournament in my opinion," said the ACC Coach of the Year. "I wasn't shocked at all that we picked up the two seed."
   "We have to be conscious on what is already in front of us," he said. "Coach DeChellis is one of my great friends in the business and we're certainly not going to look over them."
   Prosser believes the loss to N.C. State in the ACC Tournament might have been good for his team in the long run.
   "It's a better likelihood," he said. "We have a young team and we hadn't lost in a month. It helps us out in a way, but we will determine that with practice.
   "I'm fortunate to have coached some teams in the tournament. But going in, you look at everything. I feel good about our selection."
   Wake Forest will be led by ACC Player of the Year Josh Howard. Averaging 20 points per outing, Howard is looking forward to the tournament appearance.
   "I just need to continue doing what I've been doing all year," said Howard. "I know my teammates will pick it up and have my back just like I have their backs. I just need to do the things I'm capable of."
   "I hope we can get out there against them and get some exposure," said Buc Jerald Fields, who will be playing in front of a home crowd. "We hope to get a lot more respect instead of being just a mid-major team. We've been scrimmaging a lot and we should come out ready to handle it."
   The Deacons have been working on controlling ETSU freshman guard Tim Smith. It has been a main focus of preparation in the game.
   "Quickness trumps everything in basketball," said Prosser. "He's quick on quick. I love him. He's a hard playing guy, and he's obviously so much of where it begins for East Tennessee State. We know Tim Smith will have a good game...a very good game. I just hope he's not a human highlight film."
   The challenge of guarding the 'Little Man' will be placed on Wake Forest sophomore guard Taron Downey.
   "He's a great player," Downey said. "I haven't seen too much of him, but it'll be a challenge to stop him. I'm looking forward to it."
   Said Tim Smith. "The seeding worked out good for us, if we can get through Wake Forest, we can do some big things. They are a good caliber team and we want to come out and play hard."
   TELEVISION NOTES: The game is scheduled to air on CBS on Friday, but with the occurring war in Iraq, the contest may be shifted to another network such as ESPN.