Buccaneers demolish Guilford

By Jeff Birchfield

   Total destruction.
   East Tennessee State completely annihilated Guilford College 104-37 in a record-setting performance Friday night at Memorial Center.
   Seven Buc players netted double figures in recording the most lopsided win in school history. The 67-point margin of victory broke the old mark of 64 points, set by the 1990-91 Buccaneers in a 112-48 win over Eckerd College.
   Most impressive was the defensive performance as the Bucs forced as many turnovers 34 as points allowed.
   "I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight," said ETSU head basketball coach Ed DeChellis. "The kids came out with a lot of intensity and emotion. We've been talking about playing defensively with an attitude and I thought they did it this evening. They played with the intensity we are trying to establish.
   "I thought we also passed the ball extremely well. They were very unselfish. When games like this get out of hand, sometimes guys will try to score and do things they can't do. I thought our guys passed the ball and looked for one another and for that I was very proud."
   The outcome was much to the dismay of Quaker head coach Butch Estes.
   "That's a good strong physical basketball team," said Estes about the Bucs. "Even their second team guys would be starters for us. They have quickness and some good shooters.
   "I apologize for this being this big of a mismatch. They just took us out of what we were doing. Once that type of thing begins, the players get frustrated and they forget everything that they have been taught. I'm just disappointed that we didn't give them a better game tonight. We just couldn't score."
   The Quakers (0-1) briefly held a 5-3 lead early in the contest, before the Bucs reeled off 26 straight points through a wide variety of ways. There was the two-handed jam from Shannon Huffstetler after an assist from Tim Smith.
   Then, there was the lay-up from Smith after a nifty move in the paint and the long range bomb from three-point ace Ryan Lawson.
   Much of the run came after the ETSU second string unit was inserted into the ballgame.
   "The second five came in and played hard," said DeChellis. "They did a great job defensively. That's what we are trying to stress is we have to guard. The ball is not going to go in the basket every single night, but if we can defend and rebound and use our athleticism on the defensive end, that will be very positive."
   Added Lawson, a senior on this year's team, "We know the second team can come in and give us a spark. That depth is better for our team. This is the deepest team I have played on and it could be the best. We have a lot of work to do offensively, but defensively I was pretty impressed."
   The combination of fresh players helped the Bucs sprint out to a 50-15 halftime lead. After the Quakers' Devon Clyburn made a trey to open up the second half, things got even more out of hand as ETSU ripped off another huge run, this one for 21 straight points making the lead an insurmountable 71-18.
   For the Buccaneer players, winning the defensive battle remained their primary objective.
   "Coach told us that defense should be there every night," remarked guard Tirus Wade. "That's the difference between us and a lot of teams. The intensity was there. Coach (Scott) Wagers worked with us on the press. We finally got it down after two years in the making.
   "We have the athletes and the depth to run more man-to-man. Last year, we had to preserve a little bit because the depth wasn't there and run more zone. This year we have the backups to bring another man in there, so he wants us there pressuring the ball at all times."
   As the minutes ticked down and the players showed a little razzle dazzle to the crowd, only the final margin of victory was in question.
   Leading the Buc onslaught was sophomore guard James Anthony with 15 points.
   "Any number of us can step on the floor and play right away," said Anthony. "We're looking real good this year. I think we will press a lot more people full court than we have in the past."
   Other ETSU leaders were Wade with 14 points, Lawson and Huffstelter each with 13 points, freshman center Brad Nuckles with 12, and Jerald Fields and Smith, who each contributed 10. Sasha Kovacevic was the only Guilford player in double figures, scoring a team-high 12 points.
   With a successful home opener behind them, attention now turns to South Carolina, a team that beat the Bucs 83-66 last season.
   "We should face some real good competition against South Carolina," said Anthony. "It's going to be a big experience in front of a big crowd. It's going to take everybody coming together and playing as one to beat them. If we all do that, then we might come through with a victory."
   Certainly Estes agreed that this year's version of the Bucs stand a chance of avenging the loss to South Carolina. His team was also the opening game opponent for ETSU last year, but only lost by a score of 90-61.
   "You wouldn't think losing what they lost from last year, they would be better defensively," said Estes. "They made us lose our composure very quickly. We have some good basketball players on our team who had zero points tonight."
   DeChellis weighed in, "No disrespect to Guilford, but it's like going from first gear up to fifth right away. They've got five guys over 6-11. They won 25 games last year and have most of their players back.
   "It's going to be a great atmosphere. It's a sellout of 17,000 and you can't get a ticket as it's their first game in a new arena. It's a great opportunity for us to go down there and play. I just want our kids to compete and to see what they can do."
   The Bucs will get a boost from the return of Zakee Wadood, the team's leading scorer in their exhibition contest against Charleston AAU. Wadood will be back in the lineup after missing the Guilford contest, due to attending a funeral in Arkansas.
   The Bucs (1-0) will tip-off with the Gamecocks at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The game can be heard locally on WJCW-AM (910).