East Tennessee State Buccaneers

AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

Introducing Cinderella: The East Tennessee State Buccaneers are headed to the NCAA tournament

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Conference: Southern

Coach: Steve Forbes

Record: 27-7 (14-4 T-1)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 66
RPI: 60
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: Coming out of the Southern likely means the Buccaneers are likely headed for somewhere in the 12- or 13-seed range.

Names you need to know: There’s one here that stands above the rest: T.J. Cromer. The 6-foot-3 guard is the type of player that can engineer an upset by himself on the right March day. The senior is averaging 19.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He’s shooting 40.7 percent on 3-pointers (putting up over 230 attempts) and 51.2 percent on 2s while chucking a ton of shots. He’s also an 80.8 percent free-throw shooter. Other players to keep an eye on are Desonta Bradford, Tevin Glass, A.J. Merriweather and Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana transfer), who all average at least 8 points per game.

Stats you need to know: The Bucs can shoot the heck out of the ball, ranking 13th nationally with an effective field goal percentage of 56.1, but their problem is the possessions where they don’t shoot as one of the country’s most prone to turnovers offenses. Cromer is one of the highest-volume shooters in the nation, hoisting up nearly a third of his team’s shots while he’s on the floor. On the defensive end, East Tennessee State is an extremely opportunistic defense as they swarm for steals and blocks.

Big wins, bad losses: The Bucs’ best win came in December when they knocked off Mississippi State, 67-65, in Starkville. They got swept in the regular season by Southern co-champ UNC Greensboro while also losing to Wofford on the road.

How’d they get here?: East Tennessee State avenged those two losses to the Spartans by building a 12-point second-half lead and then surviving a Greensboro comeback attempt that featured a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in a game in which the Bucs shot 52.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3. That title game victory came after East Tennessee State dispatched Mercer and Samford without much issue in the earlier rounds.

Outlook: East Tennessee State is likely to get a tough draw, so it’s hard to see them advancing unless Cromer goes nuts. That’s certainly a possibility. Cromer has six games of 25-or-more points, and he exploded for 41 in the Southern semifinals in which he drilled nine 3s. If he gets hot, high seeds should look out.

How do I know you?: East Tennessee State coach Steve Forbes is probably the most recognizable person in the program, and he’s probably best known for being on Bruce Pearl’s staff that was fired at Tennessee amid the infamous Aaron Craft cookout photo “scandal.” Forbes got hit with a one-year show-cause penalty, went to junior college purgatory where he had major success – appearing in two national title games – before resurfacing back in Division I at Wichita State under Gregg Marshall before getting his first head coaching shot in Johnson City, where’ he’s won 51 games in two years. It’s quite the comeback story, and one that could send Forbes even higher up the coaching ladder.

Video: Mississippi State falls to ETSU on last-second tip-in

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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Mississippi State welcomed a Southern Conference program into their building Wednesday night and took an ‘L.’

The Bulldogs lost to East Tennessee State, 67-65, when the Buccaneers’ Hanner Mosquera-Perea tipped in the game-winning bucket with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Steve Forbes’ ETSU squad now sits 8-2 with a win over an SEC team and losses only against UNC-Wilmington and Dayton on the season with a matchup against Tennessee still on the schedule for next week ahead of league play.

The story here, though, may be Ben Howland’s Bulldogs suffering a loss to the likes of ETSU, at home no less. Mississippi State already lost in Starkville to Lehigh this season and Central Florida on a neutral. They’ve fallen well outside the KenPom top-100.

It’s still early, but at this point it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see MSU scrapping with Missouri to stay out of the bottom of the SEC.

Deuce Bello transfers to East Tennessee State, eligible immediately

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A busy summer for first-year head coach Steve Forbes continued on Monday, as East Tennessee State welcomed in its third transfer.

Deuce Bello, the former Baylor and Missouri guard, elected to use his final season of eligibility with the Buccaneers. Chris Dortch and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports both reported the news on Monday evening. Bello is eligible to play in the 2015-16 season.

Bello joins former Cincinnati guard Ge’Lawn Guyn and ex-Indiana center Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who was dismissed from the program back in May. While Mosquera-Perea must sit a year, Guyn is also immediately eligible. Peter Jurkin, another former IU product, will also resume his collegiate career after sitting out the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Bello averaged only 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds per game in his final season with the Tigers and missed time due to academic reasons. The 6-foot-4 Bello has never lived up to his four-star rating — No. 54 overall by Rivals in the Class of 2011 — coming out of high school, but he is a gifted athlete who could make an impact in the Southern Conference.

Forbes, the former Wichita State assistant coach, was named the new head coach of East Tennessee on May 27.

East Tennessee opens the season on Nov. 17 against Green Bay.

Dismissed Indiana forward headed to East Tennessee State

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Just over two weeks after he was dismissed from the Indiana basketball program, forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea has found a new school.

Mosquera-Perea will complete his eligibility at East Tennessee State, sitting out the 2015-16 season before having one year to play in 2016-17 for new head coach Steve Forbes. News of Mosquera-Perea’s transfer was first reported by ESPN.com, and he’s expected to enroll in summer session classes next week.

Mosquera-Perea averaged 6.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 19.4 minutes per game in 2014-15, starting 22 of the 26 games in which he played. However his time in Bloomington came to an end May 14, as head coach Tom Crean announced that both Mosquera-Perea and forward Devin Davis were dismissed from the program for “not living up to their responsibilities to the program.”

Davis was cited for marijuana possession a few days prior to the dismissal, with Mosquera-Perea present in the dorm room at the time but not cited by authorities.

Mosquera-Perea is the second former Indiana player to join the ETSU program, with 7-footer Peter Jurkin doing so prior to the 2014-15 season. Jurkin, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, will be a redshirt junior in 2015-16. When Mosquera-Perea becomes eligible to play, the Buccaneers will also have junior college transfer Nigel Holley and 6-foot-10 Karl Overstreet in their interior rotation.

The 6-foot-10 Overstreet, who completed his prep career at Hargrave Military Academy, redshirted in 2014-15.

Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes to take over at East Tennessee State

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Wichita State assistant coach Steve Forbes will be the next head coach at East Tennessee State, sources confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The news was first reported by CBSSports.com.

Forbes has spent the past two seasons with the Shockers, helping to lead them to a 35-0 start last year and the Sweet 16 this season. He was with Tennessee for five years before getting caught up in the penalties that came down on Bruce Pearl in 2011. He spent 2011-2013 as the head coach at Northwest Florida State, a JuCo powerhouse.

Forbes replace Murry Bartow, who spent 12 years as the head coach of the Buccaneers. Bartow made back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2009 and 2010, but he hasn’t finished better than fourth in league play since 2011.

This move is interesting timing. An official announcement is expected to come on the same day as Tennessee, Forbes’ former employer, made the firing of head coach Donnie Tyndall official. It also comes at a time when Gregg Marshall’s status at Wichita State is up in the air. Marshall has been a hot coaching name for three years now, and with major offers rolling in, this may be the year that he ends up leaving Kansas.

Reports: East Tennessee State fires head coach Murry Bartow

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East Tennessee State has opted to part ways with longtime head coach Murry Bartow, according to multiple reports. The 53-year-old Bartow has been in charge of the Buccaneers since the 2003-04 season and made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2004, 2009 and 2010 with the program.

The NCAA Tournament appearances slowed down for East Tennessee State in recent years, however, as they’ve only made the CIT twice in the last five seasons. The Buccaneers bowed out of the Southern Conference Tournament quarterfinals with an overtime loss to Western Carolina and finished the season 16-14 and 8-10 in conference play this season. East Tennessee finished the season losers of four consecutive games.

Bartow was 224-169 during his tenure at East Tennessee State and oversaw the program in both the SoCon and Atlantic Sun. The head coach maintained a career conference record of 127-81 between the two leagues at the school.

Also a former head coach at UAB, Bartow has a 317-238 career mark in 18 seasons as a head coach. Bartow has also spent time as an assistant coach at Indiana, William & Mary and UAB.