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.
Prior to their win Saturday over Furman, East Tennessee State suffered yet another personnel loss. Sophomore guard Devin Harris, who’s averaging 6.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game on the season, suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during pregame warmups according to Jacob Young of WJHL News Channel 11.
Despite being 6-foot-4 Harris is one of East Tennessee State’s best rebounders, ranking second on the team in rebounding, and in the game prior to Saturday he accounted for 13 points and ten rebounds in 28 minutes of action in a win at UNCG. According to Young’s report, it’s currently unknown when Harris will be able to return to the lineup.
Now, we find out that Harris will be out indefinitely, but maybe not the rest of the season, because of a sprained MCL. Harris told News Channel 11 Sunday night that there’s no definite time table for his return, but he’s planning to be back with the team for the SoCon tournament the first week of March.
Harris was one of two players who weren’t available for head coach Murry Bartow, with leading scorer Jalen Riley missing the game to attend his grandmother’s funeral. Riley is expected to play Monday night in ETSU’s home finale according to Joe Avento of the Johnson City Press.
East Tennessee State’s interior depth took a hit earlier this week when senior forward Ron Giplaye suffered a knee injury on Wednesday. According to Joe Avento of the Johnson City Press Giplaye tore the patellar tendon in his knee, and the injury is a season-ending one.
The injury is the latest setback for Giplaye, who underwent open heart surgery in August 2013 and played in just five games last season. Through six games in 2014-15 Giplaye was averaging 4.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 18.2 minutes of action per game, leading the team in rebounding.
“Obviously, he’s an important guy,” ETSU head coach Murry Bartow said on Wednesday. “He’s our leading rebounder and one of our best post defenders. If we lose him, it would be tough for us right now.”
With East Tennessee State having played in just six games, there’s a chance that the program could petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Giplaye. Giplaye played two seasons at Providence College before transferring to ETSU in 2012.
Without Giplaye the Bucs will need even more from senior Alex Bates, who’s averaging 3.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes of action per game. Bates has started five of ETSU’s six games.