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Bucs ready to open season with exhibition game against Limestone

Joe Avento • Oct 30, 2019 at 7:17 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Showtime is just about here for the East Tennessee State basketball team and as far as the Bucs are concerned, it can’t come soon enough.

ETSU plays host to Limestone College on Friday night at Freedom Hall in its only exhibition game. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“I think if you look at it, it’s almost been five months since we started,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “We’ve been going at it against each other for a long time. I do think playing against some fresh faces will help us.”

Forbes’ players have all said chemistry is one of the strong points of this team, but they’re still sick of seeeing each other on the court.

“We’ve been playing each other since June,” Bucs guard Bo Hodges said. “We’re ready to play somebody else.”

ETSU was picked to win the Southern Conference in the preseason polls. The Bucs are coming off a 24-10 season and lost to Wofford in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

“It’s cool, but it doesn’t mean anything,” ETSU point guard Daivien Williamson said. “We still have to go out there and do our business and do what we do at the end of the day.”

Forbes said he wasn’t entirely set on his starting five for Friday night’s game, mostly because he has a deep team with a lot of candidates for playing time.

Jeromy Rodriguez, who is coming back from foot surgery, is expected to play, although how much remains to be seen. Rodriguez was one of the top rebounders in the country last year and announced he was turning pro before changing his mind and returning to ETSU for his senior year.

Patrick Good, who underwent offseason hip surgery, is back in action.

The top six scorers are back and the Bucs, who last won the SoCon tourney in 2017, are poised to make another run at the title.

“I like this team,” Williamson said. “We’re deep. I mean we have players coming off the bench that can start anywhere else in this conference. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be exciting. I love how we play. I love how we get up and down. I think we’re real competitive and I like that.”

Limestone is an NCAA Division II team from Gaffney, South Carolina, the home of former ETSU center Darrell Jones.

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