The Tusculum College men’s basketball team will play its first and only exhibition game of the preseason this Monday night as the Pioneers travel to NCAA Division I East Tennessee State University for a 7 p.m. tip-off from the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center in Johnson City.
The Pioneers return six lettermen, including three starters from last year’s 16-12 squad that finished second in the South Atlantic Conference for a second consecutive year. Senior forward Rob Troutman (Mt. Washington, Ky.) is Tusculum’s top returning scorer from last season. Troutman, a Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference Team selection, averaged 9.4 points (27th in SAC) and 4.5 rebounds (20th in SAC) per contest.
Also returning from last season’s starting line-up is point guard Justin Steigerwald (Cincinnati, Ohio) and 6-10 center Tommy Klempin (Reynoldsburg, Ohio). Steigerwald led the league in assists (5.39 apg/26th in NCAA II) and assist/turnover ratio (2.65/13th in NCAA II). He played in all 28 games, including 18 starts where he averaged 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 56.9 percent from the floor. Klempin played in all but one game, including 17 starts as the Pioneers posted an 11-7 record in those outings.
Monday’s game will be a homecoming for sophomore guard Dionte Grey as the Johnson City, Tenn. native played his prep career at Science Hill High School. Also returning from last year’s roster are sophomores J.D. Miller (Versailles, Ky.) and Anton Tuz (Mykolair, Ukraine), and redshirt freshman guard Ryan Slusher (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Seven newcomers will be on the Tusculum roster this season, including Matt Darnell (Stafford, Va.), Daniel O’Conner (Taylor Mill, Ky.), Sean Rowe (Tyrone, Ga.), Larry Smith (Indianapolis, Ind.), Kevin Vest (Dayton, Ohio), Tyler Vittetoe (Luttrell, Tenn.) and Brett Williams (Oviedo, Fla.).
Monday will be ETSU’s second and final exhibition game as the Buccaneers posted a 96-61 win over Carson-Newman College on Tuesday. In that game, the Bucs used a 23-0 first half run, sparked by senior guard Mike Smith, who finished with a game-high 25 points against the Eagles.
ETSU posted a 20-15 record last year, while capturing its second straight Atlantic Sun Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.
Tusculum fans unable to make the trip to Johnson City can follow the game on-line via video and live stats at www.etsubucs.com.