ORLANDO, FL- ETSU head coach Steve Forbes had hit rock bottom after being fired at the University of Tennesse for being part of the Bruce Pearl scandal. But Forbes now he thinks it was a good thing.
“You know adversity does certain things to certain people and I thought it was a tremendous teaching to moment for me,” Forbes said. “I try and tell players all of the time when you get knocked down you got to get back up.”
So it’s no surprise his ‘never give up’ attitude reflects the makeup of his team which features an array talent.
“We have some guys from the land of misfit toys,” said Forbes. “If you ever watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you know what I’m talking about. We all need homes here. We all have a story and we’ve come together for a common goal though, and that is to win and to go to the NCAA tournament.”
“I knew he was a man that means business when I first talked to him over the phone and when he first got the job,” said ETSU senior guard T.J. Cromer. “He had a plan from day one there and he wanted to turn the program around right away. It wasn’t a rebuilding process he wanted to come in and win right away.”
And now that they are here the Bucs say just making the NCAA tournament is not enough, they want to win.
“It would mean everything,” said ETSU senior guard A.J. Merriweather. “I love playing basketball, I love winning. To win on this stage would just be another, just part of my dream. We just got to play our game.”
“Honestly it would mean mean a lot it would mean a lot to the city and too just know that our season is not over,” Cromer said. “We’re seniors this could be some of our last times playing basketball.”
To make that happen the Bucs will have to upset Florida. The Gators are a very talented team despite them losing three of their last four games.
“They like to get after you defensively,” said ETSU junior guard Desonta Bradford. “But we just got to stay composed, like Hanner (Mosquera-Perea) and Tevin (Glass) said, just do what we do to get us here.”
“Their kids play hard,” Forbes said. “I’m really impressed with the way they drive the ball. You can’t foul them because they shoot free throws really well. We’ve got to take care of the ball because, like us, they steal the ball a lot and they create offense.”
The Bucs and Florida tip-off at 3:10 p.m. in Orlando. The game will be broadcast on TruTV.
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