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Bucs getting healthier as Winthrop comes to town

Joe Avento • Nov 14, 2019 at 10:30 AM

JOHNSON CITY — It’s only two games into the season, but it appears as though a couple of questions are being answered for the East Tennessee State basketball team.

Patrick Good and Jeromy Rodriguez are getting healthy after undergoing offseason surgery. Good had an operation on his badly injured hip immediately after last season ended and Rodriguez had an injured foot repaired.

Neither played during the team’s trip to Europe in August, and as the two worked their way into playing condition, questions remained as to how effective they would be in the early part of the season.

They put the doubts to rest in the Bucs 92-75 victory over Tennessee-Martin on Saturday night. Good scored 24 points, making 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range, and Rodriguez finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“I would say I’m as close to 100% as I have been in a long time,” Good said. “It was a relief just to know that with hard work anything’s possible. That was a difficult surgery to go through and to not know for certain if I would be back to 100% was kind of a scary feeling.”

The Bucs are back in action Thursday when they play host to Winthrop in a non-conference game. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Freedom Hall.

Good was probably the only ETSU player to enjoy the long bus ride back from Martin late Saturday night.

“My friends and family were texting me, really encouraging me,” Good said. “Just to know those encouraging words, just to feel that excitement again from my teammates, it’s just remarkable, and I’m grateful for it.”

Steve Forbes, ETSU’s coach, is also grateful. He has a deep team with plenty of scorers, and having Good’s shooting touch and Rodriguez’s inside presence gives the Bucs more options.

“I’m glad they’re both back,” Forbes said. “I think it’s a tough go when you have that type of surgery that Pat had and you have that long rehab where you can’t really do anything basketball wise. I don’t think Patrick is the kind of kid who ever doubted himself. It’s just a matter of getting through, first the pain, and then getting back in shape.”

The Bucs are 2-0 and are trying for their first 3-0 start since 1998. They’re ranked No. 3 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, but that shouldn’t impress the Eagles too much. Winthrop beat the No. 2 team in that poll, St. Mary’s, Monday night. St. Mary’s was 18th nationally in the Associated Press rankings at the time.

“I’m really impressed with them,” Forbes said. “That’s a big one to go win at St. Mary’s. Not many teams do that.”

Winthrop is 2-1 and was picked to finish third in the Big South Conference. The Eagles are led by Chandler Vaudrin, who averages 14.5 points a game. Josh Ferguson, a preseason All-Big South pick, is averaging 11.1.

The Eagles also have a Tennessee transfer, D.J. Burns, on their roster. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting 52 percent.

BUCS IN THE STATS

Good leads ETSU in scoring at 17.0 points per game. Bo Hodges is second at 14.5, followed by Tray Boyd at 14.0 and Rodriguez at 11.0.

THE SERIES

This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools. ETSU leads 2-1, including last season’s 76-74 victory at Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“Last year was a hell of a game,” Forbes said. “Both teams played well for an early November game. This is a a good mid-major matchup.”

HUGLEY UPDATE

Joe Hugley, a senior forward who suffered a knee injury in the Bucs’ exhibition game, is on the road to recovery.

Hugley has a deep bone bruise in his knee and is expected to be out for a couple of more weeks.

AFTER WINTHROP

ETSU plays at Kansas — in legendary Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas — on Tuesday at 8 p.m. (EST).

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