Oct. 17, 2014
THE FLATS – Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, Ramblinwreck.com takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, we look at Appalachian State, which is making its first visit to Tech’s campus since 1998.
Date: December 15, 2014
Location: Boone, N.C.
Conference: Sun Belt
Home arena: Holmes Center (8,325)
2013-14 Record: 9-21 overall, 5-11 in the Southern Conference (9th place), 335th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: Southern Conference Tournament First Round, lost to Samford 70-56
NCAA Championship Appearances: 2
All-time series record: Tech leads 4-0 (First meeting 2/21/1983)
Head coach: Jim Fox (entering 1st season, 0-0)
Starters returning/lost: 4/1
Top scorer returning: Tab Hamilton (12.7)
Top rebounder returning: Michael Obacha (8.7)
Quick preview for 2014-15
Although the Mountaineers struggled in 2013-14, they return a plethora of experienced players. Of the four returning starters, ASU retains both its leading scorer, Tab Hamilton (12.7), and leading rebounder, Michael Obacha (8.7). In fact, Obacha is one of two returning Mountaineers to rank among the conference’s top ten rebounders a year ago – the other being Tommy Spagnolo (6.9). In addition to his production on the glass, Spagnolo also ranked second in field goal percentage in the Southern Conference at 59.6 percent and will return in 2014-15 after being granted an additional year of eligibility. As a team, Appalachian State wasn’t nearly as strong shooting from the floor. The Mountaineers ranked dead last in the conference in both field goal percentage (41.6 pct.) and free throw percentage (63.8 pct.).
Quick recap of 2013-14
With the Mountaineers’ move to the Sun Belt conference in 2014-2015, the Southern Conference chapter in Appalachian State basketball annals officially came to an unceremonious close in 2013-14. The Mountaineers finished 9-21 and were ousted in the opening round of the conference tournament. Its nine wins were the lowest for Appalachian State since 2004 and included a 2-14 record away from the Holmes Center. Following the season, head coach Jeff Capel’s expiring four-year contract was not renewed. Instead the Mountaineers sought after a new leading man and secured former Davidson associate head coach Jim Fox. Not only will the head coach position be Fox’s first at the Division I level, his first season at Appalachian State will also be the program’s first as a member of the Sun Belt.
Greatest program accomplishment
1979 Southern Conference Championship – Many Appalachian State basketball fans lament the program’s shortcomings in big games. The Mountaineers are 2-7 in conference title games and have consequently reached the Big Dance only twice. With that as a backdrop, it’s clear as to why the 1979 Appalachian State basketball team is remembered so fondly “on the mountain.” The championship team was led by none other than Georgia Tech head coaching legend, Bobby Cremins. Cremins was hired four seasons earlier and, at 27 years of age, was the youngest head coach in the nation. Cremins and his Mountaineers came close in his early seasons: losing in the 1977 final against VMI in overtime and in the 1978 semifinals to eventual conference champion Furman. But before the Mountaineers took the court in 1979, Coach Cremins donned his lucky dark “Irish” green suit in hopes of pushing his team over the hump. The boisterous garb proved to be just what Appalachian State needed as they knocked off Furman, 86-83, for the program’s first Southern Conference tournament title. The Mountaineers celebrated in one of a kind fashion by tossing their spirited head man and his flamboyant get-up into the locker room showers.
Greatest player in program history
Tyson Patterson – When Tyson Patterson was inducted into the Appalachian State Athletics Hall of Fame he was described as “the undisputed leader of perhaps the finest four-year span in ASU’s hardwood history.” In addition to the high praise, Patterson has the credentials to back it up. A two-time All-SoCon honoree and 2000 SoCon player of the year, Patterson led the Mountaineers to a 79-39 record over his four-year career. His senior year culminated in the program’s second Southern Conference title after losing in heart-breaking fashion as both a sophomore and a junior. Upon induction in the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, Patterson held eight school records including career assists (638), single season assists (218 in 1999-2000) and single season steals (87 in 1999-2000). Professionally Patterson played ten years abroad in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Iceland and Finland.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Hickory Ridge Homestead – The Hickory Ridge Homestead living museum was established in 1980 and is located less than a mile away from Appalachian State’s campus. The Homestead puts its own unique twist on the museum experience by supplementing cabins and artifacts with live interpreters draped in 18th century clothing. The Homestead strives to replicate the lives lived by small mountain town citizens in the late 1700’s.