The Bucs scrimmaged with Austin Peay this week and will play an exhibition game Friday night against Southern Wesleyan at Freedom Hall.
“I think they’re ready,” Forbes said. “We’ve been going for a long time. It’s time to play.”
Friday’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The season opener is Tuesday night against Georgia State in Atlanta.
When the Bucs take the court for the first time, local hero Patrick Good will be in the starting lineup at shooting guard. Good and newcomer Tray Boyd III are in a battle for the starting position and Good has earned the job — by a slight margin.
The fight was so close that Forbes considers his team to have six starters, counting on Good and Boyd to both get starter’s minutes.
Good, who starred at David Crockett, sat out last year after transferring from Appalachian State.
“Pat’s really a good player, but he’s a good person too,” Forbes said. “He did everything humanly possibly to get better when you’re sitting out. He got a lot of stronger, he shot the ball, handled the ball. He did everything he needed to do to get better.”
Good can also play the point and Boyd can play small forward when the team goes small, so both will see plenty of action.
“In fairness to Tray, he is going to get starter minutes,” Forbes said. “He’s earned them. He’s had a really good summer and fall. He’s played really well, shot it well.”
Forbes said some players have begun to separate themselves from the pack as preseason practice has gone on.
Isaiah Tisdale, a junior college All-American last season, will start at the point and be backed up by freshman Daivien Williamson.
The starting frontcourt will be manned by the two top holdovers from last season in Bo Hodges and Mladen Armus. Hodges was the Southern Conference freshman of the year last year.
Jeromy Rodriguez, another junior college All-American, will also start at forward. He missed last season with a shoulder injury.
“I like the fact they’re coachable,” Forbes said. “They come to practice every day ready to work hard and learn. They have good chemistry and get along well. These things are very important. They like sharing the basketball.
“I think this team can really score the basketball. We’re deep and can score in a lot of different ways. We’ve got good players to start and have good depth. We have a tough schedule and there’s going to be foul trouble, so we have to have guys ready to come off the bench. I’ve always played nine or 10 guys and I want to continue to do that.”
ETSU has sold more season tickets than ever before. It’s the third year in a row the school has done that.
It’s safe to say ETSU has been the surprise of the Southern Conference football season. The Bucs were picked eighth in the preseason poll, chosen to finish ahead of only VMI. Yet here they are tied for first place with two games left in the regular season.
With games against Mercer and Samford left, nothing is certain, but at 7-2, the Bucs can at least think about the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Other people are.
The website Collegesportsmadness.com has the Bucs in the 24-team field as of this week. Jason Groomes, an FCS “bracketologist” on the website has ETSU playing Delaware in the first round with the winner taking on James Madison.
ETSU could solidify its spot in the field with a victory at Mercer on Saturday. It’s going to be tough, considering the Bears will be out for revenge after the Bucs beat them in overtime last season.
“They are going to bring a lot of intensity,” said ETSU safety Tyree Robinson, whose four interceptions are tied for the league lead. “We have to come prepared. We need to be ready to play because they are a good football team.”
After that, it’s a home game with Samford, which was picked to win the league and only recently has found its rhythm.
The FCS playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 18. The playoffs begin the following Saturday.
The soccer postseason is in full swing for the ETSU men’s and women’s teams.
The women play UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference tournament semifinals Friday at Macon, Georgia. They beat Mercer 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
Samford and Furman are in the other semifinal. The championship is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. in Macon.
ETSU’s Summers-Taylor Stadium is the site of the SoCon men’s semifinals and championship, set for Nov. 9 and 11. As the No. 2 seed in the field, the Bucs got a bye into the semifinals and will play Friday, Nov. 9, against either Furman, VMI or Belmont, a SoCon member in soccer.
The Bucs are 9-6-1 overall, 4-1-1 in the SoCon. They were a half-game behind regular-season champion Mercer in the conference standings.
The Bucs closed their fall season with a spectacular round of 278, 10 under par, at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Hawaii. They finished in 12th place at 3 under par.
Shiso Go shot a final-round 68 and finished tied for 17th individually at 6 under par. Jack Rhea, who had 17 birdies during the tournament, finished tied for 24th at 4 under.
ETSU picks back up in February when the spring season opens at The Prestige in La Quinta, Calif.
ETSU women’s basketball coach Brittney Ezell always challenges her team with a tough early-season schedule to get it ready for the SoCon. This year is no different as the Bucs open with three games on the road, at Cincinnati on Nov. 9, Michigan State on Nov. 11 and Radford on Nov. 15.
The Bucs were tied with Mercer atop the SoCon preseason poll. Their home opener is Nov. 19 when Troy comes to town for the annual education day and an 11 a.m. tipoff time.