Bison advance, face Iowa State in final

Not a lot of coverage available on Bucknell's 62-49 win over Stephen F. Austin in the first round of Iowa State's tournament. If you click on The Daily Item's story, you will find the same wrap that appears on Bucknell's Web site. We point that out only because it offends our sense of journalistic ethics to see The Daily Item taking credit for it with that "By The Daily Item" byline instead of a staff reports type tag.

Anyhow, here's the box (it is corrected now, the one posted last night had some errors), and also the play-by-play. Also, here's another wrap, this from SFA's site. Neither the Ames nor the Des Moines papers bothered to run any story on the opening round game.

One quick note: Bucknell point guard Abe Badmus, who has been slowed by a hip flexor problem, returned to the starting lineup last night and posted nine points in 28 minutes. More significant: Badmus had 4 assists, 4 steals and only 1 turnover. Freshman John Griffin played well filling in for Badmus at the point in Bucknell's first four games, but you can't help but wonder if the Bison might not have knocked off Princeton in their opener if Badmus had been healthy.

They did both have coverage of the nightcap (Here's the Ames Tribune story, and one from the Des Moines Register), which saw the host Cyclones shrug off a sluggish first half to knock off Northern Colorado. We will see tonight whether this result bodes well for Bucknell, which handled NC easily in the Coaches Vs. Cancer consolation game in Syracuse a few weeks ago, when they meet ISU in tonight's final.

On the one hand, Iowa State's shooting woes against a poor defensive team make us think the Bison, who play tough defense night in, night out, ought to be able to hang in there against ISU. While the match-up zone Flannery likes to mix in with straight man is not Temple's version, it does tend to confuse teams, especially those who do not see it often.

On the other hand, ISU's poor showing against NC could give the Cyclones a sort of wake-up call, and prevent them from taking Bucknell for granted.

Certainly ISU is still the favorite,

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Woe is TC

IUP 98, Bloomsburg 65 -- It as another tough night for Terry Conrad's Huskies. We have a lot of faith in the ability of the former Bucknell assistant to rebuild the program at his alma mater. He's a proven recruiter and did a fine job as head coach at Lycoming before taking the Bloom job.

But the current condition of Bloom's program begs the question: who is responsible for this fall from grace. Bloom was a perennial contender in the PSAC under Charlie Chronister, with 28 winning seasons, eight 20-win seasons, 18 appearances in the PSAC playoffs and 7 NCAA D-II bids in his 31 seasons.

The Huskies fell to 14-14 in his final season, then became a 20-game loser (6-20) in one season under interim head coach Rich Mills, a longtime Chronister assistant who took the reins when Charlie stepped down in July 2002, too late to do a full search for a new head coach.

It is a familiar move. Pennsylvania hoops fans might recall Jerry Dunn got the Penn State job the same way when Bruce Parkhill resigned in Sept. 1995.

Each time a head coach timed his departure to pave the way for a long-time assistant to takeover by default. Each time, disaster followed. Some will argue Dunn (117-121), who took the Nits to the NCAAs twice and the NIT twice in eight seasons, did a decent job.

Those of us who covered State during his reign, will beg to differ. Even the teams that had some success under Dunn did so in spite of, not because of, him. It was a classic case of the old Peter Princple, a great assistant promoted to his level of incompetence as a head coach.

Nobody will argue that Mills did a decent job in his one season as Bloom's (interim) head coach. But given last season's 6-21 mark, and a 1-4 start this year, you have to wonder if it was Mills' fault.

Somebody closer to the Bloom program might be able to tell us if Chronister bailed, knowing disaster was around the corner. After 31 seasons, did he know the cupboard was bare and simply not have the energy or the interest to rebuild before he left.

Meanwhile, Mills remains on Conrad's staff as his assistant. While it is possible the two have a comfortable situation worked out, though that seems unrealistic. Again, we don't cover Bloom; haven't since the old days of the print version of Hoop Time, when Chronister was in his glory.

But you would think somebody who does cover them would be curious enough to take a closer look.

Meanwhile, TC is going to take his lumps, with a roster full of undersized youngsters. His fifteen-man squad has one senior. The rest are sophomores and freshmen. And there are only four players 6-6 or taller.

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Is this Heaven?

Nope, it's Iowa. That's where Bucknell chose to spend its holiday weekend.

They're not out there visiting former B.U. athletics director Rick Hartzell, who now runs the show at his alma mater, Northern Iowa (some may recognize that name, Hartzell is a pretty decent D-I zebra in his spare time). No, the Bison are in Ames for the Iowa State Cyclone Classic.

Realistically, figure the Bison (2-2) to come back east Sunday with the same .500 record they left Lewisburg with. A spilt is likely. But how that split is achieved will be the measure of success on this trip.

A loss in the first round to Stephen F. Austin, then getting a win over Northern Colorado in the early game Saturday night would hardly be a consolation. The Bison already own a lopsided win over the Bears, who have yet to win (0-4) in their second season of Division I play. Splitting that way will not bring a happy plane ride. In fact, the spirit on the plane home is likely to be more upbeat if the Bison are coming off a loss than a win, assuming, of course, that loss is in the final, to Iowa State, with a respectable showing.

Not saying this team is not capable of upsetting a Big 12 squad like the Cyclones. But only a fool would bet the mortgage payment on that likelihood.

In other words, the key to this trip is the first round.

SFA comes in with a 1-1 record, picking up its first win Tuesday night over D-II Concordia-Austin. Tromping on a D-II team is not impressive. But the fact that it was the Lumberjacks’ 31st straight home win is.

Most folks in the east have never heard of Stephen F. Austin, but this is no pushover first-round match for Bucknell. Picked to finish fourth in their conference, the Lumberjacks were 21-9 last year, their second straight 21-win season, making it to the Southland Conference finals before falling to Texas-San Antonio.

Here’s a capsule from the SFA Website

2004-05 OUTLOOK: The Lumberjacks have been picked to finish fourth in the Southland Conference in a preseason poll of conference head coaches and fifth in a poll of conference SIDs. The `Jacks return only two starters from last season's 21-9 club, but also return five other letterwinners from a year ago. Included among those returning letterwinners are four players who appeared in at least 29 games and F Taylor Moore, who started 12 games early last season before sitting out the second half of the season. G Marcus Clark returns for his junior year as a preseason All-Southland Conference pick and will anchor the SFA back court. Clark led the SLC in assist to turnover ratio (2.21:1) and was third on the team with 9.4 points per game. F Hank Rivers started the final 18 games a year ago and closed the year on the rise. The 6-8 senior averaged 10.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game over the final dozen games and closed the year with back-to-back double-doubles in the Southland Conference tournament.

The ‘Jacks, who are facing NCAA recruiting violation allegations, also have three JUCO transfers, including 6-6 forward Anthony Paez, a third-team JUCO All-America last season who has claimed a spot in the SFA starting lineup.

Should Bucknell get past SFA, they should face an injury-riddled Iowa State team that has three starters back from a squad that made it to the NIT semifinals last season. Despite the rash of injuries that have afflicted the Cyclones, they still spanked Drake in their season-opener.

For a Patriot League team to get a win over even a weak Big 12 win would be a major upset. For a still-young Bucknell five to knock off Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones have won 84 percent (71-14) of their home games the last five seasons, where they have gone 17-1 in previous Cyclone Challenge games, would be a monumental accomplishment.

Then again, hey, San Jose State kocked off Iowa State in this tournament in 2001. So stranger things have happened. Still, the success or failure of this road trip will be determined in tonight’s first game for the Bison.

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Slim pickins on Turkey Day (are you ready for some football)

Lehigh 58, Sacred Heart 52 – O.K. I realize that with Lehigh and Lafayette set for the I-AA football playoffs, that is bound to be the top story in the Lehigh Valley. But for Chrissakes, haven’t the Express-Times or the Morning Call ever heard of multi-tasking. I mean if my 13-year-old can do her homework, listen to music and chat with three people on IM at the same time, can’t grown-ups running a sports department think hoops and football on the same day? Oops, we forgot. Those aren’t even the big football games … today is Easton H.S. vs. Phillipsburg N.J. Played at Lafayette, a sellout crowd of 25,000 is expected.

Of course, who can blame the local papers for ignoring the Lehigh-Sacred Heart game. I can’t even find a story on Lehigh’s own Web site. Anyhow, here’s the box score box score and a story from Sacred Heart's Web site.

In the "Sorry, We Can’t Resist Department", here’s a little bit of juicy Lehigh news for all those who love to hate the Hawks’ gridiron domination in recent years.

Stony Brook 68, Army 54 – Looks like even the Middletown Record dissed the lowly 0-3 Cadets last night. Take heart fans of the Black Knights of the Hudson. Less than a week to go till Army hosts N.Y. Polytechnic. Here’s an AP game story from the league’s own site and a box score

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Conrad's Huskies struggle at home

Former Bucknell assistant Terry Conrad has his work cut out for him as he continues to work at rebuilding his alma mater's (Bloomsburg) once-proud program. The Huskies are 1-3 following last night's 91-64 blowout at the hands of visiting Mecryhurst. Marion Valinoski was there for The Daily Item.

-- Here's a preview of the Centennial Conference from The Patriot-News.
-- Actually, the Centennial is already into league play. F&M blasted McDaniel last night in its conference opener
-- Jerry Rickrode picked up his 250th career victory in Wilkes' win over Lincoln
-- King's rallies past Misericordia, stays unbeaten at 3-0. The Citizen's Voice and Times-Leader both were at the game.
-- The Gettysburg Times says maybe Gettysburg would not have lost at home to York if it recruited better in its own backyard.
-- Lebanon Valley downs Dickinson 66-57. Our old buddy Mark Pisco was there for the Lebanon Daily News.

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Busy night for Patriot League teams

Patriot League teams were busy Tuesday night, playing five games (and winning four) out of conference.

While the teams were busy, the writers covering them were less so. We will check back later to see if we can find more. Meanwhile, here's a wrap:

American 70, Wagner 49 -- The Eagles pick up their first win of the season behind Andre Ingram’s 17 points. (Your basic AP story from the Washington Post and a box score.

Navy 69, Merchants Marine 60 -- Navy buys a win for its home opener. Who even knew the Merchant Marines played hoops? Apparently nobody. We don't like linking to school's official sites (other than for the box score, but apparently nobody else cared about covering this one.

Update -- The Annapolis Capital was there. They just do not update ther Web site until after noon. Anyhow, Don Devoe might be gone, but those Naval Prep "redshirt" freshmen still keep coming out of the woodwork in Annapolis. One of them, 6-1 guard Corey Johnson led the Mids in scoring for the second straight game with 21 points.

Holy Cross 60, Harvard 52 -- Defense gets it done for the Crusaders, who shot 36 percent from the field and hit 3-of-19 from the arc. HC forced 26 turnovers and held Harvard to 22 points (BOX) in the second half. Where is the Boston Globe’s story? Who knows, but we found coverage in The Herald.

As usual, the Worcester Telegram-Gazette had a good story. But the T-G requires subscriptions for its Web site, We will see if we can make some sort of arrangement to link since I do a lot of freelance stuff for them. In the meantime, we'll exercise the fair use doctrine to post a couple excepts from Bill Doyle’s story:

Once again, the Crusaders turned up their defense in the second half. HC limited Harvard to only 12 second-half points until the Crimson scored 10 in the final minute. . . .

"That's as good of a defensive half as we've played in a couple of years," HC coach Ralph Willard said. "You could see the look in their eyes. That's the one thing we were missing last year. We wouldn't have won this game last year on the road. We may have won it at home, but we wouldn't have won it here. Same thing with (the) BU (game). The team is maturing." . . .

For the first time in 16 years, HC has played its first two games on the road and won them both. Last year, HC was only 4-9 away from home. The Crusaders play their home opener Sunday night against Marist. . . .

Harvard actually shot a much higher percentage than HC, 42.6 percent to 35.9 percent, but the Crimson committed 11 more turnovers, so the Crusaders were able to take 17 more shots. Harvard's 26 turnovers turned into 25 HC points . . .

The Crusaders' defense didn't allow a single fast-break point and was so tough, they lost only two points off their lead while suffering through a scoreless drought of 3:21 late in the game.

St. Peter’s 81, Lafayette 64 -- What a difference a year makes. Last season, Lafayette held St. Peter’s scoreless in the last 1:37 of the game for a 74-71 win. Last night, though, the Peacocks put four players in double figures (BOX SCORE) and routed the Leopards. No coverage in either of the Lehigh Valley papers, but the venerable Jersey Journal did cover the game.

Colgate 70, Cornell 56 -- The Syracuse Post-Standard had a nice preview of the game yesterday, then no coverage today. Go figure. The Ithaca Journal barely did better, posting the SID’s report. I realize this is not a huge game, but what in the world could the sports staff of the Ithaca paper have had better to do on a Tuesday night? Oh yeah, we did find a box score.

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Stiff Alert

Lehigh reports signing a seven-footer for next season.

John Gourlay out of Arkansas . . . a native of Orange County, California, carries a 4.0 grade point average at the very prestigious Subiaco Academy in Subiaco, Arkansas.
The VERY prestigious Subiaco Academy, in that haven of intellectualism that is Arkansas.

Gourlay has grown a remarkable eight inches in the past two years and weighs close to 250 pounds. In addition to considering Lehigh, Gourlay also looked at Illinois and 2004 Final Four participant Oklahoma State.
Does anybody think he really passed serious offers from the Illini and the Cowboys to play sign early with Lehigh without even waiting to see if a strong senior season would bring more offers? When a seven-footer signs early with a Patriot League school, chances are the most impressive part of their resume is their height. But hey, like the coaches say, you can’t teach a kid to be tall.

Where have you gone Neil Fingleton?

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SU wins one on the road

Not much of a story on The Daily Item from Susquehanna at Marywood. Just your basic sports information report from the road.

Yeah, I know, here we go again, bashing The Item, Well, No. Unlike the old days when the Item was a wrestling first rag, Tom Housenick does a nice job with college hoops coverage. This was a D-3 game on the road. We're not criticizing when we say "just an SID report." Just making sure nobody thinks clicking there will get a detailed analysis from this one.

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St. Francis (Pa.) 70, Bucknell 65

Getting homered at St. Francis is a common experience. But who would expect such disrespect from the officials on your own floor? In a game in which the officials were inconsistent, at best, the Bison were whistled for 9 more fouls than the visiting Red Flash, who shot 25 free throws, making 20, to down Bucknell, 70-65 (box score) in Sojka Pavilion.

Pat Flannery was reserved in his assessment of the stripes. "I don't think our kids ever got a feel for the ballgame," he said. "At the samew time, we're going to be in some places and we have to learn to handle that."

Perhaps the most telling stat: Bucknell jumped out to an early 13-point lead, forcing St. Francis to turn up the pressure on defense. With 11:03 to play in the first half, the Bison led 20-7, and the team fouls were almost even (Bucknell 4, SF 3). Less than two minutes later, the Bison picked up team foul number 8. St. Francis didn't get its fourth team foul until the 7:46 mark. The Flash was still stuck on four when Charles Lee picked up the Bison's 10th foul of the half, about a minute later.

Flash coach Bobby Jones tried to rationalize the disparity, claiming postgame that it was the result of his squad getting the ball into the post/ "We're pretty big inside. We're big and we're physical," said Jones. "We played smart getting the ball on the blocks."

What game were you watching Bobby? Look at the box score. As Todd Hummel points out in The Daily Item, It was St. Francis' guards that did the damage. Joey Goodson and Rahsaan Benton combined for eight treys.

Sure Bison forward Donald Brown got into early foul trouble. He was forced to play much of the second half with four personals. But that was not because of St. Francis pounding it inside. Three of Brown's five fouls were offensive. Another was one of those on-purpose-to-stop-the-clock (refs seldom call them intentional) fouls with nine seconds left.

"There must have been four or five offensive fouls that they called on screens," Flannery pointed out.

The Lewisburg Daily Journal's Chris Brady noticed the officiating, too (full LDJ story).

Bucknell struggled with fouls, particularly offensive fouls which were called as the Bison attempted screens as part of their motion offense.

"Whether they were that much quicker or we weren't strong enough to set it, they took it to us," said Flannery of the calls.
To be certain, Bucknell did not lose because of the poor officiating. Poor shooting had a lot to do with it, too. Freshman guard John Griffin, who missed one shot in the Bison's first three games, was 3-for-10 from the field. Kevin Bettencourt, Bucknell's designated sniper, was 3-for-9. And although they only got to the line 16 times all night, making only 10 of those free throws (62.5 percent) did not help.

Nonetheless, it was a curious performance by the zebras.

NOTES: Bucknell's preparation for the game was hampered by the lack of a decent scouting report on the Flash. Division I teams are not allowed to scout opponents in person. They have to rely on tape. But Flannery had no tape of the Flash to look at. Because of a deal cut by Jones with Howard, Howard would not swap a tape with Bucknell. Since St. Francis starts two transfers, that made it tough for Flannery to have a feel for this year's version of the Flash.

As Flannery pointed out after, such deals never hamped the big schools. They are able to get tapes of their opponents off televised game. But for the mid and lower majors, who seldom are on the tube, it can be a real handicap.

"It absolutely stinks, and it is something that needs to be addressed by the NCAA," Flannery said, making it clear he faults the rules that allow such deals, not Jones for making one (though Flannery was quick to point out he has never made such a pact) . . .

We'd love to link to the Altoona Mirror's Web site for a view of the game from the St. Francis point of view. But they don't have one posted.


Sal Interdonato of the Middletown Times Herald-Record says Army coach Jim Crew is eyeing lineup changes after three starters were held scoreless as the Cadets fell to 0-2 with a 67-52 loss to Sacred Heart.

By the way, both Army setbacks have come at home. Not a good sign.

Colgate, still looking for its first win, hosts also winless Cornell tonight. Preview it with Matt Michael of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004
Bison advance, face Iowa State in final

Woe is TC
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Is this Heaven?

Slim pickins on Turkey Day (are you ready for some football)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Conrad's Huskies struggle at home

Busy night for Patriot League teams

Stiff Alert
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
SU wins one on the road

St. Francis (Pa.) 70, Bucknell 65

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