Bowl games? We don't need no stinking bowl games

With conference play set to begin Saturday, six games on the slate Sunday, highlighted by Bucknell's visit to No. 10 Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is one of just nine unbeaten teams left in Division I.

According to the game notes on the Bucknell Web site:
Pittsburgh is the first ranked foe the Bison have battled since meeting No. 3 Michigan State in last year's season opener in East Lansing.
The Bison actually came close to upsetting the Spartans in that one. That, though, is meaningless trivia heading into this game. For starters, that Michigan State team proved to be highly overrated, finishing the season 18-12, losing in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament and the first round of the NCAAs.

Bucknell had the surprise factor working for them against the Spartans. It was the season-opener for both teams, and nobody, outside maybe Pat Flannery and his staff, had any inkling how good that Bucknell team was. In fact, it wasn't until about two months later, when the Bison got on a run in league play, that people began to notice Bucknell.

In other years, the Panthers might be tempted to look past Bucknell, especially since the game falls between Pitt's best win of the season, a 72-68 win over South Carolina and the Panthers' Big East conference opener Wednesday vs. Georgetown.

Not this time, though, says Dave Mackall of the Tribune-Review:
Bucknell, the Panthers' final nonconference opponent, might not be the usual pushover. The Bison will come to Petersen Events Center on Sunday night with credentials that have grabbed the Panthers' attention.
According to Mackall, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon knew when he scheduled the game that Bucknell was expected to be pretty good. Dixon said the Bison's win over Saint Joseph's last week should ensure his ballclub doesn't take Bucknell lightly.
"It got my attention," Dixon said. "I think it got everybody else's attention, too. It just shows that -- St. Joe's was a team that won 30 games last year; granted it's hard to do it every year -- Bucknell represents a good challenge. And again, they won at St. Joe's."
Dixon said he has been impressed by Bucknell's inside play, telling Mackall:
"It's a good challenge. What they do possess is a good inside game. Their main offense is inside."
Kevin Bettencourt's three-point bombing aside, Dixon is pretty accurate. Chris McNaughton is probably the best post player in the Patriot League and both Bettencourt and Charles Lee have the ability to penetrate.

But Pitt's big men are a few steps above the frontlines Bucknell has faced so far this season.

Chevon Troutman is an experienced 6-7 senior forward who plays much bigger. Troutman's strength and athletic ability have made an impression on both NBA scouts and observers from the National Football League, who think he could be the next Antonio Gates.

Troutman, who has led Pitt in scoring four times this season so far, averages over 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. Troutman, along with 6-10 Chris Taft (13 ppg, 7 rpg), gives Pittsburgh a considerable presence in the paint.

The Panthers also bring 7-footer Aaron Gray (6 ppg, 4 rpg) and 6-10 senior Mark McCarroll off the bench.

Obviously, Flannery needs to keep McNaughton out of foul trouble. One option that might help could be increased minutes for junior Tarik Viaer-McClymont. Viaer-McClymont averaged 9 minutes per game for Bucknell last season, but has lost playing time of late to 6-8 freshman Darren Mastropaolo. Unlike many big men he faces, Viaer-McClymont would not give up much in height against Troutman and his strength might matchup better with Troutman than other options Flannery might employ.

One thing that often causes a lot of trouble for mid-majors playing big-time schools is the difference in size at the guard spots. It is not uncommon for the major conference powers to have 6-4 or 6-5 kids playing in the backcourt.

That should not be as big a problem for Bucknell against Pitt. The Panthers starting guards go 6-2 (Carl Krauser) and 6-3 (Antonio Graves), with 6-4 senior Yuri Demetris at the small forward spot.

Krauser, Pitt's leading scorer at 16 ppg, also dishes out 5.5 assists per game. Graves averages 9 ppg.

According to Ray Fittipaldo in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in recent games Dixon has been going with more of a three-guard look when senior Demetris is not in the game. That has meant more time for 6-1 freshman Ronald Ramon.

The game is sold-out. You can follow the action using Pitt's Livestats.

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Yes Virginia, there is a Catamount

O.K. We believe. At least a little more than we did yesterday.

We're not going to risk a twisted ankle jumping on the Vermont bandwagon. But after they came into the Hart Center and beat Holy Cross 64-59 (box score) last night, we're starting to think maybe the Catamounts are better than we gave them credit for.

Still not convinced they are as good as some of the hype, but better than we thought after they lost at American. What surprised us was the way the Catamounts were able to pull off this win despite not getting a monster night from Taylor Coppenrath. Coppenrath finished with 22 points. But the guy who impressed the beat writer for the Burlington Free Press was Germain Mopa Njila:
The 6-foot-4 forward from Cameroon had his best game of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds . . .
The Boston Herald saw it the same way:
Germain Mopa Njila likely made the biggest difference in Vermont's narrow escape against a game nonconference opponent. Mopa Njila finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go along with two steals and a blocked shot.
Right about now might be a good time to point out that Vermont might have exposed a bit of a weakness in Holy Cross -- its frontline. Nate Lufkin is a pretty good center, especially for the Patriot League. He has good size (6-11) and plays as tough as a two-dollar steak. But beyond Lufkin, there's a considerable drop-off. Tim Clifford, the 6-10 freshman, is obviously not ready (if he were, surely Ralph would have gotten him off the bench last night when the Crusaders desperately needed a big man to at least get in Vermont's way when Lufkin got in foul trouble (Again we wonder, where have you gone Neil Fingleton).

After Lufkin, HC's size drops off in a hurry. Kevin Hyland, at 6-8, and John Hurley, 6-7, are the only other guys over 6-6, and Hurley is more of a swingman. With Lufkin limited to 15 minutes of action, just 3 minutes in the second half, due to foul trouble, the Crusaders were in a difficult situation.

From the Herald:
With Holy Cross center Nate Lufkin among the big men leaning on Coppenrath, the 6-foot-9 senior forward had just six points at halftime. He had no rebounds, prompting a verbal challenge from his coach.

"He looked lethargic, and I told him you're this team's star so you have to play like a star," (Vermont coach Tom) Brennan said. "I thought he responded well in the second half."

Particularly after Lufkin fouled out with 5:58 left and UVM clinging to a 53-48 lead. The 6-11 Holy Cross center had just re-entered the affair after sitting on the bench for much of the half with four fouls.
Ralph Willard told Jen Toland in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette (subscription needed, thus no link):
Coppenrath got the ball in too good a position in the second half. In the first half we did a good job of denying him position. In the second half, we were a step late. And I give him a lot of credit, he's a 60-percent free-throw shooter and to make 10 of 12 was huge."
Of course in the first half, Lufkin was on the floor more. More from Ralph:
"Nate's foul trouble was a really big issue. We had less options on the floor. We need Nate on the floor against a team like this to have an opportunity to win."
Hyland also finished with four fouls. Obviously any leaning on Coppenrath he could do was limited by his foul troubles, too. It might also be worth noting that Mopa Njila did most of his damage (11 points, 7 rebounds) in the second half, too.

Somewhere here we should also mention that Coppenrath played all 40 minutes and had 0 fouls. The folks on the Holy Cross board seem to think the refs were hoping for a postgame autograph from the alleged future NBAer and we have to wonder ourselves. A 6-9 post player in a battle like this and he doesn't foul once? Sorry Bilas, doesn't sound like one of D-I's toughest players to us. Hell, we spend an awful lot of time trying to convince the kid it is OK to pick up a foul or two and to not do so probably means she is not playing aggressive enough.

The silver lining for Holy Cross fans has to be how close this game still was despite Lufkin's foul trouble. Here's a little chronology, derived from the HC official site:
The Catamounts trailed 32-28 at halftime before Coppenrath scored 8 of Vermont's 10 points to open the second half . . .

Germain Mopa Njila scored seven points in a 13-3 run that gave Vermont (5-3) a 47-42 lead halfway through the second half . . .

Sophomore guard Torey Thomas scored a layup, senior forward John Hurley put back an offensive rebound and Simmons hit two free throws as the Crusaders cut the lead to 53-52 with 4:57 remaining . . .

Coppenrath's three-point play and two free throws opened the lead again . . .

The Crusaders twice cut the lead to two points in the final minutes but could not retake the lead.
After scoring over 80 points two games in a row, shooting 59 percent against Brown and 54 percent against Northeastern, Holy Cross shot 42 percent from the field against Vermont and scored only 59 points. On the other hand, the Crusaders had allowed over 70 points in each of the prior two games, but held Vermont to 64, tying the Catamounts second-lowest scoring game of the season. UVM also scored 64 in a 67-64 loss at American. Only Kansas, which beat the Catamounts 68-61, held Vermont to fewer points.

Willard told the Herald:
"We got back to playing the kind of defense we're capable of playing, especially in the first half," said Willard, alluding to the fact his team had surrendered 70-plus points in consecutive games coming in. "Our defense wasn't as strong in the second half, but I don't think that necessarily cost us the game. Our offensive energy was lacking. It's tough, too. We could have had this game."
What does this mean come Patriot League conference play? That is not easy to answer. It's tempting to argue this solidifies Bucknell's role as the favorite to win the league. Chris McNaughton is the top post player in the conference and guards Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt like to penetrate. If Lufkin gets into foul trouble, either helping on a guard or trying to stop McNaughton, it will be tough for the Crusaders to beat the Bison.

Then again, McNaughton is not Coppenrath, and Lufkin, though not his offensive equal, is a very close second in the league's big man rankings. At this point it is very difficult to imagine those two teams not splitting their two games in the regular season.

Which is what we thought yesterday, even before HC's loss. Which leads us to conclude the only real impact this game will have on anything in the long run might be on the conference's RPI and eventual NCAA seeding.

Elsewhere yesterday:

The Citadel 87, Navy 62 -- (box score) (story) Warren McClendon hit a three 1:02 into the game to give The Citadel a 3-0 lead and the Bulldogs never trailed. Navy managed to cut the lead to 1 several times and trailed by only 2, 52-50, midway through the second half.

Then The Citadel went on a 16-5 spurt and never looked back.

Amazingly, Navy trailed by just 4, 36-32, at the half, despite shooting 27 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes. Can you say "Thank you Mr. Official." The Midshipmen got to the foul line 17 times in the half.

Actually, this game was pretty much a foul shooting contest. In between a combined 41 turnovers (Navy 23, Citadel 18), the two teams shot a total of 79 free throws.

That had to be fun for the 2,178 fans who squandered a vacation day to come see this afternoon matinee.

The Citadel is now 8-3 on the season, though four of those wins came against non-Division I teams and two others against Army and Navy.

According to the preview of today's game on The Citadel's Web site, Bulldog's coach Pat Dennis "has long wanted to put together a tournament featuring military schools such as Navy, Air Force and Army."

Dennis might want to reconsider inviting Air Force. The Falcons are not the pushovers Army and Navy are, and certainly will put up more of a battle than Atlanta Christian, Chowan or Vorhees

Colgate 81, Florida Atlantic 75 -- (box score) (story): Raiders shot 67 percent from the field in the second half. FAU falls to 1-8 while the Raiders improve to 4-8.

Don't let Florida Atlantic's record fool you into thinking this was not a decent win for the 'Gate.

For starters, when you have been struggling like Colgate, every win is a good win. On the road, the last game of a long trip, down at the half, it would have been very easy to mail it in.

Also, FAU's 1-8 record comes against much better competition than most Patriot League schools are playing (see RPI post below).

Fairleigh Dickinson 69, Army 53 -- (box score) (AP wrap)

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Afternoon delights

The Citadel 87, Navy 62 -- (box score) (story) Warren McClendon hit a three 1:02 into the game to give The Citadel a 3-0 lead and the Bulldogs never trailed. Navy managed to cut the lead to 1 several times and trailed by only 2, 52-50, midway through the second half.

Then The Citadel went on a 16-5 spurt and never looked back.

Amazingly, Navy trailed by just 4, 36-32, at the half, despite shooting 27 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes. Can you say "Thank you Mr. Official." The Midshipmen got to the foul line 17 times in the half.

Actually, this game was pretty much a foul shooting contest. In between a combined 41 turnovers (Navy 23, Citadel 18), the two teams shot a total of 79 free throws.

That had to be fun for the 2,178 fans who squandered a vacation day to come see this afternoon matinee.

The Citadel is now 8-3 on the season, though four of those wins came against non-Division I teams and two others against Army and Navy.

According to the preview of today's game on The Citadel's Web site, Bulldog's coach Pat Dennis "has long wanted to put together a tournament featuring military schools such as Navy, Air Force and Army."

Dennis might want to reconsider inviting Air Force. The Falcons are not the pushovers Army and Navy are, and certainly will put up more of a battle than Atlanta Christian, Chowan or Vorhees

Colgate 81, Florida Atlantic 75 -- (box score) (story): Raiders shot 67 percent from the field in the second half. FAU falls to 1-8 while the Raiders improve to 4-8.

Don't let Florida Atlantic's record fool you into thinking this was not a decent win for the 'Gate.

For starters, when you have been struggling like Colgate, every win is a good win. On the road, the last game of a long trip, down at the half, it would have been very easy to mail it in.

Also, FAU's 1-8 record comes against much better competition than most Patriot League schools are playing (see RPI post below).

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After the matinees, a big game tonight

Navy has a 1 p.m. start today at the Citadel. Want to guess how small that crowd ought to be? Colgate's 4 p.m. start at Florida Atlantic might be even smaller. And then there is Army at Fairly Ridiculous, which might draw the smallest crowd of all, despite the 7:30 start.

Today' marquis matchup,though, is undoubtedly Vermont at Holy Cross.

For some reason, Vermont is one of the mainstream media's dandies du season. The Catamounts have even been invited to play in ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday. None other than lawyer turned hoops commentator Jay Bilas of ESPN has proclaimed UVM's Tyler Coppenrath one of the seven toughest players in the nation in pre-conference play.

That might be true. Then again, since most of the big time folks like Bilas rarely, if ever, actually get to watch any mid-major games, you might want to take the hype with a grain of salt.

Yes, Coppenrath is a scorer. He's a pretty fair rebounder, too. Coppenrath ranks second in the nation in scoring and No. 12 in rebounding. He may well play in the NBA someday, as Bilas predicts. But one good player does not make Vermont a great team.

Look no further than their loss at American for evidence. Matter of fact, take a look at what the Catamounts have done so far this season. Or should we say what they have not done, which is beat a team with an above .500 record. Their four wins come against teams with a combined record of 13-28.

Granted two of Vermont's three losses came to teams ranked in the top 5 in the latest AP poll. But until they beat somebody besides Marist, Iona, Binghamton or Siena, we see no reason to jump on the 'Mounts bandwagon.

Not that we wouldn't like to see Vermont do well this season. Tom Brennan is one of the good guys, a genuine class act and a good interview. We first encountered Brennan back in the early days of the print version of Hoop Time when he brought his Eddie Benton-led team to Penn State for a non-conference game. Benton, by the way, still holds a lot of the Vermont and America East scoring records.

Brennan has already announced his retirement at the end of the season. We'd love to see him go out on top. But unless they get the automatic bid for winning the America East, Joel Weiser's preseason prediction of no post season tournament for UVM should hold true, no matter how hard Bilas tries to hype them.

Should they beat Holy Cross in Worcester tonight, end up with 20 wins and lose to, say, Boston University in the conference final, maybe, just maybe, we would argue they deserve an at large bid.

Frankly, we don't see that happening.

Other games tonight:

Navy at The Citadel, 1 p.m.

Colgate at Florida Atlantic, 4 p.m.

Army at Fairleigh Dickinson, 7:30 p.m.

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Lehigh hangs on to end losing streak

Lehigh 64, Towson 61 -- (box score) It was an inconsistent outing at best for the Mountain Hawks, who shot 54 percent from the field in the first half, 31 percent in the second half. Nonetheless, it is a badly needed win for a program that came in with a four-game losing streak (Sorry, beating a D-III doesn't count).

According to the release on Lehigh's Web site:
Sophomore Jose Olivero scored 16 points to lead the Mountain Hawks, who improve to 5-6 on the season, while the Tigers fall to 3-8 in 2004-05.

Lehigh came out on fire in the first half on the power of Olivero's 14 points, jumping out to a 25-5 lead to start the contest and headed to the locker room with a 38-23 lead. Olivero connected on five of six shots from the field, including a perfect four of four from beyond the arc.
The math majors among you probably noticed that means Olivero only scored two points in the second half. Both of those came at the free throw line. He was 0-for-5 from the field in the second half, 0-for-4 from three-point range.

Reading that Lehigh press release, you'd think this one was never in doubt:
The second half started off much the same as the first with Lehigh hitting timely shots and stifling the Tigers on defense. But little by little, Towson whittled the Mountain Hawk lead down to single digits and was within striking distance in the closing minutes. However Lehigh would not allow Towson to get any closer than two points and actually led for the entire contest. On one possession down the stretch the Mountain Hawks kept the ball on their side of the court for an amazing 2:05 and ended it on a three-pointer from Monserez in the left corner.
Truth be told though, Olivero nearly cost the Hawks the game with poor free throw shooting.

We will let the Baltimore Sun tell the story:
Inside of two minutes, (Towson) then cut the deficit to five on three-pointers by Jake McCartney and Jonathan Pease, then got it down to two when Olivero missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Green made two foul shots at the other end with 11 seconds left.
We got the story of the final 10 seconds from Towson's Web site:
With ten seconds remaining, (Lehigh's Nick) Monserez made the first of two free throws for a 64-61 Lehigh edge, giving Towson one last opportunity to tie the game. However, the Mountain Hawks did a great job defending the three-point line and the Tigers struggled to find a good shot before sophomore guard Trevan Jackson's three-pointer at the buzzer was long.

Once again, no coverage on the Morning Call's Web site. At least they did not ignore local college sports completely. They did manage a story on the Moravian College softball team.

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No Army, it does not stand for Rest in Peace Index

Taking a look at the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) numbers:

Bucknell's wins over Niagara and Saint Joseph's have boosted the Bison's RPI all the way to 113. That's pretty fair territory for a mid-major. The Bison rank ahead of schools like Purdue (117), Northwestern (120), Michigan (129), and Indiana (166) of the Big Ten; Miami (126), Florida St. (142), Virginia Tech (188) of the ACC and Stanford (123), Oregon St. (144), California (144) of the Pac 10. It also ranks ahead of big names like Missouri (162), Memphis (153), Seton Hall (154) and Florida (140).

(NOTE: These numbers may be a little different this morning, this was written last night based on rankings through Tuesday night's games)

Think that sounds good, look higher up the list. Way higher. Up at No. 21 you'll find Holy Cross. above Kentucky (227), UConn (30) , Maryland (52) and Syracuse (55), just to drop a few names.

American is just below Bucknell, coming in at 137, despite a tough loss to LaSalle (178) Tuesday night.

All three have some non-conference games left that could boost them even higher. Holy Cross hosts Vermont (75) tonight, Bucknell is at Pitt (50) Sunday and Villanova (111) on Feb. 15 (both of which will ultimately be a bigger help than there current rankings might lead you to believe since they will probably start climbing when conference play begins, thanks to their strong conference schedules). American is at Missouri Jan. 4, another team that will look better in the RPI when it gets into conference play.

With those three doing pretty well in the RPI, you might expect the Patriot League to be faring pretty well as a conference.

Think again. Out of 31 conferences ranked, only six, plus the "independents," rank lower than the Patriot in RPI. Yes, No. 25 in the conference rankings is an improvement for the Patriot, which was No. 28 a few weeks ago. But imagine what it might be if Army (330 out of 330), Navy (310), Colgate (306), Lehigh (304) and Lafayette (275) were not such a drain on the conference.

No other conference has four teams over 300. Only one, the Northleast, has three in that grouping.

Suffice to say this means by the time conference play is finished, whoever wins the Patriot will find it tough to escape a dreaded 16 seed in March. In coming weeks, as conference play begins, those top three will actually start falling in the RPI even as they pick up wins in league play.

There is no easy solution. Obviously Army has not been able to find an answer despite several coaching changes and Navy appears to be headed backwards.

One answer, though, might be for the league to start requiring tougher out of conference schedules. The first step would be to end games against D-III teams. Wins over tech schools and the sea scouts have done nothing to help Army and Navy's loss to Gettysburg was downright embarrassing.

Army has one decent non-conference game this year -- Notre Dame. Lehigh's trip to Xavier only barely qualifies, since the Atlantic Ten is more of a high mid-major than a major conference. Colgate took its annual beating from Syracuse, then fled south to play powers like Florida International and Florida Atlantic (we can appreciate the urgency to escape Hamilton in the winter, but couldn't you lose to someone like Wake Forest or Clemson and still thaw out).

Navy played nobody and didn't even get to go anywhere interesting in the process. What the hell is the point of that?

Look at the schedules of the teams out of the 300s in the RPI. American plays a nice mix of decent mid-majors (Niagara, Vermont, LaSalle, Delaware ... not all having up years, but all generally good programs) and big boys like Maryland and Missou, along with its preseason NIT matchup with Virginia Commonwealth. Holy Cross has Princeton, Minnesota and Boston College on their slate; Bucknell plays Iowa State, Princeton (with a chance at Syracuse if it had won), Pitt, St. Joe's, Villanova, along with Ivy power Penn and Niagara.

None of those three have a D-III on their schedule this season, either.

Lafayette did, playing Moravian last week. But the Leopards also have Princeton, Louisville and Georgia Tech this year, as well as a Cal. St. Northridge team that was expected to be decent in the preseason.

The Northeast Conference mandates its teams must play at least two games against schools in the conferences ranked in the top 25 percent. They allow A-10 schools to count towards that requirement.

A similar rule, along with a ban on D-III games, would at least make the Patriot League's cellar dwellers a little less of a burden on the schools committed to having strong programs.

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St. Joe's was then, Bucknell is now

The St. Joseph’s fans were all over Kevin Bettencourt early in the first half of Bucknell’s 69-62 win on Hawk Hill last night.

Bettencourt’s first three-point attempt missed everything, bringing the familiar chorus of "airball, airball" every time he touched the ball for the next several minutes.

It was Bettencourt, though, who had the last laugh. That early airball proved to be the only three-point try Bucknell’s 6-2 junior guard missed all night (box score). After that miss, Bettencourt hit his next five treys, including a pair back-to-back that shut up the crowd of 3,200 when St. Joe’s tried to claw its way back into the game late in the second half. Bettencourt finished with a team-high 21 points, leading Bucknell to its first-ever win in St. Joseph’s Alumni Memorial Field House.

"I don’t know if there has been any bigger wins than this one," said Bettencourt. "This is a pretty big name school. After what they did last year, this is pretty exciting. This is a good one."

To be certain, this is not last year’s St. Joseph’s team. Even though many of the names are the same, the Hawks are a mere shadow of the team that went 30-2 last season before losing in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. Gone are Jameer Nelson and Delonte West and their almost 40 combined points per game. Gone to is defensive stopper extraordinaire Tyrone Barley.

St. Joe’s, with the loss to Bucknell, is off to a 3-5 start that has Phil Martelli scratching his head in bewilderment.

"There’s lots of questions, not many answers, to be honest with you," said Martelli. "There are a lot of holes in the dike. You can’t patch them all."

Still, the Hawks are members of the Atlantic 10, a Philly Big 5 team, and a team that has dominated Bucknell dating to their days as league mates in the old East Coast Conference. On top of that, the game was at St. Joseph’s, where the Hawks have gone 40-3, 40-4 now, over the past four years, including 12 straight home wins coming in to last nights game.

For any Patriot League team, it would be a big win. For a Bucknell team with a head coach whose father played at St. Joe’s and a freshman guard, John Griffin, whose father used to coach the Hawks, it was huge.

"It’s really a good feeling," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery, who was the point guard on the only other Bucknell team to beat St. Joseph’s. "This is big to me down here . . . There’s a lot of years when we were in the ECC when we came in here and they always seemed to get us pretty good. It feels good against a good ballclub."

The win was Bucknell's fifth in a row, improving their record to 8-4, their best start since 1992-93. Coming in the last game of 2004, it gives Bucknell a 19-12 record for the calendar year.

The Bison played well throughout the game, save for a few momentary lapses early against the St. Joe’s press. Bucknell shot 59 percent (13-of-22) in the first half, then took it up another notch or two in the second half, connecting on 15-of-22 (68 percent) including 7-for-8 from three-point range.

At the other end, Bucknell played tough defense throughout, holding St. Joseph’s to 37 percent shooting (20-of-54) for the game. The Bison also outrebounded the bigger Hawks, 29-27. About the only BU stat that didn’t look good in the final box score was its 21 turnovers.

Coaches always talk about the importance of the first five minutes of the second half. Bucknell provided a textbook demonstration of that concept. Trailing by one at the intermission, despite having outplayed St. Joseph’s everywhere but the foul line, the Bison opened the second half with a 12-3 run.

The run started with a Bettencourt trey on the Bison’s first possession, giving Bucknell a lead it would never relinquish. The Bison led by as many as 11 points before Abe Badmus picked up his fourth personal with 7:56 to go in the game.

Badmus was the unsung hero in this one for Bucknell. In addition to his 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, his quickness on the perimeter defensively was a big factor in shutting down St. Joseph’s perimeter attack.

With Badmus sitting next to Flannery with four fouls, St. Joe’s cut the Bucknell lead to 55-53 on a pair of threes by Dwayne Lee and Pat Carroll. Flannery quickly hustled the sophomore point guard back on the floor and Bucknell silenced the crowd with a 14-2 run. Bettencourt’s back-to-back treys started the run. It was capped by a Badmus layup.

"Badmus is so important because he can get the ball wherever he wants to get it. Kevin and Charles (Lee) really feed off of that," Flannery said.

"I have a great admiration for the way they run offense," said Martelli. "The way they play basketball, I enjoyed watching it on tape. Everybody passes. Everybody moves. They have a team offense. It’s really a nice way of playing basketball."

Every Bison that saw action had at least one assist.

Lee finished 8-for-11 from the field, finishing with 17 points along with a game-high eight rebounds. Chris McNaughton added 10 points and did a good job on defense, holding St. Joe’s Dwayne Jones to one field goal and 4 points, well below his 12.4 ppg average.

Carroll led the Hawks with 21 points, 18 coming on three-pointers. Carroll was 6-of-15 outside the arc, 0-for-3 closer to the basket.

Truth be told, the only thing that really kept St. Joe’s from being blown right out of their own house was the officiating, which ranged from curious to downright awful.

How else can you explain the disparity in foul shots. St. Joseph’s went to the line 17 times, making 10. Bucknell only got to the foul line three times until the final minute of the game, when it doubled its total as St. Joe’s fouled on purpose to try to extend the game.

Somehow, despite playing every bit as physical as Bucknell, St. Joseph’s was the only team to reach the one-and-one in the first half. At the start of the second half, St. Joe’s picked up two quick personals, giving the appearance that things were going to even out. Three quick fouls in the first four minutes of the half on Bucknell point guard Abe Badmus showed that was not the case.

St. Joe’s reached the bonus when Badmus picked up his fourth. At that point, the Hawks had been whistled for only three second-half fouls.

This despite the fact Bucknell was the only team taking the ball to the hole. St. Joe’s shot nothing but jumpers most of the night, especially in the second half, when the Hawk’s first 12 points all came on treys. The Hawks first two-point bucket didn’t come until Chet Stachitas hit a little pull-up jumper from the left side of the lane with 8:28 to go. That was one of just three two-point buckets for St. Joseph’s in the second half.

Despite a double figures lead late in the game, Bucknell never did reach the double bonus, which might have been a good thing for the Bison, seeing as how they were 0-for-3 from the line in the final minute.

BISON CHIPS: Griffin was 2-for-4 from the field in his homecoming. The freshman guard stroked a three late in the first half to give the Bison a 31-29 lead and hit another from the arc during the 14-2 run that iced it for Bucknell. Asked after how many times he had hit a shot from where he took the first three, Griffin replied, “Probably a lot. I’d say in the thousands. This court is a great court. I know it pretty well. This is like my basketball home. This is where I grew up basketball-wise.” . . . Griffin will get a chance to revisit Alumni Memorial Field House in the 2006-2007 season. The Hawks will visit Bucknell next season as their part of the two-for-one scheduling deal . . . The second half was easily Bucknell’s best shooting half of the season. The Bison’s previous best was a 60-percent second half at Cornell . . . The 63.6 percent field goal percentage for the game was Bucknell’s season-best, topping a 55.6 percent effort in a Nov. 19 win over Rider . . . This is Bucknell’s first five-game out of conference win streak since 1970-71.

Other views:

In the Inquirer, Dana Pennett O'Neil focused on what is wrong with St. Joe's:
For sure, the Bison are a good team. A good team in the Patriot League. St. Joe's isn't supposed to lose to teams in the Patriot League, especially like this.
Excuse me Dana, but couldn't we haver made the same argument about St. Joe's last year? Teams from the Atlantic 10 aren't supposed to make it to the Eleite Eight, aren't supposed to beat Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, or Boston College, all Hawk victims last year.

With scholarships, the better teams in the Patriot League are going to win some games like this.

Here's Ray Parillo's take on the game from the Inquirer.

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Tough night for the rest of the league

While Bucknell pulled off a win that might help the league's RPI a little, the rest of the league probably negated that by going 0-3 last night. Particularly troubling was American losing at home to LaSalle.

Here's a quick wrap of last night's action:

LaSalle 66, American 53 (box score) -- From Kathy Orton in the Washington Post:
. . . the Eagles seemed flustered by La Salle's zone defense. Their three guards, in particular, had a tough time.
This certainly does not bode well for AU against Bucknell or Holy Cross, both of whom play some pretty good matchup zone.

The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out:
American was able to hit just one field goal in the final 7 minutes, 54 seconds.
The Inky also noted:
La Salle junior Steve Smith scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half to carry the Explorers . . .
It's worth mentioning that Smith is a 1,000 point scorer. He reached that plateau in the AU game. It's also worth mentioning that he is a 6-8 forward who can step outside and shoot the three. That is a tough matchup for any team, especially Patriot League teams.

But Smith didn't do all his damage outisde. He had three treys, but the rest of his points came inside the arc, and his 12 trips to the foul line and 11 rebounds would seem to indicate AU had trouble handling him in the paint, too.

I have yet to see American play, but it sure looks like they will have matchup problems against guys like HC's Nate Lufkin and BU's Chris McNaughton.

Also, once again, American's starters all played over 30 minutes and the bench contributed next to nothing (9 points, 2 rebounds).

No. 9 Georgia Tech 92, Lafayette 58 (box score) -- Freshman Anthony Morrow led the Yellow Jackets. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The freshman swingman poured in a career-best 20 points-- hitting 6-of-9 from 3-point range-- to help lift No. 9 Tech to a 92-58 victory over Lafayette at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Another freshman, Ra'Sean Dickey added 15 points and a pair of blocked shots.

Brian Murphy, writing in the Macon Telegraph, said:
Tech needed the spark (from the freshmen) against the determined Leopards (3-7). Lafayette, running an efficient pick-and-roll offense, stayed within 12 points until the 9:28 mark of the second half.
Binghamton 65, Colgate 61 -- Here's the box score.

On tap tonight:

Lehigh at Towson in a clash of a pair of old East Coast Conference rivals.

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Patriot-Big 5 Challenge (almost)

The big name game for Patriot League teams tonight has Lafayette at No. 9 Georgia Tech.

We are not foolish enough to predict any upset here, though we would suggest that if Lafayette were a little more experienced, conditions could be ripe. Georgia Tech is coming off a 42-point win over Charleston Southern and has a visit to No. 2 Kansas for a nationally televised game (ESPN) on Saturday.

On the Atlanta Journal Constitution'sGeorgia Tech page, they already have a fan poll up asking "How do you like the Jackets' chances going into the Kansas game?" (NOTE: The AJC's site requires a three-part sign in ... use Hoop as the first name, for the e-mail and hooptime for the password ... also, much of their Tech stuff is part of a premium package you must subscribe to. That password will not get you the pay content).

Most likely the best macthup of the night will be in Philly, where Bucknell will visit St. Joseph's.

This one is on Hawk Hill, in Alumni memorial Fieldhouse, which is reminiscent of Bucknell's old Davis Gym.

Bucknell, which has never beaten St. Joe's, has not visited the fieldhouse since a 20-point loss there in 1995. One Bison, though, will feel pretty much at home. Bison freshman John Griffin's father played at St. Joseph's and coached the Hawks for five seasons. Phil Martelli first came to St. Joe's as an assistant under Griffin. That last Bucknell visit, by the way, came in Martelli's first season as coach of the Hawks and Pat Flannery's first year heading the Bison.

St. Joe's likes to say "the Hawk will never die." But this is not last year's St. Joseph's team. St. Joe's lost as many time in its first three games of the season as it did all of last year. Gone are Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, both taken in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Even the cover of the Hawks' media guide carries the theme "Transition."

That transition tag does not apply to the Hawks' offense. lacking the horses that got up and down in a hurry last year, Phil Martelli has been concentrating on getting the Hawks to play better in half court sets. That could prove difficult against Bucknell, a notoriously strong half court defensive team.

Dick Jerardi of the Philly Daily News suggests that offense is a work in progress. In St. Joe's last game, Thursday at Old Dominion,Jerardi said:
. . . The Hawks were playing with a revamped offense.

The offense worked very nicely. Solid screens were set. Hard cuts were made. Open shots were obtained. There was one problem. Actually, there were 23 of them.
Jerardi was referring to turnovers. Despite the turnovers, St. Joe's only lost by 4 (66-62) on the road to a team with only one loss thus far.
Martelli was calling offensive sets nearly every time down the court. His practices these days are mostly halfcourt stuff. It is not what he wants to do. It is what he has to do. The Hawks have gone from a team of improvisation to a by-the-numbers group.

The 62 points was the Hawks' third-highest total of the season. This offense and this team are a work in progress. They are still thinking instead of doing.
We will see tonight how much they have improved over the holiday weekend.

Bucknell catches a break by playing this one while the students are on break. That should make Alumni Fieldhouse a little more hospitable. Still, St. Joe's is steeped in tradition.

Listen live or follow the game on Gametracker.

American also faces a Big 5 foe, hosting LaSalle.

LaSalle is 1-7 thus far, the Explorers lone win coming over Southern Cal. No wonder they fired Henry Bibby.

You can listen to the LaSalle broadcast on Yahoo.

Tonight's other game has Colgate meeting Binghamton in the consolation game of the Florida International tournament. This is a meeting of two schools an hour apart that they both traveled about 1,400 miles to play.

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Another out of character win for HC

Holy Cross beat Northeastern last night in a very un-Holy Cross way.

For the second game in a row it was the offense, not the vaunted Crusaders defense, that carried HC to the 82-76 win (box score). Five players reached double figures for the Crusaders, who shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, 54 percent for the game.

In the Boston Herald's story Mark Cofman points out:
. . . for the second straight game, the Crusaders enjoyed eclipsing 80 points while placing five players in double figures. Senior forward John Hurley tied a career-high with 18 points to lead Holy Cross, while Nate Lufkin added 14, Kevin Hamilton 13 and Torey Thomas and Keith Simmons 12 apiece.
Actually, that is a little misleading. Only three Crusaders reached double figures in last week's win over Brown. Nonetheless, the two straight games scoring over 80 is an oddity for the Crusaders.

I foolishly tossed out much of my library of media guides when I moved a few years back. Seemed sensible since, at the time, I was no longer doing sports full time. I mention that only to preface the fact that I couldn't check back far enough to find when was the last time an HC team scored 80 or more in back-to-back records. Suffice to say it has not happened in the last four seasons.

That is not to say Holy Cross has not had any good offensive teams in that stretch. The '02-03 version led the Patriot League in scoring (70.3 ppg) and shooting (46.2 percent). But that certainly has not been the norm in Worcester in recent years. Last year the Crusaders averaged 63.1 ppg and shot 41.2 percent from the field. In '01-02 they shot 40.6 percent from the field and averaged 63.1 ppg.

Before this recent outburst, HC had only scored over 60 points once and only shot better than 40 percent three times. Even with the last two games factored in, the Crusaders are only shooting 43.9 percent from the field and averaging 65 ppg.

So yes, this is a little out of character for Ralph's club.

Jen Toland, in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette (subscription required) makes another point about the past two games:
Last night’s game also marked the second straight in which the Crusaders have allowed an opponent to put up more than 70 points. It’s the first time that has happened since early in the 2001 season, when BC (75) and Iona (71) did it.

Holy Cross held six of its first eight foes to 56 points or less in regulation and ranks ninth in the country in scoring defense (54.6).
Not surprisingly, Ralph told the reporters after the game:
"Defense is what defines us. Over the long haul I think we all understand we're going to have to get back to playing the kind of defense we're capable of playing here to succeed. We need to bring a defensive mentality into each game - that has to be the identity of this team. I'll tell you one thing, practice will focus totally on defensive basketball."

While it might sound as if HC's defense was not up to par against Northeastern, Paul Harber, writing in the Boston Globe mentioned that the Crusaders defense did shut down Northeastern's leading scorer:
What hurt Northeastern was the play of its star point guard, Jose Juan Barea, who scored 12 points but had one of the worst games of his collegiate career. Barea, who entered the game averaging 24 points, was 4 of 22 from the floor, including 1 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"I have never seen him miss that many short pull-up jump shots,"' said (Northeastern coach Ron) Everhart. "He had a few good looks. But you've got to credit the Holy Cross defense. They pressured him well and took him out of what he likes to do. It was a tough night for Jose. He hasn't played that poorly for us offensively in a long, long time."
A couple of quick notes, courtesy of The Telegram:
Simmons, coming off a career-high, 30-point performance at Brown, was named Patriot League Player of the Week. Simmons is the first HC player to be so honored this season. … Sophomore forward Joe Young has left the team for personal reasons.
Elsewhere last night, Colgate started strong, then faded in the second half, falling to Florida International 72-56 in the first round of FIU's tournament. The Raiders, as predicted yesterday, will face Binghamton in tonight's consolation game. Here's a link to a game story from the Miami Herald and a box score.

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Let the games begin ... again

Two games on tap tonight as teams get back in action following a brief break for unwrapping presents.

In Miami, Colgate takes part in the Florida International Holiday Classic.

No, this is not a tournament with foreign teams. Florida International is a four-year school, founded in 1972 on the runways of the old Tamiami Airport.

In 1987 FIU moved its 16 athletics programs up to Division I from D-II (they started a I-AA football program in 2002).

FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference a Colgate's opponent in the first round of the tournament. Ohio U. and Binghamton meet in the opener of the four-team tournament. Which probably means, as far as FIU is concerned, the 'Gate came all the way to Florida for a little sun, a check and a chance to meet their neighbors from Binghamton. I say that because rule number one of hosting a four-team tournament is to give yourself the easiest opponent in the first round (though it is hard to imagine 2-6 Binghamton is any better than Colgate).

If that happens, it will mean Colgate traveled 1,419 miles to play a school an hour from its campus in Hamilton that for some reason is not on their schedule every year. The two have not met since the 2001-02 season, when Colgate won by 4 on the road. The previous year, Binghamton's first in Division I, the 'Gate won by 2 at home.

Here's a good preview of tonight's game from the FIU Web site. For live audio, take your pick. The Colgate feed is available free or you can try this link for the FIU network's call of the game (if that link does not work, check for a link on the game preview page).

Elsewhere tonight, Northeastern is at Holy Cross.

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From the archives . . .

Editors note: This is not "best of Hoop Time." This is just one story we were able to recover from an old Mac disk I found. This piece originally appeared in early Jan. 1998 on the old Hoop Time Web site. I had a job interview in Charlotte and the folks wanted me to stay the weekend to check out the area. Old FOHT (Friend of Hoop Time) Rick Hartzell, then AD at Bucknell, just happened to be working the Carolina at Clemson game that weekend. We hooked up a media pass by working the Rick angle and made plans to spend Saturday driving the rental car down to Clemson for the game. The night before, after the interview that lasted most of Friday afternoon, I decided to drive to Charlotte Coliseum to see a Hornets game. It was spur of the moment. Not being an NBA fan, I hadn't even checked ahead to see if they were in town. Back in the hotel after interview, they mentioned the game during the six o'clock news. I decided rather than sit in my hotel room watching TV, I might as well go see if I could pick up a cheap ticket for the game. The following piece was written about that weekend, in part to cover my job interview tracks since I only mentioned the Carolina game when I asked for Friday off to go to Charlotte. Anyhow, here's how it appeared then, with the addition of a few links.

It would be hard to explain the way I feel about the NBA without finding a way to sneak in a favorite Bobby Knight quote. It goes something like this:
"If the NBA was on channel 5 and they were showing frogs making love on channel 4, I'd watch channel 4 -- even if the picture was fuzzy."
As Knight also pointed out, it isn't so much a matter of disliking the NBA as it is a simple case of being a basketball fan. With its trampoline-propelled dunking mascots and the non-cheering cheerleaders in spandex belly shirts who sit at courtside shaking their pom-poms and whatever, the NBA has gone beyond being a game into the over-hyped world of big money entertainment.

That much was known before plunking a pair of 20's into an independent ticket consultant's hands about three minutes before tip off at the Charlotte Coliseum Friday night. The Charlotte Hornets are off to their best start ever in terms of wins and losses. But the Hornets are no longer packing the 23,000-seat Hive the way they did when the team led the NBA in attendance for four seasons in a row. Even with the Eastern Division leading Miami Heat, with coach Pat Riley, Dream Teamers Tim Hardaway and much-hated ex-Hornet Alonzo Mourning, in town, there were plenty of empty seats. The 40 bucks was only a dollar over the ticket's $39 face value; devalued some by the combination of it being a single seat and the fact that at least 10 other scalpers were desperately trying to dump their remaining inventory with the game about to begin.

It's no wonder the luster has worn off even as the Hornets are on the verge of establishing themselves as contenders. Folks down on Tobacco Road are accustomed to some pretty good hoops. Within a two or three hour drive of Charlotte you can reach over a dozen Division I college arenas, including five members of perhaps college basketball's most elite league -- the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The next afternoon the same $40 would have bought a better seat and a couple of T-shirts with enough change left over for a Coke at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum. The bargain buy? Top-ranked North Carolina at No. 21 Clemson.

Don't get me wrong, the Hornets game was not without its pluses. For one thing, I actually saw an NBA ref make a traveling call. That will be something to tell the grandkids about. Hate to admit it, but the guy in the hornet suit who goes off the mini-tramp, does a couple of flips and dunks was actually pretty cool, too. Also saw Glenn Rice put on a Jordanesque show, lighting it up for 42 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.

But when Rice took the inbounds pass from Vlade Divac with 1.6 seconds to go and dribbled once before draining the trey from the top of the arc, the Charlotte Coliseum was a little over half full at best. Most of the crowd had skidaddled earlier, when it looked as though Miami had iced it.

Saturday afternoon in Clemson, not one of the 11,200 fans crammed into Littlejohn headed for the doors before the final buzzer assured the Tarheels of a 73-70 win. Even after Carolina took an insurmountable 6-point lead with six seconds to go, the orange-clad Tigers faithful stuck around to see Greg Buckner hit one last trey to make the final score more indicative of the type of game it was.

Littlejohn Coliseum is, by the way, one of the truly great basketball arenas in existence. The 30-year old arena has aged well. Built in the pre-luxury box era, when the function that guided the architect's form was giving fans a great seat instead of today's prevalent raking-in-the-most-bucks-from-fat-cats-and-the-heck-with-the-average-fan school of design, Littlejohn officially holds 10,980. Saturday they squeezed another 220 in and still left a big crowd of disappointed ticket seekers out in the cold, if you can call temperatures in the 60s in the first week of January "the cold."

There were no bargain tickets being dumped out in front of this game, and inside, there was no need for the PA announcer to beg the crowd to make some noise. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I ever even heard the guy after the pregame introductions. You certainly didn't need one of those NBA arena decibel meters to figure out that this place was loud.

Clemson fans aren't quite as wild as Duke's Cameron Crazies, but they are definitely a few levels higher on the intensity scale than the polite, sit-on-their-hands types that make up much of the audience in Central Pa. gyms. For starters, the percentage of students in the crowd seems much larger, though that may be an illusion created in part by the 1,216 who are squeezed together at either end of the floor, standing on the three levels of risers that were added between the baselines and the elevated first row of seats.

There's enough orange attire on hand to outfit an Army of deer hunters. The sea of orange makes life particularly tough on opposing shooters, who have to focus extra hard to see the orange rim of the basket. It also gives rise to a question: Just where the heck does one buy orange bib overalls?
North Carolina plays the game of basketball about as well as anybody. They've been doing that for years in Chapel Hill, and the retirement of Dean Smith has done nothing to diminish the quality of the Tarheels play.

The Heels are ranked No. 1 for good reason. Six of the top seven from last season's Final Four team are back, including junior Antawn Jamison, who led the team in scoring and rebounding a year ago. Guard Shammond Williams was the MVP of both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA East Regional last season and sixth man Vince Carter is being talked about in lottery pick terms.

When that kind of talent plays together as a team, it's tough to beat, as evidenced by the Tarheels' 15-0 start against a schedule that has been fraught with potential pitfalls. Saturday's win was Carolina's sixth over a ranked opponent, all but one of which has come outside of the Dean Dome. It was the Tarheel's fourth straight road game, a stretch that included games at No. 17 Florida State, at Georgia and at No. 21 Clemson.

"Dean Smith told me these games were going to be tough," said NC coach Bill Guthridge, who was an assistant to Smith for 30 years and 785 wins before being named as Smith's replacement prior to this season. "Dean said if we were lucky, we'd win one of the three; if we were good we'd win two and if we were greedy, we'd win three.

"I guess we were greedy," said Guthridge.

Actually, it's been quite the opposite. A big key to Carolina's success has been a lack of greed. With as many capable scorers as the Tarheels have, you might worry there wouldn't be enough basketballs to go around. But this team is unbeaten in no small part because of its unselfish team play.

Against Clemson, North Carolina had 17 assists on its 24 field goals. Point guard Ed Cota dished out 10 against the Tigers -- he leads the ACC; shooting guard Williams is averaging almost five assists per game, fifth-best in the conference.

That's probably the most noticeable difference in the style of play between the NBA and college games. Friday night in Charlotte, neither team shot 50 percent from the field, despite having a collection of, literally, some of the best basketball athletes in the world and despite the NBA's stupid defensive rules that pretty much limit teams to plain vanilla straight-up man-to-man.

That's because, in the NBA style of play, all to often players seem to have made up their mind they are taking a shot regardless of how well defended they might be. Watch an NBA game sometime and you'll see: when NBA teams make three or more passes on a possession, most of the time they will score. Ball movement is the key to finding open shooters and when NBA-caliber players get an open look you'd might as well count it in the scorebook.

But all too often NBA offenses are like black holes-- once the ball is passed it never returns. Some guy catches the ball, then tries to back down his defender while everybody else stands and watches.
As good as Carolina is, don't go filling in your office poll just yet. The Tarheels may be the best team in the country, but they aren't likely to win it all in March.

That's because Guthridge has been unable to develop his rotation beyond his first five and a sixth-man.

Granted those first six guys are as good as any first six in the land. But it's hard to imagine them going through an arduous regular season, a pressure-cooker ACC Tournament and three weekends of NCAA Tournament play without injury, let alone foul trouble. Against Clemson, Guthridge was forced to leave center Makitar Ndiaye in the game with four fouls, rather than play freshman backup Brendan Haywood with the game on the line in the second half. Ndiaye eventually fouled out. Had the twisted ankle that had Carter limping slightly early in the second half been serious, the Tarheels would have been in real trouble.
By the way, hard-core Bucknell fans might remember Williams from his days at Fort Union Military Academy.

All but unrecruited out of high school, Williams, who was raised in Greenville, S.C., about 20 miles from Clemson, spent a post-graduate year at Fort Union, where he blossomed into a blue chip prospect.

Against Bucknell's jayvees that season, Williams scored 8 points and had two assists in a 93-64 Fort Union win.

Folks at Clemson are likely a little sad they didn't see this talent right under their noses. After he scored 24 points to lead the Tarheels past the Tigers Saturday, Carolina is now 8-1 against Clemson when Williams is wearing the blue and white.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005
Bowl games? We don't need no stinking bowl games
Friday, December 31, 2004
Yes Virginia, there is a Catamount
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Afternoon delights

After the matinees, a big game tonight

Lehigh hangs on to end losing streak

No Army, it does not stand for Rest in Peace Index
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
St. Joe's was then, Bucknell is now

Tough night for the rest of the league
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Patriot-Big 5 Challenge (almost)

Another out of character win for HC
Monday, December 27, 2004
Let the games begin ... again
Sunday, December 26, 2004
From the archives . . .

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