Got a chance to spend most of the day Tuesday at Bucknell, working on a story for my day job.

We'll link to it when it runs in Friday's paper. In the meantime, here are some segments that ended up being cut when I edited the story to a manageable length.

These are "raw" segments, pieces of a story. There are no transitions. There is no flow. But each segment taken as a seperate sort of note seemed worth sharing, so here they are:

ESPN is on the television Tuesday afternoon in the campus apartment of Kevin Bettencourt, Charles Lee and Tarik Viar-McClymont.

The all-sports network is on a lot in the small living room that serves as the social center for the Bucknell team. Not all the time, but enough to make you think that if they lost the remote control, it could be a while before anybody bothers getting off the couch to change the channel.

The rest of the Bucknell team lives in regular dorm rooms, except Chris Niesz, the team’s lone senior, who has an apartment in town but spends so many night’s on the juniors’ couch that they don’t bother putting the spare comforter back in the closet.

In the middle of Sportscenter, a graphic flashes for a story about the graduation rates of the teams playing in the NCAA Tournament. At the top of the list is Bucknell, with its perfect 100 percent showing. Their first round opponent— Kansas — is No. 10 of the 65 teams on that list. The Jayhawks graduation rate? 60 percent. They get a little chuckle out of that.

# # #

They gathered around a television set Tuesday afternoon in the coaches’ offices, too. A Fed-Ex truck has just delivered six videotapes of Kansas games from a service that tapes almost every game that is televised. Assistant coach Nathan Davis is busy watching the Jayhawks lose to Iowa State, one of two common foes Bucknell shares with Kansas.

The Bison played Iowa State tough in an early season meeting. Iowa State won the game Davis is studying in overtime. Stop, rewind, fast forward, back up again; Davis is searching the film for chinks in Kansas’ armor.

“I have seen them play twice now,” Davis says. “By the end of the day I will have seen them five or six times.”

Later Davis will load a game or two on a laptop computer so the coaches can continue their preparations on the charter flight to Oklahoma City. Preparations
won’t stop until the team steps on the court Friday night.

# # #

Like the coaches, Bucknell Sports Information Director Jon Terry has been spending a lot of time in his office since the Bison earned the trip to the tournament by beating Holy Cross last Friday night.

Terry was in his office Sunday morning at 9 a.m. to begin work on the media guides and team notes that the press in Oklahoma City will rely on for facts about a team most of them probably never heard of before the Bucknell-Kansas pairing was announced. Aside from a quick dash home for a shower, Terry didn’t leave his office until 9 p.m. Monday.

By 9 a.m. Tuesday he was back at it.”I knew it was going to be busy, but I didn’t think I realized how much the phone would ring,” Terry said. “We have gotten phone calls by the 100s; requests for information, requests for interviews. The midwestern media doesn’t know a whole lot about our team.”

# # #

For the most part, media attention is new to Bucknell. Aside from non-conference games against big time schools, the Bison seldom encounter more than three or four reporters at postgame press conferences. Television coverage in the league, aside from the conference championship game, is pretty much limited to local cable and satellite providers.

Bucknell got a small taste of the media attention back in January, when it knocked off then No. 7 Pittsburgh in a game that ranks as the biggest upset of the season. Coming on the heels of a win over a Saint Joseph’s team that came within a basket of making the Final Four last season, it thrust the Bison momentarily into the limelight.

Papers all over the country took note of the win over Pitt. So did ESPN, which included highlights on Sportscenter. Bettencourt and Davis appeared on ESPN2’s morning show, Cold Pizza. They even started to get a few votes in the AP Top 25 poll.

A midseason slump put an end to all that as quick as it had started. After losing three out of four games in a two-week span at the end of January and beginning of February, Bucknell returned to obscurity. Even the followers of the Patriot League seemed to forget they had been the preseason picks to win the conference.

The attention came back with last week’s nationally televised win over Holy Cross in the championship game.

In the 48 hours after the tournament pairings were announced Sunday night, Flannery made an appearance on Cold Pizza and did phone-in appearnces on a handful of sportstalk radio shows, including Mike and the Mad Dog on New York’s WFAN.

# # #

“I got a call yesterday from the Boston Globe and another from an AP reporter,” says Bettencourt, who grew up in Massachusetts. “It is definitely different getting so much attention.”

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