We had a blast

We're not going to switch gears and go national for the tournament.

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We're Patriot League-centric, we'll stick with what we know.

For us, the season is pretty much over.

Sometime soon, maybe as soon as tomorrow, you are going to find we took a day off for the first day since we launched this site on Nov. 23.

We started with a basic blogger format, the tweaked it into its current form during the slow period around the holidays. At the same time, we refined the focus.

When we launched Hoop Time, the thought was to be a blog for all small college basketball in Central Pa. That was the focus of the original print version.

When we launched the old print version, it was the season after Bucknell had gone 13-1 and lost at home in the Patriot League final to Holy Cross. Old Davis was packed nightly. Charlie Woollum had a string of 11 straight winning seasons.

Down the stretch of that season, the little paper I worked for in Lewisburg had produced three special sections that we gave away at Bucknell games. The first, done for the regular season Holy Cross at Bucknell game, was incredibly popular. The second, which was given away at the first playoff game (that was the year of all homecourts and Bucknell was top seed), included what I am pretty sure is the only media selected all-league list ever produced (I polled one beat writer and one radio guy from each team for the balloting).

The third section included a "Never give up message" to former Bucknell coach Jim Valvano on the front cover, with a picture of Jimmy V. from his BU days. Distributed at the league final, it even got shown on the ESPN broadcast of the game.

It seemed a natural progression to start a paper/magazine devoted to Bucknell basketball. Former AD Rick Hartzell had given the OK to distribute it at the games.

One small problem: Bucknell, who looked to be set with Penn State transfer Brian Anderson arriving to plug its biggest hole, turned out to be about to have what turned out to be a losing campaign in Woollum's last season before fleeing to William and Mary.

The answer was to spread the coverage to include DII Bloomsburg, DIII Susquehanna and Lycoming and Penn State.

It turned out the small school stuff was too unpredictable to blog reliably. Games are not covered on a regular basis and it was too time consuming looking for stuff that often was not there.

There is a school like that in the Patriot League. I got an e-mail the other day asking why not more Colgate coverage. The answer is simple: There's none to link to. Best of my knowledge, the Utica paper saw them twice, Syracuse not much more.

That, in fact, was why I approached the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about picking up the Holy Cross at Colgate game. I like telling editors looking for a stringer I am two hours from everything. Hamilton is not included.

It is a long, long drive to get there. It always snows. I had not seen Colgate in person all season, though. If we do this next year, we will try to find a way to get more Colgate coverage. But I doubt it will include my driving to Hamilton again.

This might have been a breakout year for the league.

Or maybe not.

It sure does not look like a fluke. But Bucknell looked awful good coming back that first season of Hoop Time and went 10-17, 6-8 in the league.

Given the talent coming back next year, it is hard to imagine the league not once again being better. Scholarships raised the bar. Holy Cross and Bucknell have pushed it even higher.

Dave Jones thinks the league could equal, even surpass the Atlantic 10. Jones argues that with scholarships, what parents won't want their kids to go to these schools. It is hard to find flaw with that logic.

Before this turns into a season recap, we'll remember what this post was intended to be about.

It has been a long season, with not a single day off from this very consuming avocation. It has been like having a second job. Although it beats a convenience store in almost every category other than the paycheck.

We're not going to shut down in the off season. We will like post something at least weekly. Bucknell has a foreign trip coming up to England and Ireland. We will try to get regular updates on that.

We're not going to keep a schedule in the offseason. It will be post when the spirit moves or the news warrants. If I were a betting man, I'd expect most posts to occur in the evening, instead of climbing out of bed earlier than the day job demands.

Some thank yous are in order.

We will start with Bucknell SID Jon Terry. This was sort of his idea.

I had gone to the Saint Francis-Bucknell game just to get a look at the Bison. After the game I mentioned to Jon how I wished I had someplace to write about the game.

"You ought to have a Web site," Jon said.

That night, I drove back to the Harrisburg area and stayed up until after 3 a.m. to build and launch this site.

So Thanks Jon, for the suggestion and also all the accommodations and help during the season. Bucknell's sports information folks are among the league's best. If we handed out a Hoop Time Award for Best Sports Info Dept., they'd definitely be on the list of nominees.

Thanks also to the rest of the league's SIDs. I can't begin to tell you how much writers appreciate the SIDs and their staffs.

Special thanks to Chuck and Bri at Holy Cross, who almost always were sure to have a credential waiting at will call of Holy Cross road games.

The fine folks at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are kind enough to use me pretty regular covering Holy Cross when the Crusaders are within that two-hour circle. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that underwrote Oklahoma City.

A shout out to the guys in Worcester who stopped by press row at the championship game to say hello.

It would not be fair to not thank some writers whose work kept us informed all season and provided consistent links. Tom Housenick of the Daily Item gives Bucknell the attention the beat deserves, something his predecessors at that paper were loathe to do.

Corky Blake of the Easton Express-Times knows this league, especially the Lehigh Valley. Cork has been around the league nearly as long as I have been. Andre Williams at the Morning Call joins Corky to form a Lehigh Valley tag team that results in the best covered part of the league.

The Annapolis paper deserves a small mention here. We don't link to them much because as an afternoon paper, it does not update its site early in the morning when we are updating this one. But they do a good job covering Navy.

The Telegram is the only paper in the league that had a writer at every game, men and women. Jen Toland does a fine job in Worcester. The Boston Herald had pretty good coverage of HC this year, too.

CoachRalphWillard.com has been a favorite click all season. Thanks Coach.

Speaking of Web sites, Kyle hit the 100-game mark at MidMajority.com. Congrats! Kyle's imaginative work has bee a fun read all season. I'd say that even if he had not said nice stuff about us on his site.

Thanks to all the other guys who link to us. They are listed on the side of the page, give them all a click.

Big ups to all the message board crews we've held discussions with. Even Blid.

Especially Blid.

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Self apologizes

All is cool between Bucknell and Kansas about postgame handshakes, or lack thereof. KUsports.com reports:KU coach Bill Self -- who learned Saturday that only Alex Galindo, C.J. Giles and Michael Lee congratulated the Bison --phoned Bucknell coach Pat Flannery to apologize.

"Coach Flannery told me the majority of our guys were standing there, and (Bucknell) kept celebrating, so they left. Some guys turned to walk away when the line formed,' Self said Tuesday. 'He said, 'Bill, don't worry. We were running around the court like crazy.' He said, 'Make sure to tell your players, there's no ill intention here.'"

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Biggest upset?

Columnist Arthur Jaramillo of the Mississippi Press picks the biggest upset of the tournament in a column today:
I'll go with Bucknell beating Kansas in its first-round game last Friday.

This might be the biggest upset in tournament history. The Bison have five scholarship players and the Patriot League had never won a NCAA Tournament game. The Jayhawks began the year as a top-five selection, but faltered badly down the stretch.

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Don't tease Nagy

I won't bust on Chris Nagy for missing Bucknell's win over Kansas. Yeah, it would be easy to do. Especially since he didn't even see it on television.

The Shamokin News-Item sports editor told me Monday night at the Bucknell celebration that he didn't even know they'd won until Sunday. Nagy and his wife were on a weekend getaway to Cape May. Stayed in a little B&B with no TV.

On purpose.

Smart man Nagy. At the end of the high school wrestling and basketball championships, a guy at a small paper like Nagy's is dog tired. A little R&R with the sig other is smart around then, too. Nagy probably has not been home a whole lot the last few months.

Spring is a slow season for the smalltown sports editors of the world. Preseason for spring sports doesn't require the preparations football season does, with the preseason special preview sections. Spring sports are lowkey, afternoon events. Spring is when you get reacquainted with the family.

So as easy as it would be to bust on Chris for completely missing the game, we will cut him some slack.

A wide berth, as they say.

We won't even tease him about this one from his look back at Bucknell's weekend:
"So why did you guys trade Steve Kline?" Flannery asked the writer about the Winfield native who was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason."
Of course Kline was not traded. He signed with the Orioles as a free agent.

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Props for Bison

Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register is a believer. Check out his column from this morning:
Why shouldn't Bucknell beat Kansas? Four national-rep teams had the nerve to schedule the Bison this year. Only Villanova blew them out. St. Joseph's and Pittsburgh lost and Iowa State won by seven. None of those games was in Lewisburg, Pa., the charming little Victorian home of Bucknell.

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Big night for small town team

They saluted the Bucknell Bison Monday night in Lewisburg.

It was a classic small town celebration, a ride through downtown on fire engines, then back to the gym for a few words by the local politicians.

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A lot of new faces, most lining up to have their pictures taken.

Not all were bandwagon jumpers. State Rep. Russ Fairchild always catches three or four games a year. Many of the administration and faculty on hand were regulars.

Before they left for Oklahoma, they joked about being unknown. In a small town like Lewisburg, they might get the occasional autograph request from local kids they know from camp. But they are hardly celebrities.

In Lewisburg, basketball players have always been known as Bucknell kids who happen to play basketball. To most in town, they could as well be the debate club or the Bison Chips (do they still have the Bison Chips? Or have I shown my age and lack of hipness with a reference from the Woollum era?).

The point is, they were never celebrities at home until they became celebrities nationwide.

It would be tempting to joke about the elected official who asked for directions to the rest room. But you know what? It was great. It was great for Bucknell. It was great for the league.

Welcome aboard the wagon, I say. It's not like we don't have room.

Kevin Bettencourt couldn't have been happier if he were in a duckie on the Charles. These kids -- teenagers most of 'em -- had a night they will never forget.


Not if they win an NBA ring.

Not being made CEO, not winning a Pulitzer Prize, will ever dwarf the feeling they had, riding atop those firetrucks, waving to the couple thousand fans that lined the dozen or so orange-and-blue balloon lined blocks from the high school, through the heart of town, to Sojka.

The smiles were wider than a Chris McNaughton three-pointer as they were saluted in Sojka.

Back in the tunnel from their locker room, waiting to come into the arena, they could hear the crowd react as they showed the final two minutes of Bucknell's win over Kansas on the video screen. They heard the outburst when McNaughton's jump hook banked off the glass for the lead. They heard an even louder road when Wayne Siminen's shot clanked and as Donald Brown puffed his jersey.

It was a standing ovation when they took the floor. The first of many, none of which actually need Doug Birdsong's coaching.

Did we mention borough council was all there?

"These young men captured the hearts of Oklahoma City and the nation with their poise and their composure," said the Vice President of Student Affairs, Charlie Pollock, a voice that was heard in the OKC crowd all weekend from his perch about a half dozen rows up.

The Mayor gave Pat Flannery a certificate of excellence in coaching. Just when it seemed like the Bison gave the town a name and all they got was this cheesy certificate, the Mayor followed her own shot and scored big with the crowd by proclaiming Tuesday as Bison Men's Basketball Day in Lewisburg.

The student government president said he'd never been prouder to wear his orange and blue in his hometown. Couldn't find him after to ask how many games he saw this season.

The school president characterized the them as "Engineers, scientists and writers who happen to excel at sports."

John Hardt joked that if you'd told him five years ago when he hit town that Bucknell would beat a team like Kansas he'd "have found that hard to believe."

A hoarse Pat Flannery saluted the school's pep band, all 8 or 9 of which were infamous no-shows during the tournament. They were supplemented by the Bison's third rented band of the weekend (Lewisburg H.S.). It didn't matter; All was forgiven.

"Sorry about my voice," the hoarse Flannery said. "It had nothing to do with the officiating."

All the players got a chance at the microphone. The mystery of the Fear the Bison song was revealed (a Holland Mack production). Chris Niesz, team's only senior said, "This is one of the few times I wish I were a freshman."

The bookstore had a stand, doing boffo business in Bison memorabilia, including fresh from the printers tees emblazoned with "Bucknell has danced the Big Dance" on the front and "Just ask Kansas" on the back.

Obviously with a team this hot, you don't even need clever slogans to sell shirts.

Business has been better than homecoming weekend, even better than Parents Weekend, said the bookstore lady.

"Everybody is so proud of the team. It's been great."

Even fans from the state of Kansas have been ordering schwag from the bookstore's Web site (which they would be wise to advertise here, eh?).

Before the tournament, you'd probably been hard pressed to find hoops specific gear in the bookstore. Now there's a Patriot League championship shirt, a brackets shirt and the dance shirt we just mentioned, with more on the way.

The media has been on the bandwagon, too. Local TV from Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg were tripping over each other and the local papers who missed the boat because they were, frankly, too damned cheap to go to Oklahoma or too damned dumb to see it coming.

The guys at the tournament in OKC were already liking the Bucknell story even before the Kansas win. That put it over the top. It didn't hurt that the kids from BU were good quotes.

As Pollock told the crowd in Sojka, "These young men captured the hearts of Oklahoma City and the nation with their wit, their poise and their composure."

Michael Smiley also had a moment to remember Wednesday night.

Smiley, a little used senior guard scored the final bucket of Holy Cross' fine season, a layup at the end of the Crusaders 68-60 second round NIT loss at Saint Joseph's.

It doesn't mean as much to him now. But that is the kind of memory that ages well.

By the time he is telling his grandkids he played in the NIT and shows them his name in the box score, that bucket, along with the memories of an outstanding season, will mean a lot to Smiley.

Ditto for the rest of the Holy Cross team, which in any other season would have been the shining stars of the conference.

Don't let anybody tell you those Holy Cross close losses in recent tournaments didn't help pave the way for Bucknell's achievement. Did you notice how quickly those TV graphics went from the 0-13 league to the league that broke through after three near misses.

Let nobody forget that before Bucknell scored the first league win in the NCAA Tournament, Holy Cross picked up the first ever Patriot postseason victory.

Before you go anointing Bucknell a dynasty, remember Holy Cross has Simmons, Hamilton, Thomas and Doherty back and the only center in the league with the potential to challenge Chris McNaughton in freshman Tim Clifford (If I were their coaches, they'd be off to Pete Newell's camp this summer).

There is a lot of other young talent in the league, too. Lafayette and Navy will both be better. Lehigh probably will, too. Colgate needs a big man, but will be no slouch. AU will still have Ingram and the big Lithuanian transfer from South Carolina, whose impact remains to be seen. Army can't be any worse.

So the league will get tougher. The competition fiercer. The rivalries more pitched. The caliber of play better. The media attention will grow. So too will the fan base.

Who knows, even Holy Cross fans might learn to like the Patriot League.

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Crusaders season ends

(Box score) The curtain came down on the best season in Patriot League hoops history last night in Philly when the Holy Cross Crusaders bowed out of the NIT with a 68-60 loss to Saint Joseph's.

Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News summed it up best:
The Hawks never trailed and were never really comfortable. When the Crusaders started in some kind of matchup zone that wasn't matching up with anybody, the Hawks' shooters were wide open. They put up points on six of seven possessions and opened up a pair of 13-point leads.

Holy Cross' defense got way better in the second half. The Hawks went 11 minutes without a basket. They missed nine consecutive shots and had five turnovers during that forgettable stretch. Only free throws were keeping them ahead as Holy Cross attacked the rim on every possession.

Three times, Holy Cross had the ball down by a point. They turned it over twice and missed a contested runner.

When Carroll (15 points) hit a forced three-pointer with 8 ? minutes left that Hawks coach Phil Martelli rightly called 'an impossible shot,' the Hawks' karma returned. With the shot clock about done, Chet Stachitas (13 points) lost the ball in the lane. It went right to Dwayne Jones, who converted a three-point play. When Jones missed two free throws, Carroll got the rebound and took a shot from the corner. It hit the rim about 10 times and fell in.

Holy Cross had put up a great fight, but the basketball gods clearly were with St. Joe's. When Dwayne Lee (15 points) kept converting free throws (13 of 14), only the final margin was in doubt.
According to Jen Toland, in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette (apparently they are back to the password deal, so we will only quote with no link here):
For HC, it was almost like a nasty flashback to the Patriot League Tournament final when champion Bucknell . . .
Toland points out that Saint Joe's outscored HC by 13 at the free throw line. But it was really more a matter of HC not making its free throws than home cooking. Saint Joe's shot 28 free throws to 19 for the Crusaders, but at least eight of those came in the end game as HC fouled out of desperation.

The big difference was that while Saint Joe's was shooting 83 percent from the stripe (23-of-28), Holy Cross barely made half its free throws (10-of-19).

  • Hawks top Holy Cross in NIT second-rounder (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Carroll leads Hawks to win in home finale (Morning Call)
  • Carroll, St. Joseph's win, advance in NIT (Camden Courier Post)
  • McCaffery: Hawks are successful in the transition game (Delco Daily Times)

    Read more!
  • Mop up time

    Here are a few interesting clicks from this morning's quick jaunt around the Web:

    Tom Housenick of the Daily Item checks in this morning with two pieces on Bucknell. In his college basketball column, Housenick says:
    Bucknell's Cinderella story, one that captured the hearts and minds of a basketball-crazy country, had ended just 24 hours earlier when Wisconsin pulled away in the game's closing minutes.
    Housenick also has a story about Bucknell's Chris McNaughton.

    Someone named Emma Post covered the Bucknell parade and celebration last night for the Daily Item. According to Post:
    The pavilion, which seats about 3,500 people, was nearly packed full of zealous students, members of the Lewisburg community and children decked out in their Bison gear.
    Actually, not to nitpick, but Sojka holds 4,000 and wasn't more than half full. Other than that and one or two other little details, she got it mostly right.

    From Bob Linneman's column in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
    Who's going to take Bucknell over Kansas? Seriously, you'd have to be out of your mind to take Bucknell. The only reason I know Bucknell even exists is because I passed the school's highway exit when I was in western Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series in 2002.
    Actually Bob, Williamsport, which is north of Lewisburg, is in the eastern half of the state, though locals tend to refer to it as Central Pa.

    Columnist Jim Mashek writes in the Biloxi Sun Herald that Bucknell's win over Kansas was the best moment of the opening weekend of the tournament. Why? According to Mashek, it is because:
    Bucknell beat Kansas 64-63, and proved to be a worthy opponent for Wisconsin before losing to the Badgers 71-62. Vermont's a good story, too, but the Catamounts have a future NBA player in Taylor Coppenrath. Bucknell possesses guile and guts, and that's about it.
    Just wondering, were folks talking about Coppenrath as a sophomore the way they have been talking about Chris McNaughton?

    Read more!

    The clock strikes midnight

    With 8:42 to play, Bucknell was ahead of Wisconsin. A second later, the Badgers Zach Morley put the Badgers ahead with a tip-in. Wisconsin pulled away from there, posting a 71-62 win over the team that won America's hearts with Friday's upset win over Kansas.

    The difference in this one? If you look at the box, it is pretty simple. Wisconsin shot 15 more free throws and made 11 more, in a game decided by a 9-point margin. Bucknell was called for 24 fouls, Wisconsin for just 12. In every other category statistically it was almost dead even.

    We won't suggest that the officials favored the favorite, or that the higher seed got the home whistle.

    Dave Jones, of the Patriot-News seems to suggest as much:
    Wisconsin got some borderline post-play calls and Tucker began filling it up. He scored but a single field goal yet still piled up 17 points on 15-of-18 at the stripe.
    Maybe so. But as Jones mentions, it was Tucker, the 6-5 slasher, who got all the calls.

    But that will happen. As we have pointed out all season, the calls tend to go to guys who take it to the rim, not to the jump shooters. The one thing Bucknell lacks is a big time penetrated like Tucker, who can put the ball on the floor and go to the hole.

    At times during the season, Kevin Bettencourt filled that role. But he is not big enough and does not have the springs to do that against Wisconsin's 6-5 backcourt types. Abe Badmus has that ability, but is too small to do it consistently. He needs to pick his spots. Charles Lee seems the most likely guy to fill that role in the future, or Donald Brown. But both will need to improve their ballhandling skills.

    Don't misunderstand. All four of those guys are fine players. Big-time slashers are in short supply, especially at the mid-major level. Remember the American-Navy tournament game? It was Linas Lekavicius that had the ball at the end because Jeff Jones said he was the only one on his team with that ability, not Andre Ingram or Jason Thomas.

    Bucknell's success offensively comes from crisp patterns, hard screens and good ball movement, finding the open man and going inside out with McNaughton. But when teams as athletic as Wisconsin have bigger guards playing in your face, it is tough to shoot over them. You need to make them pay by going past them.

    Tucker could do that, Bucknell could not. That was the difference in a game that was very even everywhere else.

    We won't go on and on rehashing the game. We'll let others do that. There are more than enough views to link to.
    AP story | Sports Network | Box score
  • Tom Housenick's Bucknell notebook (Daily Item)
  • Badgers end dance for Bucknell (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • NCAA Basketball Bucknell's tournament run ends with loss to Wisconsin(CBS SportsLine.com)
  • Hard road to hoe, no matter the foe Wisconsin State Journal
  • Inside job: Badgers reach Sweet 16 (Chicago Tribune)
  • Big boys awake in time (Oshkosh Northwestern)
  • Badgers overtake game Bison( Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
  • Inside information pays off (Wisconsin State Journal)

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  • A point well made

    Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News points out something we have not noticed any mention of elsewhere:
    While Bucknell (23-10) had just one senior on its roster and had never won an NCAA Tournament game before Friday, Wisconsin (24-8) started four seniors who helped the Badgers to the Sweet 16 in 2003.
    Indeed, Bucknell loses just one player, Chris Niesz from this team and has its third scholarship recruiting class waiting in the wings. We won't get into a lot of analysis about next year just now, but it is pretty obvious who will be the favorites in the league next season.

    Read more!

    Accolades for McNaughton

    One thing is for certain after Bucknell's two-game tournament run: Folks are noticing Bucknell's Chris McNaughton. Here's what Tom Kensler had to say in the Denver Post:
    McNaughton, a sophomore fast becoming one of the nation's best centers, was Bucknell's only scorer to reach double figures. He hit 10-of-14 from the floor.
    Inded, not since Adonal Foyle has the Patriot League had a player as capable of dominating in the post.

    It is too soon to tell if McNaughton can follow Foyle's path to the NBA. He will certainly need to become much stronger to even have a shot. But guaranteed, that young man will make a lot of money playing hoops before he settles into his electrical engineering career. With German citizenship, he is assured of at least a long career in his native land and teh German pro leagues pay pretty well.

    Read more!

    Debunking myths

    From the Birmingham (Alabama) News:
    Bucknell has only awarded scholarships since the Patriot League ended its ban on athletic grants two years ago.
    Actually, the league dropped its ban before that. Bucknell was just slow to adapt to the change (though not as slow as Lafayette).

    From an AP story:
    Wearing a shade of orange similar to Bucknell's, Oklahoma State supporters kept alive cross-arena chants of "Go Bison'' and held up "Believe Bucknell'' cards that some Bison alums had printed Saturday. Some even learned to do a hands-to-head gesture mimicking a charging bison.
    Uhh, I have to tell you, they probably learned that one from their Big 12 brethern the Colorado Buffalos. In 14 years watching Bucknell games, I have yet to see a fan in Lewisburg make any Bison horns gesture.

    From that same story:
    Bucknell's underdog tale was emphasized by the plight of its band, or lack of one. Because of spring break, the Bisons were without their usual crew
    Spring break? Give me a break. Bucknell didn't bring a band because it really didn't have one. At least not one that deserved the reward of a trip to the tournament. Athletic department officials have tried all season to get the school's musicians to show up for games, even offering bribes of free pizza. At best they get about a half dozen kids, usually consisting of two clarinets, two flutes a sax a drummer and maybe one other piece of brass. They don't have a pep band, they have a jazz quartet.

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    View from the bars

    Dena Pauling of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette took in the BU-Wisconsin game at the Town Tavern in Lewisburg.

    Friday night, while covering the Pa. State Swimming Championships, Brian Bianca of the Carlisle Sentinel experienced Bison Mania at the Bull Run Inn. (Memo to Brian: Not to be picky, but those alums t-shirts probably said East Coast Conference Champions, Bucknell's pre-Patriot League affiliation, not "Eastern Conference Champions".)

    G. Wayne Laepple of the Daily Item was also at the Bull Run Inn for Sunday's game.

    Larry O'Rourke of the Morning Call checked in from Maroons, a sports bar in Pat Flannery's hometown of Pottsville, Pa.

    Read more!

    Let's not forget

    Holy Cross is at Saint Joseph's tonight in the NIT.

    Dick Jerardi of teh Phill Daily News had this wraning for Hawks fans:
    Holy Cross went to Notre Dame last Monday and controlled that game from the start. The Crusaders have won 17 of 18 with the only loss coming to Bucknell in the Patriot League championship game. They trailed by 20, but nearly won at the finish. Five of their losses were to NCAA teams Bucknell (twice), Minnesota, Boston College and Vermont. They were an NCAA-worthy team that was overlooked because of their league.
    Andre Williams of the Morning Call also previews the SJ-HC NIT matchup

    Read more!

    HC women ousted

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Bill Gibbons wanted the Holy Cross women would draw a team from out west that wouldn’t know the Crusaders and might take them lightly in the first round of the NCAA Womens’ Basketball Tournament.

    “I was hoping we would get somebody who might think Holy Cross was a nunnery,” said Gibbons.

    That did not happen. Instead, Holy Cross, the No. 15 seed in the Philadelphia regional, drew a second-seeded Ohio State team coached by Gibbons’ friend Jim Foster and led by Jessica Davenport, a 6-4 emerging superstar,who dominated both ends of the floor Sunday in Ohio State’s 86-45 win.

    Davenport, the Buckeyes’ sophomore center, showed why she is on the checklists for every major award in women’s hoops, dropped a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double on the Crusaders in the first 28 minutes of the game, then took a seat to watch as her teammates mopped up.

    The Big Ten’s Player of the Year owned the paint at both ends of the floor. On offense, Davenport hit 10 of the 16 shots she took. On defense, she blocked four shots, altered countless others and completely shut down Holy Cross’ senior center Lisa Andrews.

    Andrews, a first team All-Patriot League pick and the conference tournament MVP, finished with 13 points. But 6 of those came after Davenport sat down with 12:19 to play. While Davenport was on the floor, the 6-3 Andrews took 14 shots. She connected on only three of those, two of those accounting for 4 of Holy Cross’ first 6 points.

    “Mentally, I altered my shots because of her presence,” Andrews said. “She definitely is a presence out there.”

    Holy Cross (20-11), the No. 15 seed in the Philadelphia regional, was really only in the game for about the first nine minutes. After Davenport scored the first bucket of the game, Andrews and Brittany Keil hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Crusaders a 4-2 lead. Then Ohio State (29-4) took off on a 20-2 run, taking on a Davenport basket with 8:56 to play. At that point, Davenport was already in double figures.

    The Crusaders answered with a 9-2 spurt of their own to cut the Buckeyes lead back to single digits at 24-15. But Ohio State quickly pushed the margin back to double figures, outscoring HC 18-9 the rest of the half to take a 42-24 lead at the intermission.

    Any thoughts of a Holy Cross comeback were erased when Ohio State started the second half with a 15-0 run. By the first TV timeout of the second half, Ohio State led 54-24. The Buckeyes lead never got below 30-points the rest of the game.

    Brandie Hoskins (14 points) and Caity Matter (12) joined Davenport in double figures for OSU, which shot 53 percent from the floor.

    Read more!

    Quick quotes from OKC

    In the scramble from Oklahoma City to Dallas to D.C. to College Park, Mexican food and beers in Dallas took priority over writing any preview piece after the Saturday afternoon press conferences in OKC.

    I am probably in big trouble with the boss. He might even dock my paycheck.

    That’s OK. The guacamole was sublime, the beer was cold and I still have 30 minutes before the start of the Holy Cross women’s game to lash together some quotes from OKC.

    Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker, on Bucknell and this afternoon’s game:
    Bucknell has beaten some top notch teams. If you look at the (Kansas game), Kansas did not play that bad. Bucknell played good.

    You can’t underestimate teams. Bucknell felt they had a chance to beat Kansas and they went in and did it.
    On Wisconsin’s offensive plans:
    That depends on their guards. If they double down low, we need to get movement from our guards. (Mike Wilkinson and Tucker) are going to draw attention when we get the ball down low. We’ll rely on them to knock down shots.
    Mike Wilkinson on the same thing:
    If we can knock down shots it will be of benefit to us.

    Our goal will be to do what Kansas was doing, getting the ball inside.
    On Bucknell’s defense:
    Their guards do a good job, a lot of pressure. Their guards are really active. They are very active. They have got quick hands.
    Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, on his friendship with Bucknell coach Pat Flannery and the game:

    I get a chance to go against a good friend, a guy that coached in Division III also. There’s a kinship between guys from Divisions with different Roman numerals.

    It is interesting. It is somebody you know, somebody you root for.

    For the next 40 minutes, I hope he is not successful.

    Bucknell a 14 seed? C’mon. They are a great team.
    On Abe Badmus’ 11 assists against Kansas:
    I don’t know if he can have 11 every night, but he did it against a very good team.

    He had assists in a lot of different ways.
    On Chris McNaughton:
    The big guy, that young man is getting better. He has a nice feel in the paint.

    More on Bucknell:
    They have fot good shooters. They have got quickness. They have played a tough schedule. I don’t think there is a big weakness in their personnel.
    Bucknell’s Kevin Bettencourt:
    We packed to be here all weekend. I know it sounds crazy, but we expected to win that game.
    Chris McNaughton on being the underdogs:
    I like being the Bucknell, th eteam that comes here and beats a team here. . . . Situations like last night don’t happen to teams in the Top 25.
    Pat Flannery:
    Our feet have touched the ground. But just barely.
    On Bucknell’s matchup zone:
    It’s nothing original. It’s a bunch of kids working very hard and communicating. It’s more of a switching man-to-man with some zone principles.
    Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton on the Bucknell-Kansas game:
    I think if Bucknell played Kansas 10 times, they win one. But that is what makes basketball a beautiful game. It can happen to you if you don’t play you’re A-plus game.
    Oklahoma State point guard John Lucas:
    When you see Kansas lose to Bucknell, a team I never really knew about until the tournament . . . (you know) that any team could beat you in the tournament.

    Read more!
    Wednesday, March 23, 2005
    We had a blast

    Self apologizes

    Biggest upset?

    Don't tease Nagy

    Props for Bison
    Tuesday, March 22, 2005
    Big night for small town team

    Crusaders season ends

    Mop up time
    Monday, March 21, 2005
    The clock strikes midnight

    A point well made

    Accolades for McNaughton

    Debunking myths

    View from the bars

    Let's not forget
    Sunday, March 20, 2005
    HC women ousted

    Quick quotes from OKC

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