Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Great stuff, as usual, from the Holy Cross coach's Web site today. At the risk of repeating ourselves, this site ought to be on every Patriot League fan's favorites list.

In today's post, Ralph talks about the Vermont game, including why three starters sat at the beginning of that contest and the officiating of that loss.

Coach Ralph.com always gives interesting insite into the mind of a coach. If only more coaches were so open and willing to communicate their thoughts.

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(Originally posted Tuesday night, updated at 7:03 a.m.)

Lafayette 57, Cornell 43: Look out naysayers. Fran O'Hanlon's Leopards are 3-2 and just wins over Penn and Harvard away from claiming the Ivy League crown. Or at least they would be if they played Harvard (Lafayette is at Penn Jan. 16).

How this success will translate against scholarship schools is anybody's guess, but with back-to-back wins over Princeton and Cornell, Lafayette has shown one thing for sure: The 'Pards can D it up. Lafayette limited Cornell to 17 first half points, 43 for the game, and just 30 percent shooting from the floor. This just two days after doing a similar number on Princeton.

Yes, this is the same team that gave up 80 points to Division III Alvernia. Go figure.

Bilal Abdullah again was in double figures, finishing with 10 points. Paul Cummins had 12 off the bench to lead Lafayette. Nobody in double figures for Cornell.

Combined with Colgates double OT win over Dartmouth, the Patriot League has taken the lead in the season series with the Ivy League.

Our old friend Corky Blake said it best in his game story in the Express-Times:
The undersized Leopards (3-2), win or lose, will be fun to watch this winter.
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    Connecticut 68, Army 54: A sluggish start for No. 3 UConn allowed Army to hang around. But the Black Knights simply lacked the firepower to take advantage of the Huskies off night. UConn outscored Army 30-8 in the paint. The Huskies outrebounded the Black Knights 41-26 and scored 31 points off 19 Army turnovers.

    A quick synopsis from the Stamford (Ct.) Advocate goes something like this:
    Frankly, UConn played like it was still five time zones away in Hawaii where it captured the Maui Invitational.

    "We out-talented Army. But they outworked us," Calhoun said. "We were loggy (lethargic). Army grinded the game down. And we played along by making bad decision after bad decision after bad decision."

    The Cadets (2-3) were skinny but disciplined Lilliputians on the court, milking the 35-second shot clock each and every possession. Army actually led 22-16 with 6:50 remaining in the first half.
    Jarell Brown led Army with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 4 treys.
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    Colgate 65, Dartmouth 64 (2 OT): From the AP story:
    Jon Simon scored 16 points and made a 16-foot jumper with less than a second left in double overtime to give Colgate a 65-64 win over Dartmouth Tuesday night.

    Alvin Reed, Kyle Chones and Kyle Roemer each scored 11 points for the Raiders (3-3).
    Kendall Chones returned to the Colgate lineup and scored 8 points in 31 minutes of action. Also, Marc Daniels, the 6-9 center that Emmitt Davis raved about in the preseason, has apparently lost his starting job after averaging around 3 rebounds and 2 points per game as a starter in the 'Gate's first five contests.
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    Loyola (Md.) 68, American 60: Down 20 at the half, AU battled back to get within one, but could not quite dig themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into in the first half.

    Lina Lekavicius, Derrick Mercer and Arvydas Eitutavicius each finsihed with 14 for AU. Andre Ingram was held to 6.
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    Lehigh 67, Eastern 48: Kyle Neptune scored 18 points on six-of-nine shooting. Jason Mgebroff added a season-high 10 points, while freshman Greg Page was also in double figures against Division III Eastern with a career-best 10 points.
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    BUCKNELL at Niagara 7 p.m.: This is no gimme for the Bison. Niagara, who like Bucknell appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season, has an 18 game win streak in the Gallagher Center. Granted, this is a very different Purple Eagles team, one that graduated three starters, including guard Alvin Cruz, who had 21 points against the Bison in last year's 76-74 BU win at Sojka, and forward Juan Mendez, who had 18. But forward J.R. Duffy, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds against BU last season, is back. Four of Niagara's five starters are averaging in double figures, led by swingman Charron Fisher, a 6-3 sophomore who is averaging 20 ppg while shooting 54.5 percent from three-point range. Junior guard Lorenzo Miles is close behind at 17.7 ppg. Clif Brown, a 6-7 junior is averaging 14 ppg and Duffy is chipping in 10.7 ppg. The fifth starter, 6-6 senior James Mathis, is averaging 9.7 ppg.

    Depth, though, is a problem for Niagara. Only two other players have scored for the Purple Eagles and between them they are averaging about 5 combined points per game.

    Turnovers have also been a concern for Niagara, Through three games they have 43 turnovers and only 27 assists. Shooting has also been a concern. The Purple Eagles are shooting only 41.6 percent as a team. Neither of those stats bode well against Bucknell's defense.

    One strength for Niagara has been free throw shooting. The Purple Eagles have been to the line 23 times more than their opponents (84-61) and have been taking full advantage, shooting 81 percent from the stripe.
    Bucknell notes | Niagara notes | USA Today matchup |Bucknell Radio

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    Check out the headline of the prep sports roundup in today's Los Angeles Daily News:
    Bucknell-bound senior leads Chaminade boys' basketball team to victory
    A year ago, the Daily News would probably have written "Chaminade's Evans leads ..." Not enough folks in L.A. would have recognized Bucknell for it to be a significant descriptor. It might have been mentioned in the story that Evans is signed with the Bison, but in a headline? In L.A.? Highly doubtful.

    Just another little sign of how Bucknell's stature has changed in the past 11 months.

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    From Jake Curtis in the San Francisco Chronicle, an interesting column on the rise of the Mid-Majors in college hoops.

    Bucknell is mong the schools figuring prominently in Curtis' piece:
    Obviously, the gap between the major conferences and the less publicized conferences is narrowing, and in the case of Bucknell, essentially has disappeared. The Bison have the same starting five that beat Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March and also beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh early last season when the Panthers were ranked No. 10. Syracuse was well aware of how good Bucknell is, but lost nonetheless.

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    Tuesday, November 29, 2005
    (Originally posted Monday at 9:32 p.m., updated at 7:38 a.m.)

    Holy Cross shook up its lineup but could not shake out a win at Vermont.

    Pat Doherty and Lawrence Dixon started in place of Kevin Hamilton and Torey Thomas at the guard spots, with Colin Cunningham instead of Alex Vander Baan at one of the forwards.

    According to the story in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette News, Willard sat the three starters because of an unspecified attitude problem during a film session Monday:
    "This was not a disciplinary action," Willard noted. "We do certain things in this program at a particular attitude level, and they weren't at their level at (Monday's) film session. Nobody was late and nobody missed anything. The attention to detail wasn't being done."
    Ironically, the situation happened a day before a story would appear in Thomas' hometown paper in which Torey talked about the need for him to play a leadershiprole on this year's team.

    .All three players did see action off of the bench. The loss could hardly be blamed on their not starting.

    It was the Crusaders big men who were a problem. Kevin Hyland and Alex Vander Baan both fouled out and Tim Clifford had three personals in the first half. All while trying to slow Vermont junior center Martin Klimes, who finished with 22 points to lead all scorers.

    Willard told the T&G:
    "We got into foul trouble right away and their 43 free throws to our 13 -- that's quite a disparity," Crusader head coach Ralph Willard said. "The rebound edge hurt us, too, but the free throws determined the game."
    Vermont shot 53 percent from the floor in the first half, building a 34-36 lead. The Crusaders came back to take the lead briefly in the second half, then Vermont went on a 12-0 run to take control.

    Holy Cross battled back, cutting it to 67-64 with 16 seconds to go, but could get no closer.

    HC's defense was better in the second half, holding Vermont to 36 percent shooting. But the way Vermont dominated the glass, it hardly mattered. Klimes finished with 9 boards. Forward Chris Holm chipped in with an 11-points, 11-rebounds double-double. As a team, Vermont outrebounded HC 40-22.

    Guard Mike Trimboli was also a headache for HC, scoring 21 points, most of which came from the foul line.

    Keith Simmons led Holy Cross with 18 points. Hamilton chipped in with 14. Doherty was 4-for-4 from the arc for 12 points.
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    Dartmouth at COLGATE 7 p.m.: Dartmouth comes in 1-1 with a win over UC Davis, a loss to Boston College. Coached by Terry Dunn, former Penn State coach Jerry Dunn's twin brother, Dartmounth has eight freshmen on its 17 man roster, but only one, guard DeVon Mosley, sees significant minutes. Junior guard Leon Pattman (6-2) does not start, but he leads Dartmouth in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg). 6-3 senior Mike Lang is also in double figures, averaging 12.5 ppg with 7-of-11 shooting from the arc thus far. No other Dartmouth player has more than 2 treys. Colgate's Kendall Chones, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, is not listed as a starter in the Raiders' game notes. He is listed with the reserves, with no further update on his availability. With him, the 'Gate ought to win this one at home. Without Kendall Chones, its a pick 'em sort of game.
    Colgate notes (pdf) | Dartmouth notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | 'Gate radio


    AMERICAN at Loyola (Md.) 9 p.m.:A late start for Comcast Sports Net (Mid-Atlantic) for a game against American's most-played rivalry. In the 79 years AU has had a team, it has played Loyola 77 times. AU comes in winless in three starts. Loyola is 2-0 with wins over Towson and UMBC. Senior guard Andre COllins (6-0) leads Loyola, averaging 21.5 ppg.
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    ARMY at Connecticut 7 p.m.: A matchup of one of the worst teams in Division I and one of the best. How great is the divide between these two programs? If Army loses by less than 25 points it would be an upset. As the preview in the Bristol Press points out, "The undersized Black Knights have nearly matched their win total from last year, when they went 3-24. But the good news for Army ends there."
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    Cornell at LAFAYETTE 7 p.m.: Leopards look to make it three-in-a-row when Ivy upstarts Cornell come to town. Cornell already has a win over a Kendall Chones-less Colgate and looks to make it 2-0 vs. Patriot League teams. Familiarity is the theme. The 2-3 Big Red are coached by Steve Donahue, who was an assistant to Fran O'Hanlon at Monsignor Bonner HS during the 1987-88 campaign, helping guide Bonner to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship. Both men later served as assistant coaches at Penn under Fran Dunphy. Cornell sophomore Khaliq Gant and Lafayette sophomore Bilal Abdullah were teammates Marion-Tabor Academy.
    Lafayette notes | Cornell notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker

    Eastern at LEHIGH 7 p.m.: D-3 Eastern comes in 3-0 after winning the first-ever men's game played at Immaculata College. The Eagles have nobody on the roster over 6-6. The other two Eastern wins came over Valley Forge Christian and Maryland Bible, proving there are cupcakes at every level. This time, though, Eastern gets to be on the other side of that equation.
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    In his weekly awards column at ESPN.com, Dick Vitale proclaims:
    COACH OF THE WEEK: Pat Flannery, Bucknell

    Last season, he led the Bison to upsets over Pittsburgh and Kansas. This season, an experienced Bucknell team went into the Carrier Dome and stunned Jim Boeheim's ranked Orange. Bucknell didn't have any letdown when it beat Yale to end the week, 87-60.

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    Monday, November 28, 2005
    From this afternoon's ESPN.com: SPORTSNATION Chat with hoops guru Andy Katz:
    Dave, Washington DC: Can you give Syracuse some respect for playing Bucknell. A mid-major that others are scared to play and we learned why. I don't want to have ESPN call Syracuse's schedule a cupcake schedule when they play the top mid majors in the country that others are afraid of.

    Andy Katz: (4:19 PM ET ) Syracuse has done a tremendous job this season of scheduling traditionally tough mid-major teams (UTEP, Kent State and TCU are on the schedule too although they have struggled at times this season). Bucknell got a few teams to bite this season with Villanova playing the Bison at home and Saint Joseph's returning a game. Duke could get an undefeated Bucknell on Jan. 2.
    Memo to Andy: The Villanova game is the middle of a two-for-one deal, with the Bison returning to Villanova next year. That deal was done before Bucknell started knocking off people last season. It does not hurt, either, that Nova coach Jay Wright is a BU alum.

    As for the undefeated Bison at Duke in January, I am sure a network showing that game nationally would love that maybe even more than the Bucknell fans. Not sure it is very realiztic, though. Time, of course, will tell.

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    The top 4 stay the same in the latest Mid-Major poll, but No. 5 is Bucknell, up three spots from its preseason No. 8 ranking.

    Holy Cross still is among "others receiving votes" with 8. No other Patriot League teams received votes.

    Bucknell also picked up significant votes in the latest AP and ESPN-Coaches Top 25 polls.

    In the AP Poll, the Bison are fourth among the "others receiving votes" with 73 votes. In a display of everything wrong with these polls, Syracuse, who Bucknell beat on its own floor last week, still is getting twice as many (175) votes as Bucknell. Syracuse fell from the top 25 to the top of the "others receiving" list in this week's poll.

    Not on this guy's ballot, though. Jerry Brewer of the Louisville Courier-Journal had BU at No. 24, Syrcause at 25.

    In the latest USA Today-ESPN Top 25, the Bison received 22 points, one behind North Carolina. That ranks unofficially No. 32 in that poll. Again, curiously, Syracuse is ahead of Bucknell, ranked No. 24 with 94 points.

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    HOLY CROSS at Vermont 7 p.m.: What a difference a year makes. T.J. Sorrentine is playing in Italy. Supposed NBA sure thing Taylor Coppenrath is playing in Greece. Charismatic coach Tom Brennan is now x-ing and o-ing on ESPN. It's a very different scene in Burlington, where new coach Mike Lonergan and a bunch of youngsters have struggled to a 1-3 start. The Catamounts have no seniors. Two redshirt juniors are the only non freshmen and sophomores on the roster.

    Don't let the record fool yoiu, though. While they are no match for last year's team that went to the second round of the NCAA TOurnament, Vermont is still no slouch. The three losses were to three pretty fair teams: Harvard (65-57), which already has a win over HC; Providence (87-77); and Nevada (77-62). The Catamounts beat Wagner (a team that was 2-0 with a win over American) in their last outing.

    According to the scouting report in the >HC game notes:
    Freshman guard Mike Trimboli leads the team in scoring with an average of 17.3 points per game, in addition to handing out a team-best 26 assists. Junior center Martin Klimes has averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 rebounds so far this year, while sophomore guard Ryan Schneider has added 12.8 points and 6.0 boards per game.
    The Catamounts have decent size and should test Holy Cross' weakness upfront.

    If Kevin Hamilton is anywhere near 100 percent, Holy Cross should have a decent shot at picking up the road win. If Hamilton is still hobbled, expect another long night for the Crusaders.
    HC notes | Vermont notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | HC radio

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    Another tough night for league teams, with Lehigh getting spanked at Villanova and Air Force continuing its domination of Navy. Only Lafayette managed to save face for the league, knocking off Princeton to provide an unexpected boost in the league's season series with the Ivies.

    Lafayette 57, Princeton 46 -- Lafayette holds Princeton to 13 points in the first half and goes on to knock off the Tigers 57-46, raising the inevitable question: Is Princeton that bad or is Lafayette much better than expected? Ted Detmer, a 6-7 sophomore, had a big game for the 'Pards, 10 points, 8 boards, 4 steals. Bilal Abdullah, another soph, led Lafayette with 15 points. Abdullah also pulled 7 rebounds. Senior Andrei Capusan (6-7) also reached double figures with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Detmer, Capusan and Abdullah were a combined 14-for-19 from the field. The rest of the Leopards: 7-for-27.
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    Villanova 84, Lehigh 47 --Allan Ray hit 8 threes, Randy Foye added 5 more. This is what happens to teams when Villanova shoots like that. All told, a school record 17 threes for Nova.

    Potential good news for Lehigh: freshman John Gourlay had 8 points. Jose Olivero (15) was the only Lehigh player to score more.
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    Air Force 64, Navy 55 -- Backup center John Frye, a 6-foot-10 junior from Fredericksburg, who had played all of 29 minutes in his first two seasons at Air Force, started for the first time and scored 26 points to lead the Fly Boys, whose seniors have never lost to Navy.

    Fry, who had just 20 points in his career entering the game, filled in for injured center Nick Welch, who is out for the season.

    Another tough night for Navy's Matt Fannin, who is out of the starting lineup for the Mids. Fannin played just 13 minutes, fouling out with 7 points. Guards Corey Johnson and Kaleo Kina eachhad 14 points for the Mids.
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    Air Force at NAVY 9 p.m.: The 9 p.m. start is for College Sports Television, which could not show the game earlier because it has junior college volleyball at 1 p.m, water polo at 6 p.m. and a bunch of Total Access and On the Road psuedo documentary shows between the end of the water polo match and the start of the Air Force-Navy game. (We trust there is no need for us to repeat last year's rant about how CSTV is like the Wayne's World of sports). Air Force, under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik is 3-1, with wins over Miami of the ACC, Northern Arizona and two Division II teams. The lone loss came at Washington. With 6-8 senior center Nick Welch out of action following knee surgery, Bzdelik's seven-man rotation has just one player over 6-5. Air Force has won the last three meetings of the two, but Navy won the last time the two met in Annapolis (86-46 in Nov. 2003).
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    LAFAYETTE at Princeton 3 p.m.: Last year Princeton surviived for a 40-38 win in Easton. Just goes to show, you never know. This is not your father's Princeton team, but the Tigers, fresh off a 10-point win at Lehigh, should have more than enough to win this catfight with the Leopards.
    Lafayette notes | Princeton notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker

    LEHIGH at No. 4 Villanova 7:30 p.m.: For what it is worth, the two have a common opponent in Stony Brook. Villanova, at home, beat Seahwaks 78-35; Lehigh won 58-54 at Stony Brook. Even with Joe Knight, this is uphill for Lehigh. Without him, ugly might be a kind description of the expected outcome.
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    (Originally posted: Saturday, 10:27 p.m.)

    Pat Flannery wanted to make sure his team would not suffer from a letdown after its big upset of Syracuse Tuesday night. With Ivy League middle-of-the-packer Yale coming to town, the last thing the Bucknell coach wanted was for the Bison to be complacent about the threat the Bulldogs posed.

    After all, in each of the past two seasons, Yale has been a tough game for the Bison. Two years ago, Yale came into Bucknell's Sojka Pavilion and snuck away with a one-point win. Last year the Bison returned the favor in New Haven, but not until after being pushed to overtime.

    "We said this is a great game to gauge how much better we have gotten," said Flannery.

    If Bucknell's 87-60 win tonight really is a measuring stick, then the Bison are much, much better.

    The Bison jumped out to a 16-2 lead early, and save a brief stretch of about four minutes in the middle of the first half, they were dominant throughout.

    During that four minute stretch, with some unusual combinations on the floor due to a combination of foul trouble the disciplinary benching of starting point guard Abe Badmus and sixth-man Donald Brown, the Bison struggled on offense and lost focus on defense. After making 7 of its first 10 shots, Bucknell went scoreless for a 4:01 stretch, during which it turned the ball over 4 times and missed both shots it took.

    At the other end, a Yale team that had made just three of its first 11 shots, knocked down 5 out of 6, put together a 17-2 run and momentarily stunned the 2,950 fans in Sojka Pavilion by taking a 19-18 lead.

    That, though, pretty much accounted for the Yale highlight film. Bucknell took the lead back on a Chris McNaughton jumper its next trip down the floor and never trailed. The Bison knocked down 11 of their next 14 shots while going almost 10 minutes without a turnover. At the other end, the defense picked up, too, holding Yale to one field goal the final 8:47 of the half.

    At the break it was 47-32 Bucknell. An 8-1 run to start the second half built the margin to 55-33 and the Bison never led by less than 16 after that.

    "We had a couple of hiccups, but I like what we did," Flannery said.

    What was not to like. Except for that short first half stretch, much of which happened with at least one of Bucknell's three freshmen on the floor, the Bison dominated every phase of the game.

    The Bison scored inside (Chris McNaughton 7-for-7, 15 points, Charles Lee 12 points) and they scored outside, hitting 10 three-pointers, including 4 by Kevin Bettencourt, who finished with a team-high 17 points, 3 by sophomore John Griffin and a pair by Badmus, who was 2-for-2 from the arc and finished with 12 points to give Bucknell four guys in double figures.

    Bucknell shot 68 percent in the first half (19-28) and 60 percent in the second (15-25), making three quarters in a row the team has shot 60 percent or better.

    "We re pretty confident. We are shooting the ball real well. We really are in a rhythm," Bettencourt said.

    Credit much of that shooting show to good ball movement. The Bison seemed to always make the extra pass to find the open man, piling up 24 assists in the process, including 8 by Bettencourt and 5 by Badmus, neither of whom had a turnover. Bucknell's 87 points was its biggest output this season. Making the total particularly impressive was the way the Bison scored most of those points off half court offense.

    "These guys are learning they can be really good when they concentrate and play smart and hard. We made the extra pass tonight and got a lot of easy looks . . . We are really tough to guard when we are unselfish," Flannery said.

    On defense they held Yale to 16-48 from the floor (33 percent) and forced 19 turnovers.

    "Our defense was outstanding other than that one stretch when we put a lot of young guys in," said Flannery.

    Eric Flato led Yale with 12 points, but that showing was offset some by his 5 turnovers (0 assists). Ross Morin and Travis Pinick each added 11 off the bench for Yale.

    The Bison now head on the road, traveling to Niagara Wednesday before flying to Chicago to face DePaul on Saturday, The Bison will return to Sojka Dec. 6 to host the No. 4 ranked Villanova Wildcats.
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    (Originally posted 1:29 a.m.)
    Quick hits and trivial tidbits from Bucknell's impressive home opener:

    QUICK DRAW – Bucknell has scored first in each of its three games so far. The same guy has scored the first basket in all three, Charles Lee.

    Lee scored off the break after a John Griffin steal to start Bucknell’s 16-2 early run against Yale. The 6-3 senior swingman finished with 12 points while grabbing a team-high 7 rebounds. Lee also had three assists without a turnover.

    Lee’s 12-point night is his season low. He scored 18 in the win over Syracuse and 13 at Rider.

    ONE OF A DOZEN – Bucknell’s Kevin Bettencourt moved into 12th place on Bucknell’s all-time scoring list with his 17-point showing against Yale. Bettencourt entered the game with 1,199 points, 14th all-time at BU. His new total of 1,216 pushes him past Joe Steiner (1,200) and Lorry Hathaway (1,208).

    Next spot on the list, No. 11, belongs to Chris Simpson (1229). Bettencourt still needs 111 to reach the school’s top 10 and 302 for top 5 status. AL Leslie’s school record 1,973 seems safe. Bettencourt would need to average over 27 ppg to catch Leslie. That calculation assumes 28 more games, meaning a trip to the finals of the league and at least one postseason game of some sort.

    GERMAN MARKSMANSHIP: If he keeps shooting the way he has to start the season, Chris McNaughton will easily set a school record for field goal percentage. Through three games, McNaughton, who was 7-for-7 against Yale, is shooting 2-for-26 from the field. That is just a tick under 77 percent.

    The school single season record belongs to Patrick King, who shot 67 percent his junior year. King also is ahead of McNaughton on the school’s career list, but McNaughton has narrowed the gap thus far. King shot 63.8 percent over his Bison career. Entering the season, McNaughton’s career mark stood at 62.6 percent. With his hot start, McNaughton has raised that to 63.3 percent.

    King, who had German, as well as British and American citizenship, played professionally for several years in Germany and now works as an agent there.

    CAMEOS: With Abe Badmus and Donald Brown each sitting out the first 10 minutes of the game as punishment for what Pat Flannery referred to as an “academic priorities matter,” and Darren Mastropaolo and Tarik Viaer-McClymont in early foul trouble, Flannery was forced to go deeper into his bench in the first half than he had in the first two games.

    Freshman point guard Justin Castleberry saw the first action of his college career, playing five minutes, four in the first half. Josh Linthicum played a season-high seven minutes and Bucknell’s third freshman, Jason Vegotsky, who has been advertised as a sniper, finally knocked down his first three-pointer after going 0-4 outside the arc, 0-5 overall. Vegotsky, who played just four minutes at Syracuse after logging 13 minutes at Rider, played 11 minutes.

    The two guys at the far end of Flannery’s bench, 6-5 senior Holland Mack and 6-3 sophomore Rob Thomas, each saw their first two minutes of action this season.

    BISON CHIPS: Bucknell has now won 12 straight home games . . . The Bison have not lost in Sojka in over a year. . . . the last Sojka setback was Nov. 222, 2004, a 70-65 defeat at the hands of St. Francis, Pa. . . . the 3-0 start is Bucknell’s first since 1999-2000 and only the school’s second 3-0 start since 1983-84 . . . Bucknell’s usual backcourt starters-- Bettencourt, Lee and Badmus – combined for 41 points, 16 assists, 0 turnovers against Yale . . . For his career, Lee is averaging a 13.3-points, 10.3-rebounds double-double against Yale . . . McNaughton is nearly as good, averaging 12.3 points and 8 rebounds

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    The Citadel 70, Army 68 (OT): Matt Bell's 26 points and five assists are wasted in a classic example of a team that expects to lose finding a way to live down to those expectations. Army squandered a 10-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation. At home, no less. Army missed six straight foul shots in the last 1:30 of regulation and had two good looks in the final four seconds of regulation. Overall, Army shot just 16 of 28 from the line.
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    LaSalle 75, American 63: Steven Smith lights up AU with 31 points, 13 rebounds. Andre Ingram held to 3-10 from the field, 8 points.
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    New Hampshire 60, Colgate 52: Kendall Chones still out. Colgate is not the same team without him. Kyle Roemer (17) the only Raider in double figures. UNH shot 55 percent in the first half, building a 10-point lead at the break and the 'Gate could not recover.
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    New Hampshire at COLGATE 1 p.m.: Bill Herrion takes over as coach at UNH and looks to have a tough road ahead in his first season. Already off to an 0-3 start, the Wildcats still have non-league games with Harvard, Penn State, North Carolina State and UConn. All three losses have come on the road, two in close games (64-61 at Columbia in the opener, 64-62 vs. Quinnipiac in the consolation game of the Columbia tournament). The third was a 75-51 blowout at Providence. The Wildcats also lost an exhibition against DII Merrimack, the team picked to finish ninth in the Northeast-10 conference. Australian import Blagoj Janev (13.3 ppg), a 6-8 junior, is UNH's leading scorer. A young team, UNH has one senior, guard Georges Djanabia, who has been seeing very little time (3.3 mpg). Janev is one of three juniors. Colgate's notes show Kendall Chones returning to the lineup. Chones (15 ppg) missed the loss at Cornell due to injury. Chones, who has scored in double figures each of the three games he has played, leads Colgate in scoring His brother Kyle (6 rpg) is the team's leading rebounder. Kyle turned in his first career (16 points, 10 rebounds) in the loss at Cornell.
    Colgate notes (pdf) | UNH Web site | USA Today matchup

    The Citadel at ARMY 1 p.m.: Army tries to put together a three-game win streak for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The Citadel is 2-2, but it is tough to tell much about the Bulldogs from their record. Two losses came to Delaware and North Carolina State, the wins over Stetson and an NAIA team. Senior guard Dante Terry (6-2) leads Citadel in scoring (11.8 ppg). Soph Demetrius Nelson (6-8) does not start, but also averages in double figures (10.3 ppg). Junior J'mel Everhart leads the team in rebounding (9.3 rpg) while chipping in 8.5 ppg.
    Army notes (pdf) | Citadel notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker

    AMERICAN at La Salle 2 p.m.:American will have its hands full with LaSalle's 6-9 senior Steven Smith, last season's Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Year. A legit All-America candidate, Smith scored 15 and grabbed 9 boards in an opening night win over Maryland-Baltimore County. He averaged 20.3 ppg and 8.5 rpg last season. Smith mulled a jump to the NBA and decided to return for his senior season to try to improve his draft position. Smith was told at last year's pre-draft camp in Chicago that he would have been a late first to mid second round pick if he came out early. Suffice to say Brayden Billbe will have his hands full. Senior guard Jermaine Thomas (6-2) had 17 off the bench against UMBC. Sophomore guard Darnell Harris (6-1) added 13 points.
    AU notes | Saint Joseph's notes | USA Today matchup | LaSalle radio

    Yale at BUCKNELL 7 p.m.: All the makings of a classic trap game. Coming off the big win over Syracuse. It's BU's home-opener, but the students are on break so the crowd will likely be much smaller and much quieter than when they are in town. One edge for BU, Yale's leading returning scorer, 6-10 senior Dominick Martin, who has one semester of eligibility left, won't play until the first semester ends on Dec. 18. In his stead, 6-10 junior Matt Kyle has been starting at center, but Kyle is averaging just one point and less than 3 rebounds per game. Yale's leading scorer is junior Sam Kaplan (6-7, 225) who is scoring 17.7 ppg. Caey Hughes, a 6-5 swingman, has been in double figures in rebounds all three games.
    Bucknell notes | Yale notes | USA Today matchup |Bucknell Radio

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    The Crusaders made a game of it for 20 minutes at Cincinnati, holding the Bearcats to 37.5 shooting from the field in the first half. But after ending the first half up by 3, 29-26, UC opened the second half with a 16-3 run and never looked back, cruising to a 77-55 win over HC.

    Cincinnati shot 59.3 percent in the second half. Depending on who does the talking, that was either because the Bearcats figured out HC's matchup or simply wore the Crusaders down

    From the Cincinnati Enquirer story:
    "I think we figured out their defense pretty good in the second half," (James) White said. "You're not used to playing a defense like that. They get you standing around a little bit playing a zone, but it's kind of matched up, kind of odd. We had to get used to it a little bit."
    White finished with 19 to lead all scorers.

    Ralph Willard had a slightly different take on the second half:
    "I think they just wore us down physically," said Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard. "We allowed them to go one-on-one (in the second half). In the first half, we did a good job of denying that."
    Kevin Hamilton finished with 13 points and Keith Simmons added 12 for HC. No other Crusader scored more than 7 points. Hamilton, still slowed by a bruised hip, was 4-for-18 from the floor. As a team, HC shot 30.2 percent and turned the ball over 19 times.

    It did not help Holy Cross any when 6-11 Tim Clifford picked up two quick fouls, his third and fourth, in a 34-second span early in the second half. Clifford played only 11 minutes before fouling out, leaving an already undermanned HC frontcourt even thinner.
    Box score

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    Friday, November 25, 2005
    Only one game on tap for Patriot Leaguers tonight, Holy Cross at Cincinnati.

    Follow the action with the scoreboards and the links below the game capsule. We will check in later this morning after we get back from a Black Friday quest for a discount laptop.

    Patriot League scoreboards
    ESPN | CBS Sportsline | PennLive.com | Yahoo!


    HOLY CROSS at Cincinnati, 8 p.m.: Don't be too quick to write this one off for Holy Cross. Cincinnati has never beaten HC, although the last game in the series was played in 1980 and a lot has happened to Bearcats basketball since then. The most recent development, of course, was the departure of Bob Huggins, who arrived in Cincinnati in 1989 and went on to win 74 percent of his games before being forced out by the school's new president. Under Huggins, the Bearcats played in 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

    His replacement, Andy Kennedy, was a Huggins assistant and has the Bearcats off to a 2-0 start, with wins over Murray State and Illinois State. Cincinnati needed overtime to get past Murray State, the team picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference. The Racers are ranked 21 in the preseason Mid-Majors poll, so they are no slouch. But if they could play with Cinci on the Bearcats floor, who is to say a team that plays defense like Holy Cross usually does cannot hang, too?

    Of course that means HC needs to guard better than it did against Harvard the other night. But what are the odds of a Ralph Willard team letting somebody shoot like that two games in a row? And Cincinnati, while certainly likely to be way more athletic than the Crimson, is not as big up front. Their tallest starter is 6-8. They go 6-6 at both the two and three and 5-11 at the point.

    The guy Holy Cross needs to neutralize is the two-man, James White, who is very big (6-7) for a two and presents a real matchup problem for Holy Cross. White is averaging 19.5 points through the Bearcats' first two games.

    The Crusaders matchup zone ought to be able to keep a guy like White in check, though. White is a penetrator, more scorer than shooter. He is shooting just 3-11 from three-point range, but has scored 10 of his 39 points thus far from the foul line -- a sign of a guy who likes to go to the hole.

    Holy Cross' guards should be quick enough to keep White in front of them and out of the lane. Especially if he can't make them respect his perimeter abilities. The Crusaders also are big enough to force White to dish if he does find a seam off the dribble, especially when Tim Clifford is on the floor.

    The big question, though, is, even if they can keep Cincinnati in check, can HC score enough to turn that defensive effort into a W? That might be tough given the size of Holy Cross' guards. Certainly they won't be able to shoot over them. The Crusaders will need to get looks the old fashioned ways with ball movement and screening, working hard every possession. They will need to battle on the boards, especially at their defensive end. They cannot give the Bearcats multiple shots every possession.

    All that stuff is hard work. Hard work, especially against bigger, stronger and faster athletes, is tiring. Between injuries and inexperience, Willard cannot count on his bench for a ton of minutes, at least not yet. Mid-majors are always at risk of simply being worn down when they play majors like Cinci.

    It will be important for Holy Cross to start strong, and to be within single digits the whole first half. Fall behind early and the fatigue will set in quick. Stay close, or even lead, and adrenaline can do a lot for tired legs.

    Willard's teams rarely play poorly back to back. It is possible Holy Cross is not as good as they were expected to be this season. Maybe that Harvard game shows that. The more likely scenario, though, would seem to be that game was a fluke, a simple off night by a banged up basketball team. The Crusaders might not win against Cincinnati, but it will be a shock if they don't play the Bearcats tough.
    HC notes | Cincinnati notes | USA Today matchup | Cincinnati Enquirer Bearcats page | Gametracker | HC radio

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2005
    Harvard 70, Holy Cross 55: Jen Toland of the Telegram & Gazette writes:
    HC's starting guards -- Kevin Hamilton, Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas, who combined to shoot 51 percent in HC's first two games -- were a combined 13 for 42 from the field.
    Hamilton was playing hurt, nursing a hip injury. But the Crusaders were brutal from the arc, shooting 4-for-23.

    The Crusaders three big men -- starters Alex Vander Baan, Kevin Hyland and reserve Tim Clifford combined for only 16 points.

    This is the problem Holy Cross will have on some nights until it develops more of an inside game to compliment its stellar group of guards.

    Another problem, uncharacteristic poor defense. Harvard shot 53 percent from the field against the Crusaders.

    Could somebody explain to me how the Globe and the Herald could both ignore this game?
  • Ralph's take on the game
  • Box score

    Cornell 69, Colgate 56: Colgate played without Kendall Chones, who is out with an injury.
  • Colgate story
  • Box score

    Arkansas Little Rock 61, Navy 57: Mids rally falls short in UALR's new gym, which was bought, by the way, by a Navy alum.
  • Annapolis Capital
  • Box score

    Wagner 75, American 59: Andre Ingram must have thought he was playing against Bucknell after a 5-for-19 night in AU's loss.
  • Staten Island Advance
  • Box score

    Lafayette 86, Alvernia 80: Problems with a D3 don't bode well for O'Hanlon's Leopards.
  • Express-Times story
  • Box score

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  • From Andre Williams' story in the Morning Call on Lehigh's win at Stony Brook:
    (Joe) Knight, the Mountain Hawks' top returning scorer, was officially ruled ineligible on Monday by the NCAA until after the fall semester, Lehigh announced in a release following a 58-54 non-league victory over Stony Brook Tuesday night at Stabler Arena.
    Knight's return to the court might help fix what ails Lehigh's basketball team, but can anything restore the damage Lehigh's athletic department has done to its credibility?

    Forget for a moment the obvious question of what Knight was doing in a Lehigh uniform in the first place and focus on how the matter has been handled by the school. First there was silence. Then a report that Knight was injured. Now, finally, the truth, at least as far as why Knight is out.

    But the truth about how Knight came to be at Lehigh in the first place is yet to be discovered.

    For those not up to speed on the saga of Juco Joe, here's some background, courtesy Williams' story:
    Knight played his first two seasons at High Point University in North Carolina 2001-03, then spent a year focusing strictly on academics at Tarrant Community College in Arlington, Texas, before transferring to Lehigh.
    Williams doesn't mention that Knight didn't leave High Point because he didn't like the cafeteria food. He left because of academic problems.

    Why a kid from Tennessee chose a community college in Texas, we do not know. The Tarrant Web site mentions internet and distance learning programs; could that be how Knight matriculated?

    Whether he was on campus or on the Web, it really makes little difference. The bottom line is Knight went from being in academic trouble at Furniture U., which is not known as the Harvard of the South, to a community college in Texas to Lehigh, which is allegedly one of the top academic institutions in the nation.

    In fairness to Knight, we don't know the kid. Maybe he scored 1600 on his boards and chose High Point for the climate, for all we know. Maybe he really does fit the Lehigh scholar-athlete mold. We are all for giving people a chance to redeem themselves after a mistake, so if Knight did not take college seriously his first two years, we believe he deserves a second chance.

    We are not so sure that chance should come in the Patriot League, a league that, according to its Web site, "was founded on the principles of admitting athletes who are academically representative of their class."

    Maybe there are a lot of Lehigh students who couldn't cut it academically at lesser schools, went to community college and then went on to Lehigh. Maybe that stuff happens all the time.

    Maybe Army will win 20 games this season, too.

    The problem with the Knight situation is that it gives ammunition to all the scholarship naysayers who worried the schools would sell their academic soul to the basketball devil.

    You can bet there's more than a few folks in Easton pointing their fingers at Lehigh and arguing the Mountain Hawks went down to the crossroads and cut a deal.

    It hurts the whole league's reputation. After years of the league's presidents being able to go to NCAA meetings to argue that you can do things right. Now they risk seeming self-righteous.

    It hurts the image of a Bucknell team, that has made news for being an academic school that does things right in the classroom and on the court. Ditto for the rest of the league's teams. It hurts the image of Lehigh's other players, who will be viewed with skepticism since, after all, if you would do it for one guy to win, why wouldn't you for others?

    The league owes it to its student athletes, its schools and its fans to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the entire situation. Not just the credits in question, but the bigger question of how Knight came to be a Mountain Hawk.

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    It was a quiet night in Armory Square.

    Between the snow, students leaving for Thanksgiving break and the home team getting spanked by a school most fans had never even heard of before last March, the crowds in the Syracuse bars were non-existent last night.

    Inside the Blue Tusk, about a dozen folks huddled near the bar, enjoying the best beer selection in Syracuse. None of them looked as though they had been at the game. None showed much interest in the high def TV screen at the end of the bar. Except for the me, the guy sipping the pint of Flying Dog and watching Sportscenter.

    Eventually they showed hightlights of the Bucknell-SU game. But it was a segment on the Denver Nuggets that added some context to the evening. Most of the highlights involved the guy they call “Melo,” former Syracuse player Carmelo Anthony.

    You might remember Melo. As a freshman he helped Syracuse win a national title. As a sophomore he, err … uh … well, he never became a sophomore. Anthony left after that national title, having already reached the pinnacle of college hoops. Had he stayed in college to get his degree, he would, come next May, be extremely well qualified for an entry level position in corporate America, earning a fraction of the millions he makes in the NBA.

    Obviously there was not a lot of upside to staying in school for Anthony. The downside of his early departure, though, is very evident in this year’s Orangemen team. Watching Melo light up an NBA foe on Sportscenter, it was hard not to think about how good Syracuse might be this season had he stuck around for four years.

    So maybe Jim Boeheim can be excused for being less than gracious in defeat last night, preferring to talk about how bad his team is, instead of giving Bucknell its props for pulling off it’s third upset of a Top 20 team in less than a year.

    “It’s about our team. It is not about the teams we are playing. We are not playing very well,” Boeheim said.

    They were saying the same sort of stuff in Kansas last March. Matter of fact, they kept saying it all summer. Similar thoughts were muttered in Pittsburgh back in January.

    “There is a reason nobody respected us in the polls. We are not very good,” said Boeheim.

    To Boeheim and Syracuse, no respect means being ranked in the second 10, not the top 10. Imagine how that might have sounded to Bucknell, which returns all five starters and seven of its top eight from a team that beats Saint Joe’s, Pitt and Kansas, all away from home, yet managed only four points in the latest AP poll.

    “Bucknell is good, but they won at Rider by 2 points,” said Boeheim, dissing the Broncs and the Nison in the same sentence.

    Pat Flannery refused to comment when asked how Syracuse might fare if they played at Rider, too.

    Flannery was too busy heaping praise on the Orangemen.

    “They are certainly athletic and big. It was the first chance I ever got to watch Gerry McNamara on the floor, other than watching him put on shows in high school. That was real special, to get to see him play in his senior year. They are very good,” said Flannery.

    At the same time, Flannery does not need Boeheim to tell him how good his team is.

    “We came in here and played a good basketball team and we proved we are a good basketball team,” Flannery said.

    “I know I have a nice team . . . You have to be real, and the real part of it is we can play. We can play people. We can do a lot of different things. Our bench has been a real plus for us this year in both games, because we got in foul trouble in both of them. We have the bench. We have some size. We have some kids that can shool. We have a pretty good point guard who is as quick as they come. We have pretty good ingredients.”

    They have something else Syracuse does not have – an unbeaten record.

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2005
    People noticed Bucknell when they beat Saint Joseph’s and Pittsburgh last season. They threw psuedo awards at them after they knocked off Kansas.

    Suddenly they were the next big thing. People in Missouri worshipped them. Voters, other than just John Feinstein, put them on their AP poll ballots. People started making comparisons to schools like Gonzaga.

    Then the Bison when they opened the season with a narrow two-point win at Rider, and people started doubting. Maybe last season was a fluke. Maybe the Bison are not as good as projected.

    They will doubt no more, though, not after the Bison beat No. 17 Syracuse 74-69 in front of 20,490 stunned fans in the Orangemen’s almost impenetrable fortress on the tundra.

    The win was Bucknell’s second over a ranked Big East opponent in the past two seasons, both on the road, and its third over a Top 25 opponent in that span. It was Syracuse’s first non-conference loss in the Carrier Dome since Nov. 26, when the Orange lost to Charlotte. That season, you might recall, ended with Syracuse winning the national title.

    Over the last three seasons, the only other teams to win in the Dome were Pittsburgh, UConn and Notre Dame. Syracuse is 356-69 all-time in the dome, 203-13 in non-conference games.

    Traditional powers like Kentucky (0-2), Michigan (0-2) UCLA, Michigan State, Purdue, LSU, Marquette (0-2), Louisville (0-2), Missouri, Ohio State and Temple, all have come to the Carrier Dome and gone home without a win.

    The Bucknell victory might have shocked the Syracuse fans. It was no surprise to the Bison, who reacted matter-of-factly at the final buzzer. There was no on-court celebration. Little more than a few whops of joy as they headed under the bleachers to their locker room.

    “We wanted to act like we did this before,” said Bison captain Kevin Bettencourt, who led all scorers with 20 points. Nine of those came on three-pointers and two more on a layup that put Bucknell ahead for good, 62-60 with 2:47 to play. None of those were any bigger than the seven free throws Bettencourt knocked down (7-for-8) in the final 1:22 when Syracuse started fouling in an effort to extend the game.

    “We are a good team. We deserved to win this one,” Bettencourt said.

    Indeed they did. This was not decided by some fluke last second shot, or by Syracuse having an off night. This was simply a case of the better team winning. The Bison shot better – 53.2 percent from the field, including a sizzling 14-17 (82.4 percent) in the second half , to Syracuse’s 38.3 percent showing. Bucknell had more assists (19-16) and fewer turnovers (15-16).

    Even though the Bison were outrebounded 35-28, most of that margin was a carryover from the first half, when Syracuse took advantage of Bucknell foul trouble to take control of the boards in the last four minutes of the half. Most of that stretch was played with Bucknel’s sophomore power forward Darren Mastropaolo on the bench nursing two personals.

    During that four minute stretch, Syracuse went on a 12-3 run, overcoming Bucknell’s 8-point lead to takle a 28-27 edge at the break. Five of those points came from 6-9 Terrence Roberts, all following offensive rebounds. Roberts had 10 rebounds at the intermission, 7 on the offensive glass.

    “I didn’t feel bad at halftime. I just felt there was not much we could do, we had a lot of guys sitting down,” Flannery said.

    “In the second half, when they made their runs, they made some pretty deep threes, but it seemed to take Roberts out of it a little bit and we were keeping him off the glass.”

    Syracuse built its lead to as many as 7 points early in the second half, and was up by that margin when Demetris Nichols hit a three-pointer with 13:02 to play, making it a 47-40 Syracuse lead, bringing the Carrier Dome crowd to its feet.

    Bucknell answered with an 8-0 run, going ahead for the first time in the second half on a Charles Lee eight-footer with 10:20 left.

    “We have guys that have been around. They never panicked. When they hit some big ones that got the crowd into it, it seemed like we were able to come back and score,” Flannery said.

    Over the next four minutes it was a see-saw affair, with neither team able to go up by more than 4 through four lead changes and three ties. Then Bucknell took control. As is the Bison’s custom, it was the defense that made the difference.

    First Abe Badmus picked Gerry McNamara’s pocket at the top of the arc and went the other way for a layup to tie the game at 60-60. On Syracuse’s next trip down the floor, the Orange got the ball to 6-11 Darryl Watkins down low. But Watkins was stripped, Chris McNaughton came up with the loose ball and fired an outlet to Bettencourt who went in all alone to give Bucknell a lead it would never lose.

    After Badmus drove the lane and dished to McNaughton, who made an old-fashioned three-point play with a layup and a foul shot, giving the Bison a 65-60 lead. From there out it was a free throw shooting contest, and the Bison had no trouble in that department, knocking down 10-of-13 foul shots in the final 1:42.

    “We played with a lot of poise tonight,” said Flannery.

    Charles Lee finished with 18 points for Bucknell and McNaughton turned in a 15-point, 10 rebounds double-double.

    A line just as impressive as any in Bucknell’s box score came next to Badmus’ name. The junior point guard only scored 6 points, but he had 3 assists while turning the ball over only once and finished with four steals.

    Not seen in the box score is the job Badmus did on Syracuse standout Gerry McNamara, who finished with 18 points, but had to do yeomans’ work to get them. With Badmus draped across him most of the night, McNamara shot just 6-for-19 from the field (4-13 from three-point range) and turned the ball over 5 times.

    “Every point that (McNamara) got, I wanted to make him earn it,” Badmus said.

    Nichols led Syracuse with 19 points. Roberts, who had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in the first half, finished with 12 points and 11 boards.
    Box score

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    It's a bird. It's a plane ... no, it's Neil Fingleton, all 7-6 of him, back in a Boston Frenzy (ABA) uniform after having been drafted, then unceremoniously dumped, by the Austin Toros of the NBA's development league.

    Also on the Frenzy roster is Alexus Foyle, cousin of the only Patriot Leaguer to ever play in the NBA, Colgate's Adonal Foyle.

    Neil even has his own internet fan club these days.

    There are no stats on the Frenzy's site yet, but you can bet we will be watching.

    For those not up to date on the ABA, check out this story from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. In Rochester, over 6,000 fans came out to watch former Holy Cross big man Scot Martzloff and the RazorSharks in their opener. Suffice to say, not many 6,000-fan crowds show up for ABA games. In some cities, that is a season and a half's worth of attendance.

    Take for example the Niagara DareDevils, who drew announced crowds of around 200 for each of their first two home games.

    They had an excuse, of course:
    "The DareDevils will be OK," Rochester Razorsharks CEO Orest Hrywnak said Friday. "They bought a court from a company in Florida and it was destroyed in Hurricane Wilma. They had to rent a court on short notice and it ate up their marketing budget."
    Of course many ABA teams avoid that expense by playing in high school gyms, where there already is a floor.

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    Patriot League scoreboards
    ESPN | CBS Sportsline | PennLive.com | Yahoo!


    American at Wagner, 7 p.m.: four starters and 10 letterwinners are back from last season's young Seahawks team that won 11 of its last 13 a year ago, including two wins in the NEC Tournament. Picked to finish second in the NEC this time around. Potential matchup of the night: Wagner's 6-2 DeEarnest McLemore, the NEC Defensive Player of the Year, against AU's Andre Ingram, the Patriot League's No. 2 scorer last season.
    AU notes | Wagner notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | AU Radio

    Bucknell at No. 16 Syracuse, 7 p.m.: What began as a neutral court homecoming in Wilkes-Barre for SU's Gerry McNamara has wound up being a dome date with the Orangemen for the Bison, who went 1-1 in the Carrier Dome at the start of last season, losing to Princeton and beating Northern Colorado in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. The way he has played so far this season, McNamara has not exactly been putting on a show, anyhow. The Orange junior is shooting 26 percent from the field, 22 percent from three=point range. Juniors 6-8 Demetrius Nichols (14.3 ppg) and 6-9 Terrence Roberts (13.0 ppg) have been leading the Syracuse offense. The Orange are big, with six guys 6-8 or taller and nobody shorter than 6-2.
    BU notes | SU Web site | USA Today matchup | Post-Standard preview | Syracuse.com Orange hoops | BU Radio

    Colgate at Cornell, 7 p.m.: After knocking off St. Francis (Pa.) in its opener, Cornell has dropped back-to-back road games against major conference schools -- Syracuse and Penn State. Matchup of the night: How about Cornell's 6-6 all-league senior Lenny Collins against Colgate's 6-7 sophomore Kendall Chones?
    Colgate notes | Colgate notes | USA Today matchup | Cornell Daily Sun preview | Ithaca Journal preview | Gametracker | Cornell Radio | Colgate radio

    Harvard at Holy Cross, 8:30 p.m.: Harvard seven-footer Brian Cusworth had 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals in the Crimson's opening win over Vermont.

    Ralph Willard is back online at Ralph.com and he has a summary of the weekend in Williamsburg and a scouting report on Harvard that includes:
    Tuesday night we have our annual battle with Harvard. Coach Sullivan's team has what I feel is the best front court we will face all year with Cusworth and Stehle. Jimmy Goffredo, who we also recruited has really improved at the shooting guard spot and Harvard plays a very good man to man help defense and match-up zone.

    HC notes | Harvard Web site | USA Today matchup | HC Radio

    Stony Brook at Lehigh, 7 p.m.: Will he play or won't he? The Joe Knight watch continues.
    Lehigh notes | Stony Brook notes | USA Today matchup | Stony Brook Radio

    Navy at Arkansas-Little Rock, 8 p.m. You don't hear a lot about UALR, but under the radar they have a pretty nice program. The Trojans have won 17 or more in each of the last 12 seasons. Tonight they open a new gym. Navy will have its hands full.
    Navy notes | UA-LR notes | USA Today matchup | Navy Radio

    Alvernia at Lafayette, 7 p.m.: The D3 from Reading picks up a check; Lafayette picks up a win.
    LC site | Alvernia site | USA Today matchup

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    Army's on a genuine win streak after coming back from 6-points down late in the second half to knock off what has to be a pitiful VMI team.

    Coupled with Friday's win over some school known as Polytechnic, it gives the Black Knights two wins in a row for the first time since they won two at the start of the 2003-04 season. That similarly modest two-game win streak also included a win over a DIII-- Coast Guard Academy.

    It was also Army's first road win since 2003.

    And they did it with Matt Bell only pitching in 8 points. Jarell Brown was the only Army player in double figures, finishing with 21 points, his last two coming on a layup with 1.9 seconds to go that snapped a 49-49 tie.

    Here's the even crazier thing: Army now has a chance to put together a three-game win streak if it can knock off Citadel (1-2) at home on Saturday. It would be Army's first three-game streak since 2001-02, and yes, a DII team was part of that streak, too.

    Of course, since the home half of the two-game series with VMI comes after UConn, Columbia and Sacred Heart, odds of the streak reaching past three are slim and none and slim is saddled up.

    But that is OK, because after VMI (Dec. 8), New York Maritime sails up the Hudson, giving the Black Knights a chance to have a pair of two-game win streaks in the same season for the first time since 2001-02 when they won two or more in a row three times en route to a 12-16 season, Army's finest season since 1988-89, when they also won 12 games.

    If that stuff gets your mind to wondering when Army last had a winning season, it was well before the Patriot League began hoops play -- 1984-85, when they went 16-13. Back to back winning seasons? 1977-78 (19-9) and 1978-79 (14-11) under Mike Krzyzewski, Twenty wins? 1976-77, 20-8, also under Coach K. Those three winning seasons under Krzyzewski broke a string of six straight losing seasons that went back to Bobby Knight's last Army team in 1970-71.

    For those of you keeping score at home, that is four winning seasons since 1970. Now you understand why Army gets excited about beating the sea scouts and home model builders club.

    VMI game links:
  • AP story (from Army site)
  • Box score
  • Roanoke Times

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  • Monday, November 21, 2005
    Updating the Princeton-Lehigh game:

    It appears Lehigh's cone of silence around the status of Joe Knight has finally been penetrated.

    From Corky Blake's Express-Times report on the Lehigh-Princeton game:
    Knight has missed the Mountain Hawks' first four games because of a snafu with his academic record as submitted to the NCAA by Lehigh.

    On Sunday, Lehigh released the following statement:

    "Lehigh has elected to withhold the participation of Joe Knight pending resolution by NCAA staff members of a technical question regarding completed course credits. A formal request for clarification has been submitted by Lehigh and a response is expected soon. However, until that question is resolved, Lehigh has elected not to permit Joe Knight to participate. He remains in good academic standing at Lehigh and is on target to receive his degree in June 2006."
    According to Andre Williams story in the Morning Call, Lehigh coach Billy Taylor's only comment was that he hopes the issue is resolved soon.

    It might be worth noting that the statement was apparently only released to media at the game. There is still no mention of Knight's absence on the Lehigh Web site.

    Blake included an explanation of Knight's history, explaining how he went to High Point two years, then spent a year at a Texas Community College before transferring to Lehigh. For some reason, Williams did not mention the stop in the Lone Star State.

    Meanwhile, sans Knight, Lehigh fell to 1-3 after losing 64-54 at home to Princeton.

    Matt Szalachowski, a freshman, started in place of Knight. He and senior Mitch Gilfillan kind of split most of Knight's minutes. Together they were nowhere near Knight's production. Their combined line: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers in a total of 48 minutes.

    Kyle Neptune picked up some of the scoring load, finishing with 22. Jose Olivero was 1-for-7 from the field, scored 10 points (8-for-14 FT) while turning it over 5 times and dishing 3 assists.

    The incredible shrinking Jason Mgebroff saw his minutes down to 7 in this one. The only non-zeroes in his line: 0-1 shooting and 1 foul.

    In Williams' story, Andre indicates Mgebroff's conditioning is the reason he has lost his starting job.

    If the game were a blog post, at the bottom of the box it would say something like: 926 fans cared enough to bother coming out. When you figure Bethlehem is an easy drive from Princeton, the Eagles suck and the students don't start break until Wednesday, that is pretty sad.

    Maybe all the Lehigh fans were still hungover from Saturday.
  • Box score
  • Princeton Web site story
  • Lehigh Web site story

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  • Patriot League scoreboards
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    ARMY at VMI, 7 p.m. -- Army could get its first DI win of the year and its first over a team not named Navy since the 2003-04 season when they travel to Lexington, Va. to meet the Keydets. It's the season opener for a VMI team that is every bit as size challenged as Army. In their exhibition they started a lineup that was 6-6 and 6-7 upfront, with a 5-10, 6-2, 6-4 backcourt. They do bring 6-9 and 6-8 kids off the bench.
    VMI Web site | Army Notes (.pdf) | Gametracker | No Radio

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    Lafayette (0-2) was no match for Notre Dame, losing 84-66 Sunday afternoon in South Bend. Notre Dame improves to 1-1 in South Bend against Patriot League teams in 2005 (40-4 overall, home and away).

    Most telling stat from the box score: How about Notre Dame's 43-29 advantage on the boards.

    Most promising line for Lafayette: Freshman point guard Andrew Brown, the Leopards' only frosh to see more than a minute of action, had a plus one in assist-turnover ratio (5A-4TO) and scored 8 points in 34 minutes.

    Game links:
  • Notre Dame Web site story
  • Lafayette Web site story
  • AP recap
  • Irish Eyes (Scout.com)
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette
  • Irish Illustrated (rivals.com)
  • South Bend Tribune


    A belated link of interest to Leopards fans:
  • Leopards' leader returns (pregame Andrei Capusan story from Sunday's South Bend Tribune)

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  • Sunday, November 20, 2005
    All the stories we found on AU's loss at Washington mostly concern themselves with the Washington point of view. We couldn't even find more on Andre Ingram's play than a line in each noting he led all scorers with 24 points.

    A few things gleaned from the box score:

  • Ingram can score: If you needed this box score to know that, you must be new here. Howdy and welcome.

  • Billbe an exception: Looks like Brayden Billbe might buck the trend of guys like Lehigh's Jason Mgebroff, Holy Cross' Tim Clifford or Army's Jimmy Sewell, big men who have regressed or progressed slowly, or maybe not at all. Billbe's line (5-7 FG, 6 reb., 1 A, 1 TO, 1 B in 28 minutes against the frontcourt of a Top 25 team) is very respectable.

  • Freshmen sensations: Derrick Mercer, the league's most highly touted frosh, started and played 27 minutes. Garrison Carr, Jordan Nichols and Brian Gilmore each played at least 12 minutes.

  • Surprise, surprise: Was it just me? Or did nobody else see Eitutavicius coming? What is he doing playing 24 minutes and scoring 16 points? Jones never mentioned him in preseason interviews. But then again, why would he? Nobody asked about the 6-2 junior from Lithuania via Norfolk, Va. who played in only 12 games last season.

    If Eitutavicius can provide double figures off the bench it is going to make life much easier for Andre Ingram. Having a scorer on the bench allows Ingram to get a breather now and then without Jones needing to worry about not having a scorer besides Billbe in the game. Six of his 16 came from outside the arc.

    Game links:
  • The Seattle Times: Sports: Visitors battle to halftime tie, but Huskies pull away
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Tacoma News-Tribune
  • Everett Herald
  • Sports Washington (scout.com)
  • AP story

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  • Good morning and ain't it nice to be at home on a Sunday morning. Spread out the paper, brew up some coffee, make the wife breakfast as a way of saying thanks for being understanding when I take off on a two-day sports roadtrip, only half of which is for profit.

    Then fire up the computer and get caught up on what happened while you were watching a football game with an almost basketball-like score (except Army is the only team in the league that only scores 33 points and nobody only scores 51 against them).

    That tournament at William & Mary was smart scheduling by Ralph Willard. The Crusaders, who the Daily Press astutely referred to as "a very talented Holy Cross team" swept the two-game set, beating Juco Joe Knight's alma mater in the opener, then smoking the host Tribe for the tourney title.

    In that final last night, HC built a quick 11-1 and extended it to as many as 23 points in the first half. Talk about your kiss of death. There are teams you can come back on. Their are games were falling behind early, at least the 11-1 opening spurt, can easily be overcome, at least enough to get back in the game, especially at home.

    Those game, though, are not games against teams that play defense like Holy Cross. Take a look at the box score and you will see what we mean. William and Mary shot 30 percent for the game. In the first half, when this one was decided, they shot 23 percent from the field.

    There are not many teams that can shoot under 40 percent from the field and still blow an opponent out. Holy Cross shot 38 percent and won, on the road, by 12.

    That explains why, despite some concerns about the Crusaders frontcourt, most folks pick them to challenge Bucknell for the Patriot League title.

    Hamilton (18) and Simmons (16) are averaging a combined 38 points a game in two games. Torey Thomas has stepped up his scoring. He had 20 against High Point, 15 against W&M.

    Even if Thomas' average drops by half as the season goes on, you are still looking at just under 50 points per game of offense from that trio. The way Holy Cross plays defense, it does not take a whole lot more offense for them to win.

    Granted, the two opponents to date were hardly the most challenging the Crusaders will face. William and Mary does have 10 guys back from last season, including four starters, last season's top two scorers, 76 percent of its scoring and 83 percent of its rebounding.

    But William and Mary is not the cream of the Colonial Athletic Association. Matter of fact, they are picked to finish last.

    Cupcakes? Yeah, probably. Certainly not Providence or Kansas, teams Willard has opened against in three of his six seasons at HC. But it makes a lot of sense to start this year's Crusaders on some soft food.

    With only six players back who contributed last season, Willard knew when he was scheduling that for HC to live up to the potential that comes with a backcourt like the Crusaders have, they are going to need a couple freshmen in the rotation.

    Makes perfect sense to start the season with some games that might allow those young players to see some minutes and gain some confidence. Seems doubly wise now with one of those freshmen, Alex Vander Baan, having claimed what everybody expected to be Tim Clifford's spot in the starting lineup.

    Vander Baan had mixed results in his first two collegiate games. His debut was sparkling: 11 points, 6 rebounds in 34 minutes. His second game was less impressive. Vander Baan fouled out against W&M, playing only 14 minutes (4 pts, 2 reb.).

    The second freshman in what has been essentially an eight-man rotation for Willard is Lawrence Dixon. Dixon played eight minutes Friday, scoring 4 points. Interestingly, when Vander Baan was sitting with foul trouble Saturday, it appears to have been Dixon who picked up the extra minutes, not Clifford.

    Dixon's time increased to 19 minutes Saturday (6 pt., 4 reb., 4 fouls), while Clifford actually played 3 minutes less. That despite what, at least on paper, looked to be a Big Purple Dog kind of night Friday, when Clifford made the most of his 19 minutes, grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 3 shots.

    Against W&M, Clifford played only 16 minutes, finishing with 4 rebounds. It would be silly to read too much into two boxscores, especially without having seen him play, but you have to wonder if those lines are evident of Clifford's lack of consistency Willard talked about in the preseason.

    It would appear that Willard has settled on an eight-man rotation. Clifford, Dixon and Pat Doherty claimed virtually all the time off the bench in both games. It appears that freshmen Greg McCarthy and Colin Cunningham are not yet ready for prime time. Cunningham never left the bench. McCarthy played less than a minute against W&M after sitting the opener completely. Sophomore guard Kyle Cruze played a minutes against High Point.

    Given the wide margin the Crusaders held much of the game against William & Mary, you'd figure if Ralph was planning on using any of those three much down the road, they'd have at least broke a sweat.

    Two other things we like about Willard's scheduling the W&M tournament to open the season. It gives HC a chance to play on back-to-back days, something they will have to do in a few weeks in San Juan and something they hope to do at the end of the regular season.

    The two-game tournament also makes for a 33 percent longer getaway as a team at the start of the season. Coaches will tell you that a lot of team-building and bonding happens on the road. The extra day away from Worcester can't hurt, especially when you are trying to groom newcomers to play important roles.

    READING THE TEA LEAVES:
    Seem's like everyone I ran into at the Holy Cross-Bucknell football game Saturday wanted to know the same thing: what did Bucknell's 56-54 escape at Rider on Friday night mean.

    Is Rider that good? Is Bucknell overrated? What happened? How could it be so?

    Here are some of the answers (as best we can speculate from one game in what is expected to be at least a 30-game season):

    Is Rider that good? Too soon to tell, but probably not. They have two outstanding players in Muniz and Thompson, but they are playing a lot of youngsters. Away from Alumni Gym, that will probably take a toll.

    So if your question is how much will this win help Bucknell, say at seeding time, it probably will be about neutral. Odds are Rider will be respectable, with double digit wins, maybe even a few games over .500 if they stay healthy and get some breaks. Expect Rider, at the end of the year, to be middle of the RPI pack, not high enough to give you a boost, not low enough to hurt you the way Army does.

    Next season, or the season after that? Our guess would be the Broncs' break through and get that NCAA bid that has eluded them twice in the past four seasons when they won the regular season but lost in the league tournament.

    While Rider's youth might make it tough to win enough on the rode to contend for the MAAC title this season, the Bronc's Zoo will not be a friendly place for MAAC foes to visit. It would be no surprise if a loss at Rider costs somebody the regular season title.

    Rider always wins at home. Or almost. The loss to Bucknell was its first home opener loss in eight games at Alumni Gym (they did lose a "home" opener a couple years back that was played in nearby Trenton at Sovereign Bank Arena -- where a smart scheduler with a little promotional savvy would have put Friday night's sellout). Over the years they have won almost 74 percent of their games at home.

    It is a tough place to play, small, loud, the crowd right on the floor. It is sort of like Bucknell's old Davis Gym, minus any sort of architectural charm. Alumni is like one of those metal warehouse buildings you see along the interstate, only smaller and with cement block walls to add a little ambiance. It makes Colgate's Cotterell Court seem luxurious.

    Which sort of leads us into the other questions.

    Is Bucknell overrated. We don't think so. A close call at a tough place to play like Rider against a very quick, long and athletic team like the Broncs is a negative is like the cup is half-empty version. Except it really does not hold water.

    More telling, we think, is how Bucknell won, holding Rider to one field goal in the final six minutes. Knocking down not one, but two three-point range jumpers (Yes, Bettencourt's foot was on the line ... that is why we said "range"), in the final 18 seconds, by two different shooters, too.

    Good teams seem to find ways to win, even when they don't play their A game, which Pat Flannery would be quick to tell the Bison did not bring. This team has shown that before, at Yale and Pittsburgh, in home games against Lehigh and Colgate, and, of course, against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.

    Particularly impressive about Bucknell's end game was how they responded when Rider retook the lead on Thompson's free throws with less than 8 seconds to go.

    Remember, this came after Bucknell had finally reclaimed the lead on a John Griffin try with 17 seconds left. That seemed to cap a half that started with Bucknell down 5, a lead that seemed elastic. Every time Bucknell pulled close and had a chance to take the lead, Rider seemed to be able to stretch it back out. Up until Griffin's shot, Bucknell had been within 2 points five times in the half and tied three times. On none of those eight opportunities had they managed to go back on top.

    Griffin's shot had the makings of a game-winner. But when Thompson managed to gain position down low on McNaughton, and Rider got him the ball, all McNaughton could do was hack Thompson and hope he misses at least one of the two shots. To describe the mood, at least of the Bucknell fans who made up at least a third of the crowd, as anything but deflated would be a lie. Not exactly a boisterous bunch to begin with, the BU fans were stunned and silent.

    Would have been easy for a basketball team to respond the same way. Bucknell did not. Need two miracles to win? No problem.

    And how clutch was Bettencourt, who redeemed a subpar night with one smooth jumper?

    Here is a question to ponder: You are an opposing coach in Tommy Dempsey's situation at the end of the game Friday night. Except now you know one thing Rider's interim head coach did not know at the time. You now know that Bucknell won't hesitate to give the ball to somebody with the game on the line just because they struggled a little in the game.

    Who do you design your defense to stop? Lee -- who can knock down the three or beat you off the dribble? McNaughton -- who, forget this three Friday night, has shown the ability to knock down the 10-12 foot jumper and is unstoppable one-on-one down on the blocks? Griffin? Bettencourt?

    There are two other factors worth considering when you look at that close BU-Rider score.

    Bucknell's last game was in what is now an NBA arena, on national television in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It's next game will be against a nationally ranked, legendary hoops power, Syracuse, in the cavernous Carrier Dome. And this game is against a MAAC team with a bunch of freshmen. A team, by the way, that you handled pretty easily last season.

    Pat Flannery has been around a long time. He knew better than to take Rider lightly, especially at Rider. Extra especially when you are carrying a huge bullseye like Bucknell.

    But these are teenagers and 20-somethings. No matter how much Flannery told them. No matter how often they repeated the mantra. It would be ridiculous to pretend that at least some of the Bison at least subconsciously took the Broncs at least a little lightly.

    Add to the equation the fatal traffic crash that closed the route Bucknell's bus was taking from its hotel in Princeton to the gym in Lawrence. The Bison arrived at Alumni shortly before the scheduled 8 p.m. tip off.

    As they walked through an already crowded gym to reach their locker rooms, the Bison players looked as casual as any team walking into the gym. They were a loose, smiling, headphone wearing bunch. Which is the mood you want the team in getting off the bus an hour or two before the game, but hardly the game face you want a half-hour before the tip.

    Did that hurt Bucknell's focus in the first half? Nobody would admit it after the game, but hear on Earth, stuff like that usually is a distraction. And it didn't help the Bison's mindset any when early foul trouble forced them out of their rotation.

    Whatever the reason, Bucknell was never in synch the first half. That allowed Rider to stay with them early, and when the Broncs closed the half with a 5-0 spurt to take the lead, they went to the locker room brimming with confidence.

    Come out fast and take the crowd out of it early, you put a young team like Rider away. Let them, and the crowd, stay in the game, and Riders energy level goes way up.

    That last question: How could it be so? That question shows a lack of knowledge of the history here. Someone who knows Bucknell only by the wins over St. Joe's, Pitt and Kansas might not realize that ugly, low-scoring wins are not at all out of character for Pat Flannery teams.

    Bucknell wins games with defense and hard work. This one was no exception. By the end of the game, the Bison had worn Rider down. That is Flannery's style to a large extent.

    Despite his preseason rhetoric about full four pressure and running the break more, there was none of either in the Rider game. The Bison showed some token man-to-man pressure late, and did pick it up pretty aggressively near midcourt late in the game, but there was no fullcourt trapping stuff like Flannery had spoke of. Neither team scored a fastbreak point.

    Sure, Bucknell will have some games this season where they blow somebody out. But the real quality wins will more likely come in typical Flannery style. It might be ugly on the court, but it tends to look pretty fashionable in the wins column.

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    Saturday, November 19, 2005
    Originally posted Friday at 11:39 p.m., updated at 3:47 a.m.

    NOTE: This report has been edited to correct an error in the original post.

    A good shooter has no conscience. It doesn’t matter to a shooter if his shots are falling or clanging off the rim. He is like an egg-sucking dog, he has a habit that cannot be broken.

    When you are on, shoot, they say. When you are off, shoot until you are on.

    So it was no surprise when Bucknell’s Kevin Bettencourt jacked up a 19-footer from the right side with his foot on the three-point line with one second to go and his team trailing Rider by a point in the season opener for both teams.

    Forget the fact that he had just missed six shots in a row. Forget that Bettencourt was 2-for-12 from three-point range up to that point. The fact that he had not made a bucket since early in the second half and was 1 for his last 10 did not bother Bettencourt any more than the fact that he had not made a field goal in the past 12 minutes.

    Bettencourt is a shooter, and shooters shoot the ball. And you don’t get to be your school’s all-time leading three-point shooter without making a few. Like the one that won the season-opener 56-54 over a game Rider club that led most of the second half.

    “I’m going to keep shooting. I learned that through the years. I am not going to stop shooting. I needed a nice roll and I got one,” said Bettencourt, who had seen shot after shot rim out before the game-winner stayed down.

    “He had to knock one down,” said Bison coach Pat Flannery.

    Up until the final minute of the game, it had all the makings of an upset.

    The Broncs took the lead with a 5-0 spurt in the last 45 seconds of the first half, breaking a 24-24 tie with a three-pointer by Edwin Muniz and a short jumper from Rodney Pierce.

    For most of the second half, Rider made that narrow lead stand up. Bucknell closed it to 31-30 early in the second half, only to see Rider stretch the lead back to 7. Four times Bucknell managed to pull even; each time Rider responded to keep the lead.

    Against Bucknell’s usually stingy defense, the Broncs shot 45 percent from the floor in the first half. At the same time, Bucknell, in early foul trouble after a handful of offensive foul calls on its big men, became tentative against Rider’s aggressive matchup zone.

    “We got called for some moving screens and stuff early, some physical stuff we usually can do. We got less aggressive and as a result we became a perimeter shooting team,” said Flannery.

    In fact, 12 of Bucknell’s 22 first half shots came from outside the three-point arc. Only three of them fell in a half that saw the Bison shoot 36.4 percent.

    How perimeter oriented did the Bison become? Chris McNaughton, their 6-11 center had 7 first half points, all from outside the paint, including the first three-pointer of his career.

    “That was not planned,” McNaughton said.

    “The shot or the bank,” asked Flannery.

    “Everything,” laughed McNaughton.

    With Bucknell unable to get into an offensive flow, and the Broncs hitting four big three-pointers, including the one by Muniz that kick started the spurt at the end of the half, Rider went into the locker room at intermission feeling their oats.

    “By then we had given them so much confidence that it was going to go down to the end,” said Flannery.

    That it did. The Broncs had a 52-48 lead with 2:41 to play. Then Bucknell’s defense and experience came to the forefront. First Charles Lee stole the ball off Rider’s Jason Thompson under the Bison basket after Thomspon had rebounded a missed Bettencourt trey.

    Lee, trying to throw the ball off Thompson’s legs as he was falling out of bounds, missed Thompson, but the bounce found Donald Brown, who laid it in to cut Broncs’ lead to 2.

    The Bison, who allowed only three Rider offensive rebounds all night, gave up two of those in the final two minutes. But each time they managed to get the stop, once with McNaughton making a big block on a Muniz runner and, after yet another Bettencourt missed three, by forcing Rider into a shotclock violation.

    Rider had yet another possession with a chance to stretch its lead, but Muniz missed an off balance jumper with the shot clock about to expire.

    At the other end, Bucknell’s John Griffin hit a three with 17.5 to go to give the Bison their first lead of the second half. But Rider went right back on top on a pair of Thompson free throws after he got the ball on the low block and drew a foul from McNaughton.

    That set the stage for Bettencourt’s heroics.

    “We’ve been in so many situations like that the last few years. We have been there before. We remained confident and never paniced,” said Bettencourt, who added a free throw after Rider threw away a desperation inbounds pass to account for the final margin.

    McNaughton, who hit the first four shots he took and put back his own miss on the fifth, finished with 14 points to lead the Bison. Charles Lee added 13, 8 coming in the first 4:55 of the game. Lee also had a team high 8 rebounds as the Bison outboarded Rider 39-28.

    Thompson led Rider with 17 points. Muniz chipped in with an 11-points, 11-rebounds double-double.

    The Bison will continue their season opening road swing Tuesday when they travel to Syracuse to face the No. 16 Orangemen.

    Box Score

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    An abbreviated report on last night's games today and no previews of tonight's action due to the late arrival back from the Bucknell-Rider game this morning (4 a.m.) and an early afternoon gig covering the Holy Cross-Bucknell football game for the Worcester Telegram-Gazette.

    Check back this evening or tomorrow, depending on how long we can stay awake, for more on the weekend's openers.

    Patriot League scoreboards
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    Colgate 78, FAU 74, 8 p.m.: Jon Simon and Kyle Roemer combine for 43 points to lead the'Gate.
    AP story

    Lafayette at St. Joseph's 70, Lafayette 47: The first of what are likely to be many long nights for the Leopards, who were outrebounded 44-19 and didn't have a scorer reach double figures.
    AP story | Philadelphia Inquirer

    Holy Cross 85, High Point 73 (William and Mary Classic): Defense? Sure it is going to be HC's strength. But having three guys score 20 or more is nice, too.
    AP story

    Georgetown 72, Navy 49: The Mids had no answer for Roy Hibbert, a 7-foot-2 sophomore whose 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks led the Hoyas to a 72-49 victory at Alumni Hall in the season opener for both teams.
    Washington Post | Annaplois Capital | Baltimore Sun

    Army 76, Polytechnic 37: Matt Bell leads the Black Knights with 18. Enjoy .500 while it lasts.
    AP story

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    Friday, November 18, 2005
    There are not a lot of questions to be answered about Bucknell entering the 2005-2006 season. With the entire starting lineup and eight of the first nine guys in last year’s rotation back, the Bison are pretty much a known quantity.

    Abe Badmus will distribute the ball and play incredible defense at the point. Kevin Bettencourt and Charles Lee are dangerous wings who can shoot the three or take the ball to the hole. Chris McNaughton is unstoppable one-on-one in the post. John Griffin can play either guard spot and is potentially as good a scorer as Bettencourt. And it almost goes without saying that Bucknell will play tough defense.

    About the only thing that will look different in the early going this season will be the rotation at power forward, where Bison coach Pat Flannery will need to make a tweak or two to compensate for the loss of Chris Niesz, the only senior on last year’s squad.

    The casual observer might look at last year’s stats and think replacing Niesz should be no big deal. Statistically, that might be right. With the talent on the floor, Bucknell should have no problem finding someone to score Niesz’s 3.4 points per game, or to grab the 2 rebounds he averaged.

    Folks who watched the Bison’s dream season unfold last year know different, though. They saw how Niesz’s emergence at the four helped solidify a Bison lineup that was shaken by the loss of starter John Clark, whose midseason injury woes coincided with the swoon that followed an early 11-game win streak.

    With Clark benched with a bad foot, freshman Darren Mastropaolo was forced into the starting lineup. Mastropaolo was a capable replacement on defense and on the glass, but his lack of offensive range made it easy for teams to double and even triple team McNaughton down low.

    Niesz, though, gave Bucknell an option with three-point range on his jumper. He also became a steadying senior influence down the stretch. To many, his three-pointer to beat Colgate at the buzzer of the Bison’s regular season finale was the spark that started the Bucknell postseason fire and his play in the league and NCAA tournament games helped fan those flames.

    With three seniors, including Bettencourt—who has started since he set foot in Lewisburg – and Lee—who has started the past two seasons, the replacing Niesz’s leadership should not be a problem. Filling his minutes, though, might be more of a challenge.

    That is not to say the Bison do not have players ready to step into Niesz’s shoes. The challenge for Pat Flannery will be more a matter of how to fit the pieces together to solve the power forward puzzle.

    Mastropaolo will be the starter, that much is a given. The best post defender on the team, the 6-8 sophomore from Maine has worked hard on improving his offensive game in the offseason.

    “He really recognizes, and did all summer, that his range is critical in keeping people honest. His 15-16 footer in the high post, he is shooting with confidence. His range has increased,” said Flannery.

    After Mastropaolo, the rotation at the four is going to depend on a number of factors.

    Donald Brown, a springy 6-6 junior is probably the most athletic front court player on the roster. Known to television viewers across the country as the guy popping his jersey after the Bison upset Kansas, Brown has started eight games in each of his two seasons in Lewisburg and averaged better than 15 minutes per game last season. Brown could start for a lot of teams in the league, but Flannery said last year that Brown seems to respond better when he comes off the bench.

    Brown has a way of injecting some energy into the Bison when he enters the game and an ability to put the ball in the whole that might not be evident from his 3.4 ppg average of a year ago. More telling are the numbers he put up as a freshman, when he reached double figures nine times. He was a key player in the postseason for Bucknell, averaging 6 rebounds per game in the Patriot League and NCAA Tournaments.

    With his ability to beat people off the dribble, Brown offers a change of pace when he replaces Mastropaolo. It also will help stretch the floor and keep people from sagging on McNaughton.

    “Donald Brown is a tough as anybody to keep in front of you. Whoever is going to play him if he is in that four spot, we need to do things to get him isolated so he can get by them,” Flannery said.

    Another option will be 6-7, 232-pound sophomore Andrew Morrison. Morrison has opened eyes in the preseason with his Niesz-like range and his willingness to do the dirty work under the basket.

    “He can step out and shoot the ball and he bangs with the best of them,” said Lee.

    “We do some things with Donald that we don’t do with Andrew and we do some things with Andrew that we don’t do with Donald. We will use the abilities they have. It might be somebody screening. It might be somebody penetrating. It might be somebody taking pressure off of one of our handlers. They are all a little bit different. We will keep using those guys according to the way they play,” Flannery said.

    Yet another option at the four this season will be McNaughton, who is comfortable facing the basket and in the high post and has a nice touch on his jumper from about 15 feet in. Using McNaughton at the four, with 6-7, 264-pound senior bruiser Tarik Viaer-McClymont at the five is a combination Flannery said the Bison might employ a lot, especially early in the season against non-conference foes whose size up front presents matchup problems.

    Talk to the Bison players and they will tell you Viaer-McClymont is an incredible talent in practice and in pickup games, where he is always one of the first guys chosen. Viaer-McClymont’s problem has been translating that ability into being confident and comfortable when the lights come on.

    As if the Bison don’t have enough options in the frontcourt, Clark, who had surgery on his injured foot in August, is expected to be back in action by the second semester. With that kind of depth, Flannery will be under no pressure to rush 6-11 freshman Josh Linthicum into the mix.

    That suits Flannery, who prefers to bring freshmen along slowly, especially in the first semester, just fine.

    “Josh is going to be a kid that is going to be a force here. But they all have to do their thing academically and socially and get adjusted. I don’t want to put more pressure on them, especially when I have a team that has a lot of veterans,” Flannery.

    That philosophy likely applies to the two other freshmen on the roster, off guard Jason Vegotsky and point Justin Castleberry. Vegotsky has shown an ability to fill it up from anywhere on the floor in the preseason and Flannery has been impressed by Castleberry’s poise and knowledge of the game at the point.

    Castleberry might be the freshman who will see the most action early, since using him to backup Badmus would allow Griffin to concentrate on his more natural role as a shooter. Finding minutes might be tougher for Vegotsky, given the talent ahead of him in the Bison backcourt.

    For some teams, finding enough minutes to go around might be a problem.

    Lee said not for Bucknell.

    “There is definitely a lot of talent on this team and 200 minutes is not a lot. But we’re a tight knit group. We always talk about what is going on and everybody knows their role on the team,” Lee said.

    A bigger problem might be the schedule. Bucknell’s non-conference slate might be the toughest a Patriot League team has ever taken on, with perennial powers like Syracuse, Duke, Villanova, Saint Joe’s and DePaul, along with a trip to the Cable Car Classic where they will face Boston University and either Santa Clara or US Riverside. Niagara won 20 games and went to the Big Dance last year. Rider was the regular season champ in its league last year and some folks have picked Cornell as the darkhorse in the Ivy League.

    Saidf Lee, “Everybody looks at DePaul, Syracuse, Villanova, Saint Joe’s and Duke. But we have a very difficult schedule with Cornell and Niagara and Rider, too. We’re not looking past anybody.”

    Bucknell schedule
    Bucknell roster

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    Patriot League scoreboards
    ESPN | CBS Sportsline | PennLive.com | Yahoo!


    Bucknell at Rider, 7:30 p.m.:Rider finished 19-11 last season, winning the MAAC regular season title and advancing to the conference's final. But much has changed in Lawrenceville since then. Coach Don Harnum is on a sort of leave of absence to serve as interim athletic director for a year. In his stead, Tommy Dempsey takes over as interim head coach for the Broncs, with a young team full of fresh faces. The Broncs graduated five players, including leading scorer Jerry Johnson, who made 102 three-pointers and averaged 18.4 ppg and Steve Castleberry, who was in preseason camp with the NBA Philadelphia 76ers. The Broncs have never lost a home opener in Alumni Gym, where they were 8-2 last season, but they have five new players on the roster and eight who are either freshmen or sophomores. That does not mean the cupboard is totally bare. Edwin Muniz (11.6 ppg, 38% from 3-point range) and Jason Thompson (9.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) are preseason All-MAAC selections. Rider is expecting a sellout crowd.
    Bucknell notes | Rider notes | USA Today matchup |Bucknell Radio | Live Stats

    Florida Atlantic at Colgate, 8 p.m.: Matt Doherty's first game as FAU's coach takes him to Hamilton, where the weather ought to be a little bit of a shock to the Floridians' systems . . . Colgate beat FAU 81-75 last season, as the Owls struggled to a 10-17 season . . . FAU ispicked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference . . . The Owls don't have much size-- only one starter is over 6-3 and only two guys on the roster are taller than 6-6 . . . One thing that won't be a shock to FAU is Colgate's small crowds -- only 387 showed up when they hosted FAU last season and only one home game drew more than 800 fans last season
    Colgate notes (pdf) | FAU Web site | USA Today matchup | Palm Beach Post preview


    Lafayette at St. Joseph's, 7 p.m.: The Hawks return three starters - Dwayne Lee, Dave Mallon and Chet Stachitas - from last year's squad which went 24-12 and advanced to the title game of the NIT . . . Lee could give Lafayette's backcourt fits. He was an All A-10 Defensive team pick last season . . . he also dished off over 5 assists per game and averaged just under 10 ppg . . . Stachitas averaged 10.8 ppg. He is a good shooter from three-point range, hitting 35.5 percent from the arc on his career . . . The Hawks will look to Stachitas to fill some of the scoring void created by the graduation of Pat Carroll, who averaged 18.3 ppg . . . also gone from last year's Hawks is center Dwayne Jones, who averaged a double-double a night (11.6 rpg, 10.1 ppg).
    Lafayette notes | Saint Joseph's notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker

    Holy Cross vs. High Point, 6 p.m. (William and Mary Classic): Interestingly, HC's game notes list freshman Alex Vander Baan starting alongside Kevin Hyland upfront, not sophomore Tim Clifford. That is interesting not just because Vander Baan is a freshman, but also because, if you read our HC preview posted last night, Ralph Willard told us Vander Baan was skilled, but skinny (he is 6-8 but weighs just 195) and was really more of a guard type who would see time at the three . . . High Point is picked to finish fifth in the Big South . . . the Panthers return two starters and six letterwinners from last season's 13-18 team . . . High Point is one of the 100 teams in the pool for ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday. Go figure . . . 6-5 sophomore swingman Arizona Reid was High Point's leading scorer in its exhibition win over Greensboro with 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting . . . Wondering why High Point sounds so familiar? Lehigh's Joe Knight would have graduated from there last year had he not flunked out, went to a community college and transferred to Lehigh
    HC notes | High Point Web Site | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | HC radio

    Georgetown at Navy, 7:30 p.m.: Former Princeton coach and son of Georgetown coaching legend John Thompson, John Thompson III restored some of the pride to the Hoyas program last season, posting a 19-13 record and advancing to the second round of the NIT . . . Six players who started, including the three top scorers from last year return for the Hoyas . . . Georgetown will have a huge size advantage on Navy-- eight Hoyas are 6-7 or taller.
    Navy notes (pdf) | Georgetown notes | USA Today matchup | The Hoya preview | Washington Post Georgetown preview | Annapolis Capital preview | Gametracker | Navy radio

    Polytechnic at Army, 7:30 p.m.: As bad as Army was last year, you might expect the eight freshmen on Jim Crews team to get some minutes, especially the ones with any kind of size. So it might tell you a little about the quality of the Black Knights' recruits to know that despite getting completely blown out in the opener at Temple, four of the eight freshmen did not even dress and another never got off the bench. On a team with only three returnees 6-6 or taller, the second biggest kid on the roster, 6-9 freshman Brandon Brandewie did not dress. Neither did freshmen Curtis Koszuta (6-7) and D.J. Jemibewon (6-6). Figure maybe they will get to play against Polytechnic. Here's what it says about the DIII foes in Army's notes:
    Coming off a 5-21 season that featured a
    2-12 record in the North East Athletic Conference, long-time Polytechnic mentor Laddy Baldwin has infused a crop of five freshman into his program. The youngsters, all of which are 6-1 or taller, should join a cast of veterans to give the Blue Jays an improved team for 2005-06.
    Last year Army won by 34. Expect them to win by a wide margin again. And they'd best savor it, because after this one, they might have to wait a month (until they play DIII NY Maritime on Dec. 17) to get another W.
    Army notes (pdf) | Polytechnic Web Site | Gametracker

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    Thursday, November 17, 2005
    Note: This preview was written before HC's Game Notes were posted showing Alex Vander Baan starting and Tim Clifford coming off the bench, at least for the Crusaders' opener Friday against High Point.


    If college basketball begins with guards as Ralph Willard is fond of saying (and who are we to disagree with Ralph?), then it is easy to see why Holy Cross seems to be the consensus pick as the team most likely to challenge Bucknell for the Patriot League title.

    With two all-league picks on the wings and two point guards that are as good as any point guards in the league, the Crusaders are loaded in the backcourt. Matter of fact, in a league loaded with talented guards, the Holy Cross backcourt is head and shoulders above every other pack of guards in the league, except for Bucknell’s. Anybody who tries to tell you different is either a basketball illiterate or smoking crack.

    In Kevin Hamilton Holy Cross has a guy who was voted the league’s player of the year last season after leading the conference in scoring, three-pointers, steals and, despite standing only 6-4, defensive rebounds. For good measure Hamilton was in the top 10 in the league in assists and rebounding (total).

    The casual fan of the game probably is most impressed by Hamilton’s offense, the way he managed to score from almost anywhere on the floor. As comfortable spotting up from the arc as he is putting the ball on the floor and beating his man to the hoop, Hamilton averaged 15.7 points per game as a junior.

    Those who study the game a little more are just as appreciative of Hamilton’s defense. Holy Cross had the top defense in the league last season and Hamilton, who ranked eighth nationally in steals, had a lot to do with that.

    “Kevin Hamilton is the catalyst for us being a great defensive basketball tea. He can change the game at both ends of the floor. I have not coached a better guard in my 35 years,” Willard said.

    Almost as good is Keith Simmons, a 6-4 junior who was named to the all-league team last season despite not starting for Holy Cross. Simmons averaged 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and almost 2 assists per game as the Crusaders’ sixth man, a role he will not reprise this season.

    “I am stupid but I am not dumb,” said Willard, when asked if Simmons would stay in that sixth man role or move into HC’s starting lineup.

    Willard is not at all concerned about Simmons making the adjustment.

    “He played starters minutes last year. It’s just he gets his name announced. There will be no adjustment whatsoever. It is just a matter of he will be in for the first four minutes instead of going in after the first four minutes,” Willard said.

    At the point, Willard has the luxury of two starter quality guys in junior Torey Thomas and sophomore Pat Doherty. Thomas was the starter at the beginning of last season and ended up starting 22 of the 31 games he played. But when Thomas was injured midseason, Doherty stepped in to fill the void, starting none games, and the Crusaders never missed a beat.

    Regardless which one starts, both will see plenty of time.

    “I can see Torey and Pat playing together. Torey gives us a great penetrator and Pat gives us a great three-point shooter, so they compliment each other. There’s no jealousy there. They root for one another. Every kid wants to play minutes, but they are both going to play,” Willard said.

    In fact, don’t be surprised if you see Thomas, Doherty, Simmons and Hamilton on the floor at the same time.

    “I envision us playing four guards a lot this year. I can see them being in the game at the same time. You might say that makes us really small, but the way we defend the post, with the exception of the first half of that championship game, big people don’t really hurt us,” said Willard.

    “They really don’t. Chris (McNaughton) had a great game against us in the paint because we let him have a great game. We didn’t double down. I still didn’t figure that one out yet. I am still scratching my head because our game plan was to double right away from the top on him and we never did, the whole first half.”

    Willard thinks that four-guard look could be potent on offense, too.

    “It is going to make us extremely difficult to guard. Last year, John Hurley meant so much to our basketball team. But honestly, when John was on the floor, it was playing five on four at the offensive end because everybody knew John couldn’t shoot the ball. Whoever was playing John could park in the middle of the lane and take away our driving opportunities. If we play four guards, you are not going to be able to do that. If Keith Simmons is playing the four, you are going to have to have your four man, whoever it is, out there playing him because he will be banging threes on you.”

    When you look around the league, you can see why Willard likes that thought. Aside from Bucknell, who would be able to matchup with that look? Only the Bison are deep enough to throw four guards of their own out there without a big dropoff at one, if not two spots.

    And other than Bucknell’s McNaughton, and possibly Colgate’s Kendall Chones, who is a big enough offensive threat in the paint to force Willard to play bigger if he doesn’t want to?

    That does not mean Willard has to go with that small lineup. With 6-10 sophomore center Tim “the Big Purple Dog” Clifford and 6-7 senior forward Kevin Hyland upfront, Holy Cross potentially is as good down low as anybody in the league.

    Hyland’s 4.1 points per game average last season belies his offensive potential. A stat that is a better indicator of his ability with the ball is his 59. 8 shooting from the floor, which would have led the league had he shot enough to hit the three made shots per game minimum needed to make the leaderboard. Hyland had five double figures scoring games last season.

    Willard said one key to the Crusaders success will be the ability of Hyland to stay on the floor more.

    “The biggest problem Kevin has had over the years is foul trouble. It is stupid stuff. It is stuff he has to eliminate because he is effective in the low post, he really is. He can score. Kevin is going to have to have a senior year like a senior should,” said Willard.

    Similarly, Clifford has shown flashes of great potential, like the 13-point, 13-boards double-double he posted at American when starter Nate Lufkin was out with an injury. Clifford had five blocks in that game and finished ranked fifth in the league in rejections, despite playing only nine minutes per game.

    Other times, though, he has tended to vanish.

    “Tim’s got potential, but he has to be consistent. He is not consistent. He has to stay out of foul trouble. He has to rebound consistently. The American game he had a great rebounding game. There were other games he didn’t touch the basketball, he didn’t go after the ball,” Willard said.

    If Clifford and Hyland make the progress Willard hopes they will, Holy Cross will be very good again this year. On the other hand, if Hyland keeps fouling or Clifford regresses like Lehigh’s Jason Mgebroff did as a sophomore, the Crusaders might find it difficult to live up to their accustomed standards.

    Especially since Holy Cross has precious little depth in the frontcourt. After Hyland and Clifford, its freshmen Colin Cunningham (6-7), Greg McCarthy (6-10) and Alex Vander Baan, who is really more of a three-man, despite his 6-8 size.

    Vander Baan, said Willard, is a “skinny kid but he is very skilled.”

    “He has a great nose for offense. He reminds me of John Hurley only he can shoot. John Hurley couldn’t shoot. This kid can shoot the basketball. Eventually he is going to be a heckuva player in this league eventually, but is he a heckuva player right now? No. But he certainly has the potential to be.”

    Another freshman, 6-5 Lawrence Dixon, is listed on the roster as a guard. But Dixon, who Willard described as “really strong and athletic and a really good three-point shooter” could also end up seeing time at the four.

    The question of depth is the one that worries Willard most.

    “The seven kids back, six are the core -- Kevin, Keith, Torey, Pat Dougherty, Kevin Hyland and Tim Clifford --- those six kids are going to be the core of our team. Last year we had 10 kids that were in that situation, now we have six. That is a huge difference,” Willard said.

    “We have four freshmen out of 11 players. Three of those freshmen are going to have to give us significant contributions,” Willard said.

    If those freshmen step up, Holy Cross should live up to the preseason expectations. If one or two of them step up big time, the Crusaders could even exceed those expectations. If they don’t step up, depth could become a real problem for Holy Cross, especially late in the season.

    Only time will tell if the Crusaders are a team that challenges Bucknell for the league title or a team that has to battle to even stay in the upper division.

    Holy Cross schedule
    Holy Cross roster

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    Much has been made of Lafayette’s loss of Jamaal Douglas, the Leopards’ second leading scorer and arguably best player last season.

    Douglas bailed on Lafayette after his sophomore season, transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he will get a full scholarship, something Lafayette does not offer. In the process, Douglas took 9.9 points and 7 rebounds per game and his 6-6, 240-pound frame, leaving Lafayette with a big hole where its frontline was supposed to be.

    “Fran’s (O’Hanlon) situation is difficult because of losing Douglas. If he would have been back, they would have been competitive. Losing him really hurt,” said Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard.

    “That kid was improving dramatically. He couldn’t shoot a lick -- we were recruiting him too, and I loved his toughness and his strength, but I didn’t know if he could shoot it. Last year, at the end of the year, he was maybe their best three-point shooter.”

    With Douglas gone, Lafayette is left with senior Andrei Capusan as its top returning frontcourt player. Capusan, who is listed at 6-8, 210, averaged 7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last year. The dropoff from Douglas to Capusan, though, is far greated than the 3 points and 3 rebounds per game difference in their averages. Douglas had developed into a pretty fair outside shooter with the ability to step out past the arc to knock down a three. Capusan only tried three treys all last season and did not connect on any of them.

    Capusan is also a dropoff defensively from Douglass, who bloked a team-best 28 shots and came up with 22 steals, compared with 16 blocks and 17 steals for Capusan. Douglas also was plus-one in assist-turnover ratio (42 assists, 41 turnovers), Capusan had 24 assists and 51 turnovers.

    With Douglas back for his junior year, Lafayette was solid in the middle. Without Douglas, that middle is a void.

    In a league with frontcourt players like Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lehigh and Colgate have, Lafayette is going to find itself at a serious disadvantage. That disadvantage is heightened by the fact that the Leopards backcourt, while solid, is hardly a match for the guards on the top five or six teams in the league.

    In other words, it looks like another long season ahead for Lafayette, who will be hard-pressed to match last season’s 9-19 mark.

    What might make matters even worse for the ‘Pards is the fact that they probably will not be as bad as Army.

    If Lafayette were to suffer through a season similar to the one the Black Knights experienced last year, with only one win over a Division I opponent and a last placxe finish in the league, maybe, just maybe, the clamor from alums would finally be loud enough to get new president Daniel Weiss and the school’s trustees to acknowledge the reality of the Leopards non-scholarship situation.

    That will not happen for one simple reason: O'Hanlon is too good a coach. The two-time PL coach of the year has a long history of getting the most out of his teams. Even last year, when the Leopards finished seventh in the eight-team league, they still played a lot of people tough. Included in their 19 setbacks were five where the margin was four points or less. Turn those around and Lafayette would have been a .500 team, despite the no scholarships.

    While it seems unlikely that the Leopards will finish higher in the final standings than they did last season, it seems just as improbable that they will finish lower.

    More likely, though, is a scenario similar to last season, where O’Hanlon’s team got better as the season progressed, pulling off two huge upsets in the final week of the regular season that left the illusion that Lafayette can still be competitive without scholarships. In retrospect, getting trounced by bitter rival Lehigh in the regular season finale might have been better in the long run for the program than the 81-76 win was.

    Lafayette’s guards might not have the athleticism of some of the other backcourts in the league, but with juniors Jamaal Hilliard and Marcus Harley, the Betley cousins-- senior Pat and sophomore Matt, sophomore Paul Cummins and freshman Andrew Brown, of whom big things are expected, the Leopards do have enough depth to allow O’Hanlon to try to push the ball more on offense without worrying about tired legs being a detriment to that pesky matchup zone defense he likes to employ.

    Or at leasst they will once Hilliard and Harley get back on the court. Both will miss at least the Leopards' first two games due to injuries.

    The frontcourt enjoys no such depth. After Capusan, the drop off is drastic. There is sophomore Everest Scmidt, who at 6-7, 270, at least brings some bulk to the middle and 6-7, 195 sophomore Ted Detmer. But the two sophomores between them averaged less than 3 points and less than 3 rebounds. Neither started a single game as freshmen, with Detmer appearing in 21 games, Schmidt in 15.

    Next in line are a quartet of freshmen, none of whom are likely ready for prime time. At least some of whom will have to play anyhow.

    With 11 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, Lafayette is obviously in the rebuilding mode. Whether those non-scholarship building blocks can provide a foundation to return the 'Pards to the league's upper division remains to be seen.

    One thing seems certain: O'Hanlon will be there for the forseeable future to oversee those recovery efforts. The 10-year contract he signed in 2004 is probably the best thing Lafayette basketball has going for it at the moment.

    God only knows why a coach would sign such a deal, agreeing to stay in what looks to everyone outside of Easton to be a no-win situation. God also knows O'Hanlon didn't have to stay. He had offers aplenty to go elsewhere; his name is mentioned every time a coaching job opens up back in his hometown of Philadelphia.

    Maybe it's the view from College Hill, or the selection of drafts on tap at Pearly Baker's that keeps him in Easton. Or maybe his kids dig the Crayola Factory. Or maybe he just likes the challenge.

    Whatever the reason, Lafayette fans should thank their lucky stars every night than O'Hanlon has stuck around. Until the school joins the modern world and offers scholarships, O'Hanlon is all that stands between the Leopards and the abyss.


    Corky Blake Lafayette preview from the Express-Times

    Andre Williams Lafayette preview from the Morning Call
    Lafayette schedule
    Lafayette roster

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2005
    It was a strange year in Annapolis last season, where the Midshipmen suffered what was probably the most embarrassing loss in league history, losing at home to a mediocre Division III Gettysburg team, only to come on strong at the end of the season, winning four of their last five home games, including an upset of Bucknell.

    The Mids took Holy Cross to the wire before losing 68-66 in their lone home loss of the second half of the season and they took American to overtime in the first round of the league tournament.

    It was probably as drastic an improvement as the league has seen in a long time and if Navy continues to get better at that pace, they might be very, very good this season.

    “I think another shocker is going to be Navy . . . Navy is going to get good very quickly. You mark my words. They will be in the top of the league in no time,” said Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard at the league’s preseason media day.

    “When you can bring in 8 or 9 guys every year, you can improve dramatically.”

    O.K., Ralph was stretching things a little. Navy is only bringing in six recruits this season.

    But you get the point. Despite the near constant whining about not having athletic scholarships, Navy actually has the advantage of being able to give a virtually unlimited number of full rides to recruits. Without the NCAA’s limits to worry about, Navy can bring in as many players each year as it wants, stashing some on the jayvee team and some at the Naval Academy Prep School, where they get what is essentially a redshirt year.

    As the old saying goes, if you throw enough against the wall, some is bound to stick.

    Of course it doesn’t all stick. The Mids had seven juniors on the roster last season, but only four seniors this year. A sophomore from last season’s team is also gone this year.

    Lange is not losing any sleep over those lost players, though. The four departees combined appeared in just 24 games, playing a total of 117 minutes, scoring 41 combined points and yanking down 21 rebounds. To put that in perspective, that was less production than Lange got from his top five returning players in an average single game last season.

    All six freshmen are expected to see action at some point in the season and at least three, maybe as many as five, will likely end up in the rotation. That might make it tough sledding for Navy early in the season again this year.

    “A key for us right away is going to be to improve on some things we needed to improve on at the end of last year—our ability to play hard without fouling and taking care of the basketball. We are going to have to do that while playing some freshmen, so that is going to be a little bit of a challenge for us,” Lange said.

    “We have a good nucleus back with Matt Fannin, David Hooper, Leonard Green, Greg Sprink and Corey Johnson. We don’t have to depend soley on our young kids because we have got good returning guys coming back.”

    Those five players accounted for over 60 percent of Navy’s scoring last season and nearly half its rebounds. For a team that lost seven players from its roster of a year ago, that is a pretty solid core.

    Fannin, a 6-6 senior forward, led Navy in scoring (10.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg) last season.

    “Fannin is a senior anchor down in the low post for us,” Lange said. “Once he gets it in the lane, he is very comfortable. He very, very rarely loses his composure when he has the ball with people around him. He can pivot. He can shoot the ball with his right hand or his left hand. He is our go to guy down there.”

    If Fannin improves his free throw shooting – last year he shot just 62 percent from the line—Fannin could have a very big year.

    Hooper and Johnson ranked 3 and 4 on the Mids’ scoring ledger last season, both averaging just under 10 ppg and Sprink was not far behind with his 8.7 ppg average. In fact, in league games, Sprink actually scored more than Hooper and Johnson, averaging 10.1 ppg.

    Hooper, a 6-5 senior, led Navy in three-pointers last season with 51. Johnson, a 6-1 guard, was an all-rookie pick last year after leading Navy in assists and steals. Sprink also was an all-rookie selection. His 5.1 rebounds and 34 three-pointers made were third on the team last season. His 36.6 percent shooting from three-point range was Navy’s best.

    Green, a 6-5 senior, is looking to regain the starting job he held at the beginning of last season, before now-graduated George O’Garro emerged to take Green’s job.

    It is, as Lange said, a solid nucleus, and if the youngsters step up, Navy could once again make waves in the second half of the season.

    In the meantime, the Midshipmen should be much better than they were early last season.

    One thing is certain: This year’s Navy team will not lose to Gettysburg. After being on Navy’s schedule 13 straight seasons, the Bullets have been unceremoniously dumped, with our old buddy Frank Marcinek’s Susquehanna team taking that spot on the Mids schedule.

    The DIII Crusaders will visit Annapolis Dec. 29, giving us a good excuse for a visit to Chickie and Ruth's for some crab soup.

    Navy Schedule
    Navy Roster

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    In his preview of Lehigh's season, Andre Williams of the Morning call reports:
    The showing in the BCA was encouraging despite the fact that Knight did not play because of an injury and the Hawks' two biggest players, 6-10 junior Jason Mgebroff and 7-0 freshman John Gourlay, played poorly.
    Tom Housenick of the Daily Item also reported Knight sat out the BCA due to an injury.

    Neither had any details on what the injury might be and neither attributed that report to any sources. Nothing on the Lehigh Web site or in their game notes and stories indicates that Knight was injured, but knowing Williams and Housenick, it is likely an accurate report.

    Of course that begs the question: Why did Lehigh feel a need to keep it secret?

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    Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel stopped in Lewisburg on his preseason tour and threw around a few musical cliches:
    Bucknell got its shot at greatness, got its shot at historic Kansas, got its shot at One Shining Moment and delivered.

    They can't ever take that away from them, because you can certainly argue no one has ever done it better.
    Another Bison tidbit from Wetzel :
    Speaking of assistant coaches, Bucknell coach Pat Flannery has a high-major staff. There is Nathan Davis, who managed to convince a recruit to come all the way from Encino, Calif., Mark Prosser, son of the incomparable Skip Prosser, who we will see Thursday, and the mackdaddy (to-be) Bryan Goodman.

    We aren't kidding about Goodman, either. He and his wife Amy are expecting quadruplets in March. We repeat, quadruplets.

    March Madness, indeed.

    "My wife calls it the Final Four," Goodman said. "If you think about it, you'll go nuts. I am taking donations. (Tell people to) send money to the Bryan Goodman Foundation."

    Meanwhile, Davis' wife, Miki, is expecting their first. "I tell (Bryan) his four are going to be setting screens for my one," said Davis.

    Maybe Flannery needs to keep these guys at the office later.
    Memo to my wife: Don't drink the water when we visit Lewisburg honey.

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    Tom Housenick of the Daily Item checks in with his Bucknell preview today.

    Most interesting, a quote from BU center Chris McNaughton that is right on the money:
    We know there are going to be bumps, there can be losing streaks," McNaughton said. "It's how we react to those situations. It's how we play at Navy (the Jan. 7 Patriot League opener) after facing Duke (on Jan. 2). We know what we're capable of as a team. We have to go out and prove it again."
    Last year Bucknell responded to those bumps by turning it on down the stretch. That experience should bode well for the Bison.

    At the same time, McNaughton's comment about the league opener also drives home the fact that even after last year's postseason showing by Bucknell and Holy Cross, the Patriot League is still likely to be a one-bid conference. With so many teams blending freshmen into significant roles, aside from Bucknell, it is hard to imagine anybody having the kind of non-conference record that would merit a bid in the committee's eyes. The one or two schools who might be able to fashion outstanding non-con records don't play a strong enough schedule for it to help.

    Bucknell, should it somehow tip-toe through the minefield it has scheduled out of conference with only one or two losses, might merit a second bid if they were to lose in the conference final after winning the regular season. But even that is a longshot.

    Housenick is quick to point out in his look at the rest of the league, that nobody is willing to concede the league to Bucknell.

    As an aside, in that same piece, Housenick is reporting that Joe Knight missed Lehigh's first three games because of an injury.

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    Butler 66, Lehigh 41 -- This paragraph from the AP story pretty much sums up Lehigh's night:
    Lehigh turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 25 percent from the floor in the first half. It narrowly avoided the team's worst scoring effort in coach Billy Taylor's four years. Lehigh scored just 39 points in a loss to Holy Cross on Jan. 31, 2003, during Taylor's first season at the Mountain Hawks helm.
    It would seem pretty obvious that Joe Knight's absence from the lineup is not because the Mountain Hawks are getting better production from the guys playing in his stead.
    Box Score

    No 20 Iowa 71, Colgate 53 -- Iowa was too much for Colgate, but the Raiders' Kendall Chones showed why he is getting so much preseason hype in Patriot League circles.

    Just take a look at his box score line: 20 points on 9-for-15, tying two Hawkeyes for the game high with 8 rebounds.

    AP wrap

    Temple 69, Army 37 -- It was expected to be ugly and it was. Army scored just 12 points in the first half. Hard as it might be to believe, that is not Army's record for futility -- although their media guide does not list the mark for fewest points in a half, we know back in 2004 they scored only 9 in the first half of a loss at Bucknell. The Black Knights shot just 12-for-42 from the field on the game, and turned the ball over 21 times. John Chaney stays perfect against the Patriot League and perfect in NIT home games, picking up his career win No. 500 in the process.

    AP Wrap | Box score

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    A year ago the Associated Press couldn't have found its way to Lewisburg if you put them on Route 45, pointed in the right direction and gave them a map. Now that they have realized there is no good men's basketball for their guy in the State College bureau to cover in Happy Valley, they are going utterly gaga over Bucknell. Not content with the preview they did a week or so ago, they moved another Bucknell preview on the wire this afternoon.

    They even included a capsule preview for use as a graphic or sidebar.

    Could this mean something more on AP from BU games than the customary three or four paragraph summary filed by the BU sports information folks?

    If only they had a bureau with a similar mentality in Hamilton.

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    Tuesday, November 15, 2005
    Butler 66, Lehigh 41 -- This paragraph from the AP story pretty much sums up Lehigh's night:
    Lehigh turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 25 percent from the floor in the first half. It narrowly avoided the team's worst scoring effort in coach Billy Taylor's four years. Lehigh scored just 39 points in a loss to Holy Cross on Jan. 31, 2003, during Taylor's first season at the Mountain Hawks helm.
    It would seem pretty obvious that Joe Knight's absence from the lineup is not because the Mountain Hawks are getting better production from the guys playing in his stead.
    Box Score

    No 20 Iowa 71, Colgate 53 -- Iowa was too much for Colgate, but the Raiders' Kendall Chones showed why he is getting so much preseason hype in Patriot League circles.

    Just take a look at his box score line: 20 points on 9-for-15, tying two Hawkeyes for the game high with 8 rebounds.

    AP wrap

    Temple 69, Army 37 -- It was expected to be ugly and it was. Army scored just 12 points in the first half. Hard as it might be to believe, that is not Army's record for futility -- although their media guide does not list the mark for fewest points in a half, we know back in 2004 they scored only 9 in the first half of a loss at Bucknell. The Black Knights shot just 12-for-42 from the field on the game, and turned the ball over 21 times. John Chaney stays perfect against the Patriot League and perfect in NIT home games, picking up his career win No. 500 in the process.

    AP Wrap | Box score

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    A year ago the Associated Press couldn't have found its way to Lewisburg if you put them on Route 45, pointed in the right direction and gave them a map. Now that they have realized there is no good men's basketball for their guy in the State College bureau to cover in Happy Valley, they are going utterly gaga over Bucknell. Not content with the preview they did a week or so ago, they moved another Bucknell preview on the wire this afternoon.

    They even included a capsule preview for use as a graphic or sidebar.

    Could this mean something more on AP from BU games than the customary three or four paragraph summary filed by the BU sports information folks?

    If only they had a bureau with a similar mentality in Hamilton.

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    From Pat Forde's preseason list of 40 names, games and trivial pursuit answers on ESPN.com:(
    12) Cinderella will come from the following pool of teams: Bucknell, Davidson, Old Dominion, Winthrop, Murray State, Penn and Western Kentucky. Might even be two of them in there.

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    Monday, November 14, 2005
    From the Associated Press:
    Kendall Chones and Kyle Roemer scored 13 points apiece to lead Colgate to a 55-42 victory over Utah Valley State on Monday in the first round of the Guardians Classic.
    Box score

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    One day after an impressive showing in a two-point loss to Northwestern of the Big Ten, Lehigh was less than impressive in squeaking past MEAC middle-of-the packer Coppin State.

    The Mountain Hawks needed a Jose Olivero three-pointer with 0.2 on the clock to pull out a 65-64 win.

    For the second time in as many games, the box score shows Jason Mgebroff did not start and Joe Knight did not play. Mgebroff saw only 13 minutes of action, scoring 4 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. Senior Mike Fischman, who has started at center in both of Lehigh's games, scored 10 points, despite shooting 1 for 7 from the field, and had 6 boards in 26 minutes of action.

    Both Knight and Mgebroff were listed as likely starters in the notes for the Lehigh game. Both were listed as reserves for this one. But nothing in the notes or the wire stories gives any hint as to why Knight, the Hawks' leading returning scorer, has not played.

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    Colgate vs. Utah Valley State,(Ames, Iowa, 4 p.m.): How to figure Colgate's foe in the first round of the Guardians Classic, the Utah Valley State Wolverines? Utah Valley State split a pair of exhibition games, getting past NAIA power Westminster College 81-72 and losing 59-57 to Division II Mesa State. UVS was 16-12 last year in its first season of Division I play, but graduated star guard Ronnie Price, who is currently on the roster of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. Seven players, including four starters, are back, along with four juco transfers.
    Colgate notes (pdf) | UVS notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | 'Gate radio


    Lehigh vs. Coppin State, (Laramie, Wyoming, 2 p.m.): Lehigh should bounce back from last night's loss when they meet Coppin in the consolation round of the BCA Invitational in Wyoming. Coppin is a young team, with no seniors and no size. Two starters do return from last year's 14-15 team that went 13-5 in the MEAC. Sophomore Darryl Proctor (13.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) was MEAC Rookie of the Year. Two 6-7 forwards -- a freshman and a sophomore-- and a 6-6 junior swingman are the only guys over 6-4 on Fang Mitchell's guard-laden roster (9 of 14 on the roster are listed as guards, two others as guard/forwards).
    Lehigh notes | Coppin season outlook | USA Today matchup | Gametracker

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    Northwestern 61, Lehigh 59

    From the AP story:Vedran Vukusic scored 25 points, including the go-ahead basket with 12.8 seconds left, as Northwestern came back from a double-digit deficit to beat Lehigh 61-59 Sunday night in the first round of the Black Coaches Association Invitational.

    After Vukusic's jumper from the corner, Evan Seacat recovered a loose ball on Lehigh's end of the court and was intentionally fouled by Mitch Gilfillan with 5.6 seconds left. Seacat made one free throw, and Vukusic, fouled on the inbound play, hit two more to put the game out of reach.
    Northwestern (1-0) will face Charlotte in Monday's semifinals; Lehigh (0-1) will play Coppin State in the consolation bracket.

    After trailing the entire first half, the Wildcats tied the game at 37 on a pair of Vince Scott free throws, then took their first lead, 40-38, on Scott's 3-pointer with 13:12 left.

    After that, the lead changed 10 times before Vukusic's go-ahead shot, with neither team leading by more than three points until the final seconds.

    Tim Doyle added 14 points for Northwestern.

    Jose Olivero scored 16 of his 19 for Lehigh in the first half; his only second-half basket was a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left. Kyle Neptune added 16 for the Mountain Hawks, but fouled out with 2:18 left in the game. Bryan White had 11 rebounds.

    Olivero scored the first eight points in a 10-2 Lehigh run in the first half, first hitting a pair of free throws, then sinking a pair of 3-pointers. Jason Mgebroff's layup with 11:12 left gave the Mountain Hawks an 18-7 lead.Some interesting notes . . . nowhere in the AP story, or in the Lehigh release, is Joe Knight mentioned. A check of the boxscore shows why: Knight did not play. Nothing in Lehigh's release, or in the pregame notes and releases on their site, indicates why Knight was MIA. For Lehigh to nearly knock off a Big Ten team, even one like Northwestern, while playing without Knight, bodes well for the Hawks, assuming Knight is not lost for an extended period of time.

    Other good news for Lehigh: Rebounding was expected to be an issue for the Mountain Hawks this season, but against Northwestern Lehigh had a 37-24 edge on the glass.

    Also of interest . . . it appears that Jason Mgebroff did not start last night . . . he played just 12 minutes, finishing with 2 points and 3 rebounds . . . 7-foot savior John Gourlay apparently is, as most Patriot League freshmen of his size are, a work in progress. The highly touted frosh from Arkansas played only 2 minutes, the "2" under minutes being the only number other than "0" in his line in the box score . . . Canadian frosh Greg Page also saw just two minutes of PT . . . with Knight out, freshman Matt Szalachowski played 16 minutes off the bench in relief of starter Mitch Gilfillan at the point . . . 19 turnovers that led to 19 NU points proved to be Lehigh's Achilles heel. Five of the TOs were by Olivero . . . Gilfillan and Szalachowski combined had only 4, but they also had just 4 assists between them . . . Lehigh plays again at 2 p.m. eastern, facing Coppin State, which lost 82-65 to Charlotte.

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    Sunday, November 13, 2005
    It would be great if the Utica Observer-Dispatch develops some staying power and actually covers Colgate this season. We have oft been asked why we don't have more on the Raiders on the site, and the explanation has always been that nobody ventures to Hamilton to cover Colgate's games, so often there is nothing to link to.

    The Observer-Dispatch is at least starting off on the right foot, with a preseason preview of the "new-look Raiders, which includes this quick synopsis from Emmitt Davis:
    "Four of our top eight guys basically have been away from the game for a whole year: Dan Gentile, Marc Daniels, Kyle Chones and Kendall Chones," said Davis, whose team struggled to a 12-16 record last year while Gentile and Daniels were hurt and the Chones brothers were ineligible. "The challenge is getting them all back up to speed. The key is bringing everyone together. That's why we're playing such a tough non-league schedule."
    The Raiders schedule is definitely beefed up from a year ago, when the annual loss at Syracuse was the only major on the slate. This season, if the 'Gate can get past Utah Valley State in the opener, their schedule will likely include Iowa, Princeton, Georgetown and either UTEP or Mississippi Valley State.

    Depending on who Holy Cross ends up playing in San Juan, the Gate's schedule will likey be the second or third toughest in the league this year.

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    Anybody who spent time here last season already knows we are big Kyle Whelliston fans. His Mid-Majority site is one of the best hoops havens on the Web and we are thrilled he will be doing stuff on the Mid Majors scene for ESPN.com this season (as long as his site does not suffer).

    OWN YOUR OWN:
    Still available for a limited time, Hoop Time's commemorative "Take a Walk" t-shirt as written about on ESPN.com.


    Kyle has some kind words for Bucknell in his ESPN piece on this season's possible Cinderella teams:
    After a shocking 69-66 road win over Big East power Pittsburgh on January 3rd (and a subsequent win over NIT finalist St. Joseph's), the switchboard at the Lewisburg, Pa., campus was overwhelmed by media calls. Once Patriot League play began, though, Holy Cross emerged as the conference favorite and local interest waned as the Bison stumbled at modest places as American and Navy. By mid-January, the Bison were only managing half-capacity crowds and the orange-'froed arena MC struggled mightily to whip Sojka Pavilion attendees into anything resembling a frenzy. The kids couldn't even get enough people to paint their bodies to spell out the school's name -- they had to settle for 'BUCKN.'

    So, we're not going to be fooled into believing the Kansas win created mass acceptance. Sure, home games against Villanova and St. Joseph's have sold out already and there have even been a few 'Rock, Chalk, Take a Walk' T-shirts seen on the streets around campus, but the Bison are undoubtedly still a mid -- which is a good thing. Just don't tell anyone they have all five starters back, including underrated point Abe Badmus, sharpshooter Kevin Bettencourt, athletic wing Charles Lee and legit big man Chris McNaughton.
    Just a few small problems: Even after the wins over Pitt and St. Joe's, Sojka was never close to full, save for the Patriot League opener when they let people in for free, bringing a plethora of the notoriously tight-fisted locals out for that game, few of which were seen again all season.

    The Villanova game is, indeed, sold out, but there are still plenty of seats available for the Saint Joseph's game.

    And the "BUCKN" thing ... That never happened either. (In fact BU sports information director Jon Terry assures me that they had enough to spell the whole name at every game. "At one point I think we even had an exclamation point," says Terry.) Ditto for the T-shirts ... we didn't sell that many and none were shipped to Lewisburg (though the official bookstore shirts were, and are, all over campus).

    Also on ESPN.com: Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb have both picked Bucknell as one of their three Mid Majors to keep an eye on this season. Says Katz:
    3. Bucknell
    The Bison return all five starters and no longer will be the sleeper team no one pays attention to until it's too late. Bucknell beat Pittsburgh and Saint Joseph's on the road last season. A win at Duke would be a bit farfetched, but beating Villanova at home isn't a reach. Saint Joe's and DePaul also could get nipped by the Bison.
    Gottlieb goes even further, predicting Holy Cross might make the PL a two-bid league for the first time.

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    In a Q&A piece on the upcoming season, Philadelphia Inquirer basketball writer Mike Jensen reveals he is one of the AP voters who included Bucknell on their pre-season ballot:
    With all of the players back from the team that knocked off Kansas in the NCAA tournament, the Bucknell Bison absolutely deserve to be in the 'others receiving votes' category. They received five points in the balloting. Villanova at Bucknell on Dec. 6 could be one of the more intense early-season games.

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    Patriot League scoreboards
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    Lehigh vs. Northwestern, 10 p.m. (Eastern)TONIGHT) : Expect to learn a lot about this year's Lehigh team from its opener against Northwestern in the Black Coaches Association Invitational in Laramie, Wyo. Northwestern, a perennial Big Ten doormat, is no powerhouse. But the Wildcats are still a Big Ten team with Big Ten recruits and a Princeton-style offense that can give you fits.

    In his sixth season at NU, coach Bill Carmody reportedly has his deepest team since he arrived in Evanston from Princeton in 2000. That, of course, is a dubious distinction since the 'Cats have had just one winning season (16-13 in 2001-02) under Carmody. Northwestern is 68-80 under Carmody, but 53 of those losses have been in Big Ten games. NU's non-conference mark under Carmody is 41-27.

    Despite its historic struggles (NU has never been to the NCAA TOurnament), the Wildcats are 6-1 all-time against Patriot League teams. None of those six wins, though, came against the modern-day, scholarship-era Patriot League. NU's last win over a PL team was a 69-61 win over Bucknell in 2003.

    Northwestern returns three starters and eight letterwinners, including All-Big Ten forward Vedran Vukusic, a 6-8 senior from Croatia who averaged almost 17 points and 4 rebounds per game last year.

    To be certain, Vukusic will be a tough matchup for the Mountain Hawks, especially since 6-10 senior center Mike Thompson is pretty good, too. Thompson, a Duke transfer who played in just 13 games last year due to an ankle injury, averaged 10 ppg.

    Northwestern also has good size on the bench, with 6-10 junior Vince Scott and 6-8 Kentucky transfer Bernard Cote´. Cote´, who Carmody calls a two-guard with a big man's body, could be a matchup nightmare, too, given his ability to shoot from the perimeter.

    In the backcourt, Michael Jenkins and Mohamed Hachad both return after much of starting last season. Jenkins, a former walk-on who mans the point, is just 5-9. Hachad, at 6-4, is another matchup problem for Lehigh's small backcourt. Hachad shot 48 percent from the field last season, most by slashing to the basket. He is not a three-point threat.

    It will be interesting to see if Carmody plays the taller Hachad on Joe Knight.

    Knight, as will be the case a lot this season for Lehigh, will be the key. If he can get things going offensively, it opens up a lot for the rest of the Lehigh lineup. On the other hand, If NU can check Knight one-on-one, it might be a long night for Lehigh.

    Between the presence of Knight, and its usually stingy style of defense, Lehigh certainly has a chance in this game. And with Charlotte or Coppin State awaiting the winner (actually, and the loser) in the second round, a 2-0 start is not out of the question if the Hawks get past Northwestern.

    Even with a first round loss, Lehigh should stand a decent shot of coming home from Wyoming 2-1, since UNC Wilmington or Alabama State are likely third round foes for the team that loses the Northwestern-Lehigh game, assuming chalk holds and Butler and Wyoming win their openers in the other half of the 8-team bracket.

    NOTE: The BCA Invitational will utilize the 2005 NCAA Men's Basketball Experimental Rules. The changes that will be in effect all apply to the playing floor. The three-point arc will be moved one foot farther out to a distance of 20 feet, nine inches, while the free throw lane will be extended one foot on each side. Also, a restricted area arc will be placed in the free throw lane, three feet from the center of the basket ring.
    Lehigh notes (pdf) | Northwestern Notes | USA Today matchup | BCA Invitational | Purple Reign Lehigh Scouting Report | Pioneer Press Northwestern preview| Express-Times preview | Gametracker | Lehigh Radio (pay service) | Northwestern Radio

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    Friday, November 11, 2005
    Everything is bigger in Texas. Except, it seems, their minor league basketball centers. A week after making him their fifth round pick in the NBDL draft, the Austin Toros have waived bye-bye(scroll down) to former Holy Cross player (and Hoop Time icon) Neil Fingleton.

    What is next for Neil? How about show business?

    After posting last week about another HC alum, Kevin Kerwin, and his film "Filmic Achievement," We got an e-mail from the former Crusader:
    Wanted to get in touch because my next film is based on a script I wrote titled "Pine Time" - a satire about college basketball and jock culture in particular. It's loosely based on my last two years riding the bench at Holy Cross. Our tentative production start is next summer - once cast and financing is in place.
    Surely there has to be a role for a 7-6 guy in a college hoops satire.

    By the way, for trailers and reviews of Kerwin's current production, visit www.filmicachievement.com.

    UPDATE: Just watched the trailer and it looks pretty good. (If you see this Kevin, feel free to grab that quote for a blurb and a link on your press page.

    Or maybe use this:
    "The trailer looks pretty cool. Kevin appears to handle a camera better than he handled the rock." Hoop Time
    Nov. 11, 2005
    Where have you gone?


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    The Boston Globe previews Holy Cross in today's edition.

    Not much new there, but for those Holy Cross fans who might worry Ralph Willard is conceding the title to Bucknell, a quote to put your minds at ease. Says Willard:
    "I'm not going to be running the white flag up the pole."
    The rest, in a nutshell: The guards will be great. The big guys need to come along.

    (By the way, the Globe is now requiring registration. If the link above takes you to a sign-in page, feel free to log in with our e-mail: hoop_time@hotmail.com and the password: hooptime)

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    Editor's Note: In the third installment of our series of team-by-team previews of Patriot League teams we take a look at the Eagles of American University.

    If you are an American University fan, you might be wondering what lies ahead for the Eagles in the 2005-2006 season.

    You are not alone. The guy who gets paid to figure those things out is not sure what to expect either.

    “I really don’t know a lot about my team,” Jones told the league’s media day gathering.

    The confusion goes beyond the usual AU excuse of not being able to speak the players’ native tongues. Matter of fact, with all five of this year’s freshmen coming from schools right here in the U.S.A., the Eagles are down to just three foreign players (all Lithuanians naturally) on their roster.

    That is one of the few known factors about this team. Andre Ingram is another known quantity.

    The 6-3 junior was second in the league in scoring last season, averaging better than 15 points per game. The consensus all-league pick also averaged a lot of minutes – almost 35 per game. That seemed to take a toll down the stretch. In the final four games of last season, Ingram shot less than 30 percent from the field (13-of-44, 29.5 percent) and averaged only 9 points per game.

    Without a doubt, having a guy like Ingram in the lineup will give American a puncher’s chance every time out. Just ask Lafayette. Ingram dropped 37 on the Leopards last season. Virginia Commonwealth probably remembers him, too. Ingram scorched VCU for 38 in AU’s season opener last year.

    Here is the problem for American: As hard as they had to ride Ingram last year, they might need to depend on him even more this go around. The next four, and five of the next six, leading scorers from last year’s 16-12 (overall) team that finished third in the league (8-6 PL) are gone.

    Ingram’s backcourt mate, Jason Thomas, whose 39-percent three-point shooting helped keep the lane open for Ingram’s drives has graduated, taking his 12.4 points per game with him. Matej Cresnik (6-9, 9.4 ppg), 6-7 Raimondas Petrauskas (8.6 ppg, 10.1 in league games) and 6-6 forward Patrick Okpwae (7.1 ppg) are also gone. For those of you keeping score at home, that is 37.5 points per game that needs to be replaced – 40.1 if you throw in 5-9 guard Ryan Graham’s 2.6 ppg. It’s also 18.4 rebounds – over half the tam’s average last year – that must be replenished.

    At the risk of seeming to heap it on, the loss of Cresnik, Petrauskas, and Okpwae also means the loss of three of four players taller than 6-5 on the Eagles roster.

    Jones is expecting the lone returning big man to fill a lot of that void. Brayden Billbe played in all 28 games as a sophomore, shooting 52 percent from the floor. The 6-10 center averaged only 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, but Jones expects this to be Billbe’s breakout year.

    “Brayden has probably improved, from his freshman year until now, more than any player I have ever coached from his freshman to junior year,” Jones says.

    That won’t necessarily translate into bigger numbers for Billbe, especially early in the season. South Carolina transfer Paulius Joneliunas (6-11) becomes eligible at the end of the first semester, but until then, skinny freshman Brian Gilmore (6-8, 210) will be the only other guy taller than 6-5 in uniform.

    Since Gilmore is viewed as more of a perimeter player, that does not bode well for AU’s frontline, especially on offense.

    Understandably, Jones is already looking ahead to conference play, when Joneliunas will be available.

    “That will be a big shot in the arm for conference play, having Paulius . . . We go from being really thin up front, and small, to at least having a reasonable amount of depth and decent size with Billbe at 6-10 and Paulius at 6-11,” says Jones.

    Until then, Jones says, “We are going to have to have some combination of Jordan Nichols (6-5), the freshman, Brian Gilmore, a freshman, and Travis Lay (6-5), a sophomore who did not play hardly at all last year.”

    Don’t expect one of that trio to win the job outright.

    “They are all close. They will have to do it by committee. I don’t see one of them jumping that far ahead of the others,” Jones says.

    It goes without saying that American will have a tough time staying above .500 in non-conference play. Especially with five straight road games to open the campaign and only four non-con home dates overall (The good news: All four—Mount Saint Mary’s, Towson, Howard and Yale should be winnable).

    Jones is hoping the experience the young frontcourt guys gain early, combined with the infusion of Joneliunas, will allow American to peak in time for the league tournament.

    “Those guys are going to have to play some important minutes for us early in the season. Hopefully during that time, the experience they get can pay off so that when Paulius comes in we will be that much stronger,” Jones said.

    The backcourt is slightly more experienced, with 5-11 junior Linas Lekavicius returning at the point and 6-5 junior Sekou Lewis likely to step into the three spot. Lewis was a key man off the bench last season, averaging nearly 15 minutes per game in his 22 appearances. Lekavicius, whose natural position is the two, is a serviceable point, though hardly in the class of Lehigh’s Joe Knight, Bucknell’s Abe Badmus or the Holy Cross duo of Torey Thomas and Pat Dougherty.

    Freshman Derrick Mercer(5-9) could challenge for time at the point. If one of those two steps up to claim serious minutes, it might allow Lekavicius to see time at both guard positions. Another freshman, 5-11 Garrison Carr, who can play both guard positions, and 6-2 junior Arvydas Eitutavicius will also.

    Rounding out the AU roster are senior guard Craig Weinstein and sophomore Romone Penny. Between them they saw all of 44 minutes of action last year (actually, Penny saw none. Weinstein logged all of those 44 minutes). In the preseason prospectus, Weinstein, one of the team’s captains, is described as a guy who “will be asked to mentor some of the younger players on the team, teaching them how to play hard and practice harder.” Penny is called a “a natural leader and a good locker room influence.”

    Roughly translated, both descriptions man the same thing: take a seat down there at the end of the bench fellows.

    If you are the kind of guy who goes for what editors like to call a “nut graph” that sums things up succinctly, American’s prospects can be reduced to this simple sentence: Wait until next year.

    “It is safe to say that we are, and will be for some time, a work in progress,” Jones admitted.

    With only one senior, a freshman class that Colgate coach Emmitt Davis calls “maybe the best recruiting class in the league” and 6-9 Georgetown transfer Cornelio Guibunda already in the fold for next season, American won’t have to wait long to return to its accustomed spot in the league’s first division. But it is not likely to happen this season.

    NOTES: AU’s freshman class is long on football genes. Nichols’ brother Jerome played at Wake Forest and Carr’s father played at Washington . . . not to be outdone, Penny’s cousin is linebacker Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens … Lewis prepped for a year at The Pendleton School in Florida after playing his high school ball as LeBron James’ teammate at Cleveland St. Vincent-St. Mary’s . . . Lewis had a scare in preseason drills when he experienced some tightness in his chest, but he has been cleared to play after a full exam by a cardiologist . . . Carr has been doing an Ingram impersonation in preseason drills, donning a protective mask to shield a broken nose.

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    The Washington Post has decidedly low expectations for American this season. From the Post's AU scouting report:
    Postseason prospects (from 1 to 4 basketballs): 1.5 basketballs -- The Eagles have finished with a winning record four years in a row for the first time in 30 years. Extending that streak to five would be a significant accomplishment.
    The Post also scouted Navy:
    Postseason prospects (from 1 to 4 basketballs): One basketball -- With all six freshmen expected to see playing time, any improvement on last season's record would be satisfying.
    We're not so sure. The Mids would seem to have every bit as good a chance at the postseason as AU. That might mean AU should only be a 1 ball rating, too, though. If either of these teams are still playing after the first round of the league tournament, it will probably be a surprise.

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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005
    Bucknell's season opener at Rider is still over a week away. Too soon for us to preview that game, but not too soon for the Trentonian to give you a preseason look at the Broncs, who are led by three seniors who have won a MAAC regular season title and made the conference final already in their careers and a sophomore big man who might the Trentonian calls "a potentially dominant man in the middle."

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    There are three names you hear over and over and over every time you talk to somebody about Lehigh hoops: Joe Knight, Jose Olivero and Jason Mgebroff..

    ‘With Joe Knight, Jose Olivero and Jason Mgebroff, we have a great nucleus,” said Billy Taylor during a conversation at the league’s media day.

    The only other names he mentioned were freshmen. And they came up when he was asked specifically about the new members of the Mountian Hawks team.

    You look around and you notice a lot of people are picking Lehigh to be in the top three in the league and it makes you wonder about the quality of the math programs at these supposedly fine academic institutions. Is it just me, or do others worry how Lehigh is going to man five positions with three players?

    Billy Taylor is a fine coach, but he is no magician. Unless his assistants are named Penn and Teller, a few other names on the Lehigh roster need to become recognizable in a hurry.

    Especially when you stop and look real close at the three who you know.

    Let’s start with Knight. Is he good? Certainly? Is there reason to suspect he is going to score 45 a night in league play? Of course not. Even with that tournament record showing against Colgate, Knight only averaged 13.6 points per game.

    That is not chopped liver. Knight was fourth in the league in scoring and led in assists. Not bad at all for a guy who took the previous season off to bring up his grades at a Texas Community College.

    “Getting him another year of experience in our program will be very important and beneficial to our team’s success. I look for him to have a really big, breakout year,” said Taylor.

    ”He is somebody who has scored well, when he was at High Point before he transferred to Lehigh. He has shown he has the ability to score. But he also distributes the ball . . . He is somebody who can do both and he has really improved defensively.”

    All true. At High Point Knight averaged 16.3 ppg as a sophomore in a season that included a 40-point bomb dropped on Vanderbilt.

    The problem for Lehigh is, this is a guard-dominated league. As impressive as Knight’s numbers have been, as good a player as he is, four other guards were named to the preseason all-league team ahead of him and only a Lehigh flack could make an argument that he got hosed.

    Take a look inside Knight’s numbers and you will see what we mean. In five games against the top two teams in the league last year, both of whom return their entire backcourts, Knight shot 12-for-59 –- 20 percent – from the field. He reached double figures in just two of those games, and would have averaged less than 10 per game if not for the 10-for-10 foul shooting that boosted him to a 24-point night when Lehigh upset Bucknell in Stabler. From the field in that one, Knight was 6-for-15.

    Olivero actually had better numbers against BU and HC, averaging 14 points per game. His 33 percent (17-for-52) shooting against those two, though, only looks good because it is being mentioned so close to Knight’s 20 percent. On its own, 33 percent isn’t even good enough to earn the label mediocre.

    Then there is Mgebroff, who even Knight admits “took a little bit of a step back last year.”

    As a freshman, Mgebroff appeared ahead of the normal Patriot League big man curve. The 6-10 center averaged 7 points and almost 4 rebounds per game. He got better as the season progressed, too, shooting 63 percent from the field in league games and making the all-tournament team after scoring 42 points in three games.

    Last season, though, Mgebroff’s development slowed. His 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds were only marginally better than his freshmen numbers, this despite more playing time. Mgebroff was solid, but hardly spectacular.

    Taylor blames it on having to adjust to a new point guard.

    “It took time for jason and Joe to get comfortable playing together,” Taylor said.

    He is convinced Mgebroff will have a better year.

    “Jason looks good. He is running well, rebounding the ball well. I think he understands what he has to do for our team to be successful. It is somewhat of a new role for him because he has never been thrust into the limelight in terms of having to shoulder a good amount of the scoring and rebounding load,” Taylor said.

    “We want him to do that. We want him to be a physical presence in the paint because we think he can be a difference maker.”

    He will have to be. The two guys starting at forward beside him are 6-5, 195 junior swingman Kyle Neptune and 6-6, 200-pound sophomore Bryan White. They might consider running some of those old Wendy’s ads in the Mountain Hawks’ promos on Service Electric. Where is the beef?

    Between them, White and Neptune averaged a combined 6 points and 4 rebounds per game last season. Neither offers the offense that Nick Monserez (8.7 ppg, 44 three-pointers) did or the defensive toughness and rebounding tenactity that Earl Nurse (team-high 5.6 boards per game) brought to the table.

    The beef, by the way, would be the 7-foot, 250-pound freshman on the bench. John Gourlay averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and blocked four shots per game at Arkansas’ Subiaco Academy. But then, don’t all 7-footers who can run and chew gum at the same time post impressive numbers in Arkansas prep school circles?

    There seems to be general consensus that Gourlay is a good recruit. Patriot League teams don’t get many legitimate 7-footers. But they also do not get ready made big men, unless they are 20-some-year-old Germans. If a 7-footer was ready to step in and compete at the Division I level right off the bat, he would not end up at a Patriot League school. He’d be at Duke or UConn or Kentucky or someplace like them.

    Foot injuries in the preseason have not exactly speeded up Gourlay’s progress, either.

    Another freshman mentioned in any discussion of Lehigh’s frontcourt is 6-9 Philip Anderson.

    “Anderson is 6-9-and-a-half and has terrific skills. He can shoot the ball really well,” said Taylor.

    Until those two freshmen get their sea legs, expect Taylor to rely heavily on seniors Mike Fischman (6-9) and James Anderson (6-7) off the bench.

    In the backcourt, Taylor is big on another freshman, 6-5 Canadian Greg Page.

    “Greg brings some more depth to the wing position. He has a great body and really understands the game,” Taylor said.

    The other perimeter threats on the bench are 6-2 freshman Matt Szalachowski, a local 20-year-old product who prepped at Blair Academy and 5-11 senior Mitch Gilfillan, a former all-rookie pick whose future stalled when he got stuck behind Austen Rowland as a sophomore and Knight last year.

    Obviously, for Lehigh to live up to top three expectations, they are going to need some freshmen to grow up in a hurry.

    Can they?

    “It is always hard to say,” Taylor said.

    He is about to find out.

    “They all will be in the rotation. They will all get a chance to play. It ultimately comes down to what they do with those minutes on the floor,” said Taylor.

    NOTES: When they hand out Lehigh media guides, they should include a pair of reading glasses . . . the font size throughout is smaller than the stuff newspapers use for box scores . . . the size used for stats, including last season’s boxscores, is even smaller . . . Lehigh gets the earliest tip of any league school, opening Sunday against Northwestern in the opening round of the 2005 BCA Invitational on the campus of the University of Wyoming. . . . From Lehigh’s opening game notes: Under Billy
    Taylor, the Mountain Hawks are 36-4 when outrebounding their opponents, including a record of 10-2 last season. When getting outrebounded, Lehigh is just 13-26 under Taylor . . . That gives some perspective on the potential problems of a small frontline, eh? . . . We used the phrase “eh” as a salute to Page, who comes from Quebec, not for Anderson, who hails from La Canada, which is in California . . . Knight’s hops are no secret, but did you know in addition to being able to sky, he also can cover great distances in the air. In fact, Knight was a Tennessee high school state champion in the long jump . . . Szalachowski is the younger brother of Lehigh director of basketball operations Brad Szalachowski played for two seasons at Lehigh, then served as a student assistant coach for two seasons before joining the staff following graduation in the spring.

    Lehigh schedule
    Lehigh roster

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    Tuesday, November 08, 2005
    In his preview of Lehigh's opener against Northwestern, Andre Williams of The Morning Call refers to Bucknell's win over Kansas and Holy Cross' win over Notre Dame and argues Lehigh has a chance to deliver a similar shocker:
    Now Lehigh, under fourth-year coach Billy Taylor, gets a chance to make some big news first. The Mountain Hawks open their season against Northwestern of the Big Ten in the first round of the three-day Black Coaches Association Invitational in Laramie, Wyo., at 8 p.m., Sunday.
    Well, not exactly, Andre.

    Yes, it would be a good win for the Mountain Hawks. Any time a Patriot League team knocks off a team from a major conference like the Big Ten, it is a quality win. But as Williams himself points out, Northwestern is not exactly a perennial power:
    Beating Northwestern, a program that has never been to the NCAA Tournament, would be a good start for Lehigh, which is coming off a 14-15 season that included a fourt-place finish in the Patriot League tournament.
    We added the emphasis to the part about never having danced. When you come from a conference that routinely sends five teams, sometimes even six, to the tournament, having never made it is a pretty significant statement about your program.

    This is not Kansas, or Notre Dame. Not Pitt or Saint Joseph's either. This is a team that was 15-16 a year ago. This is a team that was 3-12 away from home.

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    In a story on Syracuse's schedule, the Syracuse Post-Standard points to three Big East conference games -- UConn, Louisville and Villanova -- as "can't miss games" for Orange fans.

    Otherwise:
    Syracuse's non-conference schedule lacks the usual punch. Aside from potential matchups against Texas Tech and either Florida or Wake Forest in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, there's no high-major opponent on the docket.

    Otherwise, there is:

    Bucknell, which knocked off Kansas in last year's NCAA tourney
    After the number Vermont did on Syracuse last year, you'd think the Syracuse media would give a highly regarded mid-major its props.

    Interestingly, the story also notes:
    However, the highlight of the non-conference schedule will take place in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Dec. 27 as SU takes on Towson in a Gerry McNamara homecoming special.
    Missing from that note is how Syracuse ducked playing Bucknell in Wilkes-Barre after the Bison upset Pitt last year. At that point, Bucknell was in serious negotiations to play the Orange in Wilkes-Barre. After that, talks cooled and when the Bison beat Kansas, those talks went into the deep freeze.

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    A student writer by the name of Matt Stevens sounds excited about Bucknell in his column in the Daily Eastern News.

    Among his observations:
    One thing is for sure about the defending Patriot League champion program, if they make back-to-back, they'll bring the band.
    Having heard that Bucknell band play "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for 15 years now, I'd argue they are better off renting a better band again this year if they make it back to the dance.

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    Monday, November 07, 2005
    Bucknell's Chris McNaughton has been named to CollegeInsider.com's 25-man preseason Mid-Major All-America team.

    McNaughton is the only Patriot League player on the list. Holy Cross fans can use College Insider's comments page to complain about the exclusion of Kevin Hamilton.

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    Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of team-by-team previews set to run over the next week or so. As we mentioned with the first installment, they are in no particular order. Just because Colgate is second in the rotation does not mean we think they will be second in the league -- though the folks at Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook think they will be (see post below).

    Who guards Kendall Chones?

    That is the question a lot of Patriot League coaches will try to figure out when they face Colgate this year.

    The 21-year-old sophomore from Cleveland, along with his brother Kyle, missed all of last season for academic reasons. Their return, along with the return of what is probably the best three-point shooting backcourt in the league, makes Colgate a serious darkhorse in the Patriot League.

    The Raiders are picked fourth in the preseason poll, but there are plenty of reasons to suspect the ‘Gate might be the biggest obstacle in Bucknell’s title defense path.

    There are those guards. When 6-1 Alvin Reed, 6-3 Kyle Roemer and 6-0 Jon Simon are hitting on all cylinders, Colgate is a very dangerous team. Just ask Bucknell, which needed Chirs Niesz’s heroics to squeak out a one-point win at home against the Raiders in last season’s regular season finale. Reed, Roemer and Simon combined for 34 of Colgate’s 59 points in that 60-59 loss.

    All three averaged in double figures last season, all three had at least 44 three-pointer, all three shooting 38 percent or better outside the arc. Reed was an all-league pick last season. Roemer was an all-rookie pick. All Simon did was average 12.5 points per game (12th in the league) while hitting 39 percent (ninth in the league) from three-point range.

    “Colgate is going to be the surprise of the league because they have really good guard play with Reed and Simon and the kid from California, the surfer (Roemer),” says Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard.

    Well, maybe. As impressive as their offensive production has been, match them up with the other backcourts in a league full of great guards, and you’d be hard-pressed to pick Colgate better than fourth in the Patriot, with American’s trio of Ingram, Lekavicius and Lewis close at fifth.

    Bucknell and Holy Cross are both clearly better, and deeper. Lehigh, no matter who plays the three, has to get the nod, too, after the way Joe Knight had his way against Colgate in the tournament.

    But there is more to Colgate this year than their guards. Upfront they look to be much better, even after losing second-team all-leaguer Andrew Zidar to graduation. Part of that is Marc Daniels, a guy who Colgate coach Emmitt Davis expects to give the Raiders a far more physical presence in the post.

    Daniels is an athletic 6-9, 245 senior who Davis promises “can shoot the ball.” He missed most of last season with a broken foot. Davis is bullish on his return.

    “Nobody knows who this kid is in the league because he has not played. If he stays healthy, he will be a guy people will know about, Davis says.

    Daniels will be more physical than Zidar. But will he be enough against guys like McNaughton, Clifford and Mgebroff? Probably not.

    Even Davis admits: “We don’t have, like a lot of teams have, that 6-11, 265 lb. guy in the middle. Daniels is our closet thing to that.”

    That is where Kendall Chones comes in. At 6-7, 255, Chones was an all-rookie pick two years ago, scoring in double figures nine times, including 19 against both Bucknell and Holy Cross. Against Lehigh he posted a 10-point, 11-rebounds double-double.

    This kids is legit. Don’t let his sophomore status fool you, either. Chones, 21, spent a year prepping at Fork Union Military Academy and was not in school last season.

    “Kendall Chones is a player who could be a first-team all-league player,” says Davis.

    The matchups are intriguing. Take Bucknell, for example. The Bison are likely to employ a three-headed monster at the four, with 6-8 Darren Mastropaolo, 6-6 Donald Brown and 6-7 Andrew Morrison. It will be interesting to see if Mastropaolo is quick enough, Brown strong enough and Morrison a little of both enough to guard Chones.

    Holy Cross’ foul-prone Kevin Hyland will have his hands full with the more athletic Chones and Lehigh certainly does not seem to have anybody to match up wih him.

    This might be the spot to drop a mention of Chones’ brother Kyle. An inch shorter that Kendall at 6-6, and at 220, 35 pounds lighter, Kyle Chones could also bring a lot to the Raiders’ table. In fact, while Kendall got more attention and accolades as a freshman, Davis has told other coaches that when they left school last year, Kyle might actually have been the better player.

    “Both those kids could start for anybody in the league,” Willard says.

    With the Chones gang and Daniels on the floor, Colgate’s frontline might be small, but it is as athletic as any in the league. Davis will try to take advantage of that.

    “We are going to have to play great defense, get the ball up and down, and utilize the athleticism of our guards and inside players,” Davis says.

    Last year, Colgate was a jump-shooting, perimeter-oriented team. This year, Davis expects that to change. Daniels and Kendall Chones to provide a low post presence that Zidar lacked.

    “That is going to open it up for those other guys. Alvin Reed, Jon Simon and Kyle Roemer were among the top 10 in the league in three-point shooting last year and if you have an inside game to go with it, it will open it up even more for those guys. And we will be better inside this year,” Davis says.

    The question is: will the new guys inside improve Colgate’s rebounding? That was a problem area for the Raiders last year, as it is for a lot of teams that live and die by the jump shot.

    Two guys accounted for a third of Colgate’s rebounds last season – Zidar and 6-8 pogo Alex Woodhouse. Zidar is graduated and Woodhouse, a sophomore, was lost for the season when he injured his knee during the first hour of Colgate’s first practice.

    “We were not a great rebounding team last year. Zidar did a lot of our rebounding for us and he is gone, so rebounding is going to be a key,” Davis says.

    “The big question for us is going to be rebounding. Hopefully Daniels, the Chones and Peter Minchilla (6-10, 230 soph.), some of these other guys, can pick up on that.”

    There are other question marks. The Raiders turned the ball over more than they took it away last year and 6-4 sophomore guard Todd Checovich was the only Raider to appear in more than 18 games with more assists than turnovers.

    Joe Knight showed the backcourt can be torched with his 49-points in the semifinals.

    The Raiders’ depth is questionable, too.

    Still, if the Chones brothers live up to their advance billing, Colgate could make things interesting.

    NOTES: The Chones are two of triplet borthers . . . the third, Kameron, plays at Brown . . . Cameron is the runt of the litter at 6-5, 215 . . a sister, Kaayata plays for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA . . . another sister, Kareeda, works for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks . . . Despite its remote location on the snow-covered tundra, Colgate has players on its roster from California, (2), Arizona (2) and Texas . . . Colgate boasts two transfers from St. Mary’s (Cal.) on its roster, 6-8 junior Simon Knight and 6-3 junior Daniel Waddy, who must sit out this season (which brings up an interesting question: given the Patriot League’s no redshirt rule, will Waddy still have two years of eligibility left after playing two years at St. Mary’s?) . . . Willie Morse, a 6-3 guard from State College Pa. will also sit out after transferring from St. Bonaventure, where he played 22 games as a freshman last season (and who raises the same question). . . Colgate opens the season Nov. 14 against Utah Valley State in the Guardians Classic at Iowa . . . The host Hawkeyes and Maryland-Eastern Shore complete the four-team field . . . Colgate’s Nov. 18 home opener against Florida Atlantic . . . That game will be former Notre Dame and North Carolina coach Matt Doherty’s debut as coach of the Owls.


    Colgate Schedule
    Colgate Roster

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    Chris Dortch, editor of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, was kind enough to send along a snapshot of how his publication views the Patriot League.

    Chris said it was OK for us to post this, but if you want to read the rest of what they have to say about the league's teams, you'll have to buy the book (or borrow the one Chris is sending us in exchange for the link).

    PATRIOT LEAGUE

    BLUE RIBBON FORECAST
    1. Bucknell
    2. Colgate
    3. Holy Cross
    4. Lehigh
    5. American
    6. Navy
    7. Army
    8. Lafayette

    ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
    G-Kevin Hamilton, SR, Holy Cross
    G-Keith Simmons, JR, Holy Cross
    G-Andre Ingram, JR, American
    G-Charles Lee, SR, Bucknell
    C-Chris McNaughton, JR, Bucknell

    PLAYER OF THE YEAR
    Kevin Hamilton, SR, Holy Cross

    NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
    Derrick Mercer, FR, American

    2004-05 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
    March 3-5, At homecourt of first place team
    March 10, Championship game at highest remaining seed

    2004-05 CHAMPIONS
    Holy Cross (Regular season)
    Bucknell (Conference tournament)

    2004-05 POSTSEASON PARTICIPANTS
    Postseason record: 2-2 (.500)

    NCAA
    Bucknell (Second round)

    NIT
    Holy Cross (Second round)

    TOP BACKCOURTS
    1. Bucknell
    2. Holy Cross
    3. American

    TOP FRONTCOURTS
    1. Colgate
    2. Bucknell
    3. Lehigh

    INSIDE THE NUMBERS
    2004-05 Conference RPI: 22nd (of 32)
    Conference RPI (last five years): 23-27-26-26-22
    We have a hard time seeing how untested Marc Daniels and a guy who sat out last year, Kendall Chones, makes for a better frontcourt than Chris McNaughton and Bucknell's three-headed monster at the four spot, especially when you factor in the depth Bucknell has and the fact that John Clark might return by conference play, while Alex Woodhouse will not.

    We also have a tough time seeing Lehigh ahead of Holy Cross up front. Would anyone seriously consider a Tim Clifford for Jason Mgebroff trade? And the four spot for Lehigh is anything but solid with Earl Nurse gone. For that matter, we are not sold on Colgate being better up front than the Crusaders, either.

    We also are not sold on Army finishing ahead of Lafayette, but then stranger things have happened. Just ask Kansas.

    Anyhow, if you want to order a copy of the book, just visit their Web site.

    By the way, while we are handing out plugs, we call your attention to a new link on the right side of the site. If you have been reading Hoop Time for a while, Ken Pomeroy's site is not new to you. We link to Ken's RPI ratings on a regular basis.

    But you might also want to check out Ken's blog, which is always an interesting read.

    Ken says he is amazed there are two Patriot League blogs out there. We are amazed there are math majors that understand hoops as well as him.

    Read Full Post
    Sunday, November 06, 2005
    Everybody played a lot. Everybody scored a little. Bucknell crushed a D-II team that started four freshmen. Final score, BU 91, Lock Haven 53,

    If you really want to know more, here's the links:

    Bucknell web site summary
    Box score

    For those wanting to in-depth analysis (we know you are out there!), feel free to compare it to Penn State's exhibition win over Lock Haven Thursday night.

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    Saturday, November 05, 2005
    Two days after getting beat on a RazorSharks story by the local alt weekly, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle has a story on the city's new ABA team, with a lot of it talking about Scott Martzloff, who played high school ball in the Rochester area before playing collegiately at Holy Cross.

    Among the Martzloff tidbits:
    Martzloff has Saturdays off, but he's plenty busy Monday through Friday as an assistant principal at Edison Tech.

    The 7-foot-1 Martzloff was part of a terrific McQuaid team that featured sharp-shooting Greg Woodard (who went on to play at Villanova) and won the school's first state basketball title in 1988.

    . . .

    Martzloff, 35, went on to play Division I ball at Holy Cross after McQuaid and landed a tryout with the NBA's Detroit Pistons in 1992. He played in Hong Kong in 1994 and in Holland briefly the next year before deciding to focus on his teaching career.

    Now married with two daughters-- and a son on the way in January -- the Henrietta native has been an administrator administrator at Edison since 2001.

    He caught the basketball bug again this past summer and played for a team in the Los Angeles Summer Pro League. He tried out for the RazorSharks in September and signed a contract last week.

    "I'm really excited about it," says Martzloff, who is down to 254 pounds after topping the scales at 296 a year ago. "I wish they had something like this quite a while ago."

    Martzloff expects the Edison students to "razz" him if he makes a bad play tonight.

    "I also think they'll be really excited about it," he says.

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    Friday, November 04, 2005
    (Note: This is the first in a series of team-by-team previews we will post over the next week or so. They are in no particular order. Not alphabetical. Not predicted order of finish. Like the universe, they will be quite random, so don't read anything into your team's spot in the rotation.)


    Jim Crews says his Army basketball team will be better this year.

    Even hardcore Navy fans hope he is right.

    Last year’s Black Knights were not just bad, they were awful. Army finished with a 3-24 record, just one of those wins – what can only be described as a freak upset over Navy—against a Division I team. The Cadets were outscored by an average of 12 points per game (67.9-55.9), a margin that grew even wider when they got into league play (67.8-53.7). This despite a weak non-league schedule that included only three teams in the top 200 in the RPI (195 Albany, 168 Fairleigh Dickinson and 73 Notre Dame).

    Suffice to say the Cadets final RPI of 327 (out of 330) was a surprise only because it is hard to imagine three teams being worse.

    For the league’s sake, Army simply has to be better. And it should be, at least on paper. If for no other reason than the fact that Crews has some size this year. Last season’s roster included only one player, 6-11 junior Jimmy Sewell, over 6-6. Sewell started only 14 games, and averaged only 15 minutes per game last season. His lack of contribution meant most of the time Army had 6-6 Colin Harris on the floor surrounded by four undersized guards.

    The guards, led by second team all-league pick Matt Bell (14.3 ppg) will still be Army’s strength. Bell, junior Cory Sinning(7.6 ppg) and 6-4 sophomore swingman Corban Bates (7 ppg) give Army a decent returning backcourt, with several other players who saw lots of playing time providing some depth.

    Out of eight freshmen, four are out of U.S. Military Academy Prep School., making them the equivalent of redshirt freshmen. Three of those MAPS newcomers are frontcourt players (6-7 Doug Williams, 6-9 Brandon Brandewie and 6-5 Kenny Brewer). Another 6-7 regular freshman, Curtis Koszuta, is also on board, giving Crews some badly needed size.

    “We got some good size with that (the MAPS freshmen) and a little more athletic ability and a little more bulk, especially for freshmen. They have nice bulk for freshmen,” said Crews.

    “Collectively, we have a lot better size. But what is interesting, as you start putting five guys out there, maybe we are not as tall as we want to be. But when you look at our whole team, we have size right now. But a lot of it is young.”

    Even the returnees are young. Army has only one senior on its roster.

    Still. compared to last season’s roster, which included 11 sophomores and six freshmen, this year’s Army squad is a veteran crew.

    “We are still young, but not as young. We still only have one senior, but we have six juniors,” Crews said.

    Despite the added size, it is tough to envision Army doing much better in the league. Realistically, the most optimistic prediction would be that the Cadets might manage to scrape past Lafayette to escape the league cellar. But doubling last season’s one league win will be a challenge, given the strength of the top six teams in the league.

    Army's strength is in the backcourt, but the Black Knights guards simply are no match for Bucknell's, or Holy Cross', American's. Colgate's. Lehigh's, Navy's or even Lafayette's.

    Army’s best hope for increasing its win total this season probably lies in its weak out of conference slate. Aside from a preseason NIT meeting with Temple and a November 29 date in Hartford with UConn, the Cadets non-con schedule would be considered cream-filled if Army was even a middle of the pack sort of team.

    The seven other opponents (VMI twice, The Citadel, Columbia, Sacred Heart, Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth) had a combined record of 64-119 last year, with an average RPI of 268. None of them finished higher than 210 in the RPI and two – VMI (316) and Sacred Heart (325) were in the bottom 15.

    Four foes-- VMI (Big South), The Citadel (Southern Conference), Sacred Heart (NEC) and Columbia (Ivy)—are picked to finish last in their conference. Brown is picked seventh, just ahead of Columbia in the Ivy.

    Certainly the opportunity to improve on last season’s futility would seem to be there, though Army is probably at least another year away from making serious noise in the Patriot League.

    Still, said Crews, “We are excited. We are excited about the young guys and we are excited about the guys who have invested a couple of years in the program. We are making some strides.”

    Army schedule
    Army roster

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    From the e-mail in box:
    I'm a student at HC, class of '07, and I was working out on Monday at the Hart Center, and who do I see running on the treadmill? Mr. Neil Fingleton. He looked to be in pretty good shape and he's still 7'6. I didn't get a chance to talk to him, unfortunately, so I have no idea what his next move will be, basketball wise.
    Well, apparently he was on the treadmill getting ready for this:

    According to a story on the Austin Toros picks in last night's NBDL (NBA's development league) Draft:
    Neil Fingleton, a 7-5 center from Holy Cross, will control the paint for the Toros this season.

    "He's a piece of work, but that late in the draft -- why not?" (Toros coach Dennis) Johnson said. "He can be a pleasant surprise. You can't teach height, and 7-5 is 7-5."
    The Toros took Neil in the fifth round of the draft.

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    Holy Cross fans might remember Kevin Kerwin as a guy who lettered for four years with the Crusaders in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Kerwin is hoping to gain a wider audience these days, having transitioned from the hardwoods to the silver secreen.

    According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Kerwin, who went on to study film at Columbia after graduating from HC in 1992, is screening his latest production, "Filmic Achievement," at the Pittsburgh Film Festival:

    Kerwin is a 1988 graduate of Seton-LaSalle High School, where he played on the state championship basketball team. He was awarded a basketball scholarship to Holy Cross University in Worcester, Mass., from which he graduated in 1992.

    The Mt. Lebanon native moved after college to New York City, where he attended Columbia University film school and lived for eight years. He wrote and directed 'Filmic Achievement' there, not in imitation of, but clearly with enthusiasm for, 'Waiting for Guffman' and 'This Is Spinal Tap.' His wife, Kate, a fellow Holy Cross alum, produced it.
    Can "The George Blaney Story" be far behind?

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    Holy Cross fans might remember Kevin Kerwin as a guy who lettered for four years with the Crusaders in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Kerwin is hoping to gain a wider audience these days, having transitioned from the hardwoods to the silver secreen.

    According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Kerwin, who went on to study film at Columbia after graduating from HC in 1992, is screening his latest production, "Filmic Achievement," at the Pittsburgh Film Festival:

    Kerwin is a 1988 graduate of Seton-LaSalle High School, where he played on the state championship basketball team. He was awarded a basketball scholarship to Holy Cross University in Worcester, Mass., from which he graduated in 1992.

    The Mt. Lebanon native moved after college to New York City, where he attended Columbia University film school and lived for eight years. He wrote and directed 'Filmic Achievement' there, not in imitation of, but clearly with enthusiasm for, 'Waiting for Guffman' and 'This Is Spinal Tap.' His wife, Kate, a fellow Holy Cross alum, produced it.
    Can "The George Blaney Story" be far behind?

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    Thursday, November 03, 2005
    Word out of Lewisburg at yesterday's Bucknell media day luncheon: The Bison's Dec. 6 home date with No. 4 Villanova is a sellout. School officials said tickets for the game were gone in 55 minutes after they went on sale Monday.

    About 2,500 tickets in the 4,000-seat Sojka Pavilion are reserved for students, faculty and staff. Some of those could become available to the public at a later date if they go unclaimed.

    That does not appear likely. The game falls on the final day of classes for the first semester and is the first chance for students to see the team at home since the home opener with Yale falls on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.

    Fans who do not get tickets for the Villanova game can catch the Bison 11 days later when they host Cornell for the annual Community Day game. Admission to the general public will be free for that game.

    Last year's Community Day came on the heels of upsets over Saint Joseph's and Pittsburgh and filled Sojka for the Bison's league opener with Holy Cross. The Crusaders will again be the guests for the Bison's league home opener when they visit Lewisburg on Jan. 14. School officials decided against having Community Day for that game, banking on students returning from winter break to help swell the crowd. The second semester begins the following Monday (Jan. 16).

    Tickets do remain for the St. Joe's game on Dec. 21. Sales have been brisk, officials say, but because the students will be on break, more are available for that game, which will be Bucknell's final home non-conference game of the season.

    For the first time in memory, the school actually appears to be trying to market the team. There is even a Bison basketball billboard along Route 15 just south of campus.

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    Stumbled across and interesting article in the Rochester alternative weeklyCity Newspaper about the Western New York city's new entry in the American Basketball Association.

    For those unfamiliar with the relatively new ABA, this is not anything like the old Julius Erving-Connie Hawkins ABA. This is basically a has-been, never-been league where 50-year-old Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, a former NBA player and father of Kobe, averaged over 13 points per game last season after adding the player-hyphen to the front of his coach title with the Boston Frenzy for eight games last season.

    You might recall, the Frenzy's roster included former Holy Cross big man Neil Fingleton for part of last season.

    The new Rochester Razor Sharks are one of 48 franchise in the league, which includes teams in Tijuana, Beijing and-- our favorite -- the horse barn in Upper Marlboro, Md. What the league lacks in talent and level of play, it makes up for in gimmicks. Players are awarded an extra point if they score off a backcourt turnover. Post guys can only dribble three seconds before either shooting or passing (to discourage that NBA standard "backing and opponent down" play).

    Why should Patriot League fans care about the RazorSharks. Well, aside from just the fact that it is a fun story about a fledgling basketball team, this piece also includes this PL hook:
    Also expected to make the final roster is Scott Martzloff, a towering center who played on McQuaid's 1988 state title team and later suited up for Holy Cross. After playing for various teams in Europe and Asia for several years, Martzloff, like Stewart, was ready to return to the hometown stability the RazorSharks offer.
    By the way, the search for Neil Fingleton is on again. Last spotted working out for the New orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets prior to the NBA Draft, a Google news search showed a link to a story that looked as though he was in negotiations with another ABA team, possibly the Frenzy again. The story did not show up when we clicked, so we are not sure.

    If you spot Neil, drop us a line with an update.

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    Tuesday, November 01, 2005
    Bucknell opens the season ranked No. 8 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. The Bison are the only Patriot League team ranked in the top 25. Holy Cross (52 votes), and Colgate (1) also received votes in the poll.

    The Bison closed last season ranked No. 18 in the Mid-Major poll. Their No. 8 ranking is (I think) the highest ever for a Patriot League team (feel free to e-mail me if that is incorrect, I am going strictly on memory from last season).

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    In its Patriot League preview, The Sports Network picks Bucknell to win the conference. TSN sticks pretty much with the league's own preseason predicted order, with the exception of flipping Colgate and American, with AU picked for fourth, the 'Gate fifth.

    Included with their capsules on each team, a nice intro that includes notice of the league's improvement:
    With at least half of the eight teams that make up the Patriot League almost guaranteed to post winning records in 2005-06, the rest of the country should stand up and take notice of the little conference that could.

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