It's a good look at what Fannin has gone and is going through to play.
Just one small point we have to raise. Wagner writes:
At any other school, Fannin would have immediately underwent surgery, sat out the rest of the season and applied for a medical redshirt. Being a senior at the Naval Academy and five months away from commission, that wasn't an option.
Actually, that was not an option in Fannin's situation, regardless of where he was going to school. Under NCAA rules governing the medical hardship waiver, an athlete cannot have competed in more than 20 percent of their teams scheduled contests. Fannin had already played in 12 of Navy's 27-game (plus the tournament) season.
That takes nothing away from the courage Fannin is showing in trying to help his team.
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It's a slow news day. Unless you want to read a story announcing Bucknell's opponent (note: Northern Iowa's nickname does not include the color purple) in the Bracket Buster, there really is not much out there this morning.
Days like this are when we dig real deep for something, anything, new to use for a morning update.
That is what took us to Fox Sports, where we found a Bucknell team report that included this misinformation on the "Strategy and Personnel page:
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Abe Badmus, G Kevin Bettencourt, C Chris McNaughton, F Charles Lee, F Darren Mastropaolo. Key Subs -- G Jason Vegotsky, C Josh Linthicum, F John Griffin.
Uh ... err ... not exactly. First, Griffin is a guard. Second, Donald Brown is the first guy off the bench for Bucknell and arguably the top sixth man in the league now that Joe Knight is back in Lehigh's starting five. Fox doesn't even mention him. Ditto for Tarik Viaer-McClymont, who actually is Bucknell's backup center, not Linthicum.
Viaer-McClymont averages over 10 minutes per game and has played in all but 2 of Bucknell's contests. The two he missed were due to injury. Linthicum, on the other hand, has seen spot minutes in 15 games, his 3.5 minutes per game average inflated by mop-up minutes. Matter of fact, Rob Thomas has played more than Linthicum thus far (15 games, 3.8 minutes per game).
That got us looking at the reports from the other league teams.
In the Lehigh personnel report, freshman guard Matt Szalachowski is listed as a key reserve. That is curious, since we saw Lehigh's last three games and never saw Szalachowski even take off his warmups. James Anderson, who is not mentioned, played in all three and actually earned a start against Holy Cross.
Lafayette drifted to the perimeter too often against Lehigh, resulting in a 76-58 loss. The Leopards attempted 27 3-point shots and made just nine.
Forget the fact that the report is 10 days old and focus instead on the flawed analysis. A) 9-of-27 from the three-point line (33.3 percent) equates to 27 points on 27 shots. The Leopards would need to shoot 50 percent inside the arc to get that same production. B) The three is a key part of Lafayette's offense. Lacking any true inside force, the Leopards have averaged over 23 three-point tries a game. Against Lehigh, Lafayette was 12-for-29 (41 percent) inside the arc. Maybe they should have shot more threes. What actually cost the Leopards against Lehigh was defense; Lehigh shot 66 percent for the game, 72 percent in the second half to blow open what was a 2-point game at the intermission.
It gets even better when you look at the Lafayette personnel report. Listed as a key sub: Marcus Harley, who has played all of 4 games all season. Not mentioned: Matt Betley, who has appeared in all 20 games, starting three.
By the way, these reports appear to be identical to the ones on CBS Sportsline, so take those with a grain of salt as well.
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The good news in the polls released this afternoon: Bucknell breaks the Gonzaga stranglehold on first place votes in the Mid-Major Top 25, grabbing one of the 31 first place votes (the other 30 went to the Zags). The Bison hold on to the No. 2 spot, 21 points ahead of Northern Iowa.
In the AP and Coaches polls, it's a little different story. Those voters have Northern Iowa ranked this week. Bucknell continues to be in the "others receiving votes" in both.
UNI is 25th in the AP Poll, 24 in the Coaches rankings. Bucknell this week is fifth among others in both, equivalent to being ranked No. 30.
Why the mentions about Northern Iowa? See below, or check back around 4 for "official" word.
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The official announcment comes at 4 this afternoon, but according to Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star, the TV dates for Bracket Buster Saturday were set yesterday.
Reynolds' source apparently is Bradley athletics director Ken Kavanagh, whose team did not get a TV date.
According to Reynolds, as many have been speculating, Bucknell will be at Northern Iowa. That is an interesting matchup in lots of ways. For starters, Northern Iowa's AD, Rick Hartzell, used to hold that job at Bucknell. In fact, he is the guy who hired Pat Flannery as Bucknell's coach.
And then there is UNI's pep band, which dawned hastily created orange T-shirts and learned the Bucknell pep song, filling in for the Bison's absentee band when both teams were in Oklahoma City for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament last March.
Something tells us we won't hear a lot of 'Ray Bucknell out of the UNI band this time.
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(Originally posted Sat. at 10:34 p.m., links added 8:37 a.m.)
By CHRIS A. COUROGEN Special to The Telegram & Gazette
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Jose Olivero scored 29 points, including four in the last 16.1 seconds to lead Lehigh to a 64-63 come-from-behind win over Holy Cross in front of 2,496 in Stabler Arena.
Olivero, who was Lehigh's only real producer on offense all night, got the Mountain Hawks within 1 with a pair of free throws with 16.1 seconds left. The game-winner came less than 12 seconds later, after Lehigh's Bryan White made a leaping deflection of a long Holy Cross inbounds pass near midcourt.
White came seemingly out of nowhere to slap the ball away from Holy Cross point guard Torey Thomas and into the hands of Lehigh's Kyle Neptune. After a timeout, the Mountain Hawk's put the ball in Olivero's hands at the top of the key. Olivero took a couple of dribbles, then nearly broke Kevin Hamilton's ankle with a nasty crossover move at the foul line before finishing with a one-handed runner from three feet out.
"(Olivero) made a tough shot. It was a big time move," said Hamilton, who led the Crusaders with 20 points.
The bucket gave Lehigh its only lead in the final 33:34 of the game. It also gave the Mountain Hawks (13-9, 6-1) sole possession of second place in the Patriot League, one game behind Bucknell, which spanked Navy 81-47 last night to stay unbeaten in league play. The Bison took sole possession of first Wednesday night when they beat Lehigh here.
"We didn't do a good job attacking (Olivero). We let him dictate what he wanted to do. We didn't make him feel uncomfortable with the basketball," Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard said.
Olivero finished the night 10-for-16 from the field, and added 7 more on 7 free throws. His big night helped to make up for an off night by lehigh's Joe Knight, who suffered through a miserable 2-for-13 shooting night, finishing with 5 points, well below his 16.4 average.
For much of the night, it looked as though Holy Cross would send the Mountain Hawks to a second home loss in a row. The Crusaders got big production from Tim Clifford inside early and led by as many as 16 in the first half before settling for a 37-28 lead at the break. Clifford, who has emerged as a post presence for HC since moving into the starting lineup three games ago, was more than any Lehigh big man could handle, hitting 6 of 7 shots in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers when the Mountain Hawks left the 6-11 sophomore all alone at the top of the arc.
Clifford cooled off early in the second half though. He missed his first four shots, including two layins and another open look from three-point range. By the time the Crusaders fed him the ball in the post again Lehigh had managed to pull even with the Crusaders at 55-55 with just under five minutes left.
"I got my number called four times in a row and didn't convert . . . I kind of got off track and by the time I got back on, it was too late," said Clifford, who finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds.
Clifford put the Crusaders back in the lead with an old-fashioned layup-and-one three-point play, and after a Olivero layup that cut the lead back to 1, Clifford again stretched it to three with a short jumper with 3:34 to play.
That turned out to be the last field goal Holy Cross would make. The Crusaders shot just 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) in the second half, but it seemed as if it would be enough when the Crusaders had the ball with 31 seconds to play and a 3-point lead.
Even after Holy Cross squandered that opportunity to make it a two-posession game on a Torey Thomas turnover, it seemed as if they would still hold on when Lehigh's Joe Knight clanged a three-point try off the front iron at the other end. But Olivero chased down the long carom, keeping Lehigh alive and setting the stage for his end-of-game heroics.
"(Olivero) made great plays going down the stretch. The biggest thing was the rebound. We defended that possession great and then Jose comes up with the rebound. That was the game," Willard said.
Holy Cross had a chance at the end, but freshman Colin Cunningham's open three from the left corner was off the mark. Cunningham was on the floor in that situation because Keith Simmons, who has been bothered by cramps much of the season, was out of the game after suffering from another cramp.
"We got a great look at the end of the game. We had a freshman taking that shot. We try to have Keith in that position, rather than Colin. Unfortunately, Keith, at that point, couldn't run down the floor," Willard said.
Thomas, who played the last 12:27 with four personal fouls, finished with 12 points. But he also had an uncharacteristic 7 turnovers, with just 1 assist.
Despite having two losses in league play, all is not lost for the Crusaders, who will get both teams that beat them, Bucknell and Lehigh, in the Hart Center in the second half of the league schedule. Holy Cross will close out its first lap around the conference at Navy on Wednesday.
(Originally posted Sat. at 10:40 p.m., link added 8:31 a.m.)
By Eric Thomas
LEWISBURG – Navy men’s basketball coach Billy Lange walked out of Bucknell’s Sojka Pavilion Saturday night with what he hopes is the perfect example of what it will take for his Navy ball club to be a championship caliber team.
He hopes that his players watched carefully as Bucknell dissected the Midshipmen for the second time this season, 81-47, before 4,180 fans inside the cramped arena. The win was Bucknell’s 18th win in a row over a league opponent at home and the win kept them in front of Lehigh for first place with a one game lead over the Mountain Hawks.
“Give credit to their defense,” Lange said. “We told our kids they were going to take us out of stuff. Against Bucknell, you can’t assume you’re going to be able to run your offense fluently against them.”
“They’re tough. It’s what champions are. You defend, you rebound, you stay tough, you share the ball, and they do it very well,” Lange added.
Defend might be an understatement for this one. The Bison held Navy to just 27.7-percent shooting from the floor and forced 26 turnovers. Navy hit just 13 field goals, the third lowest total given up by the Bison this season.
Lehigh shook up its starting lineup, going with Joe Knight, Jose Olivero, Kyle Neptune, Mitch Gilfillan and James Anderson.
Tim Clifford stepped out to the top of the arc and knocked down a trey to open the game when Lehigh left him alone there. That is one of 4 treys in the early going for HC -- Kevin Hamilton and Torey Thomas have the others.
Jose Olivero has 8 of Lehigh's 13 so far.
The crowd way down from what was on hand for the Bucknell game here on Wednesday. The students are not even filling the section behind the Lehigh basket. In fact, there may have been more sitting there during the women's game, thanks to some Pink Lady's group that was in attendance.
By the way, Holy Cross won the ladies' game, 69-63.
HC 24, Lehigh 15 (7:54 first)
Crusaders on a 14-4 run since trailing 11-10 at the 14:47 mark.
Holy Cross with a 16-5 edge on the boards early.
HC shooting 10-23 (43.5 percent), 4-8 from the arc. Lehigh is 6-14 (42.9 percent) 2-7 from three-point range.
HC 33, Lehigh 21 (3:32 first)
A potential problem for Holy Cross -- Torey Thomas just picked up his third personal.
Other than that, things going HC's way for the most part. Just before thomas' foul, Tim Clifford stepped out and drained his second trey of teh game. The Big Purple Dog now has 12 points on 5-6 shooting. He also has 4 of HC's 20 rebounds.
Lehigh's Joe Knight has yet to score. He is 0-3 from the field and 0-1 at the line.
HC's rebounding edge stands at 20-8, lots of those on the offensive glass, leading to a 7-0 edge in second chance points so far.
Holy Cross 37, Lehigh 28(HALFTIME)
Two big differences between how Bucknell played at Lehigh Wednesday and Holy Cross' first half showing.
1) Lehigh is not packed in a zone and Tim Clifford is making them pay for that. Clifford already has 14 points, including two three-pointers. Lehigh will have to double him if they expect to slow HC down.
2) With Lehigh playing man, the Crusaders are getting the ball in the lane on a regular basis. That is opening things up all over. When they are not finishing in the paint, the Crusaders are finding open guys on the perimeter and, unlike Bucknell Wednesday, HC is knocking them down. The Crusaders are 16-34 from the field (47.1 percent), 5-11 (45.5 percent) from the arc.
Jose Olivero is keeping Lehigh in this one. He has 13 of the Mountain Hawks' 28 points. Kyle Neptune, with a pair of threes, has 6 for Lehigh. Nobody else has more than 3 and Joe Knight is scoreless thus far.
Hamilton has 8 for HC, including two three-pointers. Thomas has 7.
Holy Cross 41, Lehigh 34 (15:29 second)
Lehigh still not doubling Clifford, but the big guy unable to make them pay so far, missing three easy looks inside. Clifford also stepped out for another three, but came up short this time.
It is a slow start to the second half, only 4 field goals combined in the first 4:31 of the half.
HC is 1-7 to start the half; Lehigh 3-5 with two turnovers.
HC 49, Lehigh 41 (11:26 second)
Knight finally gets his first bucket with 13:04 to play. Then, 27 seconds later he adds a free throw after drawing a foul on Thomas, his fourth.
Ralph Willard rolling the dice, leaves Thomas on the floor.
Hamilton with a pair of second half treys now has 14 for HC. Olivero with 19 for Lehigh.
HC 53, Lehigh 44 (9:00 second)
Take one look at Keith Simmons' uniform and it looks like part of his hydration problems might be due to profuse sweating. The back of Simmons' jersey and shorts are so soaked with sweat they are nearly a different color than the rest of the Crusaders -- closer to black than purple.
Thomas still on the floor, now has 12 points and 5 rebounds.
Knight now 1-9, 3 points.
HC 53, Lehigh 46 (7:45 second)
HC cooling off a little. The 'Saders are 6-17 from the field in the second half, 3-7 from the arc.
Quick check of the scoreboard shows Bucknell up about 30 over Navy.
HC 55, Lehigh 55 (5:01 second)
Mgebroff (Mega-soft) tips in a Knight miss to tie the game at 55-55.
Around the 7 minute mark, Simmons has left the HC bench and gone to the locker room.
HC 58, Lehigh 55 (3:57 second)
Clifford with an old-fashioned three-point play puts HC back on top.
Simmons returns and is back on the floor at the 4:21 mark.
HC 63, Lehigh 60 (1:06 to go)
HC is in the double bonus, lehigh will be with the next HC foul.
Crusaders preserving the lead at the line -- they ate 4-5 free throws since Clifford put them back on top at the 4:21 mark.
HC 63, Lehigh 60 (29.2 left)
Thomas loses control going to the hole and turns it over. Lehigh ball with a chance to tie.
Lehigh 64, HC 63 (FINAL)
Lehigh got three possessions in the final 30 seconds and Jose Olivero made them count. With 16.1 to go, Olivero got to the line for a pair of free throws to cut HC's lead to 63-62 after Lehigh chased down the rebound on a badly missed Joe Knight three attempt.
Then on the inbounds, Bryan White jumped in front of Torey Thomas to deflect a long pass near midcourt. The ball went to Kyle Neptune and Lehigh called a quick timeout to set up a play for Olivero.
Olivero went one-on-one with Hamilton, lost him at the foul line with a nifty shake and bake and banked home a one-handed runner from 3 feet with 4.5 seconds left.
Holy Cross had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Colin Cunningham's three from the left corner was off target.
Olivero finishes with 29 points. Neptune with 10 is the only other Lehigh player in double figures.
Hamilton led HC with 20. Clifford with 19 and Thomas added 12.
Colgate 60, Army 41 -- Playing without Alvin Reed, who was injured this week in practice, the Raiders used defense to knock off visiting Army. The Cadets missed the first 12 shots they took and didn't make their first field goal of the game until the 7:17 mark of the first half. They didn't get another bucket until the 3:57 mark, finishing the half 5-21 (23.8 percent).
Colgate was not exactly en fuego in the first half either. The Raiders were 7-20 from the field, and led by just 3, 18-15 at the break.
The second half was a different story, with Colgate heating up while Army continued to scuffle. The Raiders were 14-29 after the break (48.3 percent). Army was 8-26 (30.8 percent), finishing the game at 13-47 (27.7 percent.
Kyle Roemer led Colgate with 14. Kyle Chones added 10.
Jarell Brown had 13 points for Army, on 4-14 shooting.
Colgate owned the glass, outrebounding the Cadets 38-29.
The win snaps a five-game losing streak for Colgate, which had not won since the last time it played Army (Jan. 7 at West Point). The Raiders have lost 10 of their last 11 against Division I opponents not named Army.
American 74, Lafayette 56 -- Holy no inside presence Batman. American outrebounded Lafayette 42-14. Matter of fact, the Eagles actually had more offensive rebounds -- 18 -- than Lafayette managed at both ends combined.
Not much Lafayette defense either; American shot 56 percent from the floor.
Andre Ingram led AU with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Brayden Billbe and Linas Lekavicius added 12 each. Derrick Mercer also in double figures with 11.
Paul Cummins hit six treys en route to a career-high 20 for Lafayette. Andrei Capusan with 11.
Holy Cross at Lehigh, 7:30 p.m.: The winner here has the edge in the race for one of the top two seeds and the right to host one of the pods for the first two rounds of the league tournament.
It's more a must win for Lehigh than Holy Cross, since the Mountain Hawks already have one home loss and will have to travel to both Bucknell and Holy Cross in the second half.
Last year, Holy Cross swept three games from the Mountain Hawks, winning by 2 at Stabler, by 20 at home in the regular season and by 4 in the second round of the league tournament in Worcester.
In the regular season game at Hart, HC shot 52.9 percent. The other games were defensive battles. In the game at Stabler, both teams shot right around 40 percent. In the tournament game, neither team even hit 30 percent.
It should be another defensive war Saturday. Both teams emphasize the defensive end. Lehigh has been holding its opponents under 40 percent from the field on the season. Holy Cross' opponents have fared better, hitting 42 percent. But that difference in shooting performance has meant little on the scoreboard. Lehigh allows 60.3 points per game, Holy Cross gives up 61.2. The Crusaders have been better in 5 conference games, limiting league foes to 38.5 percent from the field.
Lehigh had a 7-game winning streak end when it lost to Bucknell Wednesday. Holy Cross has won two in a row, both at home, since losing back to back games to Bucknell and Boston College. The Crusaders are also 8-2 in their last 10 league road games, both losses coming at Bucknell.
Both teams have terrific backcourts, with Holy Cross' trio of Kevin Hamilton, Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas holding an edge over Lehigh, which depends more on two guards -- Joe Knight and Jose Olivero. If you shut down one of those two, it is tough for Lehigh to score enough points to win, even when playing great defense.
Last year HC was able to do that, especially against Knight, who averaged less than 8 ppg in three against the Crusaders. Knight did reach double figures in the tournament game, scoring 11 points. But even then he was 3-14 from the field.
Holy Cross also got a boost from unexpected sources in each with over Lehigh last year. Pat Doherty, John Hurley, Nate Lufkin and Greg Kinsey took turns posting double figures games on the Mountain Hawks. Three of those guys are graduated and Doherty is out for the season with an injury, so someone else will need to fill that role for Holy Cross.
That will probably be a key again this year. Whichever team has someone step up unexpectedly will have a great chance of winning. Who might be able to provide that boost in this one?
The most obvious possibility would be HC sophomore Tim Clifford, who averaged 19 ppg in games against Boston College and American (27 points), then went back into the witness protection program against Colgate.
Lehigh's Jason Mgebroff scored in double figures against a Division I team for the first time this season at Lafayette (10 pts.) last week. But he won't find as favorable matchup situation against Holy Cross.
A better possibility might be forward Kyle Neptune, who averages 11.1 ppg. His matchup with Holy Cross freshman Alex Vander Baan could be interesting.
If the players check each other and it comes down to coaching decisions, here's an interesting stat: Ralph Willard is 12-2 against Lehigh. Billy Taylor is 1-6 against HC. Lehigh notes | HC notes | USA Today matchup | HC radio
Army at Colgate 1:30 p.m.: Colgate blasted the Cadets in West Point on Jan. 7, winning 71-58 on Army's court. Since then, though, the Raiders have gone south, losing five in a row, including a home loss to American.
Army, on the other hand, seemed to get better each week. They were still losing, but they were getting closer. The Cadets finally got over that hump last Sunday at Navy. But it look like one step forward, two steps back when the Black Knights let Lafayette put a 22-point hurting on them in their own building Wednesday.
Navy at Bucknell, 7 p.m.: Navy is healthier than it was when they faced Bucknell in Annapolis earlier this month. Having Matt Fannin back, even f he is not 100 percent, makes a huge difference inside for the Mids.
It is hard to imagine Fannin being enough to make a difference in Sojka, though, where Bucknell has won 18 league games in a row at home. Most of those games came before the Bucknell students jumped on the Bison bandwagon. Since then, the Sojka advantage has been magnified by the raucous Sojka Psychos. If the orange-clad throngs behind both baskets ever figure out how to get coordinated so they are doing the same cheers in unison, they will be an even bigger advantage.
Lafayette at American, 2 p.m.: Two teams trying to establish themselves as sort of the middle class of the league in a battle for the No. 4 spot in the standings. An early must-win for AU. An Eagles win would tie them with the Leopards at 3-4 in league play. Both teams would still be at least a game ahead of everybody behind them heading into the second half of league play.
The Eagles cannot afford a third home loss with Holy Cross yet to visit.
If Lafayette were to win, though, it would give the Leopards a 4-3 record and at least a two-game edge on the league's second division.
Paulius Joneliunas had his best night as an Eagle in the loss to Navy Wednesday. Joneliunas had 15 points on 6-8 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds in 25 minutes against the Midshipmen. As Lehigh showed last week, the way to beat Lafayette is to get some inside scoring balance. Joneliunas and Brayden Billbe should be very viable options for Au against Lafayette's undersized backline. AU notes | Navy notes | USA Today matchup | AU radio Read Full Post
Tom Housenick's turn to chime in on the Joe Knight situation. In his weekly hoops column, the Daily Item's sports editor and Bucknell beat guy opines that it is unfair that Knight is paying the price for the mistakes of those whose job it was to provide him with guidance.
What the school should be doing is announcing a suspension without pay for those responsible for misguiding Knight.
Eric Thomas added some afterthoughts to the Lehigh-Bucknell game on his blog yesterday. Eric covers the Bison for the Shamokin News-Item on a regular basis. Saturday he will also be providing us with a report from the Navy at Bucknell game (we'll be at the Holy Cross-Lehigh doubleheader for the Telegram-Gazette).
By the way, hardcore Holy Cross fans in the Rochester N.Y. area will be on the lookout for new 30 second public service announcements on Time-Warner cable featuring former HC player Scott Martzloff.
There is also an update over at Ralph Willard's fine CoachRalph site. Willard recaps the American and Colgate games and laments the league's decision to do away with travel partners for scheduling.
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(Originally posted Wed. night at 10:19 p.m., links added at 8:27 a.m.)
Bucknell's 59-54 win over Lehigh Wednesday night was everything you expected a battle between the two top defensive teams in the league to be.
A real battle royale between a pair of heavyweights both of whom came in feeling they were the team truly deserving the belt.
In the end, though, just like in boxing, it takes a knockout to dethrone the champs and Lehigh's pair of quick jabbing guards simply could not quite deliver enough firepower to take out the Bison, who are now alone at the top of the Patriot League standings with a 15-3 record overall, 6-0 in the league.
As anticipated, defense took the center stage in this one. Lehigh held Bucknell to its worst shooting night of the season against teams not named Duke. Bucknell forced Lehigh into 22 turnovers, matching the Mountain Hawks season high.
It was that kind of game.
Lehigh had the edge early, feeding off a combination of the adrenaline of its best home crowd of the season (3,556) and Bucknell's inability to knock down open shots.
The Bison missed 7 of their first 8 shots, 11 of their first 13, allowing Lehigh to build a lead of as many as 7 points. Bucknell buckled down and pulled back even before Jose Olivero's old-fashioned three-point play gave Lehigh a 26-23 lead at the break.
"We have been in those situations. We have been together a long time. We knew we would come back. A three-point game at halftime, it might as well be 0-0.," said Bucknell senior Kevin Bettencourt, who had not been on the winning side in Stabler prior to this game.
It was Bettencourt, who was 2-6 in the first half, that put Bucknell on top, hitting his second three-pointer of the game to make it 28-26 early in the second half.
Lehigh retook the lead on a three by Jose Olivero and a Jason Mgebroff layup. But Bettencourt hit another three and Chris McNaughton connected on a 15-foot jumper at the 15:47 to put the Bison back on top. The McNaughton bucket was his second of the half and gave the 6-11 junior 1,000 career points at Bucknell.
The Mountain Hawks stayed close, tying the game twice in the next five minutes. Then John Griffin hit a trey to make it 39-36 Bucknell with 9:44 to play and the Bison held the lead the rest of the way.
By the 5:07 mark, when Bettencourt, who finished with a team-high 16 points, hit his third trey of the half to stretch the lead to 5, Bucknell seemed to be in control. After being outrebounded in the first half, 20-12, the Bison seemed to be getting every missed shot. Bucknell had 10 offensive rebounds in the last five minutes of the game alone.
Typical of the way Bucknell played in the second half was a sequence with just over two minutes to play. With Bucknell up 7 and trying to milk the clock, they ended up getting a long McNaughton jump shot out of a timeout with the shot clock showing 1 second. McNaughton's shot drew the front iron and bounced off, but McNaughton got the rebound, giving the Bison a fresh 35 on the shot clock.
That reset was also running down when Lee missed a jumper, but got his own rebound and was fouled. Lee made both shots to give Bucknell a 50-41 lead in a situation where twice Lehigh would have had a chance to cut the lead to 4 or 5 had they come up with the rebound. Key to the Bucknell effort on the boards was Donald Brown, who had a game-high 10 rebounds, nine in the second half.
"We weren't able to get critical rebounds. You can't miss those opportunities," said Lehigh coach Billy Taylor.
They also seemed to come up with every loose ball in the second half.
"We did all the hustle plays," Bettencourt said.
That included playing better defense after the intermission. After Lehigh shot 10-23 (43.5 percent) in the first half, the Bison held the Mountain Hawks to 9-25 (36 percent) in the second. That number was even lower until Olivero and Joe Knight hit a trio of three-pointers from just inside the New Jersey border in the final minute.
Bucknell seemed comfortable after Lee's two free throws made it 50-41 with 1:26 left. But the Bison needed to knock down 9 of 14 free throws in the final 1:20 to close it out thanks to a combination of a Lehigh press and some questionable calls by the officials, who hit Bucknell's Abe Badmus with two fouls in a span of 37 seconds to disqualify the Bison point guard, who finished with 10 points..
The first came when he was well in front of Knight, who finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Knight extended a forearm football style as he dribbled into Badmus, stopping the clock and getting to the line for two points.
In the end, though, it didn't matter. Lehigh managed to stretch the game long enough to get 5 possessions in the final 40 seconds, but could only convert those possessions into two long three-pointers.
While Knight and Olivero combined for 40 points and 7 three-pointers, they also had a combined 11 turnovers. Lehigh had a total of 22.
It gets no easier for Lehigh. They host Holy Cross Saturday in a game that will determine who holds second place at the end of the first round of league play. Bucknell will be home Saturday against Navy.
(Originally posted Wed. at 7:40 p.m., updated at 8:09 a.m.)
Don't look now, but Lafayette, sans scholarships, is emerging as a real threat to finish in the upper division of the conference. The Leopards snapped the trhee-game losing streak brought on by a horrendous bit of bad scheduling luck last week -- Lafayette played Ivy power Penn, then two of the top three in the Patriot in Bucknell and Lehigh -- and now sit 3-3 in the league, all alone in fourth, a full game ahead of American.
Four in double figures for Lafayette, led by Andrew Brown with 18. Andrei Capusan added 17. Pat Beltley with 12 and Bilal Abdullah with 10.
Lafayette shot 49 percent from the field and out rebounded Army 37-29.
Kevin Hamilton leads the Crusaders with 24 points. Hamilton also had 7 steals, tying HC's single-game record and becoming the all-time school and league career steals leader.
Colgate led early, but Torey Thomas scored 6 in a row to put the Crusaders up Holy Cross 26-23 at the half, even though they shot just 7-27 (25.9 percent). Holy Cross opened the second half with a 10-0 run and Colgate never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Torey Thomas had 8 points and 8 assists -- one more than Colgate's entire team.
The Raiders finished with 7 assists and 23 turnovers. No Raider reached double figures as Colgate shot 33.3 percent (14-42) from the field.
Colgate has lost five in a row and 10 of its last 12 against Division I foes. It was also Colgate's ninth loss in 10 road games this season. The only Raiders road win came on Jan. 7 at Army. The Cadets visit Colgate Saturday.
A large contingent of Bucknell fans on hand. Two buses made the trip from Lewisburg and there are close to as many orange clad BU students as Lehigh students in the house.
The big difference is that Lehigh's students are right behind the home basket. Bucknell's are mostly in the upper level, where their noise will be largely swallowed by the cavernous arena.
Plenty of seats available, the place is maybe half full.
Fans in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Tv market might want to hit ABC 16 at 11 for highlights. This is the first time in our memory that the stations outside the Lehigh Valley have shown up here for highlights.
Lehigh 5, Bucknell 2 (14:39
Knight checks in at 17:05. Scores on his first touch.
Bucknell getting plenty of open looks early, but not knocking them down. Bison 1 for first 8 shots.
Lehigh 10, Bucknell 4 (11:34 first)
Officials in "let 'em play" mode. Four team fouls total -- 2 each team -- in first 8-plus minutes.
Bucknell now 2-13 from the floor.
Olivero has 5 to lead Lehigh.
Lehigh 16, Bucknell 9 (8:50 first)
Gilfillan and Kyle Neptune with back-toback 3s forces Flannery to call a timeout.
Lehigh 16, Bucknell 11 (7:19 first)
Lehigh kids making disparaging remarks about Charles Lee's intelligence when he goes to the free throw line.
At the only school in the league to ever have the NCAA decclare a player academically ineligible, where the sophomore class president allegedly robbed a bank, that is what my mother would call "rich."
Bucknell now 5-17 from the field. Lehigh is 6-14. Big difference -- Gilfillan has two treys.
Lehigh 20, Bucknell 18 (3:01 first)
Lehigh now 8-for-18 with 11 turnovers. Bucknell 8-24, 5 turnovers
Lehigh 26, Bucknell 23 (halftime)
Bucknell trailed by as many as 7 early, but came back to tie the Mountain Hawks twice before Jose Olivero, with a little help from Joe DeMayo, put lehigh up at the intermission with an old-fashioned three-point play that was the result of Bucknell's defense falling asleep (resulting in an easy bucket for Olivero) and a phantom foul on Badmus under the basket after the shot (that resulted in the free throw).
Joe Knight leads Lehigh with 9 points on 4-9 shooting. Olivero has 8 and Gilfillan 6 on a pair of threes. As a team, Lehigh shooting 10-23 (43.5 percent) in the first half. Lehigh had 12 turnovers but holds a 20-12 edge on the boards, mostly the result of more Bucknell misses. Bucknell has 5 offensive boards, Lehigh 4.
For the Bison, open looks aplenty in the first half, but not many falling. Bucknell 9-26 (34.6 percent), 3-11 from the arc (27.3 percent). Bucknell with 6 turnovers.
Lee and Bettencourt each with 5 for Bucknell. Donald Brown has 4. Chris McNaughton 1-4, 0 rebounds.
Expect Bucknell to look to get it into McNaughton's hands more in the second half.
In other games that have gone like this in the first half, Pat Flannery has run a play for the big guy right out of the locker rooms at the start of the second half.
team fouls ended the half at 7 for Lehigh, 6 for Bucknell. Badmus has 2 for the Bison, Bryan White 2 for Lehigh.
Bucknell 33, Lehigh 31 (14:09 second)
Bucknell took the lead ffor the first time since 2-0 at the start of the game on a Bettencourt three around the 17:40 mark. Since then the two teams basically swapping buckets.
McNaughton with 4 early in the seocnd half (6 total) on a pair of foul line jumpers.
Bucknell 35, Lehigh 33 (11:04 second)
It is heating up in Stabler. Bodies are flying for every loose ball.
Donald Brown just scored inside for Bucknell to retake the lead after Knight tied it on a pull up jumper from about 10-feet out. brown on the line for a possible three-point play. The foul, on Bryan White, his third.
Bucknell 39, Lehigh 38 (7:37 second)
Where would Lehigh be without Joe Knight? He is one board away from a double-double right now, with 16 points, 9 rebounds.
Bucknell still not shooting great, ovberall they are 15-41, 6-15 in the second half. But Lehigh is 5-14 in the second half and still turning it over. Mountain Hawks now have 19 turnovers.
Bucknell 45, Lehigh 40 (4:57 to play)
The mugging of Chris McNaughton continues. No blood, no foul where McNaughton is concerned.
Meanwhile, Bucknell gets team foul 7 with 5:30 to play. Lehigh with only three team fouls in the half.
Bettencourt hits a three to extend Bucknell's lead to 5. He now has 4 treys, 14 points. After a 2-6 first half, he is 3-5 in the second with three three-pointers.
Bucknell 45, Lehigh 40 (3:58 to play)
McNaughton, by the way, hit his 1,000th career point on a foul line jumper withg around 15 minutes to go in the second half.
Bucknell 48, Lehigh 41 (2:05 left)
Bison ball with one second on the shot clock. McNaughton's jumper off the rim, but BU rebounds for a fresh 35 seconds.
Lehigh, with only 3 team fouls, cannot put BU on the line yet to extend the game.
Bucknell 51, Lehigh 43 (1:02 left)
Bucknell won't let Lehigh have the ball. They have five offensive rebounds in the past 2 or 3 minutes, including three on missed free throws that kept possessions alive.
Bucknell 55, Lehigh 51
Badmus fifth personal at 44.3. Hard to believe some of the fouls called on the Bucknell point gurad, especially considering what the officials let go against McNaughton. His fourth was for being in front of Joe Knight when Knight pushed off with a forearm. Badmus was four feet away when Knight initiated the move.
Olivero just hit a three to pull Lehigh within 4. It came after a questionable travel call on Charles Lee, who had come up with what looked like a big steal.
The problem with this one is that Sokoloski simply does not even understand the facts behind the case. For example, he writes:
Knight maintained a near-3.0 grade-point average at High Point University and Tarrant Community College -- where he left with Dean's List honors.
The facts, as we reported back while Sokoloski and the rest of the Lehigh Valley media were giving Lehigh a free pass on the whole mess:
"(Knight) was in good standing at High Point, though he did have a GPA that was less than ideal," Sterrett said. Sterrett said Knight’s GPA at High Point was around a 2.0.
Sokoloski said Lehigh officials figured most of the 93 credits Knight brought with him to Lehigh would transfer, thus no eligibility questions.
But that is pure B.S. For starters, they expressed concerns about a lot of his work at High Point before Knight was even admitted to Lehigh. That is why he had to spend a year at a community college. And certainly any student transferring to a new school knows where he or she stands once they get there.
Then Sokoloski goes on to give Sterrett a platform for his usual defense: The NCAA rules are confusing:
"There are 495 pages of rules and regulations," Sterrett said. "Most of this stuff is pretty clear. Some of it is left to interpretation. The (NCAA) interpretation is different from what we had determined."
Once again, since nobody in the Lehigh Valley has bothered to share it with their readers, here is the NCAA rule that caused Knight's problems:
The calculation of credit hours to meet this requirement [the cumulative credits required under the progress toward degree bylaw] shall be based upon hours earned or accepted for degree credit.
Remember, this rule was enacted to make sure kids don't spend four years taking basket weaving and pencil sharpening classes, keeping their GPA high enough to be eligible without actually progressing towards a real degree.
The bottom line is pretty simple: Lehigh tried to find a way to let Knight play. It got caught and Knight paid the price for the mistakes made by his school.
Knight sat out 16 games and his league-record 45-point game in last year's tournament will be wiped from the record books.
Lehigh, it appears, will forfeit a few games from last year, a penalty that is next to meaningless since it won't cost the school any money or trophies.
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Lafayette at Army 5:30 p.m.: This could be a big game when it is all said and done. What could be at stake here is a chance to finish out of the bottom two spots in the league, thus avoiding playing a top two seed on its own floor in the first round of the league tournament.
The two are well matched. Lafayette has struggled on the road. Army has just plain struggled.
After running the gauntlet last week, the Leopards take on a team cut from the same cloth in the Black Knights. Two weeks ago, Lafayette was exceeding expectations by opening 2-1 in conference play, picking up wins over Colgate and Navy. Then came consecutive games against teams against whom the Leopards were simply overmatched. Three lopsided losses later, Fran O'Hanlon has to be worried about his young team's psyche.
Army is riding high after finally breaking through for a win at Navy Sunday. The seemingly much-improved Black Knights came close against Lehigh and American, then got over the hump in Annapolis.
These two teams appear evenly matched. Both are guard-oriented, with neither boasting a legitimate big man. With a visit to beatable Colgate on Saturday, Army could be looking at the possibility of a three-game win streak if it gets past Lafayette here. That could make things a little more interesting when Bucknell visits West Point on Feb.1. First things first, though. The Cadets have not beaten back-to-back Division I opponents since the 2001-2002 season, when they won two straight twice. Best we can tell, the last time Army won three straight was the 1998-1999 season, Army notes | Lafayette Web site | USA Today matchup | Gametracker
Colgate at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.: Colgate is struggling and Worcester is not a place to go to get well. The Raiders have lost four straight, and 9 of their last 11 against Division I opponents.
A perimeter-oriented team, Colgate has not been shooting well enough from outside to win. The Raiders rank fifth in the league in field goal percentage at 41.4 percent and their 33.1 percent success rate from the arc is next to last in the conference.
Colgate ranks ahead of the Crusaders in scoring defense, allowing 61.9 per game (third in the league) to HC's 62.2 (fourth). But Holy Cross' opponents are shooting 42.3 percent (fourth), while Colgate foes are shooting 43.2 percent.
Holy Cross needs Keith Simmons to stay on the floor. It could also use another strong game from sophomore center Tim Clifford, who still needs to show he can get it done inside against somebody other than American.
American at Navy, 7:30 p.m.: Since joining the league, American has never lost to Navy. The streak actually goes back even further, 10 games, dating to the days the two spent together in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Navy got Matt Fannin back somewhat unexpectedly last week, Playing with a big brace on his injured knee, Fannin managed 18 points in a home loss to Army. If he is able to keep contributing, it will help address Navy's weakness in the post. It might even be enough to allow the Midshipmen to play Paulius Joneliunas and Brayden Billbe to a draw upfront.
We used to maintain a permanent link along the right side of the page to a blog called ET on Sports. ET, is Eric Thomas, a recent Penn State grad who exited college with a degree and a lot of experience in sports journalism. E has worked part time at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg and has written elsewhere. He also has done a lot of radio. In fact he still dabbles on the air doing color for Bucknell women's games. His day job, though, is in the sports shop at the Shamokin News-Item, a Times-Shamrock publication in the Coal Region that lies between Lewisburg and Pat Flannery's hometown of Pottsville.
The News-Item suffers from a one big flaw-- its Web site updates sporadically, and never early in the day. Because of that, we have not linked to a lot of E's work on the Bucknell beat.
Before the Bucknell-Holy Cross game, E sent us some Ralph Willard quotes from his preview story to share with Hoop Time readers. This week he has done one better, posting his preview of the Bucknell-Lehigh game on his old blog to share it with Hoop Time readers. Thanks Eric.
BRACKET BUSTERITIS . . . Tom Housenick of the Daily Item had a column Monday about Bucknell's Brack4et Buster possibilities.
Hard to tell a lot about Lehigh from Saturday’s win over Lafayette.
At least not when it comes to Lehigh’s offense. The Mountain Hawks shot the lights out in Kirby – 31 for 47, 9 of 18 at the arc.
That is not Lehigh. At least not the Lehigh that showed up for most of the other 19 games the Hawks have played. Even with the boost from the Lafayette game, the Mountain Hawks are seventh in the eight-team league in field goal percentage (40.6 percent).
It’s defense, not offense, on which the Hawks hang their hats. Lehigh ranks second in the league defensively in both scoring and field goal percentage.
They showed some of that defense against Lafayette, holding the Leopards to 37.5 percent from the field.
One thing Bucknell is likely to notice when they watch tape of that game would be the play of Lafayette’s Andrei Capusan.
Capusan, a skinny, 6-8 forward put up 18 points against Lehigh’s slow-afoot bigs. Neither Jason Mgebroff nor Mike Fischman could guard Capusan. When they played off of Capusan, he would step back and drop a short jumper over their heads. When Lehigh tried to play him tighter, Capusan repeatedly beat them to the rim with his quickness.
McNaughton’s game is a lot like Capusan’s, except McNaughton is more skilled and, at 6-11, has more of a presence in the post. Perhaps the biggest improvement in his game this season is the mid-range jumper. McNaughton has even hit a couple of treys.
It’s an impossible matchup for Lehigh, who will have to double hard on McNaughton.
Bucknell’s Darren Mastropaolo lacks McNaughton’s range, but has shown an ability to finish around the basket. He is strong enough to play the Lehigh big guys and his quickness is an advantage against either of them.
“Bucknell might have a little bit of an advantage inside,” said Colgate coach Emmett Davis, who lost to both teams last week.
When Lehigh goes with Bryan White, Bucknell can counter with Donald Brown, who can match White’s athleticism.
In the backcourt, they are fairly even. Lehigh can put Joe Knight, Jose Olivero and Kyle Neptune on the floor together. That is a good as any backcourt in the league, at least offensively. But Bucknell’s trio of Abe Badmus, Kevin Bettencourt and Charles Lee is pretty good, too, and might be stronger defensively.
The biggest difference between the two backcourts might be in terms of expectations. For Lehigh to knock off Bucknell, it needs a great night from its guards. Bucknell’s front court gives it more options, a greater margin of error.
That margin of error, ultimately, seems to be the biggest difference between Bucknell and the rest of the league.
Can Bucknell be beaten? Sure, but for most teams in the league to even have a chance against the Bison, they need to bring their A-plus game and hope Bucknell doesn’t. Lehigh, for example, will have a tough time beating Bucknell without a big night from Knight and Olivero. Holy Cross would need Keith Simmons, Kevin Hamilton and Torey Thomas all on top of their games.
Bucknell, on the other hand, has shown it can win a lot of different ways. It can beat you inside with McNaughton, outside with Lee and Bettencourt. It can beat you with its defense, or with its bench.
As much credit as Lehigh deserves for its defense, it is worth noting that Bucknell is holding its opponents to almost 5 points per game fewer than Lehigh. Opponents are shooting 37 percent against BU, almost 2 points better (38.8 percent) against Lehigh.
Given the far tougher schedule Bucknell has played, those are significant differences. In fact, to get a better guage of how the two stack up against similar opposition, take a look at the conference games only stats.
In five league games, Bucknell has held opponents to 43.8 points per game. Lehigh is 12 points back, actually third in the league behind Holy Cross at 56 points allowed per game (HC is at 55.5). In field goal percentage defense, Bucknell’s opponents have shot 29.9 percent, Lehigh’s foes 38 percent.
Factor in that Bucknell has already played Holy Cross, which has the highest scoring offense in conference games, while Lehigh played Army, the second-lowest scoring team, and the difference looks even bigger.
Does this mean Bucknell is a lock at Lehigh Wednesday night? Hardly.
Foul trouble can change the basic equation in a hurry. Few teams seem to get as kind a whistle at home as Lehigh. In seven home games against Division I opponents, Lehigh has gone to the line an average of 26.6 times per game. The opposition has shot just 16 per game in those contests.
Even with Lehigh shooting a league-low 65 percent from the stripe, 10 extra trips to the foul line can be worth almost 7 extra points. That is a significant number in a low scoring game, which Lehigh’s defense almost always assures.
That advantage can compound if the fouls are called on the wrong people for Bucknell. If the Bison have to play without McNaughton for long stretches of time due to foul problems, Lehigh’s chances are multiplied.
Lehigh took offense when, after their win Saturday at Lafayette, someone asked them about the challenge of facing the league’s two best teams back-to-back this week. The Mountain Hawks made it clear they feel they should be mentioned right along with the Bison and Holy Cross when people handicap the league.
That might be true, but we won’t know that for sure until the week ends. On paper, Bucknell looks a notch or two ahead of the rest of the pack, with Lehigh likely to battle Holy Cross for the right to host the No. 2 seed pod in the postseason.
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According to Andre Williams in this morning's Morning Call, Lehigh is offering to forfeit 13 game Joe Knight played in last season. The move would leave the Mountain Hawks with a 1-28 record, the lone win coming in a game in which Knight did not play due to a knee injury.
Frankly, that is hardly a fitting punishment. It would add to Knight's punishment by wiping out his 45-point league record game against Colgate in the league tournament, but it would not punish the school, which is were the blame belongs.
Knight only did what athletic department types told him to. He is not the one still trying to spin it as an innocent mistake. That would be Lehigh AD Joe Sterrett, who continues to try to spin this as an innocent mistake.
Sterrett disputes the NCAA claim that Knight was not eligible to play, saying Lehigh believed he was making progress toward his degree even though he didn't have the applicable credits when he entered the university.
"He has never been ineligible," Sterrett said. "He has only taken whatever people told him he should take. We certified him through our normal process."
Making progress without the credits? In that case, we are well on our way to a doctorate here.
The league's punishment must punish the school, not Knight. The kid has already paid a heavy price -- 16 missed games in his final season -- for someone else's mistake.
Anything less than taking away at least one scholarship and probationary status for Lehigh would allow the folks who actually made the mistake to get away with no repercussions.
The Morning Call was all over this story this morning, tossing a Gordie Jones column into the mix as well.
That's not his fault. He trusted people on the administrative level to do their jobs, and they failed him. Either they bungled their interpretation of an NCAA rule regarding the transfer of credits — which remains the official explanation — or they were guilty of something more sinister.
Rest assured that there is a perception out there that the latter is the case. And that will always be so, no matter how often someone in the Lehigh hierarchy says it was nothing more than an honest mistake. Just go online sometime, and read all about it.
Interesting to see Jones suggest people go online to read about the Knight story, since that is the only place it was covered as it played out. While online journalists were busy digging into the situation, Jones' paper, which purportedly covers Lehigh, was content to go with the "injury" explanation for weeks and has yet to ask how Lehigh could misterpret a rule that is pretty simple and straight forward.
Maybe if Lehigh had been open and upfront from the start, people would be more willing to buy the "official explanation." And maybe if the "mainstream media' had done its job when Knight was first suspended, people would not have had to read about it online.
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(Originally posted Sun. at 3:08 p.m., Updated at 7:47 a.m.}
Army 80, Navy 73 -- How big is the Army-Navy game to the two teams? Just ask Matt Fannin, Navy's captain, who did a Willis Reed imitation, taking the court with the torn ACL everyone figured had ended his season wrapped and braced. Fannin managed 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, but it was not enough.
Matt Bell (24 points) and Cobran Bates (20) led Army. Jarell Brown added 15 and Cory Sinning had 10 for Army, which shot 26-45 (58 percent) from the floor, including 10-19 (53 percent) from the arc.
It was the most points Army has scored in a game in four years. The last time the Black Knights had cracked the 80s was in an 85-72 win over Lafayette on Jan. 19, 2002.
Greg Sprink added 14 for Navy, but he was 3-11 from the field, 1-5 on three-point tries. Navy overall 25-59 (42 percent from the field, 4-18 (22 percent) from three-point range.
We will be adding a link to our right side roster for Basketball U.'s new Patriot League message boards. Jake has been gracious enough to not taunt us or dance on the Hoop Time logo chanting "This is our trophy." seems least we can do is give him a link.
If you have questions about particular teams, feel free to post them under those team's Basketball U. forum and we'll try to get you answers.
Also, Ralph Willard sneaked a few minutes out of prepping the Crusaders for the American game to post an update on his Web site. Of particular interest. Ralph's public response to Al Skinner's comments after the Boston College game.
Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call is already looking ahead to Wednesday's Bucknell at Lehigh showdown for first place in the Patriot League standings.
Wogenrich, who we doubt has even seen the Bison on TV, suggests:
Against Bucknell, the right game plan will short-circuit shooters Kevin Bettencourt and freshman Jason Vegotsky and find ways to free Mgebroff and Mike Fischman inside. It also will rely on the high-percentage offense that beat Lafayette.
We saw both teams in action Saturday and are of the opinion that a game plan that centers on stopping Bettencourt and Vegotsky, a freshman who sees limited minutes (but does have a three-point shooting percentage that looks impressive on the stats sheet to someone who has limited familiarity with the Bison) is as doomed to failure as a game plan that counts on Mgebroff and Fischman to carry the load on offense.
We'll look closer Monday at the Bucknell-Lehigh matchup.
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Army at Navy, 1 p.m.: Last year Army was one of the worst four teams in all of Division I, winning just 1 of 24 games. But that win came against Navy. Welcome to the basketball version of the Civil War. The two teams have split in each of the last two seasons. Last year each held serve at home; the year before the road team won each game.
In other words, this is all but impossible to predict because Army-Navy games are not always decided simply by the talent on the rosters.
If it were, Navy would appear to have the edge, with its fleet of backcourt talent. But the Mids have struggled since their best post player, Matt Fannin, went down with a knee injury and Army has played better since Jarell Brown returned after missing five games with an injury of his own. The Mids have lost 4 of their last 5 without Fannin.
Certainly Navy is one of the few teams Army can expect to match up with in the frontcourt.
Brown is Army's leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game. Matt Bell is also in double figures, averaging 13.7 ppg, but the junior guard is only hitting at a 38 percent clip from the field, 29 percent from the arc.
Navy's starting backcourt trio of Greg Sprink (13.9 ppg), Corey Johnson (13.4 ppg) and Kaleo Kina (10.7 ppg) are each averaging in double figures.
Both teams are looking for their first conference win. Army has been closer, losing two games by a combined total of 5 points in road games at Lehigh and American its last two times out.
Navy comes in off a 71-65 non-league win Tuesday over Longwood.
How good is Bucknell playing defense right now? Consider this, since league play began Jan. 7, Bucknell has played 10 halves of basketball. In eight of those 10, the opposition has shot less than 30 percent from the field.
Saturday night in Lewisburg they did it again, holding Colgate to 7-26 from the field in the second half to pull away for a 62-43 win.
Chris McNaughton had 16 points and Donald Brown came off the bench to score 14 on perfect 6 for 6 shooting. As a team, the Bison knocked down 24 of 46 (52.2 percent), finishing above 50 percent from the field for the seventh time this season. The Bison dished out 18 assists, including 8 by Abe Badmus, who also had 9 points.
It was a solid offensive show, to be certain, but it was the defense that was the key.
In the first half, the Bucknell defense played well enough to keep the Bison in the game despite a stretch of almost eight minutes without a bucket. In the second half, it was even stingier, holding the Raiders to 7 buckets on 26 shots (26.9 percent). The Bison forced 17 turnovers, turning them into 15 points.
Brown was responsible for a lot of that. He is big enough to defend the power forward spot and quick enough to jump out on the shooters in the corners to take away the open three. Against a quick, perimeter oriented team like Colgate, that is essential. Colgate missed 13 of the 18 three-pointers they put up, and the ones that fell, including three by Alvin Reed (4-12, 3-9 from the arc) that were basically answered off-balance prayers.
"It (provides a spark) every time Donald comes in, somehow we get going," said McNaughton.
"WIth (Brown) out there we are capable of extending on defense," said Badmus.
After talking in the preseason about pressing more this season, Pat Flannery turned the dogs loose in the second half, creating turnovers with a combination of full and halfcourt traps that fueled the decisive 15-0 run that put Colgate away.
What provided the energy surge that sparked the run was Brown, who skyed over a crowd around the basket to guide home a missed layup by Jason Vegotsky and added another bucket during the spurt. Brown also had a steal during that stretch.
"I know in order to help this team, I had to be aggressive both defensively and offensively. That was the way I was going to get on the floor," Brown said.
Bucknell came in averaging six three pointers per game, but shot just 9 and made only 2. Kevin Bettencourt was 0-for-4 from the arc, 3-9 overall, finishing with just 6 points, but he had four assists. Instead of bombing away from outside, the Bison pounded it inside, outscoring Colgate 20-4 in the paint and out rebounding the Raiders 33-23.
"Coach tells us every day, you're not going to get the same thing every time. You have to go through your progressions. If something is not working, something else is going to be working. We have enough weapons and enough options on this team to never be in a position where we just can't find a way to score," Badmus said.
Reed and Kyle Roemer each with 11 for the Raiders, who have lost four straight, seven of their last nine.
The win for Bucknell sets up a first place showdown in Bethlehem Wednesday against Lehigh. Both Bucknell and the Mountain Hawks are 5-0 in conference play.
Those were phases Fran O'Hanlon used to describe Lehigh during the press conference that followed the Mountain Hawks' 76-58 win over O'Hanlon's game, but overmatched, Lafayette Leopards.
Looking to extend a modest four-game homecourt win streak that included wins over Navy and Colgate (and a win over Division 3 Dickinson), the Leopards played with a lot of resiliency for the first 30 minutes of so. Twice in the early going, Lehigh went on little spurts that Lafayette managed to squelch before they became flat-out runs with a combination of ball-hawking defense and timely shooting.
The third time Lehigh mounted a charge, Lafayette was unable to answer, though.
It started innocently, with a Bryan White dunk at the 14:02 mark of the second half to put Lehigh back in front after Lafayette had fought off a brief Hawks' flurry at the start of the half. Back-to-back threes to open the half and a twisting runner by Jose Olivero in the first 1:35 of the half has stretched Lehigh's 2-point halftime lead to 38-28 in a hurry.
But Lafayette freshman Andrew Brown hit three quick treys to spark a 13-2 'Pards run that put the home team ahead 41-40.
White's slam gave Lehigh a 42-41edge and a lead it never lost.
The win ended a stretch of three years in a row where Lafayette held serve at home against the Hawks. Wednesday, Lehigh ended a 14-game Hamilton, N.Y. skid.
"There were a couple of streaks we wanted to end," said Olivero.
It took the Mountain Hawks over three minutes to stretch the lead. But after Joe Knight jumped the passing lane on an Andrei Capusan outlet pass with 11:00 on the clock, and went the other way for an easy layup, his first field goal, the Lehigh offense shifted into a gear Lafayette was unable to match.
Lehigh outscored the Leopards 23-7 over the next seven minutes and never looked back.
"They kind of wore us down with their size and athleticism," O'Hanlon said.
The Mountain Hawks shot 72 percent (18-25) in the second half, 66 percent for the game. That was a side of Lehigh seldom seen. The Hawks are better known for low scoring grinds. They were next to last in the league in field goal percentage coming in, shooting 39,4 percent.
"We got some opportunities in transition. We didn't shoot a whole lot of threes. We tried to attack in the paint," Lehigh coach Billy Taylor said
A big chunk of that high percentage against Lafayette can be attributed to big men Mike Fischman and Jason Mgebroff, who were a combined 8-for-8 taking turns in the low post, often with Taylor employing both big guys at the same time in a high-low look.
Lafayette tried to counter by out-quicking the Mountain Hawks at the other end. It worked for a while, before the skinny 6-7 Capusan got worn down from the constant pounding of playing against Lehigh's behemoths. For a while Capusan was able to score almost at will with an effective mix of step away jumpers and quick, nimble post moves that took advantage of his matchup with the bigger, slower of foot, Lehigh defenders.
But at the other end, those same big guys were leaning on him in the post, and eventually it took a toll. The jumpers stopped falling and that enabled the Lehigh defenders to play off him enough to stop Capusan from jetting past them.
"They just kept throwing a lot of people at him," O'Hanlon said.
Jose Olivero led all scorers with 21 points, including 4 three-pointers, two coming back-to-back when Lehigh made the decisive run. Kyle Neptune added 3 treys and 18 points for Lehigh, which hit 9-of-18 from the arc. Knight and Mgebroff each had 10 points off the bench.
Capusan's 16 led Lafayette. Brown chipped in with 15 on 5 three-pointers.
(Originally posted Sat. at 10:31 p.m., updated at 8:39 a.m.)
Holy Cross 74, American 63 -- What is it about American that brings out the Tim Clifford's usually hidden inner player? Last year at American, Clifford, then a freshman, filled in for the injured Nate Lufkin and put together a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double.
That game, in particular, raised the expectations bar pretty high for the Big Purple Dog coming into his sophomore season. But Clifford has spent more time in Ralph Willard's dog house than on the floor until Saturday, when he got his first start of the season and responded by dropping a 27-points, 4-blocks bomb on the visiting Eagles. Clifford's 27 were a career high, as were the 33 minutes he played.
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard explained his decision to give Clifford the start to Jen Toland of the Telegram & Gazette:
"I've been thinking for a while about bringing Kevin (Hyland) off the bench because that's a role he got used to last year. Tim had such a special game today that Kevin didn't really get a chance to get in. But Tim has been playing well in practice and with a great deal of energy and more confidence than he did earlier in the year."
HC also got a boost from the apparent return to health of Keith Simmons, who played 37 minutes, finishing with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Simmons' second half minutes were limited due to cramping problems in HC's two prior games -- not coincidentally, both losses.
Kevin Hamilon added 17 points and 8 rebounds for HC.
Andre Ingram led AU with 18 points. Arvydas Eitutavicius added 13 and Brayden Billbe had 10. American shot better from the field than the Crusaders (24-53, 45.3 percent for AU to HC's 22-51, 43.1 percent) and had 7 three-pointers to 6 for HC. But Holy Cross got to the foul line 14 more times than AU and made 16 more free throws (HC 24-29, AU 8-15). Having 18 turnovers didn't help the AU cause any, either.
We rolled in just in time to plug in the laptop before the tip. Listening to Villanova smoking Syracuse on the Sirius as we drove here from Easton.
Here, it has the makings of a war early. Colgate up 6-5 with 15:44 to go.
Colgate 6, BU 5 (15:44 first)
McNaughton a strong dunk to open the game. Colgate 3-4 from the field right now. Bucknell 2-6.
Colgate 8, Bucknell 6 (11:47 first)
Let 'em play appears to be the theme. Through 8 minutes, a total of 5 team fouls have been called. Colgate shooting 4-12 (33.3 percent) Bucknell 2-7 (28.6 percent) Both teams have 5 turnovers. Colgate 9-4 edge on the boards.
Colgate 10, Bucknell 6 (9:42 first)
It has been a long time since a Bicon field goal. At least 7 minutes.
Colgate 15, Bucknell 12 (7:09 first)
Bettencourt broke the Bucknell drought with a pull up jumper in the lane at the 8:16 mark
Bucknell 4-6 at the line (with Badmus about to shoot two) Colgate has not shopt a free throw.
Can you hear Emmettt already?
Bucknell 18, Colgate 15
Bison on an 8-0 run. Includes those two Badmus free throws.
Bucknell 22, Colgate 15 (5:06 first)
Remember Pat Flannery talking back in tghe preseason about pressing more? The Bison showing it here, full and half court trap stuff that they have shown little of to date.
It is working, too. Colgate has 10 turnovers.
Bucknell 22, Colgate 19 (2:15 first)
Flannery unhappy after two Colgate buckets inb a row, calls a timeout without waiting for the media timeout that came 35 seconds later.
Colgate now at 9-22 (40.9 percent) ... Bucknell 7-17 (41.2 percent)
Lee with 6 for Bucknell. Reed leads Colgate with 5.
Bucknell 28, Colgate 22 (HALFTIME)
McNaughton's put back rolls in as the buzzer sounds. McNaughton with 4 of his 6 points in the final 2:15 of the half.
Badmus beating his man off the dribble, has two layups and 2 assists, a total that might be higher if the Bison were shooting better.
Donald Brown again a spark off the bench for Bucknell. 4 points, 4 rebounds in the first half.
Points in the paint: BU 10, C 2; Off of turnovers: BU 11, C 4 Rebounds even at 13-13.
Bucknell 31, Colgate 24 (15:50 second)
Not much offense here. Lee hit a three to open the half for Bucknell. Nobody else scored until Simon Knight lofted a rainbow over McNaughton at the 16:06 mark.
Bucknell 43, Colgate 35 (9:02 to play)
14:50 -- Brown called for a foul when he placed his chin in front of Simon Knight's swinging elbow.
McNaughton with 4 of Bucknell's last 6 points. McNaughton now 5-9, 10 points.
Colgate hanging around because Alvin Reed has hit a trio of fallaway, off-balance three-pointers.
Bucknell 47, Colgate 35 (8:12 to play)
Bison now on an 8-0 run.
Bucknell 54, Colgate 35 (6:24 to go)
Daniels has fouled out. McNaughton on the line, hits 2
Bucknell 58, Colgate 41 3:57 to play Somebody fouls McNaughton hard as he goes to the basket. A little pushing and shoving ensues and Donald Brown gets a T. Roemer hits both, but McNaughton cancels it at the other end by making both shots.
Bucknell now shooting 22-42 for the game (52.4 percent) Colgate 16-45 (35.6 percent)
McNaughton with 16 for Bucknell. Brown has 10 from the bench, he's 4-4 from the field
Bucknell 62, Colgate 41 (1:48 left)
Brown has Bucknell's last 4 points. 21 point lead is widest of the game thus far.
Points in the paint: Bucknell 20, Colgate 2.
Bucknell 62, Colgate 43 FINAL
Bison five that put this away -- McNaughton, Lee, Brown, Bettencourt and Badmus check out with about a minute to go, getting thunderous applause
(Note: We were unable to connect inside Kirby and were forced to post the gameblog from the media room following the game)
11:21 AM -- Exit 29 headed east on I-78.
A late start means no stop at Cabella's.
It's not the first time hoops and fly fishing had a conflict. Not the first time the fishing lost, either.
If the choice were go fishing or cover basketball, it would be tough. Cover a game or tie flies that won't see water until after the Final Four anyhow? No brainer. I'll bitch about it in May when I am up until 2 a.m. tying flies the night before a trip because I didn't bother tying any all winter.
No time to stop at Dietrich's either.
Dietrich's is a little butcher shop off the Krumsville exit that has an incredible selection of smoked meats. Their beef jerky is usually a staple of any trip don the valley.
12:17 p.m. Easton, Pa.
Squeeze into the only parking spot open on the street that runs up the hill next to Kirby. It's a strange thing, but somehow, I have never had a tough time finding a good parking spot at Kirby. Probably because of the steep hill, which is a parallel parking challenge.
It's not because of the crowds. Lafayette has consistently been one of the league's best draws at home.
1:07 p.m. Press Row, Kirby
The students are on break, but there is still a decent crowd on hand. They are not a loud crowd, though. During the player introductions, it is a golf clap sort of welcome for the home team. Will the crowd generate any energy for the Leopards?
17:26 first half -- Joe Knight and Jason Mgebroff check in for Lehigh.
16:37 -- Mgebroff has his first turnover
16:05 -- Kyle Neptune fouled trying to dunk . . . goes down hard -- gets up slow -- hits one of two -- Lafayette 7, Lehigh 3
At the first media timeout: 15:49 ... Lehigh shooting 1-3, 3 turnovers. Lafayette 2-4, 2 TOs
Limited number of Zoo Crew on hand. They are sporting black shirts this year ... much better than those ridiculous pink ones last season.
10: 44 Lehigh 15, Lafayette 14
Paul Cummins with a pair of threes, helping keep Lafayette in this one so far. Cummins has 8 of Lafayette's 14 points. Nobody with more than 4 for Lehigh.
9:00 Lafayette 18, Lehigh 15
Andrei Cap[usan has become a matchup problem for Lehigh. HE can step out and shoot the jumper and he is too quick on the blocks for Lehigh's big men so far, He has 6 of Lafayette's last 8 points.
Mgebroff has 4 points for Lehigh, but he is this year's Sean Knitter -- his lack of foot speed makes him a defensive liability.
7:03 Lafayette 21, Lehigh 17
Pat Betley cans a three for Lafayette. The Pards 3-7 from the arc so far.
5:49 Lafayette 23, Lehigh 21-- Capusan gets a breather. As soon as Billy Taylor sees him coming out, he send Mgebroff back in.
3:40 Lafayette 26, Lehigh 21 -- Capusan back in, hits a 12-foot jumper for his 8th point, he also has 2 assists. Knight quiet thus far 0-2 0 pts.; Olivero 2-4, 4 points
HALF TIME Lehigh 30, Lafayette 28
Matt Betley had a chance to tie it from the free throw line but misses both shots after being hammered going to the hole by Kyle Neptue.
Joe Knight with 1 point at the half for Lehigh -- the back end of a 2-shot foul with 10.5 seconds to go in the half. He does have 2 assists.
Mgebroff with 8 points leads Lehigh. Neptune with 6.
Lehigh shooting 59.1 percent in the first half (13-22) ... 22 of their 30 in the paint.
Lafayette 10-23 (43.5 percent) but they have 3 threes (Lehigh has 2) and are 5-8 at the foul line.
Lehigh 38, Lafayette 28 (18:21 second) -- A quick 8-0 spurt by Lehigh to open the half forces Fran O'Hanlon to call a quick timeout. Back to back three by Olivero and Neptune started it. Olivero followed with an acrobatic, off-balance, one-handed shot off an aborted drive
Lehigh 38, Lafayette 34 (17:14 second) -- Two quick threes by Andrew Brown and it is Billy Taylor's turn to burn a TO.
Lehigh 57, Lafayette 48 (6:35 second)
Lehigh on a 15-7 spurt. Olivero with back to back threes. He has 15 points. Joe Knight's first field goal came at the 11 minute mark when he jumped the passing lane on a capusan kickout and took it the other way for a layin. He drove for another bucket a minute or so later. He is now 2-6, 0-3 threes, 5 assists, 5 points
Lehigh is shooting 24-38 (63.2 percent) from the field
Lehigh 67, Lafayette 50 (3:54 second) The third time is the charm for Lehigh. Twice earlier in the game, the Mountain Hawks went on little runs and threatenbed to pull away. Eash time Lafayette had an answer. But around the 11 minute mark of the second half, the 'Pards jumpers stopped falling. Lehigh stretched it slowly at first, then got its running game in gear to put the 'Pards away.
Lafayette is shooting 40 percent from the field. Usually that is good enough to beat the Hawks, who came in next to last in the league shooting 39.4 percent on the season. But Lehigh is shooting 65.1 percent from the field.
A special thanks to the folks who put together Saturday's schedule for starting the Lehigh-Lafayette game at 1 p.m. and the Colgate-Bucknell matchup at 7. That ought to give us enough time to dash from Easton to Lewisburg for the first of what we expect to be three double dips this season.
The last time we tried this, we got to Lewisburg a few minutes into the nightcap, in plenty of time to catch Chris Niesz's dramatic game-winning three-pointer, capping off a day of two exciting down-to-the-wire ballgames.
The good Lord willing, the Jetta don't break down, and the johnnies don't catch us speeding, we are going to do it again. Let's hope Lehigh-Lafayette doesn't go to overtime.
We will blog the whole day's adventures, updating as frequent as possible. Between our posts, you can use the scoreboards to keep tabs on what is going on around the league.
Lehigh at Lafayette, 1 p.m.: Throw out the records. Forget about scholarships vs. non-scholarships. All bets are off when these two get together.
It is the 203rd meeting between these two Lehigh Valley neighbors, who first hooked up back in 1902. Lafayette has actually dominated the series, leading 133-69. Especially in Easton, where the 'Pards hold a 73-21 edge over the Mountain Engineers.
That homecourt advantage is a factor that cannot be overstated. Folks who only follow the two teams casually would probably figure the balance to have shifted in the last few years, given Lehigh's scholarship advantage. But like we said, when these two teams meet, you can throw such conventional wisdom out the window.
Over the past four seasons, the two have split down the middle each year. In each of those eight games, it has been the home team coming out on top, including an 81-76 upset win by the Leopards back in February 2005.
The casts have changed since then. Especially for Lafayette, which no longer has the services of the two guys who led them in scoring in that game-- Sean Knitter and Jamaal Douglas (16 points each). But Jamaal Hilliard, who had 15 in that game, and Bilal Abdullah (12) are still around, and the game is still being played in Kirby, where the 'Pards are 6-2 this season.
Lafayette is averaging almost 79 points per game at home. It is tough to imagine that kind of offensive pace against a defensive-minded team like Lehigh. Then again, Lehigh has been defensive-minded since Billy Taylor arrived in Bethlehem and Lafayette has still averaged almost 93 points per game when Lehigh has come to visit. Even if you toss out the 111 they scored in a double-overtime epic two years ago, they still have averaged 83.5 in the other two gamesin Easton against Taylor-coached Lehigh teams.
On paper, Lehigh would appear to be the better team this season. The gap would appear to be significant. But until they show they can win in Easton, only a fool would bet the mortgage payment on the Hawks.
Colgate at Bucknell, 7 p.m.: Just like the Lafayette-Lehigh series, records don't always mean a lot when these two meet. Bucknell swept the two-game series between the two last year, but those two wins came by a total of 3 points. That is the way this series has gone. In 10 meetings this century, Bucknell has won 7. But three of those games were decided by a single point and three more by 5 or less.
Colgate is 1-7 in away games this season, the only win coming at Army and the Raiders have lost 6 of their last 8. Bucknell comes in on a three-game win streak since losing at Duke on Jan. 2. The Bison have won 7 straight Patriot League games, dating back to a 60-59 win over Colgate in last season's final regular season game and they have a won 18 straight league games in Sojka Pavilion. Colgate notes | Bucknell notes | USA Today matchup | 'Gate radio | Bucknell Radio
American at Holy Cross, 3:30 p.m.: Since joining the Patriot League, the AU Eagles have posted a 46-25 record in league games. AU is .500 or better against everybody in the league, except Holy Cross, which has pretty much had AU's number.
The Crusaders are 8-3 against the Eagles, and have lost only once at home against AU.
American's chances of getting a second win in Worcester likely depend on the health of HC's Keith Simmons. Simmons' cramping problem returned in the second half of HC's loss at Bucknell and were worse in Tuesday's game against Boston College.
With Simmons on the floor, HC's backcourt has a clear edge in a game between two teams who have not gotten much from their big men. Without Simmons, the matchup is much closer. Kevin Hamilton and Torey Thomas still give HC an advantage on AU's starters, but AU is a little deeper on the perimeter.
Tom's take . . . Tom Housenick of the Daily Item checks in with his take on the Bucknell women's celebration at Navy. While we based yesterday's comments on accounts of the incident in the Annapolis paper, Tom was actually an eyewitness. Among his observations:
"I still can't understanding what all of the fuss is about regarding the Bucknell women's basketball team celebrating a win earlier this month at Navy with a post-game gathering near the center of the court.?
Nothing directed at the Navy players and coaches. No beating chests. No tugging jerseys.
Just a brief bonding ritual after an 88-51 rout of the Midshipmen.
But, the way Navy officials responded, you would have sworn Bucknell players ran around Alumni Hall concourse shouting, 'Go Army.'"
Tom's take: Much ado about next to nothing.
Here we go again . . . Tom Housenick also penned a look at Colgate in advance of Saturday's Bucknell-Colgate game. Check out this quote he got from Raiders coach Emmett Davis:
"And I thought it was officiated very inconsistently. I thought we were the aggressors and (Lehigh) gets to the line 15 times in the first half and we don?t get any. But we certainly had our opportunities at the offensive end."
When we saw the box score from that game -- Lehigh shot 31 free throws, Colgate 6 -- we actually started to write "If anybody had covered the game, Davis would probably have rolled out his familiar whine about the officials."
We opted not to include that line in our recap because it didn't seem fair to speculate about what Davis would say, despite the fact that we have heard that lament so many times now that we suspect the guy has one of those little microchips that repeats it at the push of a button.
Is it just us? Or are other people getting tired of hearing how Davis' merry band of jump shooters can't get to the foul line?
How will it play in Peoria ... A true feel-good story in today's Peoria Journal Star on Lehigh's Mitch Gilfillan, who, according to the story, was probably a better baseball or soccer prospect back at Notre Dame high, but followed his hoops heart to Lehigh.
Another oldtimer checks in . . . When we linked to Ed Laubach's column yesterday, we mentioned that he was one of two guys still around who were covering the league when we started to back in 1990. Actually, there is a guy we missed. We were reminded of that when we stumbled upon a column written by Joe Gross of the Annapolis Capital about Navy coach Billy Lange and his efforts to get the Mids back to the top of the league. Like Laubach, Joe doesn't cover as many games these days. His managerial duties as the Capital's sports editor keep him in the newsroom a lot. But he still sneaks over to Alumni Hall when he gets a chance, and as you'll see from his column, he still has a finger on the Middies' pulse.
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Seems the Capital felt the need to make a big deal out of Bucknell women's coach Kathy Fedorjaka apologizing to Navy for her team's postgame celebration when they thumped the Midshipmen (Midshipwomen?) 88-51 back on Jan. 7 in Navy's Alumni Hall.
After the win, the first league win for five of the ladies on Bucknell's young (2 juniors, no seniors) team, the Bison huddled at midcourt, bouncing up and down and chanting "This is our house."
Navy was offended. Very offended. How dare they celebrate on the Navy logo, they asked, as if it were Terrell Owens celebrating a touchdown on the Dallas Cowboys' star. How dare they celebrate while our team is standing at attention for the alma mater, the oh-so bothered Navy folks asked.
Our response is simple: Get over yourselves.
Now understand, we are big believers in acting like you have been there before. A celebration like that makes it look like you didn't expect to win; like winning a regular season game is as big as winning the championship.
But this was no intentional insult. This was an enthusiastic group of inexperienced players who had not been there before.
The chant, by the way, is one the Bison women use as a pregame psych when they are waiting back in the corridors under the stands before a game. It was not trash talking. And it was not an attempt to insult Navy by dancing on its logo. It was a spontaneous gathering at center court. The logo just happened to be there.
Navy folks have applauded Fedorjaka's apology. It was a class act, which is to be expected from a lady who has been a class act since her days as a graduate assistant at Bucknell.
It was also unnecessary.
Sorry Navy, with all due respect for your institution, its traditions and the brave and honorable men and ladies who play for the school (and those who don't play, too), the righteous indignation was hypocritical.
When the Midshipmen in the stands stop being college kids yelling the same sorts of taunts at opposing teams that you hear anywhere and just clap politely to support their teams, maybe other teams should react to winning in your gym differently.
But that ain't going to happen. Why? Because they are young kids full of youthful enthusiasm, blowing off steam as a welcome relief from a rigorous, demanding educational and institutional regimen.
Just like Bucknell's ladies are young women who were letting loose after a big win.
There was no taunting, no in your face behavior. Just a healthy celebration by a team too young and inexperienced to know better.
Besides, as some of the Cowboys mentioned after that infamous TO exhibition, if you don't want them to celebrate, don't let them have a reason to.
Chuck Woodling, of the Lawrence, Kans. Journal-World, is no stranger to Patriot League basketball, Woodling covers Kansas for a living. Bucknell's win over the Jayhawks is fresh in his memory. He remembers Holy Cross putting a scare into the Jayhawks, too.
In New York recently for his grandson's birthday, Woodling took a side trip to West Point to catch the Holy Cross-Army game. He writes about his visit to the anti-Kansas in a column this morning.
In Wednesday's Morning Call, beat writer Andre Williams takes Lehigh to task, finally, for its handling of the Joe Knight situation. It's about time somebody in the so-called "mainstream media" wrote something about that debacle. Unfortunately, the paper's site had some tech glitch and it cuts off some of the column, so we don't know if Williams calls for sanctions against the school, which thus far has skated while Knight has been punished for its mistakes.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T . . . that is what the Roanoke Times gives Holy Cross in a gamer on last night's Radford-High Point game. It is a brief, but telling, mention:
So far this basketball season, nobody has poured the points on the Panthers like Radford did Wednesday night at the Dedmon Center -- not Kentucky, not Utah, not Holy Cross. The Highlanders turned this Big South Conference game into a rout, winning 96-76.
When writers praise a team's showing like that, by comparing it to what you did, it says something. Heck, you don't see anybody writing "They beat them worse than Savannah State did," do you?
We missed this Ed Laubach column in the Express-Times the other day, but it is still worth a read. Ed is one of two guys (aside from us) still around who were covering the league when it started play back in 1990 (the other is Don Bostrom who now covers the Phillies beat for the Morning Call). Ed is the sports editor at that paper these days, and his managerial duties don't allow him to write as much as he used to. That is too bad. The guy knows his stuff.
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(Originally posted Wed. at 9:47 p.m., Links added at 8:03 a.m.)
Lafayette's high-octane offensive act ran out of fuel in Lewisburg Wednesday night.
The Patriot League's second highest scoring team coming in, the Leopards had scored over 70 points their last three games, including 85- and 80-point outbursts in wins over Colgate and Navy in their last two league games.
Even in a 32-point loss at Penn Monday, scoring had not been the Leopards problem. They put up 73 points against the Quakers.
Playing against Bucknell, though, is a little different than playing Navy and Colgate. The Bison have played a schedule full of quality teams and national powers all season, and still came in leading the league in defense. That standing will only be bolstered after they throttled the Leopards 62-32.
It was Lafayette's lowest scoring Patriot League game ever and their lowest scoring of the season by 15 points. The 'Pards' 13-point first half was easily its worst this season. The 19 they scored in the second half was just one more than their previous low half (18 against St. Joe's).
Bucknell held Lafayette to 22.9 percent shooting, a full 6 percentage points below its worst showing of the season and forced 27 Lafayette turnovers, their most thus far.
"We knew how well they had been scoring. We felt we had to go out and establish ourselves defensively," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery.
Establish they did. After Lafayette hit three field goals in the first 7 minutes of the game, they managed only three more the rest of the half.
When Lafayette's Jamaal Hilliard scored with 9:05 to go in the half, it cut Bucknell's lead to 14-11. By the time Andrrei Capusan scored Lafayette's only other bucket of the half, almost six minutes later, the Bison had methodically built the lead to double digits.
And when Bucknell's Kevin Bettencourt stole an outlet pass and nailed his fourth three-pointer of the game, just before the buzzer, the Bison had scored as many points -- 27 -- as Lafayette would get in 39 minutes. Only a 5-point flurry in the final minute against the deep end of Bucknell's bench allowed the 'Pards to escape the embarrassment of finishing with under 30 points.
It was a night when Bucknell's defense more than made up for a sluggish first half offensively. With Lafayette packing it in on Chris McNaughton, the Bison struggled to get in sync in the first half. Only Bettencourt, who broke out of a recent slump with his 16-point first half (19 for the game), seemed to have any kind of offensive rhythm for the Bison, who turned it over nine times in the opening stanza.
Of course the way they played defense, Bettencourt was enough. It was reminiscent of the Bison game at Duke, where at one point the Cameron Crazies were chanting "J.J. is winning" because Reddick had more points than the Busknell team. The Sojka Pscyhos were not quite that creative, but at the half it was Bettencourt 16, Lafayette 13.
"I got some open looks early, knocked them down and got my confidence going," said the Bison's senior captain.
Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon said some of those looks were the result of the good defense his team played on McNaughton. The Leopards held the pre-season Patriot League Player of the Year to 2 first half points on 1-of-5 shooting (4 points, 2-8 overall).
"That was a product of helping out on McNaughton," said O'Hanlon. "They are good. They find Bettencourt. They know where he is and he knows where the basket is."
The rest of the Bison found the basket in the second half. the Bison came out after the break and went on a 14-5 run, allowing just one Lafayette field goal the first 6:27 of the half. From there the only suspense was whether or not Lafayette would score 30 points.
They did, thanks to a Paul Cummins three-pointer with 36 seconds to play. Along with an Andrew Brown bucket 20 seconds erlier, it gave the 'Pards two of their five second half field goals in the final minute.
Cummins finished with 7 points to lead Lafayette. Nobody else had more than 5.
Bettencourt was the only Bison in double figures. That was in part due to the fact that Bettencourt was the only Bison to play more than 26 minutes. The Bison bench combined for 20 points. Lafayette's starting five only scored 14.
(Originally posted Wed. at 11:28 p.m., Updated at 7:51 a.m.)
American 65, Army 63, 2OT -- It took two extra periods, but American eventually managed to get past stubborn Army. You might also argue it took a little luck, since the Eagles only managed to force the two extra periods thanks to three-pointers by Andre Ingram, who fouled out in the second OT, leaving with 13 points. Linas Lekavicius led AU with 15, including 4 in the second OT. Freshman sniper Derrick Mercer added 13.
Jarrell Brown led Army with 22 points.
From the sound of Dan Steinberg's story in the Washington Post, it was a game neither team seemed to want to win at times. The two teams combined shot 38.7 percent from the field, leading Steinberg to refer to the rim in Bender as "much abused."
From Steinberg's account:
Army had the ball and a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation. The Black Knights (4-12, 0-4) had the ball and a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds left in the first overtime.
Even after AU went up 7 in the second OT, they nearly gave it away by shooting 1-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, in the sopa opera called "Which Patriot League Big Man is in His Coach's Dog House Now," Army's 6-11 junior stringbean Jimmy Sewell had 5 rebounds, 4 points and 3 blocks in 28 minutes while American's 6-11 Paulius Joneliunas only got off the bench for 7 minutes of a game that lasted 50.
Sewell's minutes were his most all season. Sewell, a starter early in the season, had clearly fallen out of favor with Jim Crews. Before the American game, he had seen more than 10 minuts just once in the Cadets prior 10 games, getting 12 minuts at Lehigh. In the 9 games before Lehigh, Sewell averaged 2.2. minutes with three DNPs.
Lehigh 53, Colgate 45 -- Lehigh's first win in Hamilton since the first season the Patriot League played hoops (1990-91) snaps a 14-game losing streak for the Engineers and Mountain Hawks at Colgate.
It was an ugly, defensive affair with the two teams combining for nearly as many turnovers (31) as field goals (36). Lehigh was 16-for-42 from the field (38.1 percent), 1-of-11 from the arc. Colgate had more field goals, but also missed more shots, going 20-for-56 (35.7 percent), 2-for-18 on three-point tries.
The big difference: Lehigh went to the foul line 31 times and made 20. Colgate only got to the line 6 times all night, making 3.
Joe Knight had 14 for Lehigh, which won its sixth in a row. Jose Olivero added 13.
Alvin Reed (14) and Kendall Chones (12) in double figures for Colgate, which has lost three in a row and six of its last eight. The loss spoiled the night for Reed, who became the 24th player in 'Gate history to score 1,000 career points.
Bucknell 12, Lafayette 7 (10:47 first) Slow start offensively for the Bison, who missed 4 of their first 6 shots and turned the ball over 5 times in the first 6:22.
Lafayette also 2-for-its first 6 with 5 turnovers.
The difference, Bucknell missing good looks, Lafayette getting few and Bucknell's turnovers for the most part self-inflicted while the Bison defense has forced most of Lafayette's.
Kevin Bettencourt, who has struggled offensively of late, on fire early, 4-5, 2-3 from 3-point arc -- 10 points.
Bucknell 16, Lafayette 11 (7:46 first)
Tarik Viaer-McClymont back in the Bucknell rotation after missing two games with an ankle injury.
Bucknell with an 11-7 edge on the boards.
Lafayette shooting 5-13 (38.5 percent) with 7 turnovers.
Bucknell 7-17 (41.2 percent) and 7 turnovers. The most recent by Charles Lee who led a wide open McNaughton by an extra step on what would have been a likely dunk had the pass been on the money.
Bucknell 21, Lafayette 11 (3:54 first)
Is there a player in the league that has taken more charges than Darren Mastropaolo?
His most recent just before the media timeout, Jamaal Hilliard called for the foul.
Lafayette now shooting 29.4 percent (5-17) with 11 turnovers.
Tight rims for Bucknell, too. 9-23 (39.1 percent)
Bettencourt with 13 points.
Bucknell 27, Lafayette 13 (Halftime)
Bettencourt ends the half with a three at the buzzer after stealing a Lafayette outlet pass in the backcourt. He now has 16 on 6-9 shooting, 4-6 from the arc.
McNaughton struggling against Lafayette's constant double and triple teams down low. He is 1-5, including a miss when he was stuffed by 6-4 Jamaal Hilliard, who came from the weakside and skyed for the block.
Bucknell's offense anything but stellar -- 11-29 (37.9 percent) in the first half against Lafayette's zone. It hardly matters, though, because Lafayette cannot score. The Leopards with one bucket in the final 10 minutes of the half, 6-23 (26.1 percent) from the field.
This is the second game in a row a team failed to reach 20 against BU in the first half. Holy Cross had 14 Saturday. Lafayette has 11 turnovers, 5 on Bucknell steals. Of BU's 27 points, 18 off turnovers.
Charles Lee is the only Bison other than Bettencourt with more than 2 points. He was 1 for his first 5 and looking frustrated as easy looks kept rimming out or bouncing around the tin and falling off. When he hit a long three late in the half, you could sense his relief as he pumped his fist running back to play D.
Bucknell's students are back and have the stands behind both baskets packed. The townies stayed home to watch whatever it is people who veg on the couch in front of the tube on Wednesday nights watch. Plenty of empty seats on both sides.
A BU student just hit a halfcourt shot to win a $100 gift certificate to the Towne Tavern in Lewisburg.
Quirky stat of the half -- the two teams are a combined 0-5 from the free throw line. The cold is not all outside of Sojka Pavilion tonight.
Bucknell 37, Lafayette 18 (15:36 second)
Abe Badmus picks Andre Brown clean near midcourt to open the second half. Brown fouled him going to the hoop and Badmus hit both shots to end the free throw drought.
Lafayette with turnovers on its first three possessions, leading to four Badmus points.
Badmus also with a slam that gets the crowd chanting Holy S***, Holy S*** in amazement at the 6-0 guard's leaping ability.
McNaughton still struggling, now 1-7, but Mastropaolo is picking up the slack inside. he is 2-2, with a pair of free throws for 6 points.
Lafayette with 5 turnovers already this half.
Bucknell 43, Lafayette 20 (11:02 second)
When Lafayette misses, which has been frequent, it is not even contesting the boards, falling back to keep Bucknell from running on them, which is odd since the Bison are not known for the fast break these days.
Lafayette is now 2-11 in the second half with 6 turnovers. Bucknell heating up, has hit 6-13 in the second half.
Bucknell 52, Lafayette 20 (8:43 second)
Bison smell blood. They have now outscored Lafayette 25-7 in the second half.
Leopards shooting percentage continues to head south. They are now 8-36 (22.2 percent) for the game. This half the 'Pards are 2-13.
Bucknell 57, Lafayette 22 (5:58 second)
With 7 minutes to play, Bucknell students started chanting "It's all over." In reality, they were at least three minutes late with that chant.
Pat Flannery has now gone to the deep end of his bench, with Andrew Morrison, Josh Linthicum and Rob Thomas just in for BU.
Bucknell 59, Lafayette 23 (3:39 second)
With 4:24 to go, students chating "Holland Mack, Holland Mack." If Mack could play the three, he would probably be in already. Flannery has him sitting beside him on the bench, but probably wants to get Morrison a few more minutes before inserting him.
Bucknell now has all three freshmen and sophomores Thomas and Morrison on the floor.
Only mystery left is when will Mack get in and will Lafayette reach 30.
Bucknell 62, Lafayette 32 (FINAL)
Mack checks in for vegotsky at the 2:55 mark. Fans go wild.
Seconds later he skies to tip home a Thomas miss, more craziness.
Leopards manage to score 5 in final minute against Bucknell's deep bench to hit the 30 point mark.
Those two baskets give Lafayette an 11-44 night (25 percent) with 26 turnovers.
After turning it over 9 times in the first half, the Bison with just three giveaways after intermission.
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Lafayette at Bucknell, 7 p.m.: Lafayette comes in off a 32-point spanking at the hands of Ivy Power Penn. It won't get any easier for the Leopards in Lewisburg. The last time these two met, Bucknell put a 70-34 hurting on Lafayette, holding the 'Pards to 25.6 percent shooting from the field. Jamaal Douglas accounted for 12 of Lafayette's points in that game. He is no longer a Leopard, having left for the greener (read scholarship) pastures of Eastern Kentucky.
The Leopards showed an ability to put points on the board in their two wins prior to the loss at Penn, scoring 80 in the win over Navy and 84 in beating Colgate. But last year the 'Pards had averaged 77 per game in the five games leading up to that season-ending tournament loss at Bucknell. Bucknell's defense has been even tougher this season, and without an inside threat like Douglas to hold them at bay, expect the Bison perimeter players to apply suffocating pressure on Lafayette's shooters.
Lafayette has never won in Sojka Pavilion (0-4) losing by an average score of 72-49.
Lehigh at Colgate, 7 p.m.: The Mountain Hawks are on a five-game win streak. The Raiders are reeling, having lost two in a row and seven of their last nine against Division I opponents. But all bets are off when Lehigh visits Hamilton. The last time Lehigh won up on the tundra, they were still called the Engineers. Since that win in the 1990-91 season, Lehigh has lost 14 in a row at Colgate.
Army at American, 7:30 p.m.: The Eagles look to even their league record, a feat they ought to be able to achieve when they host lowly Army, a team they have beaten nine times in a row.
That does not mean AU won't need to come to play. While the Eagles got a boost with their win at Colgate Saturday, they still are very much a work in progress.
Army, despite only two wins over D-I foes, is a better team than it was last season, especially now that Jarrell Brown is back in the lineup. The Cadets played Lehigh tough their last time out and even in their worst seasons, have never backed down from anyone.
Boston College 63, Holy Cross 53 -- The Crusaders gave No. 21 Boston College all it could handle in the DCU Center before running out of gas in the second half. HC was tied with the Eagles 39-39 with 12:38 to play. Then BC went on a 7-0 run to take control.
Craig Smith, BC's 6-7 All-America candidate, had a dominate second half, scoring 17 of his 19 points and grabbing 12 of his 17 rebounds after the break.
Kevin Hamilton finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals for HC. Torey Thomas added 16 and Tim Clifford finally showed signs of being the kind of player inside many had expected him to be this season, scoring 11 points before fouling out late in the game. Kevin Hyland, on the other hand, was invisible, playing only 12 minutes, finishing with 4 fouls, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers, 3 blocks and 0 points.
Depth was a definite issue for the Crusaders, especially with Keith Simmons sitting out most of the second half after a recurrence of the cramping problem that hampered him earlier in the season. Simmons played only 23 minutes.
According to the Boston Globe, after the game, BC coach Al Skinner whined about the physical play in the game:
"I thought the game was quite physical, and not in a positive sense," said Skinner, who sniped at the officiating crew for not containing the physical play. "Sean Marshall got smacked in the face, Craig's got a bruised hand, and Louis [Hinnant] has a sprain in his [left] wrist and his arm. So it's not good."
What I think happens at times when you look at two players and one is less talented than the other, you give him some leeway. I think that leeway led to a lot of aggression and a lot of non-calls, and I just have a problem with that. We’ve got guys walking out of here hurt. We’ve played a lot of games and we haven’t played any where three or four guys get hurt in one game. It’s just unfortunate.
“This game didn’t do anything for us if you want to know the truth. I don’t think a game like this gets played very often and played in this manner. If we lose it’s bad — if we win that’s what people expected."
We've seen enough of these Patriot League vs. The Big Time type games to know how they go. We have yet to witness the officials give the smaller team from the lowly league the breaks in a game against a ranked team from a BCS conference. The fact that HC got hit with 22 fouls, BC only 15, pretty much confirms our suspicions.
Ralph Willard had a different take:
"BC's a very physical basketball team. I didn't think it was tremendously overly physical, to be honest about it. They run a very interior-oriented offense and we packed the lane. I didn't think it was physical."
Sounds to us like Skinner, after losing to HC in 2002, going to OT last year and barely surviving this year, is trying to set it up to start ducking his instate rivals in future years.
Look at BC's schedule. The Eagles have 13 wins, but only two over schools from name conferences -- Oklahoma State and Florida State. They have lost to every ranked opoponent they have played and spent the non-conference schedule fattening up on the likes of Dartmouth, Sacred Heart and Texas Southern. No wonder they are 1-3 in the ACC.
Navy 71, Longwood 65 -- Greg Sprink with a 16 point, 10 rebound double-double to lead the Midshipmen. Sprink also had 6 assists and a pair of steals. Corey Johnson had 19 points for Navy. Kaleo Kina added 13.
Holy Cross vs. No. 21 Boston College, DCU Center, 7 p.m.: Boston College has won 14 of the last 15 meetings between these two, including three of four at the DCU Center. Holy Cross' win in that period came in Dec. 2002. That was the current HC seniors freshman year, but neither was a factor in that game. Kevin Hamilton played 11 minutes and had as many fouls as points (3). Kevin Hyland didn't even get off the bench.
The Crusaders can count on much more from Hamilton this time. Whether the same can be said for Hyland remains to be seen. He will have to be more of a factor in this one than he was Saturday at Bucknell if the Crusaders expect to pull an upset.
Boston College presents a matchup nightmare for Holy Cross, with a pair of 6-7 forwards that each score in double figures. Senior Craig Smith is the best known of the three A legitimate All-America candidate (he was third team on the NABC squad, honorable mention AP last season), the three-time All-Big East selection will hit the 2,000 career points mark with his first bucket tonight. Smith is averaging 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His last time out he dropped 28 points and grabbed 14 boards against Florida State.
Joining him in the frontcourt is 6-7 junior Jared Dudley, a star in his own right. Dudley, last year's Big East Most Improved Player (and a first team all-league pick) averages 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Toss in 6-6 swingman Sean Marshall (13.3 ppg) and you start to see all kinds of headaches for Holy Cross. (Did we mention they also have a 6-10 kid in the starting lineup and a 6-8 and another 6-10 also in the rotation?)
Holy Cross ought to be able to neutralize some of that size by playing a lot of zone. Ralph Willard's matchup can give teams fits, especially teams that are not familiar with the Crusaders. But BC also has three guys shooting better than 37.8 percent from three-point range and shoots 35.8 percent from the arc as a team.
If the Crusaders get solid contributions from the frontcourt -- obviously a huge if -- and can stay in the game early, they could pull an upset. Their three guards -- Hamilton, Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas -- have shown they can play with anybody. But if they are forced to play 3 on 5, it will be a very long night
Longwood at Navy, 7:30 p.m.: The Lancers visit to Annapolis couldn't come at a better time for the Mids, who have dropped four straight since losing forward Matt Fannin to an injury. Longwood is in the third year of the five year process of moving from Division 2 to Division 1 and the transition has not been easy for its hoopsters, who come into this one 3-14, having lost 10 of their last 11 and yet to win in 8 road games. The Lancers have been giving up 81 points per game, allowing the opposition to shoot 48 percent from the field in the process.
Pennsylvania 105, Lafayette 73 -- Lafayette shot 53 percent in the first half and still trailed by 19 points at the break. It was that kind of a night for the Leopards, who saw their modest two-game win streak come to a halt.
The Quakers hit 22 of 34 (64.7 percent) on the first half, before cooling off in the second half, when they made only 30-of-34 (58.8 percent), a stat most likely attributable to guys like Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber sitting down much of the second half as Penn coach Fran Dunphy emptied his bench. Zoller was 9-11 for 19 points. Jaaber had 21 points on 8-14 shooting. Steve Danley (5-6, 13 points) David Whitehurst (5-1, 11 points) and Eric Osmundson (7-13, 18 points) also had big nights, putting all five Penn starters in double figures.
Penn also dominated the boards, outrebounding Lafayette 38-27.
Freshman guard Andrew Brown hit 5 three-pointers, finishing with 16 points to lead Lafayette, which goes from the frying pan to the fire by visiting Bucknell Wednesday night.
Gonzaga is back to its accustomed status as the unanimous first place choise of all 31 voters in the latest Mid-Major Top 25. Last week Northern Iowa had received votes for the top spot as well, but the Panthers loss to Creighton cost them. It also cost UNI the second spot in that poll, with Bucknell, last week's No. 3 team, edging them for the second spot by 4 votes this week.
Those two are reversed in the others receiving votes category of the latest AP Poll, with UNI getting 16 votes, Bucknell 14, making them No. 33 and 34 in that poll. Syracuse jumps into the top 25 at the No. 20 spot this week -- don't get us started.
Perhaps the most entirely bogu excuse for a poll is the CBS Sportsline Top 25. In ranking Maryland No. 25, they say "you can't hold a loss to Duke against them, everybody is losing to the Blue Devils." Fair enough. But Syracuse being ranked No. 10 and Bucknell being unranked is even harder to fathom if losses to Duke don't count.
Not saying Bucknell should or should not be in the Top 25, just that after beating Syracuse on its own floor, they certainly deserve as much consideration as the Orangemen.
And then there is Louisville, ranked No. 19, with a comment "The Cardinals need a statement win. They've faced three teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time of their meeting and they've lost all three." Actually, none of the Cardinals wins are very impressive
If that lack of a win over a Top 25 team still allows them to be No. 19, then what about the team that beat your No. 10 team?
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Lafayette at Penn, 7 p.m.: A week or two ago, this didn't look like much of a matchup. But after Lafayette's back-to-back wins last week, the Leopards visit to the famed Palestra looks a lot more interesting. The Leopards have been lighting up the scoreboard, averaging 83 points in those two wins. Toss in the Mount Saint Mary's game and they have scored over 75 in three of the last four.
Those last two were at home, where the Leopards are 6-2 on the season. The road has been a different matter. Lafayette has won only two of seven away from Kirby.
Penn, meanwhile, comes in having won five of its last six. The lone loss in that stretch was at Fordham, where Lafayette has also lost, by the way. The Quakers are only 5-3 at home, but the losses were to Temple, Villanova and Colorado. Penn's other loss thus far was to Duke.
But the Quakers wins have not been all that impressive either. Aside from a win at 8-6 Hawaii, the Quakers' victims in the recent hot streak were just a notch above the Little Sisters of the Poor -- BYU-Hawaii, The Citadel and a sweep of two mediocre Ivy League teams-- Cornell and Columbia-- over the weekend.
In those two Ivy games, the Quakers two top guns -- 6-2 junior guard Ibrahim Jaaber and 6-7 junior forward Mark Zoller -- were on fire. Jaaber, who averages 18.8 ppg, was 7-10 in both games, scoring 18 against Cornell, 20 against Columbia. Zoller went 8-9 for 21 against Cornell, 6-9 for 12 against Columbia.
The Quakers shot better than 50 percent in both and won both of those games by over 30 points, downing Cornell 84-44 on Friday night and winning 87-55 at Columbia on Saturday.
Those lopsided wins allowed Penn coach Fran Dunphy to spread out the minutes. Jaaber (32) was the only Quaker to play more than 26 minutes Friday night. Guard Eric Osmundson (31) was the only Penn player who saw more than 26 minutes at Columbia. That probably means Lafayette won't have the better legs advantage it might have hoped for with the Quakers playing for the third time in four days.
But it does mean the Quakers will have had very little preparation time to get ready for the Leopards, who like to switch things up a lot on defense.
The limited preparation time won't mean the coaches are not prepared. Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon used to be a Dunphy assistant. They don't need to watch a whole lot of film to know what the other guy is going to try to do.
(Originally posted Saturday at 4:56 p.m., links added at 8:05 a.m.)
By CHRIS A. COUROGEN Special to The Telegram & Gazette
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- For the second time in as many meetings, the Holy Cross Crusaders fell way behind Bucknell in the first half and was unable to overcome the deficit despite a strong second half charge.
The first time was last March in Worcester, when Bucknell claimed the Patriot League title by building an 18-point halftime lead that held up for a 4-point win.
This time the final was not quite as close, but the game was eerily similar for the Crusaders (9-8, 2-1 Patriot League), who fell out of a three-way tie for the Patriot League lead with the 56-42 loss.
There are some big differences, to be certain. When Bucknell (12-3, 3-0) won at the Hart Center in March, they entered the game as the underdogs. This game was on the Bison's home floor, where they have now won 18 straight league games. Holy Cross was a deeper, more experienced team back then, too, with a couple of senior frontcourt players -- John Hurley and Nate Lufkin -- who gave them a presence in the middle.
This Crusaders team had no such presence yesterday. Matter of fact, if not for personal fouls and turnovers, Holy Cross' trio of big men hardly showed up in the box score. Starting center Kevin Hyland only took two shots, missing both. Power forward Alex Vander Baan had one bucket all afternoon. Those two at least did grab a few rebounds -- four for Vander Baan and three for Hyland. Tim Clifford, the Crusaders' 6-10 sophomore and only true frontcourt type off the bench, played seven minutes and had nothing but zeroes to show for it, save a single personal foul.
The fact that three of Vander Baan's four boards came on the offensive glass, yet he only scored 2 points, gives you a pretty good idea how anemic the Crusaders were upfront. That lack of any inside presence pretty much reduced the Crusaders to a jump-shooting team, and that is never a good formula, especially on the road, even more so against a team that plays defense the way Bucknell does.
When the jump shots are not falling, and the other team is hitting at a 60-percent clip, the only possible outcome is a huge deficit, which is exactly what the Crusaders were facing following a 3-for-17 shooting effort in the first half. Toss in HC's 12 first half turnovers and you find yourself in a hole like the 34-14 one the Crusaders were in at the break.
"When you struggle as much as we did offensively in the first half, it takes away your defensive intensity. You can't let that happen, but that is what happens," said Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard.
The 14 points were the fewest for Holy Cross in a half all season, worse even than the 15 they scored the last time they lost, back on Dec. 27 at George Mason.
It was a Murphy's Law kind of a half for the Crusaders. The game plan had called for limiting Bucknell center Chris McNaughton, but the 6-11 junior scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the opening half. Undoubtedly Holy Cross had planned to get more from defending Patriot League player of the year Kevin Hamilton in the first half than the 2 points he managed. Both of those, by the way, coming at the foul line. Hamilton was 0-for-6 from the field in the half.
"We didn't do one thing that we said we were going to do," said Willard. "We looked like we were taking gas in the first half."
The Crusaders managed to make a game of it by starting the second half with a 17-4 run. But despite holding the Bison to 5-of-19 shooting from the field in the second half, Holy Cross never managed to get closer than 8, closing the gap to 43-35 with 9:13 to play on Vander Baan's only bucket.
Bucknell's defense stiffened after that, allowing only one Holy Cross field goal -- a Torey Thomas three-pointer -- the rest of the way. The Bison were not a lot better. They only had two field goals in the final 10 minutes. But Bucknell shot well enough at the free throw line -- 12-for-18 -- in the second half, to coast to their 12th win.
"That's an excellent basketball team to try to come back on. You are not going to come back when you are down 20, especially not here," Willard said.
After his horrid first half, Hamilto heated up in the second, finishing with 18 points to lead all scorers. Keith Simmons added 12 and point guard Torey Thomas finished with 10. Vander Baan was the only other Crusader to score.
Charles Lee (12 points) was the only Bucknell player other than McNaughton in double figures, but the Bison got contributions from six other players and outscored its bench outscored Holy Cross' reserves 15-0.
NOTES: Amy Goodman, wife of Bucknell assistant coach Bryan Goodman, outscored all Crusaders not named Simmons, Hamilton and Thomas this week, giving birth to quadruplets Thursday ... the loss snaps Holy Cross' 15-regular season Patriot League games win streak one win shy of tying the record of 16 set by Navy in the 1997 and 1998 seasons ... With the win, Bucknell coach Pat Flannery moves into first place on the all-time PL coaching wins list with 93, one better than retired Navy coach Don Devoe . . .a true stat oddity, Holy Cross managed just three field goals and 14 first half points despite 10 Bucknell fouls and 7 HC steals, all of which led to extra possessions for the Crusaders . . . Holy Cross is now 7-10 all-time in Lewisburg, 1-3 in Sojka Pavilion . . . the two teams will meet again Feb. 11 in Worcester.
(Originally posted Saturday at 10:17 p.m., updated at 7:43 a.m.)
Lafayette 80, Navy 67 -- Navy was up 31-20 with 6:53 to go in the first half. Then the bottom dropped out, as Lafayette went on a 43-8 run through the end of he first half and 9:42 into the second, building a 25-point lead.
Lafayette 12-23 from three-point range, including 4 by freshman Andrew Brown, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
The Leopards won despite 24 turnovers and 23 Navy offensive rebounds. Of course the Midshipmen had plenty of chances on their offensive glass since they shot just 32 percent from the field.
The win puts Lafayette (8-7. 2-1) over .500 overall and in the league. It will be tough for the Leopards to stay there for long, though. They travel Monday to Ivy League leader Penn, then are at Bucknell Wednesday and at Lehigh Saturday.
As Leopards coach Fran O'Hanlon told Corky Blake of the Express-Times:
"If you look at those three as a lump sum you shouldn't want to get out of bed. That's why you rely on the old cliché of playing them one at a time."
Lehigh 63, Army 60 -- Lehigh only shot 34.7 percent from the field and Army hit 42 percent. But the Mountain Hawks went to the foul line 34 times, making 21. Joe Knight had 13 of those made free throws (and 5 of the missed ones) en route to a 28-point night for Lehigh.
Pregame If you were planning on coming to Lewisburg and decided against it because of fears of a sellout, you were, unfortunately mistaken.
Sojka is crowded, and close to full, but there are definitely seats left.
Blame Bucknell's students, or at least those who opted not to return early from break.
Bucknell keeps 2,500 tickets available for students and staff. Those that went unclaimed went on sale this morning, but obviously a lot of fans were scared away from the earlier reports of a sellout.
One injury note -- Bucknell's Tarik Viaer-McClymont is in a traveling warmup suitand does not appear to be available. The 6-7 backup center, who missed the American game due to a bruised bone in his ankle, did take part in pregame warmups.
BU 8, HC 6 (15:18 first) McNaughton with BU's first 4 points, and all three BU field goals, including a nasty dunk beating a late double down on the baseline by Vander Baan.
Simmons has 5 of HC's first 6, but was forced into a 5 second call by Lee on his most recent touch, after burying a three the previous trip down the floor.
Torey Thomas and Abe Badmus both picked up an early personal. That could be a situation to watch, especially for Thomas, given the lack of another point guard for HC.
BU 15, HC 7 (11:17 first) Vegotsky hits his first shot -- a three from the left baseline. Ralph calls a quick TO.
Bucknell on a 9-1 spurt.
Bison with a 7-4 edge on the boards early. Both teams with 4 turnovers.
Bucknell shooting 55.6 percent (5-9). HC is 2-9 (22.2 percent).
Badmus just picked up his second personal. Bucknell's fourth team foul.
BU 20, HC 7 (8:17 first) Lee for 3, another HC timeout.
Bucknell run now at 14-1.
HC has not had a field goal in over 7:30.
BU 26 HC 12 (3:45 first)When will Bucknell get a jersey for Bucky Bison, its mascot.
In his navy-blue I heart BU t-shirt with an orange vest, he looks like he just got off the senior citizens tour bus for the early bird at Old Country.
Kevin Hamilton is 0-5 and his frustration is showing. On a 2 on 1 break, instead of dishing to Thomas on the wing, he tried to go over McNaughton and got called for the charge -- his second personal.
Simmons (7) and Thomas (5) are the only Crusaders who have scored. HC is 3-15 from the field with 10 turnovers already.
BU 34, HC 14 (halftime) It is a clinic in Sojka Pavilion, where Chris McNaughton just capped an incredible half by the Bison with a 10-foot jumper from the right side.
McNaughton has 10 points at the break. Seven other Bison sharing the scoring.
For Holy Cross, Simmons (7), Thomas (5) and Hamilton (2 on 2-4 free throw shooting) account for all the points. Hamilton is 0-6 from the field. The Crusaders had one field goal in the last 15:57, only three in the half. Overall they shot 3-17 (17.6 percent) and turned the ball over 12 times.
It is the Crusaders lowest scoring half of the season, eclipsing the 15-point second half at George Mason.
Bucknell shot 60 percent in the first half (12-20). The Bison also with a 13-9 edge on the boards.
Most telling stat: Points in the paint -- Bucknell 18, HC 0.
Dave Jones of the Patriot-News makes a good point -- with 10 BU fouls and 7 HC steals, the Crusaders had a lot of extra possessions and still only scored 14 points.
BU 38, HC 24 (15:47 2nd half) Hamilton with two quick buckets -- 1 a trey -- to open the half and Simmons scores the first points in the paint for HC as they cut the BU lead to 34-21.
Then Lee hits two free throws and a put back to push the lead back to 17 points.
Hamilton answers with his second trey. Hamilton is now 3-9, 2-6 from 3-point range.
Vander Baan with 3 fouls for HC after picking up two quick in the second half. Bettencourt has 3 personals for BU. Nobody else with more than 2.
BU 40, HC 31 (13:00 2nd half) Just like that, HC is back in this one. They have outscored BU 17-6 to open the half.
The key -- Kevin Hamilton, who all of a sudden has 14 points after going without a field goal in the first half. BU 42, HC 31 (11:39) Bucknell twice this half with easy buckets on inbounds plays under its own basket. The most recent by Donald brown to push the lead back to double digits.
Bucknell 3-11 from the field in the second half. HC 7-13.
BU 44, HC 35 (7:43 to go) HC back in the game, but how long can they last with Hamilton, Simmons and Vander Baan each with 4 personals.
BU 51, HC 38 (4:42 second)
Bucknell pulling away without having scored a field goal since the 12:08 mark of the second half.
Bucknell 9-12 from the line since then.
Four HC players with 4 fouls -- Thomas, Vander Baan, Simmons and Hamilton.
Bucknell 56, Holy Cross 42 (FINAL) Holy Cross made a game of it with a big run early in the second half. But the Crusaders ran out of gas down the stretch.
McNaughton with 15 for Bucknell. Lee added 12.
Kevin Hamilton with 18, 16 in the second half, for HC. Simmons with 12 and Torey Thomas 10.
Alex Vander Baan had the only other bucket for the Crusaders.
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Holy Cross at Bucknell, 1 p.m.: When these two met for the first time last season, we wrote that things between Holy Cross and Bucknell would probably not be settled until the second Friday of March.
That turned out to be true.
A lot of people are saying the same thing this season. At this point, there is no reason to argue against that scenario. But there is also far less evidence to support such prognostication.
Last year the two teams came in with similar records and similar casts. Both teams had almost everyone back from the previous season. Both featured balanced lineups with outstanding backcourts and solid frontcourts.
Even after Bucknell won the rubber match between the two last March, they continued along very similar paths, with both teams scoring big first round upsets in post season play before losing tough second round games.
But the month of May was not kind to Holy Cross. When they held graduation ceremonies in Worcester, they handed diplomas to Nate Lufkin, John Hurley and Greg Kinsey and waved goodbye to three-fifths of the Crusaders' starting lineup.
Bucknell graduated only one player -- Chris Niesz, a key backup to be certain, but a player whose void has been much easier to fill than those played by the Crusaders' trio.
Kinsey, Lufkin and Hurley all played key roles in the Crusaders' lone win in the three games with Bucknell last season. Hurley had 11 points and 9 rebounds in the regular season meeting in Worcester. Kinsey added 10 points and Lufkin had 8 boards.
Without Lufkin and Hurley, Holy Cross' frontcourt has been a shadow of last year's. Kevin Hyland and Tim Clifford have, thus far, proven to have far smaller feet than the shoes they have been asked to fill. Alex Vander Baan, pressed into a starting role at power forward, has been the best of the Crusaders' frontcourt players thus far, but the skinny 6-8 freshman has also had games where he has pretty much disappeared.
Filling Kinsey's spot in the starting lineup was easy enough. Keith Simmons was an all-league pick last year when he played starter-like minutes as HC's sixth man. But nobody on the Crusaders' bench this season has shown the ability to come in and provide a spark like Simmons did last season. Pat Doherty probably would have given the 'Saders a scorer off the bench, but a foot problem has sidelined him for the season, leaving Ralph Willard to rely on freshmen as key reserves.
The combination of Holy Cross' weaker frontcourt and lesser bench significantly alters the equation when you look at the two teams heading into Saturday afternoon's showdown.
Chris McNaughton and Darren Mastropaolo give the Bison a significant edge in the frontcourt. Backups Donald Brown and Tarik Viaer-McClymont add depth upfront that the Crusaders lack.
That edge in bench contributors extends to the Bucknell backcourt, too. Holy Cross fans will argue that Kevin Hamilton, Torey Thomas and Simmons give the Crusaders an edge on Bucknell's starting backcourt of Kevin Bettencourt, Abe Badmus and Charles Lee. They might be right, but any advantage there is slight. With John Griffin and freshman Jason Vegotsky coming off the bench for Bucknell, the backcourt balance seems to shift towards the Bison.
The depth factor cannot be overlooked in a matchup like this. These are two teams that pride themselves on tough defense. Recent games between Bucknell and Holy Cross have been the kind of grind-it-out half court affairs you would expect from teams coached by defense-first guys like Ralph Willard and Pat Flannery.
In three games last season, the two teams combined shot 38 percent from the field. Take away Bucknell's 21-for-40 showing in the league championship game and that figure is even lower. That was the only time one of the two shot better than 41 percent against each other.
Expect more of the same this time around. Despite its up and down start and the many injury problems Holy Cross has faced, the Crusaders are still holding the opposition to 42.2 percent shooting. During their current four-game win streak, that number has dropped to 36.2 percent.
Bucknell's defense has been even tougher, with opponents shooting only 38.7 percent against the Bison. Bucknell has been holding opponents to an average of under 60 points per game.
Make no mistake, it takes more energy to play defense than offense. Which is why Bucknell's depth could give it the edge.
Take a look at Holy Cross' seven losses and you will see what we mean. In five of the seven, the Crusaders were within 3 at the half. They were even ahead by three in one of those games (Mississippi State). In all five they faded after the break, each time in no small part because the opposition shot the ball better in the second half.
Even in its recent wins, three of the four foes (Army being the exception) have shot much better against HC in the second half. In fact, those opponents have shot an average of 16.6 percent better after the break.
The obvious way for Holy Cross to negate that perceived disadvantage is to get out to a fast start. Playing with a lead tends to boost the energy level. Falling behind can be like drinking the bizarro-world version of Red Bull and having to overcome a big early deficit usually results in teams running out of gas down the stretch.
That is not an impossible scenario for the Crusaders. While Bucknell has shown a tendency to start slow in recent games, Holy Cross has been coming out of the blocks like Olympic sprinters. In their last two games, the Crusaders have shot over 60 percent in the first half both nights.
Of course that was against Lafayette and Army. And Bucknell's slow starts have come on the road.
One thing is for certain: somebody's streak ends in this one. Holy Cross has won 15 straight regular season league games. A win would match Navy's league record of 16 in a row. The Bison, on the other hand, have won 17 straight league games at home.
Navy at Lafayette, 1 p.m.: The three-pointers ought to be flying in Easton, when these two meet. Lafayette has been putting up an average of 24 treys per game. Navy has been shooting almost as many (23.6) in the past three games, a stat traceable to the loss of the Mids top inside threat, Matt Fannin, in the first half of their loss to UMBC.
The Midshipmen's four-guard lineup will not be at as much a disadvantage in the paint against Lafayette as it was in its first two league games (losses to Bucknell and at Lehigh). Likewise, this will be one of the few nights all season the Leopards will not be at a decided disadvantage in the frontcourt.
Despite the lack of scholarships, Lafayette has remained a tough out on its own floor. The 'Pards are 5-2 in Kirby this season and have won their last three home league games, dating back to upsets over American and Lehigh last season that went a long way towards killing both of those teams' hopes of gaining a homecourt edge for the first two rounds of the league tournament.
Navy has a 7-6 record at Lafayette against Fran O'Hanlon teams, but the Midshipmen have won only once there this century and are 1-7 in their last 8 trips to Easton
American at Colgate, 1:30 p.m.: This game should give Jeff Jones a good measure of his club's standing. After opening league play against two teams (Lehigh and Bucknell) that figure to finish in the upper division of the standings, American gets a game against a team it ought to matchup with much better.
Colgate (7-9) was expected to be one of the contenders in the league this season. But thus far the Raiders have been a disappointment. They have lost games to teams like New Hampshire (4-11), Quinnipiac (6-7), Cornell (5-9) and Stony Brook (3-10) and have yet to beat anybody with a .500 record.
American has struggled, too. But AU has played a much stronger schedule than the Raiders.
Given the Eagles dependence on freshmen in key roles, early season problems were expected. The 4-11 Eagles are expected to get better as the season goes on and those freshmen adjust to college ball.
Both teams have strong guards. Both are questionable up front. In fact, the biggest advantage either team probably can claim is the homecourt, which gives an edge to the Raiders, who are 4-1 this season at Cotterell Court. AU is 1-7 on the road. Colgate notes | AU notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | 'Gate radio
Army at Lehigh, 7:30 p.m.: An interesting bit of trivia about Army: Over the past three seasons, 57 percent (4-of-7) of the Black Knights' wins over Division 1 opponents have come on the road, including both of their D-1 victories this season.
That does not mean the offensively challenged Cadets have much of a chance in Stabler Arena, though.
Army, which has lost five in a row, is barley shooting 40 percent from the field on the season (and would be below 40 percent if you take away two games against Division 3 opponents). That does not bode well against a Lehigh team that has held foes to 35.2 percent shooting all season.
Granted, Lehigh has not exactly been lights out either. In fact the Mountain Hawks 39.7 percent shooting, which also includes two games against D-3s, is actually lower than Army's. But that has also come against a much tougher schedule. It also has come without the presence of point guard Joe Knight in 16 of Lehigh's 17 games.
Knight struggled to find his range Wednesday against Navy in his first game back after a 16-game NCAA-imposed suspension, hitting only 2 of 11 shots he took. And over the course of his career, Knight, despite his reputation as a scorer, has actually shot less than 40 percent. But between opponents' needing to pay attention to another scorer on the floor and Knight's knack for finding open men, Lehigh's other guys figure to get a few better looks with him running the point. Lehigh notes | Army notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | HC radio Read Full Post
Justin (his last name shows in his e-mail address but he doesn't put it on the feedback form so we won't post it here) from Plymouth, Mass. has been named to the Hoop Time staff as a proof reader after twice this week catching our mistakes.
The latest was this afternoon when he noticed I wrote Kevin Hurley when I meant Kevin Hyland in the HC-BU preview.
For the purposes of tomorrow's game, I wish Kevin Hyland had as much "Hurley" in him as you give him credit for!
He's the same guy who caught the math mistake in the recap of the Lehigh-Navy game earlier this week.
The other e-mail worth sharing this afternoon comes from Eric Thomas, who writes for the Shamokin News-Item. Some of you might have read his old blog -- ET on sports -- which he no longer updates.
The News-Item is a small paper in Pa. coal country with a Web site that never updates until late in the day. That is why we seldom link to E's stuff on Bucknell.
He was kind enough to send us some quotes from an interview he did with Ralph Willard for a preview of tomorrow's game. E also says the paper's site usually updates around midnight on weekends, so check it in the morning for his whole story.
Here's what Ralph has to say:
"With all of the things that have happened to us this year, we just dedicated the rest of the season to getting better under the circumstances we're in. We're in a situation where wehave one point guard on the team and he can't get into foul trouble, he can't get hurt."
"Keith is a little tired right, other than that, he's not cramping anymore, and overall, other than that we're pretty good. We're right around where we should be right now (with all that has happened)."
"Ever since we got back from George Mason we're looking at every opportunity to find a way to win. We've got to come around and be ready to play and keep on improving as we head on into March."
"I think biggest thing is we have a short rotation, 10 out of our first 13 games we're on road, and certainly it is difficult but that is the way it is. The team looking at it like we're victims rather than accepting it as a challenge. From George Mason on,we said we're going to look at the rest of the season as a challenge, forget what has happened to us, we're going to find a way to win."
On BU's Charles Lee: "I think Charles is one of key reasons why Bucknell is so good. There are so many things does well that don't show up in the box score. He's the type of guy that even if he is not the one scoring the basket he is reason basket is being scored. He's also one of the best clutch players in the league. In watching film on them I see them run a bunch of plays at end of games, and sometimes he's not making the shot but made the play to get the shot."
On Bucknell's tough win on Wednesday: "It just shows their toughness. They just played two straight road games. Right now we know each other so well, execution is not as difficult.....but you're going to have tough games and the fact they won that game and found a way to win the game, to me, that's the key. You have to find ways to win especially on the road."
Not a lot out there today, but here are a couple of pieces to chew on while we prepare our previws of tomorrow's action:
Gordie Jones of the Morning Call penned a column yesterday on the trials and tribulations of Joe Knight that included this passage:
And that was because of school administrators' "misunderstanding of the language" in an NCAA bylaw, (Lehigh AD Joe)Sterrett said -- "which I think is misleading," he added.
Sorry Joe (Sterrett, not Knight), we still don't buy that.
While we are willing to buy that it might be possible for students who can't dribble and chew gum at the same time to get into Lehigh following the path Knight took, we still don't buy that misleading rule line.
Here is what the rule says:
The calculation of credit hours to meet this requirement [the cumulative credits required under the progress toward degree bylaw] shall be based upon hours earned or accepted for degree credit.
As we pointed out before, the purpose of the rule is very clear. It requires credits to be towards an actual degree. The idea is to prevent kids from spending four years taking 100 level courses just to stay eligible. How you could twist that to mean that credits not counting towards a degree should count for eligibility is beyond us.
Sterrett also said:
"I'd be embarrassed if it was something we should have known. It's not clear at all. I don't feel embarrassed. I feel more frustrated and disappointed for the kid. I think he deserves better."
Part of that we agree with. Knight did deserve better than to lose over half his senior season because his school was willing to try to twist the rules in the name of winning basketball games.
But Sterrett should be embarrassed, not just because Lehigh got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, but because it has the nerve to keep arguing that it didn't do anything wrong.
Denial ain't just a river in Africa Mr. Sterrett.
Tom Housenick's weekly hoops column in The Daily Item talks about Bucknell's total team effort.
The Bucknell Department of Athletics & Recreation announced today that a limited number of tickets for Saturday's men's basketball game against Holy Cross have gone unclaimed from the student allotment by the designated deadline, and those tickets will be made available to the general public.
The Sojka Pavilion ticket windows will open on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. for walk-up general admission sales and tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis.
There probably is a good reason for not selling taking credit card orders over the phone for pickup at will call, so fans from outside of the immediate Lewisburg area could be assured of having a ticket if they make the drive. We can't for the life of us imagine what that reason might be, though.
Read Full Post
(Originally posted 12:55 a.m., Updated at 7:15 a.m. and again at 6:10 p.m.)
Lehigh 65, Navy 58 -- In Bethlehem, Joe Knight made his season debut, coming off the bench with about 16 minutes to play in the first half. Knight, who sat out Lehigh's first 16 games due to an NCAA-imposed suspension, was Lehigh's leading scorer last season, despite shooting just 38 percent from the field. Knight apparently did not spend his time off working on his shot. The senior guard missed his first 10 shots and finished 2-11 from the field(NOTE: When we posted the first update at 12:55 a.m., we included the 2-11 line, which came from the box score. When we updated this morning with more details and links, we added the "missed his first 10 shots" part, which we saw in the Express-Times story. As an e-mailer who must have majored in math pointed out, those two scenarios do not add up. Lehigh did not post the whole play-by-play, so we cannot tell exactly how many Knight missed before hitting one.) , 0-5 from three-point range. But he dished off 9 assists and Jose Olivero had 16 points as the Mountain Hawks improve to 2-0 in conference play, 9-8 overall.
Navy actually shot better (39 percent to 38 percent) than Lehigh and out rebounded the Mountain Hawks 45-37. But the Mids turned the ball over 20 times.
Holy Cross 84, Army 46 -- It was Keith Simmons' Hudson Valley homecoming and he celebrated in style, going 9-11 from the field, including 6-7 from three-point range for 26 points as Holy Cross romped past Army.
Kevin Hamilton and Torey Thomas also had big nights. Hamilton added 21 and Thomas finished with 16 points to go with 7 assists.
The Crusaders shot 57 percent from the field and held Army to 34 percent.
Matt Bell's 13 points led Army. Cory Sinning chipped in with 10.
Lafayette 85, Colgate 74 -- Trailing 26-23 late in the first half, the Leopards went on a 13-1 run to surge ahead and led the rest of the way.
Andrei Capusan, Lafayette's 6-7 senior forward, was en fuego, hitting all six shots he took in the first half and four of five in the second, finishing 10-of-11 for 21 points.
The fact that Capusan only went to the foul line once might tell you a little about the aggressiveness of Colgate's defense. Lafayette's 60.4 percent shooting from the field (29-48) might also tell you something about the Raiders' D.
Lafayette's D was a little better, especially on Colgate guard Alvin Reed, who got off the bus needing 15 points to reach 1,000 for his college career and got back on it still needing 13 after a 1-for-8 night.
As a team, Colgate shot 25-for-57 (43.9 percent).
Another troubling sign for Colgate: Against a Lafayette team that is anything but strong in the frontcourt, the Raiders were outrebounded 31-26.
Jamaal Hilliard added a season-high 20 for the Leopards. Andrew Brown and Matt Betley added 10 each.
Four in double figures for Colgate, led by Jon Simon's 19. Kyle Roemer added 16. Kendall Chones came off the bench to add 15 and his brother Kyle had 10 for Colgate, which fell to 7-9 overall, 1-1 in the league.
The win evens the Leopards at 7-7, 1-1 in league play while Colgate drops to 7-9 overall, 1-1 in the league.
(Originally posted Wed. at 10:40 p.m., Links added at 7:19 a.m.)
The shots don't always fall. Not even for the top shooting team in the league.
That was the situation Bucknell found itself in during the first half Wednesday night at American.
Chris McNaughton, the Bison's 6-11 junior center, who ranks seventh in the nation in field goal percentage, missed 4 of the first 5 shots he put up, all good looks, all shots McNaughton, a 66 percent shooter, normally knocks down.
Kevin Bettencourt was 0-for-4 in the first half, Charles Lee 1-for-4.
With the team's top three scorers struggling like that, it was little surprise Bucknell shot only 37.5 percent from the field in the opening half. And with the team shooting under 40 percent, it was only a mild surprise that American took a 30-26 lead to the locker room at the half.
Even though the Bison had never won a Patriot League game in American's Bender Arena, they never panicked. Instead they fell back on what has been a strength of the program since Pat Flannery took the reins at his alma mater 12 seasons ago -- defense.
The result, a hard-fought 58-50 win over a stubborn American team and a 2-0 mark in the league after opening conference play with a pair of road games in places Bucknell has traditionally struggled.
Some folks will look at the way 4-11 American (0-2 in the league) hung with Bucknell to the end and see it as a negative for the Bison, who improved to 11-3 overall. Not Flannery.
"It was nice to get one down here," said Flannery, who had never won in Bender before. "We came out of here with a win . . . I'm tickled. It's a real good win on the road."
It had to be especially pleasing to Flannery that the Bison got it done the way he has always preached -- with defense.
After trailing by 4 at the break, the Bison shut down American in the second half, holding the Eagles to 6 field goals in the final 20 minutes. AU made only three buckets the first 16-and-a-half minutes of the half. Bucknell shot better after the break, hitting 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) in the second half. But make no mistake, it was their defense that produced the win.
"We talk about it year after year. Shots are not always going to fall. When shots are not falling, you have to turn it up on defense," said Lee, who finished with 12 points, the last two on a fine hustle play that put the Bison up by 9 with less than a minute to go and ended any comeback thoughts the Eagles might have harbored.
The play started when American's Jordan Nichols got an offensive rebound off a missed layup by Andre Ingram. Nichols tried to pass it back out to the perimeter to reset the offense, but the ball was deflected towards midcourt, where it appeared AU's freshman point guard Derrick Mercer would be the first to the ball. Lee, though, came seemingly out of nowhere to corral the loose ball, taking it in for an easy layup, sealing the win.
It was one of a series of big plays by the senior from nearby Gaithersburg, Md. down the stretch. With Bucknell up by only 3 points with just over 2 minutes left, Lee hit a tough fadeaway jumper from just inside the foul line to stretch the lead to 51-46. At the other end, he came up with a rebound in the middle of a crowd of white jerseys after Brian Gilmore missed an off balance runner, leading to an Abe Badmus layup and a 53-46 margin. On American's next possession, it was Lee who blocked Ingram's layup, leading to the Nichols rebound that turned into that turnover and Lee layup.
"The last two games, Charles has been our rock," Flannery said. "He did it again tonight. When we were struggling, he hit a couple big buckets."
Lee also spent the better part of the night so close to Ingram that they could have shared on jersey. Ingram, American's leading scorer, has struggled his entire career against the Bison. This game was no exception. The Eagles' all-league guard was 2-for-10 from the field, with one bucket 2:33 into the first half and the other with 2:28 left.
Lee also led the Bison with a game-high 9 rebounds.
McNaughton, who got on track in the second half, joined Lee in double figures with 13 points. Bettencourt also found his stroke after the intermission, scoring 12 of his game-high 14 in the second half.
Garrison Carr led American with 9 points, all on three-pointers.
The Bison will host Holy Cross Saturday in a key early conference season game. American will look for its first league win on the road at Colgate.
Bucknell at American, 7:30 p.m.: American has lost two in a row at home and the prospects for closing a three-game homestand with a win against the Bison don't seem bright. The last time these two met, Bucknell held American to 35 points (53-35). Granted that was in Lewisburg, and the Eagles did upset Bucknell in the regular season game at Bender. Matter of fact, Bucknell is 0-4 in Bender since AU joined the league. But those AU teams were all much better than the one Jeff Jones puts on the floor right now.
Freshman point guard Derrick Mercer will have his hands full against Abe Badmus and AU's big men have been not been productive. On top of that, Bucknell has owned Andre Ingram since he came into the league. Ingram is 15-68 (22 percent) all-time against the Bison. Last season, in three games against the Bison, Ingram, who was the league's leading scorer in the regular season, shot a combined 5-for-37 (13.5 percent).
Navy at Lehigh, 7 p.m.: Navy has been horrible on the road in league play the last several seasons. Since the 2001-2002 campaign, the Mids are 6-22 on the road in league play, including a 1-6 mark last season.
That one win did come at Lehigh, though (76-75).
But with Matt Fannin out of action, Navy's inside game on both ends of the floor has been anemic. Against Bucknell they were outscored 30-16 in the paint and outrebounded 47-30.
Taking a page out of his mentor, Jay Wright's book, Navy coach Billy Lange, a former Villanova assistant, has gone to a four-guard lineup. Bucknell countered by going to a smaller, quicker lineup much of the game.
Lehigh does not have the depth that Bucknell does, but they certainly have enough athletes to matchup well with Navy. Especially if Joe Knight plays anywhere close to his usual self in what should be his first game back from an NCAA-imposed suspension that cost him the first 16 games of the season.
Knight averaged 19 points 7 assists and 8 rebounds per game in two games against Navy last season. Jose Olivero, who has been leading the Mountain Hawks in scoring )(17.7 ppg) in Knight's stead, has averaged 14 ppg in 5 career games against the Mids.
Between the two of them, and 6-5 swingman Kyle Neptune, who is averaging 12.3 ppg this season, it should be all the offense Lehigh needs, given the way Lehigh plays defense. The Hawks opponents are shooting 38.9 percent from the field on the season.
Holy Cross at Army, 7 p.m.: It has been 8 games and almost 4 years since Army has even managed to score over 50 points against Holy Cross. With Army's Matt Bell (14.3 ppg) hobbled, it would be little surprise if that streak extends another game Wed, night.
Jarrell Brown returned to the Army lineup against Colgate, after missing five games with a stress fracture and scored 18 points. He is averaging 14.4 per game. With Brown and Bell healthy, Army did upset Columbia earlier in the season. Since then, though, they have lost their last six in a row against Division I teams.
Holy Cross has won three in a row, a streak that coincides with what appears to be a solution to Keith Simmons' cramping problems. Simmons has been getting IV fluids before games and has led HC in scoring in two of the last three games. After dropping 26 Saturday on Lafayette, he is averaging 13 ppg, second on the team to Kevin Hamilton's 16.4. Torey Thomas, the Crusaders ironman point guard, is playing 36.5 minutes per game, averaging 11.5 points and nearly 5 assists per game. HC notes | Army notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | HC radio
Colgate at Lafayette, 7 p.m.: Colgate has won the last four meetings between these two, but seven of the last nine have been decided by a single digit margin, including Colgate's 62-61 win in Easton last season.
On paper, the matchups would seem to indicate another Colgate win. But the Raiders have struggled on the road, winning only once in seven games on opponents floors. That win was a come-from-behind effort Saturday at Army. Lafayette is 4-2 at home, but two of those came against Division 3 teams. The Leopards live and die by the three-point shot. They have been shooting almost almost 24 per game. If the treys are falling for the Leopards, they might well surprise folks. Colgate notes | Lafayette notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | 'Gate radio Read Full Post
Corky Blake's Express-Times column today points out that it has been 2,133 days since Lafayette last won the Patriot League title. Corky says anybody expecting the 'Pards to challenge the likes of Bucknell and Holy Cross without scholarships is dreaming:
Realistically, only Lehigh, with its huge frontcourt, explosive guards and athletic wings, has a chance at unseating defending champion Bucknell and Holy Cross from finishing 1-2. Everyone else is playing for third, including the Leopards, who ought to parade down Cattell Street if they grab the bronze medal.
Yale 71, American 59 -- How many games will American win when Andre Ingram scores only 4 points? Not many. Probably none. And that was all the Eagles all-league guard could muster Monday night against Yale.
Eagles guard Andre Ingram, who leads American with 11.9 points per game, was held to just one point by Hughes until late in the second half when he added a three to American's failed comeback attempt with 1:53 left on the clock.
As a result, the Ivy League has assured itself of retaining possession of the beautiful Hoop Time-Basketball U. Challenge virtual trophy. The Ivies now lead the season series between the two leagues 12-11 with one game -- Lafayette at Penn (Jan. 16)-- left. Since the Ivies won the series last year, even a Lafayette upset would allow them to retain the trophy since the best the Patriot League can hope for is a tie.
We will take a look at a later date at how the league with scholarships has been unable to claim the series with the non-scholarship league two seasons in a row.
The Ivies will retain the Hoop Time-Basketball U. Challenge virtual trophy again this season.
In this game, the Eagles started their twin towers look with 6-10 junior Brayden Billbe and 6-11 South Carolina transfer Paulius Joneliunas up front. The two responded with a combined 4 rebounds and 7 points.
AU wasted a 25-point career night by Arvydas Eitutavicius. Eitutavicius didn't help matters as much as his points might lead you to believe, though, since he also had 8 turnovers. Fellow Lithuanian Linus Lekavicius added 11 points and 6 assists.
Guard Casey Hughes led the Bulldogs scorers with 15 points. Center Dominick Martin added 14 points and guard Eric had 13 points and 7 assists.
Most telling stat: Look at the two teams' field goal percentages. Yale shot 50 percent (28-56) from the field, American shot 40 percent (22-55).
The latest ESPN-USA Today Coaches Poll is out. Bucknell remains in the others receiving votes category with 8 votes. The most interesting development in this week's poll: Syracuse, who lost to Bucknell on its own floor, moves into the Top 25 at No. 24. The Orange, who have not played anybody, and have not lost, since the Bucknell game, moved into the poll on the basis of wins over UTEP and South Florida. Click on those links and look at their schedules, then decide for yourself if the Orange are rated on their achievement this season or their reputation.
Not arguing Bucknell belongs in the top 25, just that they certainly have as much a claim as Syracuse.
In the Mid-Major Top 25, no change at the top 3 spots: 1) Gonzaga 2) Northern Iowa and 3) Bucknell.
This beautiful virtual Hoop Time-Basketball U. Challenge trophy is presented to the winner of the season series between the Patriot and Ivy Leagues
Yale at American, 7:30 p.m.: A must-win for the Patriot League if they are to claim the coveted Hoop Time-Basketball U. Challenge trophy. The series between the two leagues is tied at 11-11, with only two inter-league contests left on the schedule.
Of course that hardly matters to Jeff Jones and his Eagles. They probably don't even know we made up such a trophy. What they do know is that coming off their first home loss of the season, a 70-59 setback at the hands of Lehigh in the Patriot League opener for both teams, the Eagles need a win to get headed in the right direction. Especially with league favorite Bucknell coming to town Wednesday.
At 4-9 overall, 0-1 in the league, AU would need to win this game, and finish 9-5 in the league, to record its fifth straight winning season.
Winning this one will not be an easy task. Yale comes in at 7-7 following an 87-46 loss at Kansas last week. The top Ivy League's highest scoring team, Yale averages 68 points per game. Three Bulldogs average double figures in scoring, led by 6-7 junior forward Sam Kaplan, who is hitting at a 12.6 ppg clip. Senior center Dominick Martin (6-10, 11.1 ppg) and 6-1 sophomore guard Eric Flato (10.4 ppg) also are averaging in doubles.
The 1-2 frontcourt punch of Kaplan and Martin should pose a particular challenge for American, which is still waiting for 6-11 South Carolina transfer Paulius Joneliunas to get into game shape. Joneliunas has appeared in four games since becoming eligible at the end of the first semester, but he has yet to make the kind of impact some folks expected. Joneliunas is playing about 16 minutes per game, averaging about 3 points and 3 rebounds. AU will need more from him if they expect to contend in the conference. AU notes | Yale notes | USA Today matchup | AU radio Read Full Post
(Originally posted Sat., 5:47 p.m., Updated with links at 8:44 a.m.)
There shouldn't be much suspense about who will be named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week when the league hands out its weekly honors Monday afternoon. Not after the show Bucknell freshman Jason Vegotsky put on Saturday afternoon in Navy's Alumni Hall. Vegotsky came off the bench to pour in a career-best 19 points to lead the Bison to a 74-52 win over the host Midshipmen in the Patriot League opener for both teams.
Vegotsky hit 7-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-8 three-pointers, two of the treys coming during the 20-3 run at the end of the first half that Bucknell used to take control of the game.
Vegotsky, who had 12 points in Bucknell's loss at Duke earlier in the week, was just one of the players who came off the bench to give the Bison a spark after they trailed Navy 23-19 with 7:04 to play in the first half. Up until that point, Navy was able to keep Bucknell in check through a combination of Chris McNaughton foul trouble, a tightly packed zone defense and some cold shooting from the perimeter by the Bison's starters, who were getting open looks, but not knocking them down.
It was actually Vegotsky's old AAU teammate, guard John Griffin, who got Bucknell's offensive engine revving. Through the first 13 minutes of the game, the Bison were 2-13 from the arc. It wasn't that they weren't getting open looks. Even Vegotsky and Griffin were struggling, with Griffin missing the first three treys he fired up and Vegotsky off the mark on his first two tries from the arc.
Then Griffin connected to tie the game at 23-23 and the Bison were on a 12-0 roll. By the time intermission arrived, Bucknell's run had stretched to 20-3, giving Bucknell a 39-26 lead. Griffin and Vegotsky each had a pair of treys in that stretch, accounting for 12 of the 20 Bucknell points.
The start of the second half was more of the same, with the Bison opening with a 16-4 spurt to build the lead to 55-30. After that, the two teams pretty much swapped buckets, with Navy never getting closer than 18 the rest of the way.
It was a dominating performance by Bucknell, made even more impressive by the fact that three of the four Bison in double figures were guys who came off the bench. Griffin finished with 10 and Donald Brown added 12. The other Bison in double figures was McNaughton, who scored 7 of his 11 points from the foul line.
"Our bench was outstanding," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery, who won for just the second time in 15 tries in Annapolis. "We got some interesting numbers from some different people."
Had you told Navy coach Billy Lange before the game that McNaughton would be the only Bison starter in double figures and that the 6-11 German would only get two field goals, he would have liked those odds.
"I'd have thought we'd have a good shot," said Lange. "I'd have said that is great for us."
But Lange wouldn't have expected Bucknell's bench to score 41 points.
"That is the best basketball team I have ever watched play in my life. I'm not saying they are the most talented group of guys. Obviously, I spent three years in the Big East, there are probably better teams in terms of talent. But in terms of team, that is the best team I have ever seen -- their ability to be tough, defend, not be rattled, pass the ball -- it's incredible," Lange said.
Vegotsky was not surprised by the way Bucknell's bench performed.
"If you would see one of our practices, the second team can compete as well as our first team," he said. "We can play, too. When everybody can play like that, that is what is going to happen."
It wasn't just Bucknell's offense that got in gear. The Bison also kicked it up on defense after starting a little slow. Navy hit three of its first four shots. By the end of the first half, they made only five more buckets from the field. With no inside presence, in no small part due to the absence of injured forward Matt Fannin, the Midshipmen were forced to settle for three-point tries almost every trip down the floor.
With Bucknell's perimeter defenders in their faces most of the afternoon, that was not a successful strategy. The Mids shot 28.6 percent in the first half, 29.1 percent for the game. Navy's leading scorer, swingman Greg Sprink, who had gone off for over 30 points in two of the Mids' last three games, finished with 3 points, ending a streak of nine straight games in double figures for the 6-4 sophomore. A 45.8 percent shooter from three-point range coming in, Sprink was 0-for-4 from the arc.
Sprink was not the only Mid who struggled. Corey Johnson, who returned to the starting lineup after missing nine games with a kneee injury, went 4-13 from the field. Freshman Kaleo Kina struggled through a 3-14 afternoon.
Bucknell's dominance extended to the boards, where they outrebounded Navy, the league's top rebounding team coming in, by a healthy 47-30 margin.
Kina led Navy with 12 points. Johnson was also in double figures, finishing with 11.
Lehigh 70, American 59 -- Lehigh got 22 points from Jose Olivero and held AU to 20-55 (36.4 percent) from the field. Andre Ingram was 3-15, 1-6 from the arc, finishing with 11. Arvydas Eitutavicius led AU with 15.
Down by as many as 10 early in the second half, AU battled back to take the lead on an Eitutavicius trey with 7:01 to go. The Eagles were still within 1 with 4 minutes to go, then Lehigh went on a 17-5 run to put the game away.
Olivero, who scored his 1,000th career point early in the second half, was in foul trouble much of the second half, and fouled out late in the game. But Bryan White (5-5 from the field, 14 points) and Kyle Neptune (10) also in double figures for Lehigh. Senior guard Mitch Gilfillan had a career-high 10 assists and also chipped in with 9 points.
Colgate 71, Army 58 -- The Raiders overcame a 3-point halftime deficit to hand Army its fourth loss in a row. Army led by 7 with 16 minutes to go. Then Colgate went on a 15-0 run to take control.
Army managed to pull to within 5 with 2:28 left, but Alvin Reed hit a three-pointer to stop the Black Knights' surge and the Raiders hit 7-of-8 at the foul line in the final 1:22 to seal the win.
Reed had 18 points and Kyle Chones added 15 for Colgate. Jarell Brown, out since Nov. 29 with a stress fracture in his right foot, returned to the Army lineup and scored 18 points. Meanwhile, the Times Herald-Record is reporting Matt Bell, Army's leading scorer, is slowed by an unspecified foot injury of his own. Bell had 7 points on 2-9 shooting.
Holy Cross 86, Lafayette 57 -- Keith Simmons (26), Torey Thomas (18) and Kevin Hamilton (18) combined for 62 of HC's 86 points in the Crusaders'biggest offensive showing of the season. Thomas had 6 assists and added 10 rebounds for a double-double and Hamilton had 9 assists and 7 steals.
Bilal Abdullah led Lafayette with 12. No other Leopard reached double figures.
The Crusaders were shooting under 40 percent from the field coming in, but against Lafayette they hit at a 55.7 percent clip. HC outrebounded Lafayette 42-30 and had 25 assists and 15 steals as a team.
The win was HC's 14th straight regular season league win.
The Times Herald-Record has what appears to be a new column today. Dubbed the Patriot Insider, it is a collection of notes from around the league, albeit with a bit of an Army slant.
For example, the writer (there is no byline on it online) suggests if Army keeps holding people to 60 points per game they will win a handful of games in the league, which seems to conveniently forget that the Black Knights are only averaging 55 per game and have not scored 60 in the last four games. That is saying something since the competition in that stretch included home games against teh two worst teams in the Ivy League and a Division 3 team.
The "Insider" also lists four "must-see" games, the two Bucknell-Holy Cross matchups and two Army games. Army a must see? For who? Folks looking to wean themselves off Ambien?
Not much new to folks who have been following Bucknell all season in Bill Ordine's piece on the Bison in today's Baltimore Sun, other than the fact that these days papers like the Sun devote a story to the Bison when they come to Annapolis to face Navy.
Our old buddy Kyle is doing some prognosticating over at the WWLIS today, picking his favorites to win 22 mid-major conferences.
Here is what he had to say about the Patriot League:
Bucknell (9-3) The media circus in Lewisburg, Pa., will undoubtedly die down in the aftermath of the local team's 84-50 thrashing at Duke. The truth, however, is that Monday's result means absolutely nothing in the long run. Bucknell has all the RPI points they need to assure a low-teen tournament seed (although a Bracket Buster at Nevada would be nice) in a conference that might be as close to a foregone conclusion as any in the country. The only other Last Amateur that's even close to the same galaxy as Bucknell is Holy Cross, and the Crusaders' key weakness (inside play) just happens to correspond to the Bison's key strength (6-10 Chris McNaughton). If the two teams do end up meeting thrice, he might be in for a few 30-point, 15-rebound stat lines.
There is no arguing with his picking Bucknell. Even the most die-hard purple people seem to agree the Bison are the favorites. But some of the analysis we have to take issue with.
For starters, the only reason there has been any media circus in Lewisburg has been because Villanova and Saint Joseph's came to town, bringing a host of Philly media along. The only other out of the ordinary media attention in Lewisburg has been the WWLIS crew shooting the two The Season segments and the AP guy from State College who has been escaping the horror show that is Penn State hoops by covering a few games at Bucknell.
We doubt McNaughton is going to post any 30-point, 15-rebound efforts. Against some of the quality non conference competition Bucknell has faced, McNaughton saw single coverage and, as anybody who watched him last season already knew he could, he took advantage of it. His 29-point effort against Villanova is an example of that. But McNaughton's career-best in rebounding is 11 boards and we doubt he is going to pull 15 against Holy Cross, whose big men might be struggling on offense, but are still decent rebounders.
Our biggest issue with Kyle's post is the anointing of Holy Cross as the only team close to Bucknell. On paper, when healthy, that would seem true. In reality, though, health issues would seem to leave the Crusaders with too many unanswered questions heading into conference play to make an argument they pose more of a threat to Bucknell than Colgate, Lehigh or anybody else, other than Army and maybe Lafayette.
Take a look at Ralph Willard's latest post over on CoachRalph.com if you don't want to take our word for it. Willard reports that, as many suspected, sophomore point guard Pat Doherty is being shut down for the season. That is just the tip of the health troubles iceberg for HC.
As we prepare for Lafayette tomorrow, our health is still a major concern. Torrey is still bothered by the groin strain and thigh bruise. Kevin Hamilton and Kevin Hyland are going to the chiropractor today as both are having back problems. Lawrence still is fighting the asthma and Keith, though improving is still a question mark, game to game.
The medical situation hurts the Crusaders in a lot of ways. With no backup at the point, Thomas has to play 40 minutes per game, or close to it. Asking him to scurry about the floor trapping and pressuring on defense is out of the question since HC cannot afford to have him on the bench for a breather.
The short numbers of healthy bodies has limited what Willard has been able to do in practice, slowing the development of freshmen that the Crusaders need to give them key minutes off the bench.
In short, if Hamilton's back, Simmons' cramping or any of Thomas' nagging injuries force them out of the lineup. Holy Cross' situation goes from shaky to worse.
Given those problems, along with the lack of any other contenders making an impression in non-conference play, it is impossible to anoint any team as Bucknell's biggest hurdle at this point.
Maybe after a couple weeks of league play the picture will clear. More likely this will be one of those rock, paper, scissors kind of years where most of the league takes turns beating each other.
For now though, the only things that seem certain heading into conference play are that Bucknell is pretty good and Army is just the opposite.
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Bucknell at Navy, 2 p.m.: NOTE: This is a 2 p.m. start, not 1 p.m. as listed on the league's Web site.
To a lot of folks, there is no better road trip in the league than a visit to Annapolis. The weather is always a few degrees warmer there and the Maryland crab soup at Chick and Ruth's can't be beat. Down the street from Chick and Ruth's is an excellent cigar shop, and whether you choose a bench by City Dock, or one by the water outside Alumni Hall, the combination of the scenery and the mild climate makes for a relaxing interlude between lunch and the game.
Don't try to convince Bucknell of any of this though. Annapolis has never been a hospitable place for the Bison, who have won just four times in 30 games all-time at Navy. That includes a 1-14 record in their last 15 visits to Annapolis, the only win coming on Valentines Day 2004 when BU squeaked out a 54-52 victory.
It would not be hard to build a consensus that this year should be a different story. Certainly on paper the Bison are, by far, the superior side. But they were better on paper when they visited Navy last season, and still ended up on the short end of a 66-52 score.
With eight of the 10 Bison that played in that loss returning to the scene, Pat Flannery doesn't need to give his team any history lessons. And with the Bison coming off two straight road losses, he won't need to worry about overconfidence of complacency.
But Flannery will need to worry about the officiating. Traditionally Navy has gotten a very kind whistle at home. Navy likes to play a very physical game and if the guys in stripes decide to employ the old playground rule -- no blood no foul -- it will help the Midshipmen even the field a little.
In that loss in Annapolis last season, the Bison were whistled for 28 personals. Navy for just 19. Five Bison -- Chris McNaughton, Charles Lee, Donald Brown, Tarik Viaer McClymont and now-graduated Chris Niesz-- finished with four fouls.
Bucknell should have a tremendous advantage up front, especially with Navy playing without senior forward Matt Fannin, who injured a knee in the Midshipmen's loss Tuesday to UMBC.
The Mids frontcourt deficiencies were obvious in that loss. UMBC outscored Navy in the paint 52-22.
But if McNaughton is limited to 20 minutes of action, the way he was the last time Bucknell played at Navy, Bucknell's inside advantage will be considerably lessened.
The Bison are also better in the backcourt, but not by nearly as wide a margin as they are in the frontcourt. Navy's starting guards are all capable of scoring, especially 6-4 sophomore Greg Sprink, who has averaged 24 points over the last four games, including a 34-point outburst against Brown and 30 in the loss to UMBC. Sprink averaged 15.5 ppg in two contests against Bucknell last season.
The other two starters at guard for the Mids are freshmen. That could be a huge problem for the Mids. Kaleo Kina has shifted from the shooting guard spot to the point, filling in for the injured Corey Johnson, and the 6-2 freshman has been turnover prone, averaging 5 per game on the season. He has had more turnovers than assists in 8 of the 12 games he has played (not all at the point).
Those turnover woes have come against a schedule that has not been particularly challenging. Two of Navy's opponents have been Division 3 teams. Six of the Division 1 foes have RPIs higher than 200 and only three are in the top 100. Citadel is the only team with a winning record Navy has beaten, and that hardly should count given Citadel's pathetic excuse for a schedule.
How well Kina handles the kind of pressure he will face matched against Bucknell point guard Abe Badmus, last season's league defensive player of the year, will go a long way towards deciding if Navy can compete with the Bison.
Johnson, who has been out since Nov. 27 with a knee injury, returned to practice this week. How much he will be able to play against Bucknell is not known. How much he will be able to contribute after a six-week layoff if he does play is another question. Bucknell notes | Navy notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | Bucknell Radio
Lehigh at American, 2 p.m.: Before the season started, this one was circled as a game that would tell us a lot about how the league might shake out. Since then, Lehigh has lost the services of Joe Knight, leaving any accurate take on how the Mountain Hawks might fare in the conference on hold until he returns.
A Lehigh win in Bender, sans Knight, would not bode well for AU. But an AU win really won't give anyone much of a read on anything.
Certainly American should be the favorite here. Lehigh's 7-8 record might look better on paper than AU's 4-8 mark, but take away Lehigh's two wins over Division 3 teams and the records are pretty much even and AU has certainly played a better schedule (AU strength of schedule ranks at 103, second in the league, Lehigh at 234).
While Lehigh folks like to point to their loss at Washington as a positive because they held the high-scoring Huskies to 54 points, it is worth pointing out that American actually played Washington just as tough (both lost by 17) and that was AU's first game of the season. Since then the Eagles' freshmen have 11 more games of experience and 6-11 South Carolina transfer Paulius Joneliunas has become eligible.
Joneliunas has not exactly been a force down low for AU so far. He is averaging just 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. But given the year-long layoff and his limited minutes as he plays into game shape, those numbers compare pretty well with any of Lehigh's big men. Meanwhile 6-10 junior Brayden Billbe has developed into a solid 9.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg contributor.
With Knight, Lehigh might hold a slight edge in the backcourt. Without him, American's rotation of starters Andre Ingram (12.7 ppg), freshman point guard Derrick Mercer (4 assists per game), Arvydas Eitutavicius (10.2 ppg), Sekou Lewis, Linas Lekavicius (last year's starter at the point) and freshman shooter Garrison Carr would seem better, and certainly deeper, than Lehigh's backcourt, which has little depth behind starters Jose Olivero (17.4 ppg) and Kyle Neptune (12.4 ppg).
As a team, Lehigh is shooting under 40 percent (39.4). So is AU (39.2 percent). That should make for an ugly, low scoring game, with rebounds at a premium. And that, in turn, ought to favor American with its better big men. AU notes | Lehigh notes | USA Today matchup | AU radio
Colgate at Army, 1 p.m.: Colgate's only wins away from Hamilton this season have come on neutral floors. On their most recent road trip they lost to previously winless Stony Brook. Still, it is hard to imagine the Raiders losing to Army, which teased folks by doubling the number of wins they had against Division I foes last season in the season's first month (2 compared to 1 all of last season). But since an upset win at Columbia on Dec. 2, the Black Knights have lost 5 straight (not counting a win over the Sea Scouts), sliding back to their familiar spot in the bottom five of the RPI rankings.
Lafayette at Holy Cross, 3:30 p.m.: Lafayette's game notes claim:"The teams enter with similar records and are both coming off wins."
Technically, that is true. But Lafayette comes in off a win over hapless Mount Saint Mary's, while HC beat a solid Boston University team its last time out. And Lafayette's .500 record includes two wins over D3 teams and only one win (Mt. St. Mary's) on the road. HC, on the other hand, has played all DI opponents and those DI foes have been far tougher than the ones Lafayette has played, as evidenced by the discrepancy between the two team's strength of schedule numbers (HC 129, Lafayette 293).
Holy Cross ought to win this one, especially at home, where they are 3-1 this season, 56-11 since the start of the 2000-2001 season. But the Crusaders' health woes make any advantage fragile. An injury to leading scorer Kevin Hamilton (16.3 ppg) or 40-minute man Torey Thomas, who is without backup at the point due to Pat Doherty's bad feet, would quickly even the odds for the Leopards. HC notes | Lafayette notes | USA Today matchup | HC radio Read Full Post
: The Bucknell Department of Athletics & Recreation announced today that all of the advance general public tickets for the Jan. 14 Bucknell-Holy Cross men's basketball game at Sojka Pavilion have been sold. Only Bucknell faculty/staff and student tickets remain.A note to students who are home on break, you can order your tickets online at www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice. That site will only make available students and faculty/staff tickets. If any student/faculty/staff tickets remain the day of the game, they will go on sale at 9 a.m. at the Sojka box office on a first come-first served basis.
To combat scalping, fans using student/faculty/staff tickets will need to show a valid Bucknell ID when entering Sojka.
The game will be shown on College Sports TV, not that it will help many folks given the spotty coverage of the psuedo-network.
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Dartmouth 55, Army 42 -- Ponce De Leon went to Florida in search of a legendary source of magical rejuvenation. Bad Ivy League basketball teams save on air fare by bussing up the Hudson Valley to West Point.
Two weeks ago, Cornell, which had lost six of its last eight, visited Army and came away with a win. Saturday it was Brown that ended a three-game losing streak by beating Army in Christl Arena. This time it was Dartmouth, which came in riding an eight game losing streak that found a way to win by scheduling the Black Knights of the Hudson.
Somewhere Joe Scott is scratching his head and wondering why he didn't schedule a game at Army.
The win doubles the Big Green's (2-9) win total and ties the season series between the Patriot League and the Ivies at 11-11 with two games yet to be played.
The headline in the Times Herald-Record says: "Army shoots blanks in loss." We'd have substituted "r-i-c" for "l-a-n" in the middle of that, but the thought is pretty much the same.
Army was pathetic on offense (as if you didn't already know that from the score), shooting 29.2 percent from the field against a Dartmouth defense that had let opponents shoot 48.9 percent on the season. Give Army credit for consistency, though, they were 7-27 in both halves.
For those who like to keep track of that sort of thing, this was the third time this season and the second in the past three games that Army shot under 30 percent for a game.
Colin Harris led Army with 12 points. A tough night for Matt Bell -- 3-16 from the field, 10 points. Bell did lead the Cadets in rebounding with 7.
Lehigh 80, Muhlenberg 70 -- Not exactly an impressive showing against a 5-5 Division 3 team. Muhlenberg actually cut the Mountain Hawks lead to 9 in the final minute.
Granted Billy Taylor played everyone. But Lehigh only shot 43.5 percent for the game and had but a 3 rebound edge (45-42) on Muhlenberg.
Muhlenberg was led by Jeff Stewart, a 6-6 junior, who poured in 28 points and yanked down 13 rebounds. Nobody has scored more points on the Hawks this season and only one other guy has grabbed more boards.
Lehigh's weakness in the low post was exposed by a Muhlenberg player who probably could start for most Patriot League schools — including Lehigh.
That certainly doesn't say much for 6-10 Lehigh junior Jason Mgebroff, who doesn't start for Lehigh anymore. Williams reports on one second half inbounds play, Stewart slammed over Mgebroff on an alley-oop. Sounds like the folks on the the Lehigh message boards aren't talking about Mgebroff's wealth when they call the former two-year starter "Doughboy."
Jose Olivero led Lehigh with 25 points, including 5 treys.
UMBC 95, Navy 82 -- We'll say this for Navy, there are not many teams that can shoot 40.6 percent from the field and still score 82 points.
The Mids hit 13 three-pointers and were 17-21 at the foul line.
But gosh folks, you have to play the other end of the floor, too. UMBC, a team that came in averaging 64 points per game and shooting just 41.5 percent from the field, shot 58.5 percent with five guys in double figures. Forward John Zito led the Retrievers with 25 points on 11-19 shooting.
Freshman guard Kaleo Kina had 24 points for Navy. Greg Sprink, who has been red hot of late, added 20. But Sprink needed 19 shots to get his 20 (he was 7-19 from the field). Carlton Baldwin added 17 off the bench for the Mids.
Most telling stat: Points in the paint-UMBC 52, Navy 22.
Navy may have lost more than the game. Matt Fannin suffered a kneee injury in the first half and did not return. The Baltimore Sun is calling it a serious injury.
Lafayette 76, Mount St. Mary's 63 -- Lafayette heads into conference play with a 6-6 record after picking up its first road win since November.
Freshman guard Andrew Brown led three Leopards in double figures with 15 points. Bilal Abdullah and Paul Cummins each added 12 for Lafayette, which hit 11 (out of 25) three-pointers and shot 53.8 percent from the field.
A question I heard a lot today was what does Bucknell’s loss at Duke mean for the rest of the league’s teams.
The answer is simple.
Takes just one word.
Did the Blue Devils expose some of Bucknell’s weaknesses? Absolutely.
Are they things that other teams in the league will be able to exploit? Not unless somebody has a roster full of Mickey D’s All-Americans that I don’t know about.
Duke was able to use its superior quickness and athleticism to take Bucknell out of its offense. The Blue Devils full court pressure gave Bucknell fits. Once they trapped Abe Badmus and forced him to pass the ball back to Darren Mastropaolo, the sophomore forward had a tough time finding any of the Bison’s ball handlers to get the ball to.
But no team in the Patriot League has that kind of speed and quickness. Not even close.
That is not a knock on the other teams in the league. None of the other teams Bucknell has played had Duke’s team speed, either, with the possible exception of Villanova.
A healthy Holy Cross might be able to press Bucknell effectively. But with Torey Thomas playing 40 minutes a game, Kevin Hamilton playing nearly that many and Keith Simmons battling a cramping problem, Ralph Willard can’t even think about trying to play at that sort of a pace for any kind of extended period of time.
Nobody in the league has a big man like Sheldon Williams either. Ditto for 6-10 freshman Josh McRoberts, who pro scouts considered the best prep player to not turn pro last season. Both of them might have been first round draft picks had they entered the draft last year.
In the Patriot League, Chris McNaughton is easily the best big man. Darren Mastropaolo is probably the second best. Duke outscored Bucknell 46-18 in the paint. That won’t happen in the league.
While there was nothing encouraging for the rest of the league in the Bison’s loss, it could make life miserable for Navy and American over the course of the next week. Between the Bison’s back-to-back losses at Santa Clara and Duke, and the nagging memory of last season’s lost weekend in the D.C. area, Bucknell figures to be anything but complacent when they open league play Saturday in Annapolis.
On top of that, the Bison, who looked leg weary at Duke after flying coast-to-coast and back, will be well-rested after four days off, and well-prepared after getting a chance to get back in their practice routine after being limited pretty much to walk-throughs and shoot-arounds since Christmas.
Just ask Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who said after the game, “I would say they are ready for the Patriot League. Just so they don’t pick on Army too much.”
FROM THE MAILBAG -- Got an interesting e-mail from one of the league’s top beat writers. I won’t name the writer, but suffice to say it is someone who does not cover Bucknell and will never be accused of being a Bison fan.
Here’s what they had to say:
I had to laugh when I read your comments about the officiating in the Bucknell-Duke game. I only watched a little of the beginning of the game before leaving for work and I started laughing that Bucknell was getting screwed by Patriot League officials in Cameron. I guess it wasn't only the Bison were who stuck with a case of stage fright. I can't imagine Bernard "Anyone Can Earn a Whistle" Clinton will ever officiate in Cameron again -- or that he was there before.
Those comments were posted at halftime. The officials didn’t get any better after the break. Among the calls horrible enough to make my notebook:Abe Badmus was hit with two quick fouls around 4 or 5 minutes into the half, the second of which was Badmus’ fourth of the game.
Badmus’ infraction? He happened to be in the way when a stumbling, out of control Sheldon Williams sort of fell into him after taking four or five steps while coming across the lane. Not only did Joe Lindsey get the call wrong, he also rewarded Williams’ touchdown run by saying he was in the act of shooting when he tossed up a wild heave after crashing into Badmus.
The net result: Badmus on the bench with four personals and Williams on the line, where he sank both free throws to end the 9-0 run Bucknell had opened the second half with.
Badmus’ fifth came when Duke guard Greg Paulus tripped over his own feet while careening wildly past his defender. Badmus, who was in the vicinity but was not defending Paulus, was whistled for a phantom shove.
Then there was the offensive interference call on McNaughton on a play where he did touch the ball while it was still on the rim, but not until after Williams had touched it first.
But the Hoop Time award for worst call of the game actually goes to Lindsey for a call he didn’t make. It came about midway through the second half when Bucknell freshman Jason Vegotsky got clobbered while putting up a three-pointer from the left side. It was the only three-point try Vegotsky missed (4-5) all night. It happened right in front of Lindsey, who swallowed his whistle, then motioned and told Vegotsky to get up off the floor.
As I mentioned during that halftime post, the officiating was horrendous, but it was not why Bucknell got beat. But it did have a lot to do with the Bison getting beat by 34 points.
FROM THE MAILBAG CONTINUED: That same e-mail also included this commentary on the state of the league:
I'd think it would be an upset if (the Bison) DON'T go undefeated in the league, considering how bad everyone else is! Colgate lost to previously winless Stony Brook, Jose Olivero will lose as many games as he'll win for Lehigh (who can't get Juco Joe back soon enough) and Holy Cross, who knows about the Crusaders. The rest of the league is junk. So much for scholarships.
Junk seems a harsh assessment. I prefer the word “young.” Colgate and Lehigh are the only teams other than Bucknell that are not heavily dependant on freshmen in key roles.
Most of those freshmen are a notch or two above the caliber of freshmen the league used to attract without scholarships. But they are still freshmen, and coaches will tell you when a freshman plays a lot, it usually tells you more about the deficiencies of the upper classmen than the talents of the frosh.
Especially at the Patriot League level, where the academic standards greatly shrink the talent pool teams recruit from, not that Patriot League teams would get McDonalds kids if they didn’t have to worry about grades.
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The Mid-Major Top 25was released a day late this week. No change at the top three spots, with Gonzaga, Northern Iowa and Bucknell remaining 1-2-3 despite the Bison's loss at Santa Clara. The vote was taken before Bucknell's loss at Duke Monday.
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(Originally posted Monday at 6:43 p.m., updated with links at 5:49 a.m.)
Playing in front of a packed house in Cameron Indoor Stadium and a national television audience on ESPN, the Duke Blue Devils showed everyone watching why they are the top-ranked team in the nation, blitzing Bucknell 84-50 in the final pre-conference tune-up for both teams.
It was a dominant performance on both ends of the floor by the Blue Devils, who held Bucknell to a season-low 30.9 percent from the field while shooting 54.2 percent at their own offensive end.
"They were good. They were really good," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery, succinctly summing things up in two sentences.
Pressing and trapping the full 94-feet from the outset, the Blue Devils took Bucknell completely out of its offense, especially in the first half, when the Bison committed 13 turnovers and shot just 7-27 (25.9 percent) from the field. Bucknell finished the game with 20 turnovers, its second highest number of giveaways all season. It would have easily been more than the 21 they made against Division III Haverford (which was in part due to the deep end of the bench seeing a lot of minutes against the Fords) had Mike Krzyewski not called off the pressure about midway through the second half.
Krzyewski's strategy was simple: force Bucknell's worst ballhandler, power forward Darren Mastropaolo to handle the ball in the backcourt by making the Bison throw the ball back to him after he inbounded it following made shots.
"It disrupts their offense. We felt they were such a good team we had to," said Krzyewski.
In reality, the Blue Devils probably did not need the full court press to give them an edge. Quicker and more athletic at every position than Bucknell, Duke did plenty of disrupting by beating Bucknell players to their spots when they cut. The Devils played in the passing lanes, getting deflection after deflection and when Bucknell did catch the ball, it seemed there was always a Duke defender there slapping at it.
"They get in the passing lanes and do all that quickness stuff. Their pressure hurt us," Flannery said.
Even when Bucknell did get open looks at the basket, it seemed they were rushing their shots, seldom getting their feet set and their shoulders square to the bucket.
At Duke's offensive end, 6-9 center Sheldon Williams was all but unstoppable, hitting 10-17 for a game-high 23 points. Williams also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double, his sixth of the season.
"The key to them is Williams and he was just a man (tonight). He does everything," Flannery said.
"Williams' offensive dominance caused all kinds of headaches for Bucknell. Bucknell sophomore Darren Mastropaolo was in foul trouble early, picking up three personals in the first half. And with Williams getting so much attention, time and time again it allowed 6-10 freshman Josh McRoberts to get free for easy buckets. McRoberts finished with 14 points, most of which came off of dunks.
"The thing about the foul trouble with us is that when Darren Mastropaolo gets in foul trouble, we have a 6-7 or 6-6 guy playing in the post. That is fine in our league, but down here, now you have to worry about defensive transition, you have to worry about matching up, and they exploit you on those things," Flannery said.
For all intents and purposes, the game was decided well before the intermission. Duke broke out to a 17-2 lead and built the margin to 20 (32-12) by the 9:05 mark that stretched to 42-19 at the break.
Bucknell opened the second half with a quick 9-0 run to cut its deficit to 14, but the Blue Devils responded with 6 quick points by Williams to key a 12-0 run and never looked back.
Chris McNaughton had 15 to lead Bucknell, but the nation's No. 2 ranked shooter (in field goal percentage) was just 4-11. McNaughton came in shooting 69.2 percent from the field. The only other bright spot for the Bison was freshman Jason Vegotsky, ho came off the bench to hit 4-5 from three-point range, finishing with 12 points.
J.J. Redick, the national player of the year last season and the nation's second leading scorer this season, finished with 22 for Duke, despite struggling from three-point range. Duke's all-time leading three-point shooter was just 2-11 from the arc. It was Redick's eighth 20-point game of the season and the 50th of his career.
Senior guard Sean Dockery also was in double figures for the Blue Devils with 10 points. McRoberts added 0 rebounds to his 4 points to give Duke a pair of double-doubles.
The road-weary Bison will return to action Saturday when they open Patriot League play at Navy.
Originally posted Monday night, updated with links at 5:31 a.m.
Stony Brook 70, Colgate 57 -- Kyle Roemer had 16 points, including 4 3-pointers, and 7 rebounds. Jon Simon added 11 points, and Kendall Chones had 10 points and 7 boards but it was not enough to overcome Stony Brook's 39-29 edge on the boards. Stony Brook had 21 offensive rebounds. It was Stony Brook's (1-10) first win of the season. Colgate remains winless in games on other people's floor.
American 62, St. Francis (PA) 52 -- Andre Ingram with a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double to lead AU. Jeff Jones shook up his starting lineup, going with Brayden Billbe and Paulius Joneliunas together up front, with Sekou Lewis making a start at the three. Garrison Carr with 14 points off the bench, including 4 treys. Arvydas Eitutavicius (12) and Billbe (10) also in double figures for the Eagles, who won away from Bender Arena for the first time this season.
Lehigh 65, Columbia 57 -- Jose Olivero scored 21 points and Lehigh held Columbia without a field goal over the final 7:47, outscoring the Lions 19-5 in that stretch to score the come-from-behind win. Olivero scored 13 of his 21 in that final run. It was Lehigh's first road win since February 11, 2005. Bryan White added 11 for Lehigh.
Columbia was without the services of 6-9 center Ben Nwachukwu, the Lions second leading scorer and top rebounder, the entire second half after he suffered a knee injury late in the first half. Nwachukwu was 4-5 for 8 points when he was injured.
Holy Cross 57, Boston U. 55 -- Ironman Torey Thomas played all 40 minutes for the Crusaders, finishing with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Kevin Hamilton added 12 points, 6 boards and 4 assists for the Crusaders, who overcame a 4-point Terriers lead in the final 4 minutes.
It was a gutty effort by Thomas, who came in with a bruised knee and sprained his groin in the first half. After the game, Thomas shrugged it off, telling Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald, "I’m a 40-minute guy and there’s a difference between hurt and injured."
This has been, quite possibly, the worst officiating I have seen outside of junior high girls ball.
To be certain, that has nothing to do with Duke being in control of this game. The Blue Devils are extremely good and they are hitting on all cylinders. They are quicker than Bucknell at every position and their pressure defense has the Bison completely out of sync.
Ralph Willard would love the way Duke is playing D. They have active hands, are getting in the passing lanes, getting deflections aplenty. Bucknell has 13 turnovers in the half -- almost a game's worth -- against Duke's full court trapping pressure.
In the first 20 minutes, the Bison shot 7-27 (25.9 percent). Even when they get open looks, the shots seem rushed, no doubt because it seems almost every time they touch the ball someone from Duke is there slapping at it.
Without Chris McNaughton's 10 points, it would be even worse. McNaughton is the only Bison remotely on his game it seems. Abe Badmus has 5 turnovers and just one assist. Kevin Bettencourt is 0-7 from the field.
On the other half of the box, J.J. Redick has 16 points, leading the Cameron Crazies to take up a chant of "JJ's winning" that lasted until Bucknell finally had more points than the Duke star.
Back to the officiating. It is not the ACC crew you might have expected. In fact, the trio working the game -- Joe Lindsey, Reggie Greenwood and Bernard Clinton are familiar faces around the Patriot League. But they have been absolutely horrible, especially in the first eight minutes or so, when Bucknell was hit with six team fouls before Duke picked up its first. Hard to remember the last time I witnessed somebody playing full court pressure defense, trapping all over the floor, without getting a single foul in almost eight minutes.
Among the calls against the Bison, a Darren Mastropaolo foul for letting his face be in the way of Sheldon Williams' elbow.
When Lindsey finally called a foul on a Duke defender for saddling up Badmus and riding him as he brought the ball up the floor late in the first half, the Bucknell contingent let out a huge mock cheer.
Again, that is not why Bucknell is losing. But Duke is plenty good enough, they don't need the zebras' help.
The loss at Santa Clara coast Bucknell a number of votes in both polls. The Bison are now 10th in the AP poll's others receiving category with just 11 points. In the coaches' poll, Bucknell is now ninth in others receiving with 12 points.
Press row here at Cameron Indoor Stadium is just too cramped to have adequate work space to liveblog the game.
The media accommodations courtside basically consist of a narrow table about the width of a shelf. The laptop barely fits, and with as much media as covers Duke, there's no extra spaces to the side to spread out a notepad beside the laptop.
The fans are literally right on top of us, similar to the setup at Lafayette, only more intimate.
Obviously this building gives Duke a tremendous homecourt edge, but it still is hard to figure why a program of this stature has not built a new arena.
Cameron reminds you a little of Bucknell's old Davis Gym, only with about four times the seating. The fans are right on top of the floor.
Speaking of the fans, there appears to be a sizable Bucknell contingent on hand. We stood in the rain at the outdoor will call window for about 20 minutes with a handful of them and inside there is a good amount of orange and blue to be seen.
Not nearly enough to put much of a dent in Duke's crowd or its homecourt edge, but enough that the ESPN camera folks will be able to show some kids painted in Bucknell's colors, too.
A disappointing showing from the media that covers Bucknell. It's just me, Chris Brady of the Standard-Journal and Mark Walker from the Bucknellian.
According to Walker, friends of his were able to get tickets when Duke released about 100 for sale to the public that were available because of Duke's students being on break.
We will update with some notes at halftime, and of course will have the full game story available shortly after the conclusion of the game.
Meanwhile, make some popcorn, open a beverage (or head out to the local sports bar) and enjoy the game on ESPN.
It's the Bison and the No. 1 team in the nation on national TV.
This is the first time a Patriot League team has appeared on real national television for a regular season game other than the annual CBS showing of an Army-Navy game. The academies basically forced that by making it a condition of the deal for the Army-Navy football game.
In other words, this is the first the league has gotten one of its teams on national television on its basketball merits.
As the old cigarette commercials said, you've come a long way baby.
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Greetings from Durham, where Bucknell is getting set to take on No. 1 ranked Duke this afternoon.
Here is a sampling of what the papers down here are saying about this afternoon's (4:30 p.m., ESPN) game:
In the The Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says, "It won't be hard to get ready for them because we respect them. They've earned the respect of everybody."
In the Raleigh News & Observer, Luciana Chavez takes a look at Duke guard Greg Paulus.
A story in the Greensboro News-Record focuses on BU assistant Mark Prosser, pointing out that his father, Skip, the head coach of nearby Wake Forest, can't come to the game because of NCAA rules prohibiting scouting future opponents in person.
An interesting quote for American fans crazy enough to head to Loretto, Pa. for AU's game with Saint Francis (Pa.):
"We drove by Loretto when Mark was in junior high and he said, 'I don't know if you could get a recruit to come to Loretta, Pa.' He was already thinking along those lines," Skip said.
In the Winston-Salem Journal, Bill Cole points out that since Duke played Saturday (a 102-69 win over UNC-Greensboro), the Blue Devils have only one day to prepare for Bucknell. That could aid the Bison, whose matchup zone can give people fits even when they are familiar with it.
Duke guard J.J. Redick tells Bryan Strickland of the Durham Herald-Sun, "We're playing a team that really believes that they can come in and beat us, and they can."
Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald checks in with a nice piece on Holy Cross senior guard Kevin Hamilton
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BUCKNELL at No. 1 Duke (ESPN) 4:30 p.m.: The Bison have slain some giants, but they have never even played one the size of Duke, the first No. 1 team Bucknell has faced in 111 years of hoops.
The scounting report on the Blue Devils in Bucknell's game notes goes something like this:
Duke comes in with a perfect 12-0 mark after Saturday's 102-69 rout of UNC Greensboro. Reigning national player of the year J.J. Redick scored 35 points in that victory, and he leads the team in scoring at 25.6 ppg. Redick is averaging just under four 3-pointers made per game and shoots 47.4% from beyond the arc. While Redick is the outside threat, 6'9" senior Shelden Williams is the inside force. Williams nearly averages a double-double at 18.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg.
The Williams-Chris McNaughton matchup should be interesting. Both big guys played in the World University games last summer, Williams for gold medalist USA and McNaughton for Germany. The two met in pool play, a 10-point win for the US. Williams started for the US and had a 20 points-9 rebounds game. McNaughton had 8 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for the Germans.
How tough a challenge do the Bison face? Consider:
Since 1997-98, the Blue Devils are 98-2 at home vs. unranked. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 515-84 vs. unranked competition, including a 202-14 record since the 1997-98 season.
During the past nine seasons, Duke is 105-5 vs. unranked non-conference opponents.
Duke is an impressive 369-57 vs. nonconference opponents under Mike Krzyzewski, including a 186-8 mark in home games.
Duke has sold out 229 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The last time Duke did not have a home was on Nov. 16, 1990, against Boston College.
Duke has posted a 684-141 (.829) in the 66-year-old Cameron.
Krzyzewski-led teams are (.872) at Cameron.
Duke has won 169 of its last nonconference games at home.
AMERICAN at St. Francis (Pa.) 7 p.m.: The Red Flash are 2-8, riding a six-game losing streak. But at home, where they are 32-8 since the start of the 2002-2003 season, they are 2-1 so far.
Redshirt junior center J.R. Enright is a 6-10, 250-pounder who averages 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Rahsaan Benton, a 5-10 senior guard, leads St. Francis in scoring, coming off the bench to average 16.2 ppg. Neither is particularly accurate, though. Both are shooting under 40 percent from the field. As a team, SF is barely shooting 40 percent. AU notes | St. Francis notes | USA Today matchup | Live Stats | UVM radio | AU radio
COLGATE at Stony Brook 7 p.m.: The Sea Wolves are shooting 35 percent from the field as a team, allowing opponents to shoot better than 45 percent against them. They have been outrebounded by an average of better than 10 boards per game. Stony Brook averages less than 10 assists per game and over 15 turnovers. With those stats in mind, it is probably little surprise they have not won a game all season (0-9). Colgate notes (pdf) | MVS Web site | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | 'Gate radio
LEHIGH at Columbia 7 p.m.: Columbia opened the season 5-0. Then the Lions lost to Army, starting a skid that has seen them lose five of the last six. The lone win in that stretch came over Lafayette. Columbia has lost three in a row since then
Columbia turned the ball over 27 times in its last game, a 63-54 loss to St. Peter's in the consolation game of the Panasonic Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. That does not bode well for the Lions against a defensive minded club like Lehigh. Lehigh notes | Columbia notes | USA Today matchup | Gametracker
Boston U. at HOLY CROSS (NESN) 7 p.m.: The 5-7 Terriers come in off a win over UC-Riverside in the consolation game of the Cable Car Classic. BU was dropped into the consi game by a first round loss to Bucknell.
So far this season, Boston U. has pretty much won the games it should have and lost the ones it would probably be expected to. Among the losses: Michigan, UMass, Duke, George Washington, Rhode Island and Bucknell. The only win over a .500 or better team came against Harvard. HC notes | Boston U. Web site | USA Today matchup | HC radio Read Full Post
Brown 59, Army 57 --Ken McMillan of the Times Herald-Record summed it up pretty well when he wrote:
There's not much a basketball team can do in the final two seconds and yet Army found two ways to lose a game.
First Matt Bell turned the ball over with an bad pass on an inbounds play following a Brown bucket that ties the game at 57-57. His pass to midcourt went out of bounds without being touched, giving Brown the ball under its own basket. Then Army compounded the mistake by letting Scott Friske catch the ball in the lane for an easy bucket to win the game.
Sounds like a classic case of a team used to losing finding a way to do so at the end. Not that Army deserved to win after letting a Brown team that came in shooting under 40 percent from the field shoot 52.4 percent in the second half. And not after turning the ball over 20 times.
While Friske, who finished with 24 points, will be remembered for the game-winner, Brown really won this one at the foul line. The Bears were 15-21 at the stripe, Army only went to the line 6 times the whole game (making 5).
Brown's win evens the season series between the Patriot League and the Ivy League at 10 games each, with four remaining.
Fordham 71, Lafayette 52 -- Playing its seond game in 21 days, its first in 11 and its first against a Division I foe since Dec. 10, Lafayette struggled on offense, giving up 24 turnovers and shooting 39.5 percent from the field.
Navy 84, Citadel 70 -- Greg Sprink went off for 31 points to lead Navy. The Mids hit 11 treys in this one, 6 by Sprink.
Technically, it is Navy's first win over a Division I opponent with a winning record, though if you read the preview capsule yesterday, you know Citadel's "winning record" is dubious given that it was built by beating teams no self-respecting DI team would schedule.
In a side note, Bill Wagner reports in the Annapolis Capital's game story that Navy point guard Corey Johnson dressed and participated in warmups before the game. Johnson was thought to be lost for the season after undergoing knee surgery Dec. 6. Navy coach Billy Lange said Johnson's rehab is ahead of schedule, but he would not speculate on his return.