Bison fans at Thursday's open practice in Dallas.
DALLAS - Here are the latest notes and press clippings as the Bison prepare to take the court for the first round of the NCAA Tournment Friday.
The door opened on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) line. A Bucknell fan, wearing an orange Bison basketball cap, asks the man closest to the train door, "Does this go to the American Airlines arena?" where the Bison were scheduled to hold an open practice Thursday afternoon.
"Not wearing that hat," he replies. "Get aboard," he says after a split second. "I'm from Arkansas." The University of Arkansas, he explains, offering his hand - the home of the Razorbacks who the Bison will face Friday at 12:30 p.m. (E) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"You're in for a good basketball game. There'll be a lot of Razorbacks here. They're good boys," he says.
He exits at the next stop. "Good luck," he offers. "But not that much."
Not too far from the arena where a good number of Bucknell fans came to watch coach Pat Flannery and the Bison practice, a restaurant was serving lunch to a packed crowd. The Seton Hall-Wichita State NCAA game was blasting from outdoor speakers that could be heard a half block away. Inside, wall-to-wall people stared at different TV screens. March Madness is in full swing.
One Bucknellian in town for Friday's game is Doug Allen, Class of 1988, and now a professor of management at Bucknell.
He may well be one of the few, maybe only member of the extended Bucknell community, to have been present at three of Bucknell's four NCAA Tournament appearances.
As an undergraduate, Allen played forward on the team that went to the 1987 tournament in Atlanta against Georgetown. In 1989, he was with the team in a coaching position as a graduate assistant when they played in Dallas versus Syracuse. This year, he is serving as the basketball team's academic advisor.
Another sign of fan loyalty? Brian McGlinchey, Class of 1989, is in Dallas, too. The trusty fan hasn't missed any of Bucknell's four NCAA Tournament appearances.
Orange Out at The Westin City Center: More than 250 alumni, parents, friends, and students packed the Cambridge meeting room the Thursday evening for a reception hosted by President Brian C. and Maryjane Mitchell. Among the attendees were the basketball team, pep band, and cheerleaders.
The Westin is the team's home while in Dallas. Another team sharing the hotel is California who goes up against North Carolina State later Friday and even those fans are getting in the Bucknell frame of mind. "Go Bison" seems to greet every orange shirt and hat.
In the media, CBS Sportsline.com writes: "There's one subtle sign that Bucknell has a bit more confidence than it had during last year's trip to the NCAA tournament: The Bison are bringing their pep band."
Last year, the band was on spring break and couldn't be reassembled in time for the trip to the tourney. Bucknell stunned Kansas in the first round, borrowing Northern Iowa's band to play the school fight song in the process.
The Pioneer Press of Illinois focused on one of its former high school-area players - junior Abe Badmus. He said was of his goals was to get an NCAA Tournament and this is now his second trip. "When I first came to Bucknell it was because it was a good opportunity to play Division I basketball and get a great education," Badmus said. "I'm just fortunate to have a great group of players around here. They have all contributed to making my dream come true."
The Arkansas Razorback Sports Network reports that while Bucknell's players might not be household names, Arkansas is quickly learning how dangerous they are. "The more I watch film on Bucknell, the more I appreciate how good they are and how they were able to beat Kansas last year and Syracuse this year," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said.
The Indianapolis Star quoted ESPN's Jay Bilas as saying: "I'm a very big Bucknell believer. They've played very well over the last couple of years. I still think they've got the chops to beat one of the big shots in an early-round game."
David Jones of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., opines that Bucknell faces a tough test in playing Arkansas. "Bucknell faces a monumental task in containing the Southeastern Conference's scoring champion and best player, Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer. This is a 6-7 winger whom the Bison must guard with 6-3 Charles Lee, their best player. Yes, the Bison can play a lot of match-up zone if they stay close. The problem arises if they fall behind by 10-plus.
"Arkansas is as athletic as Villanova or Duke - the two teams that blew the Bison out this season - if not as accurate on offense. The Hogs are bound to press a lot because coach Stan Heath can see on tape it will work. BU has a fighter's chance because it always fights. But this is a much tougher out than uninterested Kansas last year."
Posted March 16, 2006