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Fan support was loud and proud

Posted March 17, 2011

By Sam Alcorn

WASHINGTON — Even at the end, the Bucknell fans were still cheering their hard-working team. It was loud and it was proud. It was a Bison crowd.

But, alas, the No. 3 UConn Huskies defeated the No. 14 Bucknell Bison 81-52 at Verizon Center Thursday night in what was Bucknell's fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. As the Bucknell Bison is reporting, the Bucknell men's basketball team ran into one of the hottest teams in the country in Big East Champion Connecticut. || Full report at Bucknell Bison

It wasn't for lack of fan support. As one Huskie fan in section 111 told his game partner, "That's a sea of orange," pointing to the Bison crowd. And early reports are that several hundred of the Orange and Blue faithful attended a pre-game reception on Hotel Monaco. Did we hear 500-plus? That says a lot.

Check out the video (top right) highlighting the game action and our great fans.

Bucknell Nation II

Posted March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Bucknell fans sporting the Orange and Blue filled the Paris Room of Hotel Monaco for a pre-game reception ahead of tonight's NCAA Tournament showdown between Bucknell and the University of Connecticut.

The room was electric — and that was before the 28-member pep band and cheerleaders made their way across the District of Columbia from their base in Arlington, Va., to the reception.

Among the crowd was Maurice and Laurie Aburdine who made the trip down from Lewisburg, Pa., this afternoon. Maurice is a professor of electrical engineering at Bucknell and as the photo at left will confirm, both he and his wife were decked out in politically correct orange and blue. Would there be any doubt?

The fact is the two met 39 years ago as undergraduate students at the University of Connecticut, Bucknell's opponent in tonight's 7:20 p.m. tipoff. But as their attire strongly confirms, their hearts and cheers belong to the Bison.

There is no telling how many Bucknellians are in town for this game, this event. It seems like a gazillion. But it is safe to say that Bucknell Nation is thriving in the nation's capital. In fact, it's hard to walk anywhere without passing orange and blue shirts, caps, scarves, pants and hair and exchanging, "'Ray Bucknell." Really. That's true. Unbelievable.

Even caught up with Harvey Edwards, Class of 1978, and a group of friends who did a Bucknell great cheer for our video camera. Check it out in our YouTube playlist when we get it posted a little later.

Bucknell nation

Posted March 17, 2011

By Sam Alcorn

WASHINGTON — Breathe in the madness on F Street outside the Verizon Center where the NCAA Tournament is now underway and someone will stop to talk Bison basketball.

Maybe they'll start talking about the 2005 game vs Kansas. Maybe they'll focus on a Patriot League game they saw at Navy in which Bucknell took the game into two, or was it three, overtimes and win it.

Then look up and you might see Doug Allen coming down the street. That's Bucknell alumnus AND Bucknell associate professor of marketing, with seventh-grade son, Sam, in the nation's capital for the Big Dance.

Allen just might be one of the few Bucknellians on the planet who has been at EVERY NCAA Tournament in which Bucknell has appeared  — that's now five, all told — either as a student-athlete, coach or fan. That's some record. 1987, 1989, 2005, 2006, and now 2011. Look up again, and Allen is waving over  Mike Joseph, Class of 1990, who just happens to a be a former Bison point guard and now a member of Bucknell's Hall of Fame. (Above, from left, that's Allen, Sam and Joseph.) Note: In earlier edition, the NCAA Tournament years were misstated.

Take a few more steps and you meet Dave West, Class of 1985, who is pleased to display his game tickets for a quick F Street photo op. That's Dave at left. Thanks, Dave.

Say, if you're headed to Bucknell's pregame reception at the Hotel Monaco, remember it's in the Paris Ballroom on the fourth floor. The reception, with light refreshments, runs from 5 to 7 p.m. See you there.

Verizon Center is hopping already

Posted March 17, 2011

By Sam Alcorn

WASHINGTON — Things are already popping over at the Verizon Center. They don't call this March Madness for nothing.

Starting the NCAA Tournament day will be Old Dominion vs Butler at 12:40 p.m., followed by UNC Ashville vs Pittsburgh at 3:10 p.m., Bucknell vs UConn at 7:20 p.m. and Missouri vs Cincinnati at 9:50 p.m. Phew.

Just saw a tweet from Bison Big Man Mike Muscala who reported, "Police escort through the middle of DC? Pretty cool ... I can't lie. We're just weaving through downtown traffic." (Anyone see the big poster at Sojka Pavilion at Friday night's Patriot League championship? "Moose for President!" Look out, Obama.)

Earlier Muscala reported, "Had a good film session and breakfast. Now we are headed to the Verizon Center for practice."

This morning, on the way out to grab a Washington Post, ran into a couple basketball fans from New York City in the hotel elevator. "You're from Bucknell? I like your center. Solid man, Muscala. Good luck tonight."

For Bucknellians with a bit of history and engineering in their DNA, here's a cool tidbit about the Hotel Monaco where a pre-game reception is being held this afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m.

The site on F Street now occupied by the hotel is where artist and inventor Samuel F.B. Morse opened and operated the first public telegraph office in the United States on April 1, 1845. Remember, "What hath God wrought?"  Cool, huh?

Fashionistas, beware.  

With this being St. Patrick's Day AND game day for the Bison, don't be shocked at the orange and green street wear. Today, it's a sweet, eye-appealing combo.

 

Nice piece in Sports Illustrated with Bucknell Coach Dave Paulsen. Check it out here.

It's game day!

Posted March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — It's game day for the Bucknell Bison in the nation's capital.

Tip-off is 7:20 p.m. (ET) and the game between No. 14 Bucknell and No. 3 UConn will be carried live on the TNT cable outlet.

What a day to be in D.C., too. Weather forecast is for mid-60s and plenty of blue sky. Expecting a big crowd at the Verizon Center for tonight's NCAA Tournament games, District of Columbia Metro trains will be running one hour later than usual to 1 a.m. Metro'ing it to Verizon Center? The closest stop is Gallery Place.

Say, hey, to the crowd expected at the Bucknell pre-game reception at Hotel Monaco in the Paris Ballroom. Light refreshments will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. Hotel Monaco, at 700 F St., is right across the street from Verizon Center — a three-minute walk. A separate viewing party in town is planned by the Bucknell Club of Washington DC out by Dupont Circle. || Viewing parties

Checked out the Paris Ballroom Wednesday. What a gorgeous space (pictured above) for Bucknellians to socialize before the big game.

Local radio is buzzing about the NCAA Tournament. Lots of excitement in town today.

One good-looking Bison

Posted March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — That's one good-looking Bison on the center court scoreboard, thanks to Raj Thangavelu, Bucknell Class of 1998, who was at this afternoon's open-practice session at the Verizon Center.

We'll try to get some of his other photos from the session up at Facebook later.

But for Thangavelu, this is definitely one sweet week. He reports that he has attended every NCAA Tournament in various cities since 2003. "Needless to say I am beyond excited," he says. "But it means so much more that I actually get to see Bucknell."

And a lot of us are thinking the same way.

Viewing parties galore, and more

Posted March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Holy cow! Can you believe that there are 22 viewing parties set up around the country for Thursday's Bucknell-UConn NCAA Tournament game?

Just passed the Hotel Monaco on F Street where Bucknell is sponsoring a pre-game reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Having the orange SUV parked out front made it especially easy to find. Nice work, whoever did that.

If you're not at the game in person or at a viewing party, you can catch it at 7:20 p.m. on the TNT cable outlet.

Spoke to Jon Terry, Bucknell's sports information guru, and he reported that the Bison men are back at their hotel for a quiet team dinner this evening.

He says, too, they had plenty of media attention throughout the day and that the national NCAA press conference went well with Coach Dave Paulsen, sophomore Mike Muscala and senior G.W. Boon at the podium microphone. All the big national press outlets were there.

By the way, the team hotel in Arlington, Va., is just a short walk across the Key Bridge to the bright lights of historic Georgetown. With a win Thursday night, maybe they'll have time to savor a stroll in what is supposed to be 70-degree weather Friday. Maybe, too, a chance to glimpse the first cherry blossoms of the season.

Here's another cool tidbit for Bison fans: Patrick Behan '10 who played Bucknell basketball four years before graduating is here in town as a credentialed journalist for The New York Times. He's blogging for The Times about college basketball. He had an especially sweet post last week and a new one this afternoon.

Another thing heard here: Bucknell's ticket allotment of 420 tickets for Thursday's game was gone within an hour or so of being offered. That's one hot ticket.

Haven't met up yet with him yet, but Raj Thangavelu, Class of 1998, is here in town, too. He reached out via email for my interest in photos from today's practice session. If he gets some to me, look for them later. He also might be posting some over at Facebook. Thanks, Raj.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Posted March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Four-plus hours by car from Lewisburg, Pa., to our nation's capital. The traffic. Aye-yi-yi.

With patches of blue sky and the temperature pushing toward the mid-50s, we hoofed it over to the 20,000-seat Verizon Center to get a quick gander of the arena during the NCAA Tournament open-practice sessions.

Just missed the Bucknell Bison session that was held just after noon today. But we spotted some "orange" in the crowd of fans in the mid-court seats and investigated.

It was Jason Kim, a proud member of the Class of 2004, sitting in on the Butler Bulldogs practice. Asked about the Bucknell Bison, he said, "You just missed them. But they looked great." (That's Kim sporting the Bison jersey.)

Kim, who landed a ticket for Thursday's second-round game between No. 14 Bucknell and No. 3 UConn, said, "What amazed me is that teams usually take these sessions lightly. But Bucknell worked hard. They played five against five, ran lots of sets. There was a lot of contact. It was a tough practice."

The team left him certainly impressed.

The 2004 graduate lives in nearby Alexandria, Va. For him, it was a short eight-mile hop to the arena. Word, though, is that Bucknellians from all over will be arriving in town in the next 24 hours to see the Bison in just their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

Many, like Kim, will be joining the crowd at the pre-game reception at the Hotel Monaco, across the street from the Verizon Center, where the satellite TV trucks are already double parked for the start of the tournament.

The Bucknell reception will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

If you're one of the ones without a ticket, and there are plenty in that category, check out the viewing parties across the nation. The Bucknell Club of Washington DC is planning one at Buffalo Billiards, 1330 19th Street, NW, in Washington. Check the viewing partieswebpage for more info.

Checked in at the "will call" window on the Verizon Center for my game ticket, but was told "will call" tickets for Thursday's game won't be available for pick up until after 10 a.m. Thursday. By the way, that's the cavernous Verizon Center pictured above.

Crowd gives Bison big sendoff

Posted: March 15, 2011


LEWISBURG, Pa. — With their dancing shoes packed, the Bison headed south this afternoon to their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

Even with the Bucknell University campus being on spring break, a big crowd at the Kenneth Langone Athletics and Recreation Center cheered the players and coaching staff as they boarded the team bus that will transport them to Washington, D.C., where they will face the University of Connecticut on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. (ET).

The matchup between the No. 14 seed Bison and the No. 3 seed Huskies will be televised live on TNT.

Biomed engineer
Senior and biomedical engineer G.W. Boon, speaking on behalf of the team before boarding, thanked the fans for their season-long support.

"We've had a great few days of practice," Boon said."We definitely have a great challenge ahead of us with UConn, but we'll be ready when the ball goes up in the air. We thank you guys so much."

"Thank you everyone for coming out to send us off," said Coach Dave Paulsen. "We really appreciate all the support that we've had from the townspeople, faculty, staff and students throughout the year.

Easy to rally around
"I think this is a group of guys easy to rally around. They play with so much heart and emotion. We've got a tall challenge down in D.C.," he said, "but we're going to give it everything we've got."

The Bison men have a busy schedule leading up to the Thursday night game. They'll have a press conference Wednesday at noon at the Verizon Center, followed by an open practice. In addition, a regular practice is scheduled at one of the D.C.-area colleges.

Home base for the team during the tournament stay will be the Key Bridge Marriott in nearby Arlington, Va.

'I love these guys'
"I love these guys. They're a great bunch," said Bill Schaffer, the Susquehanna Trailways bus driver who has been driving Bucknell teams since 2006. "It'll be a tough game, but I've seen them down 15 points and come back. They can do it."

The 28-member pep band and cheerleaders will leave campus Wednesday. Bison fans will recall that when Bucknell went to the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City in 2005, the pep band was away on spring break and the band from Northern Iowa University generously sat in for the Bison pepsters at the last minute. The Bucknell pep band returned the favor the following year when the Bison returned to the NCAA Tournament in Dallas and played Northern Iowa's fight song.

 

No. 14 Bison to play No. 3 UConn Thursday

Posted: March 13, 2011

Updated March 15, 2011

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bucknell Bison grabbed a 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 3 UConn on Thursday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Game time is 7:20 p.m. (ET) Thursday. TNT is the designated TV outlet for the broadcast.

Join the team Tuesday at 1:15 p.m (ET) at the entrance of the Kenneth Langone Athletics and Recreation Center to cheer them on as they leave for the NCAA Basketball Second Round.

In addition, a pre-game reception is planned 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Hotel Monaco's Paris Ballroom. The hotel is located at 700 F St. in Washington, D.C., across the street from Verizon Center where the game will be played.

On Sunday, the team and coaching staff welcomed a jam-packed crowd to the Forum in the Elaine Langone Center to watch a nationwide broadcast of the Selection Show on CBS-TV. Coach Dave Paulsen spoke, praising and thanking the Lewisburg community and students for their overwhelming support this season.

Paulsen was greeted with a cheering ovation when he told the crowd that Bucknell just doesn't go to NCAA tourneys, Bucknell goes and wins games!

One thing more: Bucknell's pep band is packing and going.

 

Bison punch ticket and are going dancing

Posted: March 11, 2011

 



Bucknell is headed back to the NCAA tournament. Mike Muscala scored 18 points and Bucknell shut down Lafayette in the second half of a 72-57 victory Friday to win the Patriot League championship and an automatic bid to the NCAAs.

The Bison will find out their NCAA opponent and destination on Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET, when the brackets are revealed live on CBS television.

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