DePaul Blue Demons vs. Bucknell Bison, Saturday, December 3rd, 1:00 p.m. Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
Television - None
Radio - WSCR AM 670 Chicago
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The Bison Bucking the Trend
To the casual college basketball fan who may not have been paying close attention lately, DePaul's next opponent, the Bucknell University Bison, might seem like little more than another tiny "mid-major" school to be walked over and stomped on by the mighty power-conference teams en route to padding their non-conference win totals before the real competition begins in January during league play. However, the more astute observers of NCAA hoops will immediately recognize that this Patriot League program located in Lewisburg, Pa., has notched impressive victories over such big-time, traditional heavyweights as Pittsburgh (Big East), Kansas (Big 12), and Syracuse (Big East) over the last eleven months.
What's even more remarkable is that the triumphs over Pittsburgh (during the 2004-05 regular season) and Syracuse (on November 22nd) were achieved on those opponent's home courts, while the win against Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March took place next door to KU's home state in nearby Oklahoma City in front of what had to be a large contingent of Jayhawks supporters. In fact, the Bison's 64-63 upset of Bill Self's highly-touted Kansas squad marked the first-ever NCAA Tournament victory in the history of the Patriot League (the conference began competition in 1986), a high-academic conference which does not award athletic scholarships.
Bucknell went on to complete the 2004-05 campaign with an overall record of 23-10, and the Bison finished second in the Patriot League with a conference mark of 10-4.
So it's no surprise that, with all five starters returning from last year's team, Bucknell was voted by the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors as the preseason favorite to win the conference title this year. The Bison also placed two players on the preseason first-team all-conference list: senior G-F, Charles Lee, and preseason Patriot League Player of the Year choice, junior center, Chris McNaughton.
The 6-11, 235 pound McNaughton, who hails from Germany, averaged 12.6 ppg and 4.7 rpg for 12-year Bison Coach Pat Flannery's 2004-05 unit. Through four games this season, McNaughton is averaging 14.0 ppg (good for third highest on the team) and 6.5 rpg, making him the team's top rebounder. McNaughton is also shooting a blistering 71.4% from the field (25-35) in his first four outings this season.
The 6-3 Lee leads the team in scoring this year with an average of 15.0 ppg (up from 12.5 ppg last year) and is the Bison's number two rebounder, averaging 6.0 rpg.
Kevin Bettencourt, a 6-2 senior guard, is second on the team in scoring, with an average of 14.8 ppg. Bettencourt also leads the way in assists at 4.0 apg.
Junior 5-11 point guard, Abe Badmus, from Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles, leads the team in steals with a total of 10 already this season and is second in assists with an average of 3.5 apg.
Bucknell is off to a perfect 4-0 start this year for the first time since the 1983-84 season, with wins over Rider (56-54), Syracuse (74-69), Yale (87-60), and Niagara. Three of the Bison's four wins have come on the road. Bucknell's 66-63 victory in their last game at Niagara ended the Purple Eagles' 18-game home winning streak at the Gallagher Center.
Lee paced Bucknell versus Niagara with 17 points while Bettencourt added 13 points. After trailing by nine points at half-time, the Bison took control of the game when they went on a 21-4 run during the first 11 minutes of the second half, a span in which Niagara was held without a field goal.
The Purple Eagles staged a late rally, but Bucknell held on for the win after Bettencourt made two go-ahead free throws with 48 seconds to go in the game.
Jerry Wainwright and his young DePaul Blue Demons had better come to Allstate Arena ready to play Saturday if they hope to avoid being the Bison's next victim from a marquee conference.
Jerry Wainwright Talks About the Bison
Recently Blue Demons head men's basketball coach Jerry Wainwright talked about what his team will be facing on Saturday. "Bucknell is undefeated," observed Wainwright. "They've already beaten Syracuse at Syracuse. It's the same team that beat Kansas in last year's NCAA tournament. So, it's a veteran team, experienced and very confident. We'll have to be at our very best to be competitive against Bucknell."
Wainwright appears to have a handle on what's in store for this game. "I've seen Bucknell play," stated Wainwright. "I know their coach. The experience and firepower - I think they're shooting over 50% from the field. They're very skilled kids. They play with great chemistry. That's what an experienced team should do. They're a very confident team."
No. Name Cl. Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High School
1 Darren Mastropaolo SO Forward 6-8 250 Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth
2 Rob Thomas SO Guard 6-3 185 Mendham, New Jersey/Mendham
3 Charles Lee SR Guard/Forward 6-3 210 Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard
4 Donald Brown JR Forward 6-5 215 Central Islip, N.Y./St. Thomas More Prep
5 Abe Badmus JR Guard 5-11 175 Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame High School for
10 Justin Castleberry FR Guard 6-1 195 Upper Marlboro, Md./Archbishop
11 John Griffin SO Forward 6-0 175 Philadelphia, PA/St. Joseph's Prep
12 Kevin Bettencourt SR Guard 6-2 190 Peabody, Mass./Peabody
14 Jason Vegotsky FR Guard 6-2 187 Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury
21 John Clark JR Forward 6-7 205 Tulsa, Okla./Cascia Hall Prep
22 Holland Mack SR Forward 6-5 205 Paterson, N.J./Paramus Catholic
25 Andrew Morrison SO Forward 6-7 220 Sea Isle, New Jersey/Wildwood
32 Chris McNaughton JR Center 6-11 235 Leutershausen, Germany/Dientzenhofer
42 Josh Linthicum FR Center 6-11 241 Farmington, N.M./Virginia Episcopal
44 Tarik Viaer-McClymont SR Center 6-7 255 Springfield Gardens,
Pat Flannery - Head Coach
Nathan Davis - Assistant Coach
Bryan Goodman - Assistant Coach
Mark Prosser - Assistant Coach
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