LEWISBURG, Pa. -- The Bucknell men's basketball team took a look back at a championship season on Saturday, when it held its annual Backcourt Club Awards Banquet at La Pimavera restaurant in Lewisburg. Juniors Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas were co-recipients of the Benton A. Kribbs Memorial Award, presented to the team's most valuable player.
Junior point guard Stephen Brown earned the Malcolm E. Musser Award for Leadership. Sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie was presented the Thomas A. Thompson Award for Spirit, Intensity, and Outstanding Defensive Play. The Coaches' Award went to senior center Ben Oberfeld.
Oberfeld was recognized for his contributions despite missing all of 2016-17 due to injury. His presence was felt at every practice and every game, even though he was unable to play. One of the highlights of the season came on Senior Day against Navy, when Oberfeld suited up and went out to take the opening tip in his final career appearance.
Foulland was the Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17, while Thomas was named Patriot League Tournament MVP after Bucknell's 81-65 win over Lehigh in the league title game. Both were First Team All-Patriot League picks, and both were named to the NABC All-District 13 Team.
Foulland, who was also a member of the Academic All-Patriot League Team, ranked second to Thomas on the team and fourth in the Patriot League in scoring at 15.0 points per game. He led the Patriot League with 72 blocked shots -- the fourth-highest total in Bucknell history -- and finished second in the league in rebounding (7.8). Foulland's .630 field-goal percentage ranked eighth nationally.
Foulland finished his junior year with a terrific game against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. He posted 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, along with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. He tallied 31 double-figure scoring games and 11 double-doubles this season.
Thomas was Bucknell's leading scorer this season at 15.9 points per game. That was the third-highest figure in the Patriot League, and Thomas also ranked sixth in rebounding (6.6), ninth in field-goal percentage (.474), 10th in assists (3.4), third in free-throw percentage (.814), and sixth in 3-point percentage (.409).
Thomas recorded 13 points and six rebounds against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. He reached double figures in scoring in 33 of the team's 35 games this season, including eight 20-point performances.
Brown, a team co-captain along with Foulland, was a Second Team All-Patriot League selection and joined Foulland on the Patriot League All-Defensive Team this season. Brown averaged a career-high 11.1 points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from the 3-point arc. His 4.8 assists per game ranked third in the Patriot League, but he led the conference and ranked 28th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8).
Mackenzie was one of the league's most improved players in 2016-17, and he earned Third Team All-Patriot League, Academic All-Patriot League, and Patriot League All-Tournament Team honors. Mackenzie scored 18 points against Lehigh in the PL title game, then had a game-high 23 with five 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament game against West Virginia. He averaged 11.9 points per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 41.0 percent from the 3-point arc and 83.2 percent from the foul line this season.
Also receiving an award at the banquet was Mike Trudnak, general manager of Bucknell Sports Properties, who was presented the Backcourt Club Award for contrubitions to the program.
Bucknell finished 26-9 overall and 15-3 in the Patriot League in 2016-17. The Bison captured the Patriot League regular-season title by three games over Boston University and Lehigh. It was the team's sixth regular-season title in the last seven years and third in a row. They then toppled Army, Navy and Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament to secure the 10th NCAA bid in team history.
Here are some additional year-end notes:
- The Bison have now captured 11 regular-season titles in the Patriot League’s 27-year history. No other team has won more than five. This was the team’s sixth regular-season crown in the last seven years, a feat that is only matched by Kansas and Belmont among all Division I programs.
- Over the last seven seasons, Bucknell is now 90-24 in Patriot League play with the six regular-season championships and three PL Tournament titles.
- Bucknell is now 265-115 (.697) in 27 years in the Patriot League. That is the best record of any league team.
- The Bison did not lose back-to-back games all season and went 8-0 following a loss.
- Bucknell is now 36-22 in 27 Patriot League Tournaments. The Bison have reached the championship game a record 11 times and gotten to the semifinals in 20 of 27 seasons.
- Bucknell finished the year ranked No. 17 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll. The Bison finished 63rd in the RPI rankings and 76th in the Ken Pomeroy rankings.
- Head coach Nathan Davis earned Patriot League Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season. Davis is the fourth coach to receive the honor in back-to-back years, joining former Bison coach Dave Paulsen (2011, 2012), Lehigh's Billy Taylor (2003, 2004) and Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon (1998, 1999).
- Bucknell has now had at least one First Team All-Patriot League selection in 31 of the last 34 seasons, dating back to its days in the East Coast Conference. The Bison have also claimed the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in seven of the 13 years since the award was instituted in 2005.
- This season the Bison set school single-season records for points (2,669), made field goals (942) and 3-point field goals (286).
- Foulland and Thomas both went over the 1,000-point plateau as juniors this season. Foulland will enter next season 18th on Bucknell's all-time scoring list with 1,222 points, while Thomas is 38th with 1,022.
- Foulland's 558 points this season were seventh-most in Bucknell history. Elsewhere on single-season lists, Foulland ranks third in field-goal percentage (.630), ninth in made field goals (203), seventh in free-throw attempts (187), and fourth in blocked shots (72). Brown's 57 steals are tied for 10th-most in a season in team history, and his 167 assists are tied for seventh-most. Thomas' 140 made free throws rank eighth.
- Foulland's .576 career field-goal percentage currently ranks third in Bucknell history, behind Patrick King (.638) and Chris McNaughton (.598). Foulland has also climbed to fourth on the career blocks list (151) and 12th in career rebounds (662).
- Brown is now eighth on Bucknell's career assists chart with 374, one behind Abe Badmus for the No. 7 spot.
- Thomas (7th, .411), Mackenzie (9th, .403), Brown (13th, .388) and Azzinaro (14th, .377) all rank in the top 15 on Bucknell's career list for 3-point field goal percentage.
- Bucknell this season tied the school record by playing 35 games. The 2011-12 team also played 35. Thomas, Mackenzie, Brown, Avi Toomer and Bruce Moore played in all 35 games this season, tying the team record.
- The 26 victories are third-most in Bucknell history. Only the 2012-13 (28) and 2005-06 (27) teams won more.