What: Bucknell (0-0) at Monmouth (0-0)
Where: OceanFirst Bank Center, West Long Branch, N.J.
When: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN3/Watch ESPN  
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Live Stats: MonmouthHawks.com

• COMPLETE GAME NOTES

Bucknell Probable Starters (2016-17 stats)
G: Stephen Brown (11.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.8 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (11.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.4 apg)
G: Avi Toomer (3.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.4 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg)

With a Win over Monmouth, Bucknell Would ... 

• ... improve to 80-43 all-time in season openers.

• ... win its season opener for the fourth straight year, and third straight under head coach Nathan Davis.

• ... improve to 1-1 all-time against the Hawks.

• ... improve to 44-23 under Davis.

Headlines

• Bucknell opens its 123rd season of basketball on Friday night at Monmouth.       

• The Bison have a challenging non-conference schedule ahead, starting with an opening-week gauntlet that will take them on the road to Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland in the season’s first eight days.

• This will be a rematch of the 2016 NIT first round, when the Hawks outran the Bison 90-80. That is the only other meeting between the two teams. 

• Bucknell did get in three scrimmages against other Division I teams during the preseason. In addition to closed scrimmages against Mount St. Mary’s and Penn, the Bison traveled to Towson for an exhibition game to benefit the Salvation Army and hurricane relief efforts. The Tigers, picked second in the Colonial Athletic Association, prevailed 93-86 despite 22 points and nine rebounds from Nana Foulland.

• The Bison were the unanimous favorite in the Patriot League Preseason Poll of head coaches and sports information directors. Foulland was voted PL Preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team by fellow senior Zach Thomas.

• Bucknell has all five starters back from last year’s team that swept the Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles and went to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history. The Bison took fourth-seeded West Virginia right to the wire before falling 86-80.

• Bucknell will open up with a Monmouth team that was picked third in the MAAC Preseason Poll. The Hawks were a close third, behind Iona and Manhattan. Junior guard Micah Seaborn, the team’s top returning scorer at 13.2 ppg, was a Preseason All-MAAC selection. The Hawks went 27-7 overall and won the outright MAAC regular-season title with an 18-2 record, making them the first MAAC team ever to win 18 league games. Monmouth was upset by fourth-seeded Siena in the MAAC Tournament semifinals, however, and then fell to Ole Miss at home in the first round of the NIT.  

How to Get the Game

• The Bucknell-Monmouth game will be streamed on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. Eddy Occhipinti will call the action alongside Steve Bazaz and Suzi Mellano. 

• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off. 

• Live statistics can be accessed via MonmouthHawks.com

• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com.

• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.

Preseason Prognostications

• Prior to the start of preseason, the Patriot League’s head coaches and sports information directors predicted the league standings and all-conference team. Bucknell was the unanimous No. 1 choice (coaches and SIDs are not permitted to vote for their own team or players).

Patriot League Preseason Poll

  1. Bucknell 162 (18 1st-place votes)
  2. Boston U. 141 (2)
  3. Navy 120
  4. Lehigh 108
  5. Colgate 104
  6. Loyola 78
  7. Army 66
  8. Holy Cross 48
  9. American 39
  10. Lafayette 27 

Preseason Player of the Year: Nana Foulland, Bucknell, Sr., C

Preseason All-League Team:

Nana Foulland, Bucknell (Sr., C)

Zach Thomas, Bucknell (Sr., F)

Shawn Anderson, Navy (Sr., G)

Kahron Ross, Lehigh (Sr., G)

Andre Walker, Loyola (Sr., G)

Bucknell vs. Monmouth Series Notes

• Bucknell and Monmouth are meeting for just the second time. The other matchup came in the opening round of the 2016 NIT, and the Hawks won 90-80 at OceanFirst Bank Center.

• In that game, Bucknell fought back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game on a couple of occasions, but a string of three consecutive 3-pointers midway through the second half sent top-seeded Monmouth on the way to the win.

• Five current Bison played in that game: Zach Thomas (15 points), Kimbal Mackenzie (13), Nana Foulland (10), Stephen Brown (9) and Nate Jones (0).

 

Bucknell vs. The MAAC

• Bucknell is 49-54 (.476) in 103 all-time games against the teams that currently comprise the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, including a 2-1 record last season (wins over Manhattan and Fairfield, loss to Siena).

• The Bison are 30-24 against Rider, 6-4 against Marist, 4-2 vs. Manhattan, 4-5 vs. Niagara, 2-4 vs. Fairfield, 2-4 vs. Iona, 1-0 vs. St. Peter’s, 0-6 vs. Canisius, 0-4 vs. Siena, and 0-1 vs. Monmouth.

 

No Cupcakes for you

• Head coach Nathan Davis has challenged his team with what is considered the most difficult non-conference schedule in school history.

• This year’s non-league slate features:

  • 13 games (4 home, 9 away)
  • First-ever meeting with a defending national champion (North Carolina)
  • Five 2017 NCAA Tournament teams (North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, VCU, Vermont)
  • Four teams in other 2017 postseason tournaments (Monmouth – NIT, Richmond – NIT, Ball State – CIT, Stony Brook – CBI)
  • Combined 2016-17 record of 284-156 (.645)
  • Combined 2016-17 conference record of 155-79 (.662)
  • Average 2016-17 final RPI of 95.2; average 2016-17 final Pomeroy ranking of 108.7
  • 8 of 13 teams won 20 or more games in 2016-17
  • 11 of 13 teams finished .500 or better in 2016-17
  • Conference breakdown: four games vs. Atlantic 10, two games vs. MAAC and America East, one game each vs. ACC, SEC, Big 10, MAC, CAA 

Raising More Banners

• The already crowded rafters at Sojka Pavilion will see the addition of Patriot League championship and NCAA Tournament banners when the Bison play their home opener against Siena on Nov. 20.

• The Bison backed up their regular-season title with a Patriot League Tournament crown, sweeping three straight games from Army, Navy and Lehigh to secure an NCAA Tournament berth for the seventh time in school history.

• Bucknell finished last season with a 26-9 overall record and a 15-3 mark in Patriot League play. The 15 league wins were tied for the most in Patriot League history. The 26 wins were third-most in Bucknell history, trailing only the 2012-13 (28) and 2005-06 (27) teams.

Who’s Back?

• Most of the team’s production returns in 2017-18. Bucknell graduated three seniors after last season, two rotation reserves in guard John Azzinaro and forward/center D.J. MacLeay, along with center Ben Oberfield, who sat out all season with an injury.

• The Bison bring back all five starters, 10 of their 12 rotation players, 92.3% of their scoring and 90.2% of their rebounding from last year.

• Four 2016-17 All-Patriot League picks are back, including Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Nana Foulland, First Team All-Patriot League pick and PL Tournament MVP Zach Thomas, Second Team All-PL guard Stephen Brown, and Third Team All-PL guard Kimbal Mackenzie.

What a Class

• Bucknell’s three senior captains — Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas — have a chance to be considered one of the top senior classes in school history.

• This group enters its final season with a 62-38 overall record and a 42-12 mark in Patriot League play. They have captured regular-season titles all three years so far and have played in an NCAA Tournament and two NITs.

• Brown, Foulland and Thomas have combined for 3,026 points. Foulland (1,222) and Thomas (1,022) have already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark, and Brown (782) has a chance to make it all three.

• Bucknell is one of only 11 Division I teams that returns at least two 1,000-point scorers this season.

Foulland Receives Preseason Accolades

• In addition to his Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year honor, senior center Nana Foulland has been named to the watch lists for the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award (1 of 40), the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award (1 of 51) and the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award (1 of 21).

• Last season Foulland averaged 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while ranking eighth nationally in field goal percentage at .630. That was the third-best figure in school history. He also led the Patriot League and ranked 36th nationally in blocked shots.

Thomas is Bucknell’s “Swiss Army Knife”

• Senior forward Zach Thomas knows how to fill up a stat sheet. He contributes in every area, from ball-handling to rebounding to scoring.

• Thomas was the only player in the Patriot League to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists, and he was also the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting percentages.

• Thomas recorded 120 assists last season, one of the highest totals in the nation among power forwards. Along with point guard Stephen Brown (167), Bucknell had two players record 100+ assists in a season for the first time since 1991-92.

• Thomas averaged 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in the Patriot League Tournament en route to MVP honors. He was on triple-double watch on several occasions last season, including in the PL final against Lehigh when he tallied 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while going over the 1,000-point mark in his career.

A Model of Consistency

• Bucknell last season claimed the outright (no ties) Patriot League regular-season title for the sixth time in the last seven years. Kansas and Belmont are the only other Division I teams that can make a similar claim. 

• Going all the way back to 1975-76, when the Bison played in the East Coast Conference, the team has had only eight seasons with losing conference records out of 42, and never more than two in a row.

• Bucknell last season went 8-0 in games following a loss. The Bison have not experienced a losing streak of any kind since the end of the 2015-16 season, when they fell to Holy Cross in the Patriot League Tournament and then to Monmouth in the NIT.

• Over the last seven seasons, Bucknell has had only two losing streaks of longer than three games.

Patriot League Success

• Bucknell is 265-115 (.697) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison last season compiled a .500 record in PL play for the 23rd time in 27 Patriot League seasons.

• Bucknell won three straight outright Patriot League regular-season titles from 2011-13, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat. The Bison have now won another three in a row and six of the last seven.

• Bucknell has won 11 Patriot League regular-season titles in 27 years. No other team has more than five.

• Last year Bucknell made its eighth Patriot League Tournament appearance as the No. 1 seed.

• Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 97 of its last 123 league games.

• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013 and 2017. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 20 times and to the championship game 11 times in the 27-year history of the league.

• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).

2017 All-Patriot League Notes

• Bucknell fared well in last year’s All-Patriot League and Academic All-Patriot League voting.

• Four players were named to All-Patriot League Teams, including Nana Foulland, who became the second player in league history to sweep the Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. The other was another Bison center, Mike Muscala, in 2013.

• Foulland and Zach Thomas were both First Team All-Patriot League selections. Stephen Brown was named to the Second Team, and Kimbal Mackenzie was a Third Team honoree.

• Foulland and Brown were both named to the Patriot League All-Defensive Team. Bucknell has now had the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in seven of the 13 years since the award was instituted in 2005.

Nathan Davis garnered Patriot League Coach of the Year honors for the second year in a row. Davis’ second straight Patriot League Coach of the Year selection actually gives Bucknell the last three honors, as Dave Paulsen earned the award in his final season in 2015. Davis is the fourth coach to win the honor in back-to-back seasons, joining Paulsen (2011, 2012), Lehigh’s Billy Taylor (2003, 2004) and Lafayette’s Fran O’Hanlon (1998, 1999). Davis and Taylor are the only two to do so in his first two seasons with a team.

• Bucknell has now had at least one first-team all-conference player in 31 of the last 34 seasons, dating back to the team’s tenure in the East Coast Conference.

• Bucknell’s four all-conference selections were its most since 2012, when Mike Muscala, Bryan Cohen, Cameron Ayers and Joe Willman were all honored.

• Foulland and Mackenzie were named to the five-man Academic All-Patriot League Team. It was Foulland’s second straight selection. This was the second straight year and fourth time since the inception of the All-Academic Team in 2011 that Bucknell has claimed two of the five spots on the squad.

Bison Scholar-Athletes

The Bucknell basketball program has also enjoyed tremendous success in the classroom in recent years. Among the highlights:

• Bucknell won the “academic national championship” last season, according to Inside Higher Ed, which completed a full NCAA Tournament bracket based on the 68 competing teams’ academic performances.

• Bucknell’s leading scorer, Zach Thomas, is majoring in biomedical engineering. He has been working with two Bucknell professors on developing a rapid dual injection syringe, which would be used to decrease the time needed to inject adenosine and subsequent saline flush into patients suffering from supraventricular tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmias. The device is designed to decrease the time needed to inject adenosine and subsequent saline flush into patients suffering from supraventricular tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmias.

• En route to the Patriot League championship, the Bison men’s basketball team also managed to combine for a 3.24 grade-point average in the spring 2017 semester. Four Bison made the Dean’s List with at least a 3.50 GPA, including returnees Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Nate Jones.

• Bucknell had combined GPAs over 3.0 in both semesters in 2016-17, the eighth straight year the team accomplished that feat.

• The Bison men’s basketball program posted a perfect score of 1,000 in the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rate (APR) study, released last June. That earned the Bison program an NCAA APR Public Recognition Award. The APR awards have been given since 2007, and the Bison men’s basketball program has been honored in all 10 years.

• Bucknell has claimed 132 national Academic All-Americans since 1970, including nine from men’s basketball.

• In the Patriot League’s 27-year history, the men’s basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year has come from Bucknell 10 times.

• Earlier this week, the NCAA released its annual graduation rate report, and according to the U.S. Department of Education’s standards, Bucknell ranked fourth nationally behind Stanford, Notre Dame and Northwestern, with a four-class average of 90 percent for student-athletes entering between 2007-08 and 2010-11. Bucknell and Stanford tied for the national lead at 93 percent in the 2013 report, and Bucknell has ranked in the top four in each of the last four years.

Who’s Got Next?

• Following the Monmouth game, the team will bus to Atlantic City, where it will grab a Saturday morning flight to Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Bison will take on the Razorbacks on Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET) in a game that will be televised on the SEC Network. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2006 NCAA Tournament, when ninth-seeded Bucknell prevailed 59-55 in the first round.