LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell is the unanimous choice to capture another Patriot League men’s basketball championship, according to a preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors that was released today by the Patriot League. In addition, senior center Nana Foulland was picked as Preseason Player of the Year, and senior forward Zach Thomas joined him on the five-man Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
The Bison received the maximum 18 first-place votes – coaches and SIDs are not permitted to vote for their own team or players -- and 162 points in the poll. Boston University garnered the two remaining first-place nods and took second in the poll with 141 points.
Navy (120), Lehigh (108), Colgate (104), Loyola (78), Army West Point (66), Holy Cross (48), American (39) and Lafayette (27) rounded out the poll.
Foulland and Thomas were joined on the Preseason All-League Team by Loyola’s Andre Walker, Lehigh’s Kahron Ross, and Navy’s Shawn Anderson.
Bucknell has captured six of the last seven outright Patriot League regular-season championships, and last season the Bison doubled up and won the Patriot League Tournament as well. Seeded 13th in the NCAA Tournament, Bucknell lost a hard-fought 86-80 decision to fourth-seeded West Virginia in the round of 64.
This season, the Bison will be returning 93 percent of its scoring production from last season. All five starters and all but two members of the regular rotation will be back this season.
Foulland and Thomas are two of those veterans who will be trying to keep the Bison at the top of the league standings. Foulland is the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, while Thomas was a First Team All-Patriot League selection and the PL Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Foulland averaged 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game last season. He led the Patriot League and ranked 36th nationally in blocks, and he also ranked second in the league in rebounding and fourth in scoring. An NABC All-District 13 First Team selection, Foulland came up big for the Bison in the postseason.
He had 18 points in the Patriot League semifinals against Navy, 17 in the championship game win over Lehigh, and 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the NCAA Tournament against West Virginia. Foulland made 25 of 37 (.676) shots from the field in four postseason games. His 63.0 field-goal percentage for the full season was third-best in school history.
Thomas was also an NABC District 13 First Team All-Star last season after ranking in the top 15 in the Patriot League in eight different statistical categories. He was third in the league in scoring at 15.9 ppg, sixth in rebounding (6.6), 10th in assists (3.4), third in free-throw percentage (.814), fifth in 3-point percentage (.409) and ninth in field-goal percentage (.474). He was the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in points, rebounds and assists, and was also the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in all three shooting categories.
In the Patriot League Tournament, Thomas averaged 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists en route to MVP honors. He had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the final against Lehigh.
Bucknell finished 26-9 overall and 15-3 in the Patriot League last season. The Bison will kick off their 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 at Monmouth.