Following a season in which Bucknell lost 19 games – its most in 26 years – Coach Pat Flannery retired after 14 years at the helm. The Bison hired Dave Paulsen to take Flannery’s place, and Paulsen said in a phone interview Wednesday night that his new environment has been less than ideal so far.
“The transition, to be honest with you, has probably gone a little more slowly than I would have liked or expected as the guys are learning the new system,” said Paulsen, who came to the Bison from Williams College, where he won the Division III national title in 2003. “But we’ve also been hit by injuries.”
And, boy, was he not kidding. Bucknell will be without the services of reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Stephen Tyree, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the fall. Tyree, a 6-foot-3 small forward, led the Bison in rebounds and assists last season. He averaged 7.0 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Paulsen only wishes the injury list ended with Tyree. However, guards Jason Vegotsky, Darryl Shazier and G.W. Boon all have missed significant time this fall. Vegotsky, a 6-foot-2 marksman, missed three weeks of practice while recovering from thumb surgery he underwent over Labor Day weekend. Shazier, expected to be the team’s starting point guard this season, has suffered from a lingering heel injury, while Boon, the team’s sixth man, has dealt with a shoulder ailment. Paulsen was optimistic that all three guards would be able to play Friday night against Maryland.
“Nobody’s a veteran when there’s a coaching change, but just to have some guys who are used to playing college basketball, we’ve lost a vast majority of those guys for extended periods of time in practice, and that’s really handcuffed us quite a bit,” Paulsen said. “It’s been very challenging to install what we want to do because the key guys we want to do it with haven’t been available.”
One guard that has been healthy is senior Justin Castleberry, the returning leading scorer from a Bucknell squad that finished 12-19 last season and in a tie for fifth place in the Patriot League. Castleberry, at 6-foot-1, averaged 10.9 points per game last year.
“Justin, he’s been the one guy with extended playing experience who’s been at every practice,” Paulsen said. “He’s been our most consistent player in our preseason. His primary position will be as a shooting guard, a scoring guard. He’s played the point in Shazier’s absence. He’s done a good job and quite frankly, in a couple of our scrimmages, an inordinate amount of the burden offensively has fallen on his shoulders. We’re looking for big things from Justin.”
The Bison are lacking in the frontcourt. In fact, when I described Bucknell’s frontcourt as “depleted,” Paulsen said I was being generous. Todd O’Brien, a 6-foot-11 center who was a Patriot League all-rookie selection last season after averaging 4.3 rebounds per game, transferred to Saint Joseph’s in the offseason. In O’Brien’s place, Paulsen said the Bison will look to three guys – two freshmen and a senior – to shoulder most of the burden up front. Enoch Andoh, a 6-foot-8, 245-lb. freshman forward, is thought to be the most promising of Bucknell’s big men. Senior Josh Linthicum (6-foot-11) and freshman Probese Leo (6-foot-9) will rotate with Andoh at the center position, according to Paulsen.
“I would say that they all have some things that they bring to the table, but no one has kind of established themselves in terms of consistency,” Paulsen said.
I’ll post more on Paulsen’s thoughts about the match-up against Maryland tomorrow. Now that you’re a little more familiar with the Terps first regular season opponent, anyone care to throw out some predictions for Friday night’s game?
Posted by: ckstevenson | November 13, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse
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