Maybe it's just a coincidence, but it always strikes me. Every time the National Anthem plays at Sojka Pavilion, the Bucknell players line up shoulder to shoulder and look at Old Glory.
But every single time I do it, my eyes inevitably fade to the left a bit, where the orange and blue banners next to the star-spangled banner proudly boast of Bucknell's stellar not-so-distant past.
Can't believe those banners were put there on accident. If I look at them every game, you know the players and the coaches probably do to.
And that's some burden to bear. They are daily reminders that just a few short years ago Bucknell was winning titles, making and winning games in the NCAA tournament and finishing the season ranked in the top 25.
It's some legacy to live up to, but it is what takes programs from good to great. That's why you see teams wear T-shirts that read "Tradition Never Graduates," because places like Duke and UCLA and Kansas fight every year to uphold what those who came before them did.
At a place like Bucknell, what the teams in 2005 and 2006 did was epic, once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff. No other teams in the 20-year history of the Patriot League have ever won a game in the NCAA tournament, only Pat Flannery's bunch who stunned Kansas and Arkansas in consecutive Marches. In 20 years, they are still going to talk about it.
Now, with the 2011 version of the Bison set for their own March Madness run, a new herd has a chance to make a name for itself.
Just like a win over Kansas made Kevin Bettencourt, Charles Lee and Chris McNaughton household names in this region, a win over Connecticut on Thursday night in Washington, D.C., would make the names Darryl Shazier, Mike Muscala and Bryson Johnson resonate for decades to come as well.
So if any group of Bucknell players would want to emulate that group, it would be the version about to jump on a bus this afternoon for D.C. to take on UConn.
When some of the current players met with those guys a few weeks back, the "older" guys told them to forge their own legacy, something that really hit home.
"I told Charles Lee that we hear a lot about the hype from when they went to the tournament," said senior captain G.W. Boon, an admitted Kansas fan until Bucknell came knocking on his door the following summer. "He stopped me right there. He was like, 'No, no no, no, no. We did what we did because we looked at what they did before us, we acknowledged it and then we were like forget that. It's our time, we are going to do this for ourselves and for our teammates.'
"That's what we decided to do this year. We acknowledged that they had some great teams in the past, but this is our team and our legacy and we are going to keep writing it."
This team is different, it's the nature of college sports. Only Tyree, Boon and Shazier played with members of that team and for Flannery. There is no question that they, as well as juniors like Bryan Cohen and Enoch Andoh are at Bucknell because of what those two teams did.
Their legacy was putting Bucknell on the map. It's a legacy that this year's squad is reminded of every day because it is a big reason why they are here now. They can add to their own legacy Thursday night, which in turn will add to the Bucknell story.
This group is adding another chapter to the same book the 2005 and 2006 teams did.
Wonder how it will end?
— Sports editor Bill Bowman covers college sports for The Daily Item. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.