The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 26, 2013

Todd Hummel's column on college basketball: Bucknell's Klebon sees time


Daily Item

---- — There is little doubt that Colin Klebon is one of the most decorated high school players in the Daily Item coverage area. Klebon graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Southern Columbia history with 2,230 career points. He was the 2009 Daily Item Player of the Year.

Klebon played in four PIAA playoff games in his career and helped the Tigers to a District 4 Class AA title in 2007.

So when Klebon entered the game late on Senior Day at Bucknell University on Sunday afternoon, it was a bit surprising to hear the forward say it was the nervous he's ever been in a basketball situation.

After seeing regular playing time in his first two years as a Bison, Klebon's playing time has dwindled, playing in only two games before Sunday.

When Bucknell had a double-digit lead late in the game with Holy Cross, the student section began chanting for Klebon to get into the game. The Sojka Pavilion crowd erupted when Klebon entered the game.

"I appreciate all the support my teammates, coaches and fans. It's the one thing that I didn't want to happen, though, because I was probably more nervous going in than I was in any other basketball situation," Klebon said.

He posted up on the right block, but missed his shot and the put back attempt. Later in the possession, the ball bounced to Klebon at the 3-point line, but he declined the attempt, getting the ball back to Ryan Frazier at point guard.

"I probably would have taken the 3 if it would have been my first look, but since I shot it twice already, I wanted to make sure I got a layup or something," Klebon said.

Klebon finally got his bucket later in the possession, getting fouled in the process, though he did miss the foul shot. The bucket gave Klebon 101 points in his career.

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It was a special day at Sojka Pavilion on Sunday afternoon for Senior Day, but one senior got a special surprise.

Guard Bryson Johnson is from Pictou, Nova Scotia and the Bison athletic department had the Canadian National Anthem sung before the game.

"I didn't know (they were going to do it). They had talked about it before," Johnson said. "It was pretty nice. I couldn't stop smiling for the first couple of minutes (of the anthem)."

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One of the issues facing the Bucknell basketball team during the middle part of the season was the play of its bench. That's changed over the past few games and the Bison post season success hinges on their continued strong play.

Senior forward Brian Fitzpatrick didn't play in the Feb. 16 loss at Lafayette, but came back with six points and 10 rebounds in the victory at Lehigh last Monday night.

"Fitzpatrick did not play against Lafayette, but he saved us in the first half against Lehigh," Paulsen said. "Different games, different matchups, different scenarios present themselves in every game and we need different things off our bench. We need all hands on deck ready to help."

Another big help has been junior guard Ben Brackney. The junior guard had played just 36 minutes in the first 20 games, struggling with knee soreness.

Brackney received more playing time over the past week, netting 38 minutes and hitting four 3-pointers in that times.

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Bucknell had the same starting lineup for the first 27 games of the season, but that changed in Sunday's game with Holy Cross.

Paulsen elected to start sophomore Stephen Kaspar over junior Ryan Hill at point guard.

"(Kaspar) has been playing more consistent. He's been playing better games. He's been slightly more effective," Paulsen said. "It's not a landslide. Starting him, it gives him an extra three minutes at the beginning of each half."

Both Hill and Frazier are going to still see plenty of time on the floor at the point. Starting Kaspar, it more of way to change how the minutes are distributed to the Bison's point guard platoon.

"We're probably going to continue to platoon our three point guards. (Kaspar) been operating at a little higher level lately," Paulsen said. "Hopefully that will continue and the other point guards will continue to push him."