The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 15, 2013

Todd Hummel's column on college sports: One special night at Sojka


Daily Item

---- — I don't know how much people know about me, but this isn't my only job. I work full-time as a caregiver for mentally handicapped people in the Selinsgrove area. It's not something I ever thought I would do, nor did I think I would be able to do that kind of job.

However, it's turned into one of the more enjoyable experiences of my life and I've derived a certain joy in some of the connections I've made in my job.

So by this point, I'm sure you're wondering what in the heck this has to do with local college basketball, but I want to point out one final time what took place on Saturday night at Sojka Pavilion.

The ninth annual Dirk Sojka Slam Dunk took place at the Army-Bucknell contest and it's a great fundraiser for SUNCOM Industries where Dirk worked for 11 years before he passed away.

Of course, the money raised at the event is very important, but from my experience in my other job, the chance to get to a Bucknell University men's basketball game for the SUNCOM employees is something just as rewarding.

It's a chance for the employees to interact with the Bucknell players and coaching staff along with experiencing the environment of a Division I basketball game. There are plenty of group homes in this immediate area with signed photos of current and past Bison.

Maybe my larger point is, if you see one of these people out in public and they say 'hello,' don't ignore them. Please at the least say 'hello' back. That small interaction means the world to them.

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Bucknell's Steven Kaspar has shown flashes in his Bison career of being a spectacular point guard.

Saturday night against Army was another one of those nights. With the Bison trailing 11-4 early against the Black Knights, Kaspar had all five of his points to help Bucknell cut the lead to 13-12.

Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen knows Kaspar can become an important cog for the Bison, but the sophomore from Lakeland, Tenn., walks a fine line sometimes between being spectacular and drawing the ire of his coach.

"He's playing with a bit of swagger again. He had it early last year, but he had some ups and downs as most freshmen do," Paulsen said. "We want him to play more solid, but not lose his swagger.

"Sometimes he does some things that make me want to strangle him, though."

That has been happening less-and-less frequently. Kaspar had two turnovers against Army, his first time in five contests he's had multiple giveaways.

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I'm almost ashamed to write this just because I show my age, but as I was sitting on press row at Sojka Pavilion on Saturday night, I thought, "I kind of miss Davis Gym sometimes."

From when I was in high school crowding into those old school bleachers jammed on top of each other, sweating inside as its freezing outside, and to the triple-overtime game between the Bison and Colgate I covered many years ago, that old sweatbox had its charms.

I wonder if we could talk coach Paulsen into doing a retro night like the Bucknell women's team did back in December just to see the old place jammed to the rafters and hot as heck one more time.

n Correspondent Todd Hummel writes a weekly college basketball column for The Daily Item. Email comments to sports@dailyitem.com.