The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Bill Bowman

December 26, 2011

Bill Bowman's column on college sports: The difference in Division I hoops is apparent

Difference in big-time ball is apparent

(Continued)

So when Boeheim came into the Carrier Dome press room last Wednesday I didn't expect him to say a single word about Bucknell. I wouldn't have blamed him if he didn't. He is coaching the No. 1 team in the country and his team cruised to a 19-point win where it was seemingly in control for the final 35 minutes.

It was more than refreshing to hear Boeheim, a Hall of Famer, toss some laurels to coach Dave Paulsen and his Bison.

"If they would have made a couple of shots in the first half, it would have been a different game," Boeheim said of the Bison, who shot 29 percent in the first half. "They are a good team. They are going to be in the NCAA tournament and they are a difficult team to play against. They are very sound, they are very well-coached and their big guy is good."

Perhaps most refreshing was Paulsen's response to a question about moral victories. The Bison never got within double figures in the second half, but had the ball down 13 with a chance to cut it to 10 with seven minutes left. But Paulsen is four years into following in Pat Flannery's sizeable footsteps and has done a great job, going from seven wins his first year to 25 last year. He had eight wins by Christmas this season against a schedule that has already featured seven opponents that played in the NCAA tourney last year.

Paulsen said he would like to think the Bison are beyond the point where they can go into the gym of the No. 1 team in the country and feel good about a 19-point loss.

Maybe the Bison are, but they are also starting a freshman point guard in the place of a kid that started nearly 100 games during his time on campus.

Bucknell is good and has a chance to be really good -- good enough to win those kinds of games again.

In the meantime, its players will be at class every day, preparing themselves for life after basketball.

n Sports editor Bill Bowman covers college sports for The Daily Item. Contact him at bbowman@dailyitem.com.

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