It's not every day that I get to talk about my alma mater, particularly when it's sitting with an 8-9 record in the middle of January, but when the opportunity does arise every now and then, I do feel obliged to shed some light on the current state of Bucknell's basketball program.
Because as most of us former students know, there's no one quite like head coach Pat Flannery.
Flannery, an alum himself, has taken Bucknell's basketball program to new heights in the last three years with two straight Patriot League championships, and even better, back-to-back wins over third-seeded Kansas and eighth-seeded Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2006.
BALTIMORE -- Army and Navy, picked to finish sixth and seventh in the conference respectively, nonetheless have the respect of the other teams in their conference.
Before talking about his own team, Bucknell head coach called for the room to give Army coach Jim Crews and Navy coach Billy Lange a round of applause for the work they do at Westpoint and in Annapolis.
BALTIMORE -- American University head coach Jeff Jones is a realistic man.
He understands why his team was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in Patriot League this season. He also knows that it will take a great year to be able to overcome what has become a two-horse race in the conference between Holy Cross and Bucknell. Still, Jones feels like the team he takes the court with this season is better than the ones in years past.
BALTIMORE -- Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard has his hands full these days, from dispensing advice to fellow coaches in his conference, to coaching up his team in preparation for defending their Patriot League title.
Willard, who has been the head coach for the Crusaders for nine years, has a resume that includes a 278-204 record and six NCAA Tournament appearances, including four while at Holy Cross. It's not hard to say why he is a role model for some of the younger and less successful coaches in the conference.
BALTIMORE -- We're getting rolling here at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor as the Patriot League holds its Men's Basketball Media Day.
Holy Cross sits atop the preseason poll as the favorite to repeat as Patriot League champions, but Bucknell was hot on their heels in the voting. The Bison, of course, parlayed two straight league titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06 into second round appearances in the NCAA Tournament before being beat out by Crusaders last year.
After guiding his team to a conference championship, NCAA Tournament berth and 25-9 record last season, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard won't be hightailing it to go coach for a big-time BCS school.
Not any time soon at least.
Easily the best coach in the Patriot League right now, Willard agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Crusaders late Thursday that will keep him at the Jesuit school through the 2012-13 season.
WORCESTER, Mass. - We're underway at the Don't Count on Us Center and we are still overwhelmed by the lack of energy and emotion in the arena.
The game's first points came at 15:58 form Mason's Will Thomas.
With 15:44 left in the half, Mason leads 2-0.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an early candidate for most uninspired, least attended game of the season, and your Hang Time hanger is here to chronicle it for you (until our WiFi allowance runs out, of course).
WORCESTER, Mass. - We're a few minutes from tip and the dilapitated DCU is basically empty - it's an AT&T game for the most part - friends and family only. The building is firgid and the upper leavels are curtained off. One Holy Cross official was hoping for 3,000 fans in the house - he might have been wishing for that third zero.
George Mason continues to display as one of the loosest teams we've ever seen go through lay-up lines and pre-game shooting. During the shoot-around with 60 minutes until tip, a handful of the Patriots were challenging each other from NBA 3-point land and beyond - and you should have heard the trash-talking. The undisputed king of GM's trash talking was junior guard Jordan Carter.
WORCESTER - Well, we've got some good news and some bad news for you:
We are able to connect to a wireless network courtside from the DCU Center, but it's costing us 10 bucks for an hour of usage (of 50 for a full day's usage).
Since we can't imagine the CSTV.com bean counters are going to be very happy paying for something that just about every REAL arena in the country provides for free, we'll just be with you until our WiFi time expires, which should be at about 7:30 EST.
What we will do for you is still file an end-of-game columnette - but we'll have to do that latenight once we return to the land of affordable web access (aka Hang Time World Headquarters).
WORCESTER, Mass. - Welcome to the DCU Center for tonight’s game between 6-4 Holy Cross (from the Patriot League) and 4-4 George Mason (Colonial Athletic Association).
(Full Disclosure: There’s a slight chance that the DCU is not wireless -equipped, so we’re doing an advance first-posting. At the very least, we hope to be able to file from the press room, but having done a few games at the old Centrum (since re-named), we’re not all that confident that live-blogging will be possible. We’ll let you know as soon as we can once we arrive in Worcester. Thanks for your patience.)
We have to say we’ve already seen higher profile games than this match-up this season - BC-Maryland and Providence-BC to name two - but we’re also confident that no game (until March) will be more anticipated by this Hang Time correspondent than HC-GM.