There are some big games coming up this weekend, but not to be lost in the shuffle is the fact that the Bucknell men’s and women’s basketball teams both start their official practices. The men get going on Saturday, while the women start on Sunday.

NCAA regulations have changed a bit through the years, with coaches now allowed to conduct team conditioning workouts and individual instruction prior to the official start of practice. So it’s not like Nathan Davis and Aaron Roussell are just now seeing their players for the first time, but now all the restrictions are removed in terms of being able to work on offensive and defensive strategy, film review, etc.

Both Bison teams captured Patriot League regular-season titles last year, but both groups also feel like they have some unfinished business after suffering upsets in the Patriot League Tournament. We will have more in-depth season previews as we get closer to the start of the season, but for now it will be interesting to follow what should be very focused preseason camps.

SPLISH-SPLASH: While the basketball teams are just getting started with practice, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have their first meet of the year on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Kinney Natatorium against UMBC. This will be the 10th year in a row that the Bison and Retrievers have met in an early, unscored meet. This competition typically features some non-traditional events, such as a 100-yard IM and some 50-yard races. A good warmup for the bulk of the dual-meet season, which kicks off in earnest on Oct. 15 when Boston University and Richmond visit Kinney Natatorium as part of our 60th-anniversary celebration.

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the women’s soccer team throttled Lafayette 4-0 at Emmitt Field. Now 9-0-1 on the season, the Bison broke the school record for longest unbeaten streak (10). With Central Michigan losing to Northern Illinois and South Florida falling to SMU this week, there are now only three unbeaten teams remaining in the country: Bucknell, South Carolina (11-0-1) and Stanford (9-0-1). The Bison are alone in first place at 3-0-0 in the Patriot League, but now the schedule heats up with always-tough road games at Colgate (Sunday) and Navy (next Saturday). Check out Sunday’s game in Hamilton on the Patriot League Network.

WATER POLO IN THE BIG APPLE: Speaking of hot teams, the 9-1 men’s water polo squad has won seven games in a row and is now ranked No. 10 nationally. New York City area alumni will have two chances to check them out on Saturday. The Bison visit Wagner at noon and Fordham at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it in person, both games will be streamed online. The Fordham game will be on the Patriot League Network, while the Wagner contest can be seen on NEC Front Row.

BIG WEEKEND FOR FIELD HOCKEY: Local field hockey fans should be in heaven this weekend, as the Bison host two top-notch opponents. First up is a showdown with perennial Patriot League power American on Saturday at noon. Then on Sunday at noon, defending national champion and current 4th-ranked Syracuse comes to Graham Field. The Bison are 4-4 on the season (1-0 Patriot League) and ranked in the top 30 in RPI, and Saturday’s game against American will influence the PL title chase. Both games this weekend will air on the Patriot League Network.

ELSEWHERE: The only other home team this weekend is volleyball, which hosts Lafayette Saturday at 5 p.m. after traveling to Lehigh for a Friday-night affair … the cross country teams compete against another large and talented field at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem on Saturday (could be a muddy one) … men’s soccer returns to Patriot League play at Holy Cross Saturday afternoon … more tournament action for women’s tennis (Lehigh Invitational) and men’s golf (Binghamton’s Matthews Auto Collegiate Invitational).

#rayBucknell