“There’s a lot of points in the lobby right now.”
Those words were overheard last Friday before Bucknell’s men’s basketball season opener against Manhattan (great win!). That night, the new Charlie Woollum Lobby — inside the main entrance to Sojka Pavilion — was formally dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Of course, the highlight of the evening was spending time with Coach Woollum and his family. It’s always great when the Hall-of-Fame coach comes back to campus.
Coach Woollum was, and always will be, a legend here. Not only was he a brilliant basketball mind, but he was a great ambassador for Bucknell, and he was a coach who always made his players feel like family.
“We all had different roles, but we all had the same status,” is a familiar refrain used by his former players, and it was reiterated by Jay Wright ’83 in a video message sent back by the coach of the national-champion Villanova Wildcats. Coach Wright and Steve Oristaglio ’77 both recorded messages to their former coach that were played during the ceremony on the impressive new HD video matrix that is the centerpiece of the newly remodeled lobby.
Coach Woollum spoke from the heart, prior to cutting the ribbon alongside his wife, Pat. “I’m more proud of the kind of men and fathers they have become,” he said with a trembling voice during his remarks.
The large turnout on a Friday night shows just what kind of respect his former players still have for their coach. The lobby was jam-packed, and it was a who’s-who of Bison stars. In fact, six of the top-10 scorers in Bucknell men’s basketball history were on hand:
- 2. Al Leslie (1,973)
- 3. Bob Barry (1,809)
- 6. Jaye Andrews (1,535)
- 7. Chris McNaughton (1,529)
- 9. Mike Joseph (1,518)
- 10. Bill Courtney (1,499)
All told, nearly 40 former players, accounting for about 30,000 points, were back for the festivities. And they all joined Coach Woollum on the floor at halftime for another recognition in front of the fans.
It’s not often when we have an occasion to get that kind of a alumni gathered in one spot, and when we do, it is truly a special night.
Some other notes & notables from the last week:
- How about the great start for the Bison women’s basketball team! They opened the season with two tough road games and won them both, including a terrific comeback from 15 points down to beat Saint Joseph’s on Sunday. Senior Sune Swart has been nearly unstoppable so far, with a pair of 25-point games and a field-goal percentage of .700. Aaron Roussell’s team debuts at home tomorrow against NJIT.
- The magical season for women’s soccer ended last Friday at Penn State with a 6-0 loss to the defending national champions in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bison finished the year 16-2-2, setting school records for wins and winning percentage, and they will be raising a banner at Holmes Stadium after capturing their third Patriot League championship. Cora Climo’s golden goal in overtime of the title game against Boston University will go down as one of the greatest moments in program history.
- Men’s soccer was trying to make another Patriot League Tournament run as the No. 5 seed (they won the championship from that spot two years ago), but they were tripped up in overtime by top-seeded American in the semifinals. The Eagles scored very late in regulation to tie the game, then they won it in double-OT. Colgate ended up winning the title over American in penalty kicks.
- The Bison cross country teams both finished sixth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals last week at Penn State. Senior Kate Scott from the women’s squad finished ninth individually and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championship, coming up this Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. Sarah Chandler joined Kate on the All-Region team after placing 19th. The only downer was that junior Chrissy Bendzinski, this year’s Patriot League medalist, fell ill and finished well back in the pack.
- The men’s team ran a superb race — they were ranked 13th in the region coming in — to finish sixth. Junior Will Bordash placed 20th to earn his first All-Region honor.
- The football team used a dominant defensive effort and a strong running game to beat Georgetown 21-7 in D.C. on Saturday. The Bison are now 3-2 in league play heading into Saturday’s season finale against Fordham. The high-flying Rams average better than 40 points per game, so it will be an interesting clash of great offense vs. great defense on Saturday. Congrats to junior Joey DeFloria, who ran for 150 yards at Georgetown to become Bucknell’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 12 years.
- If you’re looking for some home sports action this weekend, come check out the men’s water polo team in action at the Mid-Atlantic Championships. We’re hosting the three-day tournament Friday-Sunday at Kinney Natatorium. Our first game is Friday at 3 p.m. against Connecticut College. The Bison are 20-4 and ranked 11th nationally. And freshman Rade Joksimovich is still scoring goals at an alarming rate.
- In case you missed the news yesterday, Bucknell once again ranks No. 2 nationally in student-athlete graduation rate. The Bison led the nation in 2013, and they have ranked second to Stanford in each of the last three years.
- Last week we detailed some Bucknell alumni who are now playing professionally. Let’s add tennis star Nick Bybel ’16 to the list. Nick has begun accruing ATP tour points with some recent victories.
Nicholas Bybel gets himself another ATP point, beating Lance-Pierre Du Toit, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. He’ll face Luca Margaroli in 2R in South Africa.
— Kevin Craig (@KCraig_Tennis) November 16, 2016
— HaWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) November 16, 2016