No one watches more Bucknell basketball up close than Doug Birdsong, the play-by-play man of the Bison. Doug took a few minutes out of his very busy schedule to answer some questions as American prepares to play at the Bison:
1. How good has Zach Thomas been this season? Is he even more of a multi-dimensional threat than Nana Foulland now?
Zach has been incredible this year. It is no surprise that the two games he hasn't played his best (while still leading the team in scoring those two contests), have been the two most ugly games of the non-league schedule (St. Joe's and Northeastern). When he is "on" though, he has to be the most complete player (offensively) that I have ever seen here at Bucknell. He has been so close to getting Bucknell's first triple-double and I wouldn't be surprised if he does it this year. He can pass, has really improved his rebounding and he can obviously score. The thing that has helped him in scoring this year has been his decision to drive instead of only settling for jump shots. That has moved him up to 2nd in the entire U.S. in terms of attempted free throws and third in made FTs.
*Zach Thomas this year: 22.4ppg (49% on 2s, 47% on 3s), 8.9rpg
2. Who's the player who has surprised the most and who Eagles fans should watch tonight?
I don't know if this player has surprised people much (considering how highly recruited he was), but I would have to say freshman Jimmy Sotos (6.9 ppg in 23.6 mpg). He played really well off the bench and then, when Kimbal Mackenzie decided to get his injury fixed before the St. Joe's game, he stepped into an unfamiliar role (two guard instead of point guard) and has performed well. Of course, he is still a freshman and might be one that AU can take advantage of.
3. This team has been really good, but what's an area that AU might be able to exploit? What are the weaknesses?
In terms of weaknesses for this year's Bucknell team, in my opinion, the biggest weakness (from the closed scrimmages/exhibition) on, has been whether this team has taken its opponents seriously enough. I kind of thought that they didn't take Monmouth, St. Joe's and Northeastern seriously and they suffered for it. I also thought they may have looked at Richmond's record and didn't consider them a real threat, until they were down 14 points (down) a minute into the second half!! And that game points out another possible weakness for this year's Bison — the Princeton-style offense. There was a stretch in the first half when the Spiders (which use a variation of the Princeton offense) scored ten straight points on back-door layups! If that happens tonight against AU, I am not certain that Bucknell will have enough time to come back (Richmond's offense runs at a much higher pace than AU's).
*Additionally, Bucknell doesn't rebound that well (25% ORB and it allows opponents a 30% ORB) and doesn't force turnovers (opponents turn it over on just 16% of their possessions)
4. How many players do you think coach Nathan Davis will trim the rotation to, if at all, in Patriot League play?
I don't think that Coach Davis will cut back on the players he plays during league play ... at least in the first halves of games. He typically doesn't play as many players in the second half of games. And, when MacKenzie and (Avi)Toomer get back (in about three of four weeks), I can expect him to play at least 10 people a game and likely 11.
*Even with MacKenzie and Toomer out, Bucknell will suit up seven players who have played at least 10 minutes a game tonight.