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Susquehanna Life

Return of Charlie Woollum Highlights Inaugural Celebration of Bison Basketball

Oct 15, 2015 08:51AM ● By Kevin

Photo courtesy Joel Turrell.

Head coach Nathan Davis and the Bucknell men’s basketball team kicked off the 2015-16 with the inaugural “Celebration of Bison Basketball” dinner on Saturday night in Larison Hall. The current coaches and student-athletes were joined by more than 100 alumni, friends and fans. Highlights of the evening included keynote addresses from Hall-of-Fame coaches Charlie Woollum and Pat Flannery ’80, and the announcement of a special project that will dedicate the lobby of Sojka Pavilion in Woollum’s honor.

Stories and memories of Bucknell basketball were shared all evening long, and among the alumni in attendance were Hall-of-Famers Jaye Andrews ’85Bob Barry ’80Ellis Harley ’59,Mike Joseph ’90Al Leslie ’81 and Flannery, along with the legendary coach Woollum.

After some welcoming remarks from Bucknell president John Bravman and a video presentation that reflected on 120 years of Bison basketball, Woollum took the audience back to 1975, when he first arrived at Bucknell after succeeding Jim Valvano as head coach. Woollum recalled his first recruiting class, comprised of Flannery, Barry, Mike Hepburn, Steve O’Brien and Steve Sigl. Leslie came along a year later, and the “Breakin’ Bison” were off and running. Woollum would go on to win 318 games in 19 seasons at Bucknell, and he took the Bison to their first two NCAA Tournaments in 1987 and 1989.

“That group of young men, in my mind, led the way to make the program what it is today,” said Woollum. “My greatest pride comes in the fact that not only were they terrific players, but in the men they have all become today.”

After receiving a standing ovation, Woollum was called back to the stage, where director of athletics and recreation John Hardt announced that the main lobby of Sojka Pavilion will soon be renovated to celebrate the history of the Bison basketball program, and it will be dedicated in Woollum’s honor.

Flannery, who was Woollum’s very first recruit as well as his successor as head coach at Bucknell, spoke about the many friendships that were developed through the years. Flannery says those bonds stand out just as much as the wins and losses. Flannery also noted that Bucknell’s best recruiters are not necessarily the coaches, but the student-athletes themselves.

“This program is special because of the people,” said Flannery, who led the Bison to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2006, with first-round wins coming each year against Kansas and Arkansas. “Kids here at Bucknell recruit each other. They recruit each other because this is a community, and they look out for each other.”

Preseason practice is underway, as the Bison prepare for their opening weekend at home, Nov. 13 against Shenandoah and Nov. 15 against Wake Forest. 

Information provided by BucknellBison.comView the original, full story and photo gallery here.

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