We finally got a chance to see Bucky McMillan coach his first conference game for Samford on Wednesday, and what a debut it was! The Bulldogs took down the VMI Keydets 84-71 at home in the Pete Hannah Center. Samford exploded to a 56-37 halftime lead, but had to fight in the second half as VMI cut down the lead to 5 before the Bulldogs pulled away late. Not only is this a great way to kick off Southern Conference play, but it was a nice revenge game for the Bulldogs, who had their season ended in the SoCon tournament last year, loosing 96-78.
More than raising the standard of the on court performance of the Bulldogs, Coach Bucky is seeking to change the culture on campus. It’s about more than basketball, he wants to ignite an energy among the students that makes opposing teams to hate coming to play at Samford. He personally engages with students and has already built a buzz around the basketball program that hasn’t been present at SU for some time.
If the goal is to give fans something to be excited about, then this year has already been a success. We saw the Bulldogs make national sports headlines when they scored 179 in an opening night exhibition game, and they officially broke the record in their recent game against Belhaven, with a 133 point performance. Samford also racked up an impressive underdog win on the road at Belmont, and have now made an impressive start to conference play. The Dogs sit at 5-3, with close loses to Georgia, Alabama A&M, and Troy.
The Bulldogs don’t have much time to celebrate the early success however, as next up is a road game against a very good Wofford team on Saturday January 2nd. Bucky Ball has become a very intriguing story to follow for Birmingham sports fans, as we will continue to see if the wild fast paced offense can continue to have success as the conference schedule continues. Make sure to come out to “The Pete” this season to catch a game for yourself and be part of the Bucky Ball hype!