An Interview with the Men's Basketball Team

As most of you know (and if you don’t you SHOULD know) that our Bucknell basketball team won back-to-back Patriot League Championships these past two years. They are a powerful team with a lot of depth, and a wide variety of skills. In this article, I interviewed some of them to get more of an inside look at the players as individuals and to learn more about them as a team overall. In these interviews, I learned how hardworking and dedicated each player is, along with some of their favorite things about being a basketball player here at Bucknell. So far this season, the Bison have played five games (when I interviewed them, they had not yet played against Northeastern or Monmouth). I asked them a range of questions, from their biggest challenges to their favorite memories. 

 

So far in this season, you’ve played against St. Bonaventure, Fairfield, Canisius, and Vermont. Is there anything that happened that surprised you during any of those games or alternatively, disappointed you?

Nate Sestina: It was disappointing, losing two of those games. But it made me happy winning two, and watching my teammates step up and make big time plays when we need them to.

Kimbal Mackenzie: Nothing that surprised me. Definitely disappointed with the losses, as I felt as though they were both winnable games.

Bruce Moore: Obviously losing twice at home is very disappointing, but it’s not world-ending. Other than that no.

Nate Jones: Our ability to respond to adversity and respond with extreme toughness and focus has stood out so far.

 

Are there any teams that you’re especially nervous/excited to play this season?

Nate Sestina: I’m very excited to play Ohio state, St Mary’s, and Rhode Island!

Bruce Moore: Not nervous but excited to play at Ohio State and perform in that type of hostile environment. Also, playing in California and Hawaii will be exciting for me since I haven’t been to either of those places.

Jimmy Sotos: I’m excited to play Ohio State because they’re a top 25 team nationally.

Matt O’Reilly: Saint Mary’s because it’s in my home town in California.

Nate Jones: Excited to go to Ohio State because of winning tradition and strength of the team that they have this year.

Paul Newman: I’m very excited to play every team in our league because we won last year and every team wants to prove that they are better than us.

 

Throughout your time on the team, have there been any hard challenges you’ve faced? Maybe even one that has prevented you from playing?

Nate Sestina: Yeah, actually I’ve had surgery twice in my four years here at Bucknell. My freshman year I tore my labrum in my shoulder and it sidelined me for the rest of the season. And I got an extra patella removed from my knee last May. 

Kimbal Mackenzie: Definitely. The most challenging for me was going through an injury during my junior season. I had a surgery because I had a tear in my core. I missed a lot of games and wasn’t playing like myself, which was very mentally challenging for me to overcome. It matured me a lot.

Bruce Moore: Not necessarily, Just an adjustment I had to make playing the small forward position for the first time and then being thrown into the starting spot early on in my sophomore year.

Matt O’Reilly: I’ve dealt with some injuries and missed more than my fair share of games in my career because of them.

Nate Jones: I had an injury sophomore year that caused me to miss nine games.

Paul Newman: Yes, I broke my hand in the beginning of my freshman year.

 

What’s your favorite thing about playing basketball here at Bucknell?

Nate Sestina: Being apart of a team that loves each other and thoroughly enjoys being together. Their competitiveness and drive.

Bruce Moore: Winning. 

Matt O’Reilly: I love my teammates, being around like-minded people is refreshing when I’m so far away from home at Bucknell.

Nate Jones: I love the family experience that I have with my teammates.

 

What’s been the most rewarding thing that’s happened so far this semester? (for you individually as a player, or for the team overall)

Nate Sestina: Overcoming knee surgery from last May and being able to play healthy basketball.

Bruce Moore: Being able to face some form of adversity, something we as a team haven’t faced a lot of during my three years here. Hopefully these early season losses set a fire inside of us.

Andrew Funk: I think the most rewarding thing about being a part of the basketball team here is just the blend of high-level academics along with high-level competition on the court.

Nate Jones: Our road win at Vermont because we overcame a big halftime deficit and won.

 

What do you want to leave as your legacy to the team once you graduate?

Nate Sestina: That I was a hard working, hard nosed kid. I was super driven to be the best player and teammate I could be each day. And that I loved my team. 

Kimbal Mackenzie: My presence, energy, and attitude. I don’t think people are going to necessarily remember you for how good you were at basketball. More so, I think people remember when players show up everyday with a great attitude, and are willing to do anything for the team. 

Bruce Moore: A guy who loves the game. A guy who’s put days and days in the gym and weight room to become the player that I know I can ultimately become. A guy who cares about nothing but winning.

Jimmy Sotos: I want people to say “he was a winner,” when talking about me.

Matt O’Reilly: I want my legacy to be someone who gave it all for the team, but also helped build a culture and a brotherhood on the team.

Andrew Funk: The legacy I’d like to leave to the team is one of hard work and keeping the amazing culture already established here going. It has been so much fun to be around such a great group of guys and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Nate Jones: I want to be remembered as someone who worked extremely hard all the time and cared about every person on the team.

Paul Newman: One of the greatest players that played at Bucknell. 

 

Do you have a favorite memory you all have experienced together as a team?

Nate Sestina: Winning back to back championships and going to the NCAA tournament. Also going to Europe this past summer.

Bruce Moore: That’s easy. Going on our Europe trip. There were a lot of fun memories made on that trip. It allowed everyone to become closer with the freshmen and as a team.

Jimmy Sotos: My favorite memories come from our trip to Europe this past summer. It was the most fun trip I’ve ever been on. Every day and every night was something different, and I’ll never forget them.

Matt O’Reilly: Tons. All of the off the court stuff is my favorite, like spending time in the cafeteria, locker room, hotels etc.

Andrew Funk: My favorite memory was from our trip to Europe this summer, which was an unbelievable experience for all of us.

Nate Jones: Winning our first Patriot League championship my sophomore year.

Paul Newman: Winning the championship.

 

What’s one thing you wish the rest of Bucknell’s student body knew about the team?

Nate Sestina: That we’re a bunch of goofballs. We are all really outgoing guys and very fun to be around once you get to know us.

Bruce Moore: We work hard man. We aren’t perfect but we sure do work hard for everything we have and everything we have earned. None of our success happens overnight but from years and years of hard work, dedication, passion, and perseverance.

Jimmy Sotos: That people think we’re spoiled and get special treatment in the classroom but it’s really difficult juggling our schedule with the academics.

Nate Jones: We are approachable and nice guys.

Paul Newman: We all like to dance.

 

What’s one thing you’ll miss most about basketball, once you graduate from Bucknell?

Nate Sestina: My teammates. These guys brighten my day. 

Kimbal Mackenzie: Definitely just the presence of my teammates. The jokes in the locker room. The team meals. Just the everyday little things.

Bruce Moore: The friendships I’ve made with all the guys that I have worn a Bucknell jersey alongside with. I love these guys; guys that want the same thing as me… and that’s to win.

Matt O’Reilly: I’ll miss the late nights spent in the gym, shooting the ball and doing what I love.

Ben Robertson: The thing I’ll miss most about basketball when I leave Bucknell, are the struggles my team and I went through during the year.  From conditioning in the early mornings, to fighting back in tough games. Those are the best moments that I’ll miss.

Nate Jones: The winning tradition and coming out on a nightly basis to compete with my teammates.

Paul Newman: How the team is one big family.

 

Is it hard balancing basketball and school, along with any other commitments you have?

Nate Sestina: Absolutely. We have a full time job on top of another one. Being a student comes first. So taking care of homework and projects, etc, while trying to eat enough, sleep enough and workout all while trying to be social too. 

Kimbal Mackenzie: At this point in my career, I’m used to balancing the two. As a youngster, it can be overwhelming at times, but once you learn how to manage your time, it’s fine. 

Bruce Moore: Of course. It’s challenging to balance your social life, family commitments, basketball, school, etc. But there’s a reason why coach recruited the guys he did, guys he feels are capable of doing such a thing.

Matt O’Reilly: Initially it was very difficult. There are definitely struggles here and there, but everyone eventually just gets used to having no free time and the grind that we go through every single day.

Ben Robertson: Balancing school and basketball can be difficult, and basketball doesn’t allow us to have much of a social life during season. However, we do what we love and love what we do, the sacrifices are worth it and we all work hard in school to keep up grades and expectations.

Nate Jones: It is definitely difficult to balance the time, but after a few years it gets much easier.

Paul Newman:  Not really, it’s really all about time management even though most of our day is basketball, we find time to do work.

 

What do you have to say to the people that don’t attend any games?

Nate Sestina: Y’all are missing out on an atmosphere you won’t experience once you’re an adult. So enjoy our games while you can.

Kimbal Mackenzie: I guess that they’re missing out on a good show! It’s a good social experience, and a fun atmosphere. 

Bruce Moore: You guys are missing out. We are a very exciting team to watch. We have been successful in past years and throughout the entirety of this school’s history. There’s nothing wrong with attending the games, especially if you’re a student (it’s free).

Jimmy Sotos: You’re missing out!

Nate Jones: We would love for you to come to games. We feed off of the crowd’s energy and it’s great to see our classmates supporting us.

 Paul Newman: You’re missing a show.

 

What’s your overall opinion on the way people here at Bucknell, perceive the team?

Nate Sestina: I’ve heard good and bad. I wish people would get to know us, cause I think we’re a super fun group and very outgoing. But I can see why people perceive us as intimidating cause we are big guys (except Kimbal and Sechan haha)

Kimbal Mackenzie: I think it depends on the people. Anyone who knows us know that we are a very kind group of guys who are approachable. Because we are always together, I think people are intimidated at times. 

Bruce Moore: I don’t know. Some may think we are arrogant. Some people may think we are humble. Some people may not think anything at all. I honestly don’t know. All I want to say is that we are a group of 14 guys, who are probably the nicest guys around school and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We are tall and may seem intimidating but we are extremely approachable and personable. All anyone has to do is greet us, we’ll respond with the proper greeting, and we’ll brighten their day with a huge smile.

Matt O’Reilly: Not sure, it varies.  I hear some people think some negative things, but I’m a social guy so I’ve always gotten good vibes from people.  Just hope people know and appreciate the times and work that goes into being a division one basketball player in a great program like Bucknell.  People think it’s just the games, they forget the 6am lifts and conditioning, the 4-5+ hours a day that we spend doing mandatory work on top of the stuff we do on our own...  It’s a grind so I hope people appreciate that.

Nate Jones: I believe that people think we are secluded and not willing to interact with the students here. I definitely disagree and believe that everyone on our team loves meeting new people that go to Bucknell.

Paul Newman: They love us and we appreciate all the support.

 

Make sure to go to one of their future home games!

Saturday, 12/22 at 10pm - Rhode Island

Wednesday, 1/9 at 9pm - Colgate

Saturday, 1/12 at 12pm - American

Monday, 1/14 at 7pm - Holy Cross

Wednesday, 1/23 at 7pm - Loyola MD

Wednesday, 1/30 at 7pm - Navy

Saturday, 2/9 at 12pm - Boston University

Monday, 2/11 at 7pm - Lehigh