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Ayana Walker
Louisiana Tech

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Kristen "Ace" Clement

Caity Matter
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Melissa and Sarah Johnson

Aida Sarajlija

Schuye LaRue

Emily Bloss
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Allison Coleman
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Jamie Frey

Molly Creamer One on One with
Molly Creamer
Bucknell University

A junior player leading seniors to the NCAA tourney

Bucknell University qualified for its first ever appearance in the NCAA Division I tournament this year, and one big reason is the season had by junior point guard Molly Creamer. With 22.6 points per game, the 5-10 New Jerseyite is the nation's second highest scoring junior and seventh overall.

For three straight weeks in January, Creamer was the Patriot League's player of the week. She is the only player in the country to lead her conference in both points per game and assists per game. And, get this, she scored 43 points in one game this year, vs. Army.

The Bison, 21-9, got to the Big Dance by virtue of an upset of conference powerhouse and host Holy Cross at the Patriot League championship game March 6. The NCAA selection committee put Bucknell in the East regional, seeded 15th, facing Big 12 runner-up and No. 2 Baylor on its home court in Waco, Texas. ESPN described the Bison as "a Cinderella team in the waiting."

In this interview, Creamer discusses why she chose Bucknell, the campus buzz about the team, and how some winter-break bonding made the team stronger.

Gball: How excited are you about the tournament?
Creamer: I'm very excited. It's been one of those things that you've always dreamed would happen, and we're doing it, so it's pretty exciting.

Is the campus excited?
Everybody is on spring break, but when we got home from Holy Cross, people hadn't really left yet, so we got to see a bunch of students. The campus is definitely excited. There were signs everywhere. It was pretty cool.

Do you feel like a celebrity?
No, but I feel lucky. I feel like a lot of people would trade places with our team right now. We're in a really good spot and I'm definitely grateful for the experience.

Do you feel any pressure because it's the first time Bucknell has been in the tournament?
No. If you look at it in the pressure sense, I think it would take away from the experience. We just have to go out and play the way we've played all year, play hard, play together, let it fly, and see what happens.

What's been the key to this year?
The key to this year, I really think, is that the 15 of us on the team have come together and become a true team. Nobody cares who gets the points or who talks to who. It's all about just playing together, playing hard, having fun. We're friends. It's made playing a lot more fun than it could have been. And great coaching, too, has helped a lot.

Why did you come together so well?
We've always been close. But I'd say the turning point came over our Christmas break. We had lost some crucial games and it was a rough time, and we were the only ones here on campus. And you only have each other, and we just really pulled together, and we knew if we were going to do anything later this season we had to do it together. We kind of bonded over break, I guess you could say.

Molly Creamer What are you doing this week to prepare?
We've been practicing every day since Sunday. We're just getting ready to go against Baylor [Bucknell's first-round opponent, the East's No. 2 seed]. We put in seven people on offense against our defense. We're going up against seven people. We're trying to make it as tough as possible because none of us really is used to seeing the level of play we're probably going to see.

What was the highest level of play you faced this year?
The Holy Cross game was tough, but we also played the University of California-Berkeley, which was a tough game that we won. Pittsburgh, as well‹they're in the Big East, and we won down there. Those are two big games for us that were at a pretty high level of competition. Those were definitely highlights of the season.

What do you think of ESPN describing Bucknell as 'a Cinderella team in the waiting'?
I like that. It sounds cool. I hope we can back it up.

What happened in the conference final, with Holy Cross?
Holy Cross is an excellent team. We respect them so much. We played them twice in the regular season and both times we didn't play our game and we were kind of disappointed. We were just hoping they would get to the finals and we would get to the finals cause we wanted another chance. And we got that chance. We knew it was a great opportunity and we just wanted to be patient because we hadn't been patient in the last couple of games. It just seemed to work out for us that night. It was a great experience.

Did you have a cheering section?
We did. They sent up a busload of people from school and it was the most people I'd ever seen for Bucknell. Holy Cross gets great crowds for games and it's always loud in there and it's only purple [one of Holy Cross's colors]. But watching the game tape over, you can just hear Bucknell fans. It's pretty cool.

What has your role been through the year?
I'm the point guard--I just have to distribute the ball on offense and see my shot when I have it. And I've tried to be more of an emotional leader on the floor and make sure that we're all staying together, staying on the same page, and playing hard.

How is it that the point guard is the leading scorer?
They say that's not supposed to happen. I feel kind of bad. But my teammates are awesome. They're only supportive. That makes it a lot easier.

Is there something about the offense that has the ball winding up with you?
I don't know. I probably shoot too much is what it probably comes down to (chuckle). We play some motion and there are some designed plays that would have me ending up with the ball. But it's supposed to be a pretty balanced scoring attack.

What happened to you this year to be able to put up numbers? Did you do anything different in the off-season?
In the off-season I worked pretty hard. At home I did some training, which was all about agility and quickness, and I worked out down in our local weight-lifting place. I just tried to work hard. But I knew the whole time that my team was working just as hard. It's just been a combined effort of everybody on the team.

Why did you pick Bucknell?
It was one of the best basketball schools that was recruiting me. And then when I came on my visit, I met the girls and I just knew it was the right place. They were so awesome and I was excited. There were seven freshmen, at that point, and I thought it would be really cool to play with them. I knew it would be a close class. Now they're seniors. Plus it's a really good academic school, so that was another point. Coach [Head Coach Kathy Fedorjaka] is a really great recruiter, too. She really sold me on the school. I didn't want to go really far but I didn't want to be really close, either. So three hours is kind of a good mix.

What happens next year when you lose that big group of seniors?
I don't know. Next year--I try not to look to that yet. We'll be ready for whatever happens, but right now we're just trying to focus.

It really is a dream come true. It's pretty cool.

Interview conducted by Gball Editor David Hill.

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