Feb. 6, 2006
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Former Bucknell basketball stars Hal Danzig and Al Leslie will become the first two members of the men's program to have their jerseys retired, director of athletics and recreation John Hardt announced today. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25, at halftime of Bucknell's men's basketball game against Army.
Danzig and Leslie are both members of the Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame, and they are widely considered the program's best players of their respective eras and two of the greatest in the 111-year history of Bison basketball.
Leslie's No. 22 jersey and Danzig's No. 44 uniform will be permanently hung on the wall of Sojka Pavilion's East Concourse.
Danzig, a 1959 Bucknell graduate was one of the first true basketball superstars to play at Bucknell. A two-time All-East selection and an Honorable Mention All-American as a senior, Danzig was the starting center on three of Bucknell's all-time great teams, and he holds school rebounding records that many consider to be unbreakable.
When Danzig joined the Bucknell varsity squad in 1956-57, the Bison had won 16 games in a season only once in their history. They collected that exact number of wins in each of his three varsity seasons, amassing a 48-23 overall record.
Nicknamed "Moose," Danzig was the team's leading scorer all three years and totalled 1,163 career points. At the time, that was the second-highest point total in school history, only 20 off the record held then by Joe Gallagher. As a junior he compiled what was then a school-record 426 points.
But Danzig is best known today for his extraordinary rebounding totals. He hauled in 1,134 rebounds in three seasons. More than 45 years later, no Bison player has come within 148 rebounds of that impressive total. He increased his yearly rebounding average each season, from 15.0 to 16.1 to a whopping 16.8 rebounds per game. His career rebounding average of 15.97 per game is staggering.
Co-captain of the 1958-59 Bucknell team, Danzig was named to the ECAC All-East and Associated Press All-Pennsylvania teams for two consecutive years and was on the All-Middle Atlantic Conference University Division first team and Palestra All-Opponent second team as a senior. The 6'6", 230-pounder received Honorable Mention United Press International (UPI) All-America Honors in 1959, and he was selected to participate in two senior all-star games.
Leslie was a prodigious scorer during his four years with the Orange & Blue, despite being lightly recruited out of Baltimore as a 6'3" center. At Bucknell he played guard and some small forward, and he shattered school records for points in a game (45), season (564) and career (1,973), records that still stand in the history books today.
A 1981 Bucknell graduate, Leslie was selected by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the NBA Draft and was the team's last cut before the start of the regular season. He later played briefly for the Rochester Zeniths of the Continental Basketball Association. Leslie, who was the first Bison player to be taken in the NBA Draft, later returned to Bucknell as an assistant coach for two seasons.
Leslie led the Bison to school victory records in his sophomore (18-7) and junior (20-7) years, as well as two consecutive East Coast Conference Western Section titles. He was a three-time All-ECC selection, and in 1980 he was an all-district pick by the U.S. Basketball Writers' Association. A year later Leslie earned All-East plaudits, and he won the Kribbs Award as team MVP three straight years.
His season total of 564 points in 1979-80 shattered a school record that had stood since the 1960-61 season. His 20.9 scoring average was second-best in school history, and in January of his junior year Leslie poured in a record 45 points in a 105-89 victory over American University.
As a senior, Leslie tallied 537 points and had another 40-point game (41) against West Chester. He finished his career with an 18.1 scoring average, third-best in Bison annals. He started the final 105 games of his career and scored in double figures in all but 11 of them.
The jersey retirement ceremony will add to a busy day of basketball at Sojka Pavilion on Feb. 25. The men's game, which starts at 7 p.m. and follows a women's game against Army, is also Senior Day, as the Bison will pay tribute to four seniors - Kevin Bettencourt, Charles Lee, Holland Mack and Tarik Viaer-McClymont - who will be playing in their final regular-season home game. At halftime, the always-popular Extreme Dunk Team will perform following the ceremony honoring Danzig and Leslie.
Hal Danzig averaged a whopping 16.5 rebounds per game over a three-year period.