---- — It's hard to believe nearly a year has passed since I took over this beat. It's been an amazing ride over just 12 months in college football and basketball.
The Bucknell men went on another fun March ride and center Mike Muscala brought some familiar faces to an unfamiliar site at Sojka Pavilion. No one should have been surprised the Atlanta Hawks drafted Muscala as Hawks general manager Danny Ferry made two appearances to watch Muscala play.
Bloomsburg tailback Franklyn Quiteh wrapped up the year by claiming the Harlon Hill Trophy -- the Division II Heisman -- joining Irv Sigler as the only two Bloomsburg players to win the award.
Different sports, different levels, but a lot of the same characteristics. Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen and Quiteh's coaches (Danny Hale and Paul Darragh) were certainly thankful for both guys' production as both Muscala and Quiteh finished their athletic careers with most of the school records in their respective sports.
However, the key for both guys was putting in the effort and the hard work to maximize their athletic gifts. Bucknell fans certainly remember Muscala's first year on campus as the skinny freshman felt more comfortable outside the lane than inside it.
Fast forward to his senior season when Muscala had developed one of the best post games in all of college basketball.
Quiteh also started from his freshman season, but the difference in speed and strength that Quiteh's developed over his four years was quite evident in his 8.3 yards per carry.
Don't read too much into Bucknell's loss on the road to Marist this past Friday night. Bucknell's first game in nearly two weeks didn't go well on the road against a Red Foxes team that was 1-9 entering the contest.
Coach Paulsen and his players will get what ailed the Bison in that game, but maybe the bigger issue for Bucknell heading into the Patriot League season is exactly that -- the strength of the league this season.
Newcomer Boston University went on the road Saturday and beat Atlantic Coast Conference power Maryland, while Loyola (Md.) gave UConn all it could handle before falling by 10 points.
The Terriers were selected as the league favorites in the preseason, but Lafayette won seven consecutive games before losing to the Bison in the Patriot League Tournament final. Lehigh has Malcolm Mackey, the league's top assist man. Meanwhile, Army is coming off its best season since the 1980s and had a very young squad last year.
Even a team like Colgate, which finished in the lower part of the league, has the top returning scorer in the league in Murphy Burnatowski.
The Bucknell women's basketball team ended 2013 on an up note as well, beating Longwood 71-47 on Saturday afternoon. The win gave Bison second-year head coach Aaron Roussell his 20th victory at the school and sends Bucknell into Patriot League play at .500 (5-5).
Shelby Romine led the way in a return to her home state of Virginia with a game-high 23 points, her third 20-point game of the season.
n Correspondent Todd Hummel covers college sports for The Daily Item. Email comments to email@example.com.