The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 4, 2013

Men's basketball: Bucknell's Muscala sweeps Patriot League awards

By The Daily Item
For The Daily Item

CENTER VALLEY — After coming up two points shy of history on Saturday night, Bucknell senior Mike Muscala more than made up for it on Monday.

Muscala became the first player in Patriot League history to sweep the league’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. In addition, he became just the second player in the 23-year history of the conference to earn four All-Patriot honors.

Bison junior Cameron Ayers joined Muscala on the All-Patriot first team while senior Bryson Johnson was a member of the All-Academic squad along with Muscala.

Muscala will head into the postseason — which begins Wednesday night when the top-seeded Bison host Navy — needing just two more points to equal Al Leslie’s 32-year-old Bucknell scoring record. Muscala has 1,971 points, and he also ranks second in both Bucknell and Patriot League history in rebounds (1,045) and blocked shots (266). He is one of only two active Division I players with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and he is just the second player in school and league history to record 1,000 boards.

Muscala leads the Patriot League in scoring (19.1), rebounding (11.0) and blocks (2.5), and he also ranks fourth in field-goal percentage (.523), ninth in free-throw percentage (.775) and 11th in assists (2.5).

One of 30 candidates for the Naismith Player of the Award and one of 25 finalists for the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year, Muscala is the only Division I men’s basketball player averaging as many as 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he tied a record by earning six Patriot League Player of the Week citations this season.

Muscala also earned Patriot League Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2011, and he joins Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum (2010, 2012), Lafayette’s Brian Ehlers (1999, 2000) and Colgate’s Adonal Foyle (1996-97) as two-time Player of the Year honorees. Other Bucknell Players of the Year include current assistant coach Charles Lee (2006), Mike Bright (1993) and Patrick King (1992).

Muscala being named the league’s top defensive player continues a Bucknell trend. A Bucknell player has now claimed the honor four years in a row, and in six of the nine years since the award’s inception. Bryan Cohen received the honor three years in a row from 2010-12, Stephen Tyree won it in 2008.

Ayers was named to the All-Patriot League First Team for the first time, after garnering Second Team honors last season and All-Rookie accolades as a freshman in 2011. Ayers is enjoying an outstanding junior season, and he has really come on in Patriot League play. For the year, he is averaging 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, and in 30 games he has 62 assists and only 27 turnovers.

This season Johnson, an All-Academic honoree, broke the Bucknell and Patriot League records for career 3-point field goals. He now has 318 in his career, which ranks seventh among all active Division I players. A career 40-percent 3-point shooter, Johnson now has 1,354 career points, which ranks 11th in program history and is just one point outside the top 10. He is averaging 11.5 points per game this season and is tied with Muscala for the team lead in assists at 2.5 per game.