The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

December 2, 2013

Todd Hummel's college sports column: Bison adjusting to new roles

The offensive cost of the graduation of Mike Muscala, Bryson Johnson and Joe Willman are readily apparent.

All three scored 1,000 points for Bucknell. Muscala graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer. Johnson has the school's 3-point record.

However, it's the more esoteric parts of those players' games that almost have been tougher for coach Dave Paulsen to replace.

I've hit on this point several times already in this early season, but the Bison have several players adjusting to new roles on the floor.

This week, losses to Mount St. Mary's and Princeton left Paulsen frustrated with some of the mental things he saw from his team.

He felt his team's poor offensive performance carried over on the defensive end, and that his players felt sorry for themselves.

"They've got to make a decision. We all collectively have to make a decision to learn to battle back when things aren't going so well," Paulsen said.

Still focused on the loss just 10 minutes after the game, Paulsen was a bit pessimistic when asked if it would be a learning experience for his young squad.

"Hopefully that is the case. That's a good way of putting it -- make everyone feel good," Paulsen said. "I hope that's the case, but we got to learn to bounce back."

Paulsen looks around the country and sees that after Penn State lost to his program for the first time in 28 years, the Nittany Lions ripped off five wins in a row before dropping a three-point game to Mississippi and Marshall Henderson in the finals of the Barclays Center Classic on Saturday afternoon.

North Carolina lost to in-state rival Belmont, 83-80, before winning its next two contests, including a victory over defending national champion Louisville.

"You looked over at the Penn State bench (after our win) and they were devastated. North Carolina got beat by Belmont. Both of those teams responded," Paulsen said. "We have to learn to do that. It falls across the board, but it falls mostly on our most veteran players -- our seniors and captains."

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