Bucknell Bison forward/center Muscala dunks against Syracuse Orange forward Fair during the first half of their NCAA men's basketball game in Syracuse, New York

Patriot League POY race will be one to watch in 2012-13

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Given the lack of national television exposure available to the Patriot League it can be tough for some of its best players to receive the level of respect that they deserve.

Lehigh was able to make waves this past March as a 15-seed, beating Duke in the round of 64 in Greensboro with guard C.J. McCollum (30 points) leading the way.

And with McCollum returning the Mountain Hawks will be one of the two favorites to win the Patriot League next season.

But he isn’t the only star in the Patriot League to keep an eye on as Bucknell welcomes back big man Mike Muscala for his final campaign.

While McCollum won league Player of the Year honors and briefly flirted with the NBA Draft before deciding to return to school, Muscala was a first team All-Patriot League selection for the second consecutive season after winning Player of the Year in 2010-11.

And with the goal being to get even better and lead the Bison back to the NCAA tournament Muscala spent a couple weeks this off-season working out at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

A three-time All-Patriot League selection, Muscala said his time spent in Florida has been about much more than basketball. His day consists of two on-court, position-specific workouts in addition to one “athletic performance workout” each day under the supervision of the academy staff. In between workouts he has meetings with trainers, nutritionists and other specialists, including communication professionals and “mental conditioning,” according to IMG’s website.

“It’s been fun, but a lot of work,” he said. “We work on everything from agility drills to shooting and conditioning. When you get to go up against some of these guys who are getting ready for the draft, or the guys from bigger schools, you see things you need to work on.”

Muscala, who averaged 17.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for the regular season champion Bison, also noted the nutrition tips he picked up and hopes to benefit from.

McCollum has spent part of his off-season working out with his older brother Errick, who plays professionally in Israel.

McCollum averaged 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season for the Mountain Hawks, and while some may not have been too familiar with him before the game against Duke he’s been getting the job done for three seasons now.

The question of who ends up winning Patriot League Player of the Year (and whose team wins the league) may come down to what happens in their two regular season head-to-head meetings.

McCollum scored 15 points in each of the regular season meetings while Muscala led Bucknell to a 68-61 win at Lehigh with 20 points and 12 boards.

But it was McCollum’s game-winning three that made the difference in the rematch at Sojka Pavilion on February 16th.

Tough to call who wins Player of the Year right now, but college basketball fans would be wise to keep an eye on these two throughout the season.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Pensacola State’s Jamal Thomas dunks through block attempt, makes coach go nuts

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A solid poster dunk went down in the junior college ranks last night as Pensacola State sophomore Jamal Thomas finished a dunk through a block attempt against Northwest Florida State.

The 6-foot-3 Thomas used his power and momentum to go through the opposing shot blocker and the play made his head coach, Pete Pena, go nuts with an over-exaggerated fist pump. The video is short, but be sure to watch for Pena’s reaction near the logo at the top right of the screen.

VIDEO: Boise State robbed of insane, buzzer-beating win on incorrect timing by officials

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It looked like James Webb III of Boise State had hit the season’s craziest buzzer-beater.

With 0.8 seconds left, he caught an in-bounds pass on the run on the right wing, hoisted up a prayer of a three and watched as it banked it as the buzzer sounded.

It’s pretty fantastic:

And it also clearly left his hands before time expired, but there was a reason for that. According to the officials, the clock (for the road team, mind you) did not start when the ball was caught.

They were right.

Where they were wrong was determining that it took more than a second for Webb to catch and release the shot, meaning that they were wrong to waive off the bucket.

This awesome slo-mo clip of the shot from Matt Stephens of the Coloradoan is all the evidence I need, but if you need more, Sportscenter anchor Scott Van Pelt clocked it at 0.7 seconds:

The game would go to overtime, where Colorado State would go on to win, 97-93.

As you can imagine, Boise State players and coaches were livid with the call.

“I hope it’s not a situation where you get an apology later but don’t get the win. I don’t understand it,” head coach Leon Rice said in a radio interview after the game. “I hope they got it right somehow, some way. I don’t know. It didn’t look right to me, but I’m not the official.”

This comes just four days after officials blew a call in a game between New Mexico and San Diego State that allowed the Aztecs to force overtime and eventually beat the Lobos. (That call may have determined the outcome of the Mountain West regular season title, to boot.)

New Mexico was essentially told, “my bad”, but the league as a result.

And Boise State will probably get the same treatment despite the fact that, if the league determines that the referees botched this call as well, the tame technically was over then.

Will they have the guts to award the Broncos a road win that they earned and deserve?

I doubt it.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from the officiating crew: