Yesterday the United States Basketball Writers Association released its midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Award, and at first glance there didn’t seem to be any issues in regards to a deserving player being omitted.
But there was one: Bucknell forward/senior center Mike Muscala.
The Roseville, Minnesota native hasn’t disappointed and neither have the Bison, who boast a record of 18-4 and are currently tied atop the Patriot League standings with preseason favorite Lehigh (5-1).
Muscala is a big reason why Bucknell is capable of winning its third consecutive Patriot League regular season title, boasting averages of 19.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
A 6-11 big man who consistently attracts the attention of multiple defenders on the low block, Muscala is shooting 52.1% from the field while also hitting 77.7% of his free throws.
But the biggest improvement has come on the glass, where a player to tallied 18 double-doubles last season (9.1 rpg) is now comfortably averaging the feat and already has 15 double-doubles in 2012-13.
In an article by Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated the challenge that head coach Dave Paulsen set for Muscala, at the encouragement of an NBA scout, was to average a rebound every three minutes (Kenneth Faried territory) and Muscala has delivered.
Muscala snared a rebound every 3.2 minutes last year and is up to one every 2.9 minutes this year. Muscala’s best resume builder for the NBA may be his performances against top-flight competition, as he had 25 and 14 in a two-point loss at Missouri, 24 and nine against New Mexico State and 16 and 15 against George Mason.
Muscala may not be on national television as often as many of the 12 players on the Robertson Award midseason watch list but there should be no doubt as to how talented he is.
When Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum went down with a broken foot, maybe people who don’t follow the Patriot League regularly assumed that the conference was without a viable candidate for national honors.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)