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.