Bucknell Men's Basketball 2012 NIT Capsule

Bucknell Bison
Patriot League (24-9, 12-2)

Bucknell has won some big games in the past due to their smart, fundamentally sound approach to the game. They will rarely get blown out and sometimes the ball will bounce their way. This is a team that plays tough, straight up defense. They will not force many turnovers, but they do not allow easy shots. On offense, the Bison are known for taking smart shots and moving the ball around to find that quality shot. This year is no different.

Big Wins: 11/25 Princeton (62-56), 12/17 Richmond (79-65), 1/18 at Lehigh
Bad Losses: 12/28 Loyola MD (67-72), 2/15 Lehigh (53-56), 2/18 at Holy Cross (52-54)
Coach: Dave Paulsen (4 seasons at Bucknell)

Why They Can Surprise:
The Bison can matchup with just about any team with their size. It starts up front with 6-11 center Mike Muscala. He is the player that makes this team tick. He is a beast under the basket on both ends of the floor and even when he is having a bad day, Muscala will likely get a double-double. Joe Willman has increased his production for his junior campaign and is a very nice complimentary player to Muscala. Willman, at 6-7 and 217 pounds, is not nearly as big as Muscala, but he stays in the paint and will do plenty of scoring while the opposition worries about Muscala. It is the size on the perimeter that is really impressive. Bryan Cohen is a 6-6 guard and Cameron Ayers is 6-5. Those are a couple big athletes to have on the wing. Cohen is not a great scorer, but he is a fine passer and tough matchup for many teams. Ayers can handle the ball too, but he is also the most dynamic scorer on the team. Ayers is a very good outside shooter, but he will also use his size to attack the basket against smaller defenders. Even Ryan Hill, who usually starts along with Ayers and Cohen on the perimeter, is 6-3.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Bucknell does not really have a true point guard. Ayers can certainly fill that role, as can Hill. Even Cohen can pass the ball. Reserve Steven Kaspar is the closest thing this team has to a true point guard, but that has not been much of an issue for the Bison and Coach Dave Paulsen. In reality, this team is closer to having three point guards than none. The bigger issue may be the lack of experience on the perimeter. Hill and Ayers are sophomores and Kaspar is just a freshman. Bryson Johnson is the upperclassman on the perimeter, but it is his job to provide an offensive spark off of the bench with his amazing outside shooting ability. If Bucknell can play their style of basketball, which they have struggled with a little bit towards the end of the season, they can make things interesting for a game in March.

Probable Starters:
Ryan Hill, Sophomore, Guard, 2.4 ppg, 1.8 apg
Cameron Ayers, Sophomore, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 1.8 apg
Bryan Cohen, Senior, Guard, 6.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
Joe Willman, Junior, Forward, 10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Mike Muscala, Junior, Center, 16.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Ben Brackney, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Brian Fitzpatrick, Junior, Forward, 4.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Bryson Johnson, Junior, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 1.3 apg
Steven Kaspar, Freshman, Guard, 2.5 ppg, 2.4 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.8 (154th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.5 (29, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.6 (49, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (21, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (203, 6)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.1 (20, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.8 (6, 2)
Rebound Margin: 6.7 (16, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (102, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (37, 3)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
Bucknell    2011    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Connecticut
Bucknell    2006    NCAA        Round of 64 win over Arkansas
Bucknell    2006    NCAA        Round of 32 loss to Memphis
Bucknell    2005    NCAA        Round of 64 win over Kansas
Bucknell    2005    NCAA        Round of 32 loss to Wisconsin

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules