#131 Bucknell Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Bucknell Bison

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #131
Conference Rank: #3 Patriot

Bucknell Team Page#131 Bucknell Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Bucknell Basketball Tickets

The Mike Muscala era is over. The 6-11 center averaged 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks while leading Bucknell to the NCAA Tournament as a #11 seed. The Bison will not be seeded anywhere near as high any time soon in the NCAA Tournament, but writing off Coach Dave Paulsen and company would not be a wise idea either. The new star of the team will be Cameron Ayers. The 6-5 wing is a great all-around scorer and an amazingly efficient shooter for a guard who takes about four three-pointers per game. This will not be a great Bison team and getting back to the NCAA Tournament is asking a bit much, but the talent is around; they just have virtually no experience.

2012-13 Record: 28-6, 12-2
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dave Paulsen
Coach Record: 99-65 at Bucknell, 361-185 overall

Who’s Out:
Muscala’s absence will garner all of the headlines, but Bucknell also loses two other starters. Bryson Johnson ranked third on the team with 11.1 points per game and was the squad’s most efficient and prolific outside shooter. Joe Willman joined Muscala, Johnson and Ayers as the other regular on the floor. He proved to be a nice complimentary player to Muscala in the paint and wrapped up his senior season averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Who’s In:
The Bison have three freshmen heading into the program, but the expectations for the trio are pretty low for now. However, with so many minutes available to players who have very little experience, the freshmen will be given every opportunity to make an impact. John Azzinaro could be the scoring threat this team so desperately needs to find to compliment Ayers. The depth up front could also use a boost from 6-6 forward D.J. MacLeay and 6-9 center Ben Oberfeld.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt does have plenty of potential scorers returning to help out Ayers. While none of them are experienced, nobody on the team averaged more than 2.8 points per game last season besides Muscala, Johnson, Willman and Ayers. It was tough for the Bison to take those four out of the game and even tougher for anybody else to take many shots. That does not mean they are not talented. Ryan Hill, Ryan Frazier and Steven Kaspar are the most experienced options, all playing between 16 and 19 minutes per game last season. Kaspar will not have to do much scoring since he is running the point. It will be his job to get the rest of the team involved and accustomed to their new roles. Hill started 27 games as a junior, but he is not much of a shooter and that is what the Bison desperately need. Frazier has a bit more shooting potential, but he was horribly inconsistent last season. If his shot comes around, Frazier will step into the starting lineup. Chris Haas, Ben Brackney and Joshea Singleton are all brimming with potential. Haas, a 6-5 sophomore, barely found the floor as a freshman, but he is an explosive athlete with a solid offensive game. However, Coach Paulsen will not use him much if his defense does not improve.

Final Projection:
Like the backcourt, the frontcourt is full of new faces too. Yet, there are less issues as Brian Fitzpatrick and Dom Hoffman are almost certain to step into the starting positions…unless the Bison need to play smaller. Fitzpatrick is a fifth year senior who has shown flashes of talent on both sides of the floor. At 6-8 and 230 pounds, Fitzpatrick has the size to bang around in the paint and he has shown the ability to step outside and knock down the mid-range jumper with relative consistency. Hoffman, a 6-7 sophomore, is a tough rebounder too and replacing Muscala’s production on the glass should not be a huge problem for this group. Scoring is going to the big issue and Fitzpatrick and Hoffman must establish something on the inside to help the perimeter find another scorer to compliment Ayers. Ayers is a great player, but Bucknell will not come close to competing for a Patriot League title if this team rotates through ineffective shooting guards for the entire season. If they find a good one, the Bison could be a surprise team in the Patriot League and Coach Paulsen’s recruiting prowess will earn him plenty of accolades even though nobody has noticed how good his recruiting has been over the last three years until they actually start playing this year.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Steven Kaspar, Junior, Guard, 2.4 points per game
Ryan Frazier, Sophomore, Guard, 2.7 points per game
Cameron Ayers, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Dom Hoffman, Sophomore, Forward, 2.1 points per game
Brian Fitzpatrick, Senior, Center, 2.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.0 (187th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.8 (14, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (75, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.7 (4, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.6 (311, 8)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: NA
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.2 (36, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.5 (30, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (124, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.4 (3, 1)


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