#121 Bucknell: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #121
Conference Rank: #1 Patriot League
2009-10: 14-17, 9-5
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Dave Paulsen (21-40 at Bucknell, 21-40 overall)
At first it looked like Coach Dave Paulsen’s second season with Bucknell was going to be as bad as his first. Coach Paulsen went 7-23 overall and 4-10 in conference play in 2008-2009 and through a relatively easy non-conference schedule in 2009, the Bison looked well on their way to another disappointing season. However, that changed in late January when the young Bucknell squad finally pulled things together and started winning games. The season ended abruptly with an opening game loss in the Patriot League tournament, but this was a young team that finished second in the conference and returns all but one player who was a major contributor.
Key Losses: F Patrick Behan
Bucknell probably needed to find some depth in the frontcourt, but the three newcomers are all guards. That is not to say that Ryan Hill, Ben Brackney and Cameron Ayers will not be contributors in the future as all have plenty of potential. Yet, none of them are really needed on this team this year. A big man could have at least battled for playing time. These guards, barring some unexpected performances, will likely spend the season learning behind the deep veteran group on the perimeter for a year.
Bucknell will once again have the luxury of moving players in and out of the backcourt depending on conditioning and the situation. The one constant is Darryl Shazier, but Coach Paulsen held the rest of his backcourt to under 30 minutes per game on average. Bryan Cohen’s ability to handle the ball and score in a multitude of ways should keep him in the starting lineup. He is a decent outside shooter, but will also do plenty of damage attacking the basket. Wing Stephen Tyree started all 31 games last year and is the link between the backcourt and the frontcourt. He is only 6-3 and 188 pounds, but the senior is an extremely tough rebounder and actually led the team in that category last year with 5.2 per game. He will not look to score too often, but Tyree can hit the outside shot if he has to, but mostly he will do the dirty work and let the others do the scoring. If Tyree had a little more size he would likely move to the four spot and allow Bryson Johnson or G.W. Boon to step into a starting role. Johnson is a great shooter off the bench and knocked down 2.2 three-pointers per game as a freshman. Boon has some size at 6-4, but he is mostly a shooter and not really equipped to handle the four spot, but makes for a great sub on the wing.
The loss of Patrick Behan is why there is an opening in the frontcourt. One thing that is certain is that Mike Muscala will be back in the paint after having a surprisingly successful freshman campaign. At 6-10 and 223 pounds, Muscala can take up quite a bit of space in the paint. He needs to add some more strength and grab more than 4.9 rebounds per game, but his offensive game was very good for a freshman big man and he nearly averaged double figures in the scoring column. Muscala is not the perfect option to run a four guard offense around, since he can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting, so the Bison hope Joe Willman can fill the void left behind by Behan. Willman did start 15 games as a freshman and showed plenty of promise. He is a decent interior scorer and a capable rebounder, but if he starts, the depth behind him is a big issue. Colin Klebon and Enoch Andoh both played in fewer than 20 games last year and neither appeared ready to play much more. That has to change this year or the Bison will be forced to play small more than they want.
Who to Watch:
Shazier is the star of this team after averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals during his junior campaign. The offense will always go through Shazier and if he cannot find a teammate with a better shot, he will finish himself. With a little more consistency on his outside shot, Shazier will emerge as a superb all-around scorer.
The only thing stopping Bucknell from a Patriot League title is the depth in the frontcourt. Against many opponents, the Bison will be perfectly fine playing four guards at times with Muscala in the middle. On the defensive end at least Muscala can block a ton of shots and make things difficult for the opposition even if somebody on Bucknell is mismatched defensively at the four spot. But if this team picks up where they left off, they should be looking at an NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Darryl Shazier, Senior, Guard, 10.1 ppg
Bryan Cohen, Junior, Guard, 8.8 ppg
Stephen Tyree, Senior, Guard, 5.7 ppg
Joe Willman, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 ppg
Mike Muscala, Sophomore, Center, 9.9 ppg
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