May 9, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Junior center Mike Muscala (Roseville, Minn./Roseville) earned team MVP honors for the second year in a row, and Bryan Cohen (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Abington Friends), Bryson Johnson (Pictou, Nova Scotia/St. David's Catholic) and Cameron Ayers (Blue Bell, Pa./Germantown Academy) also picked up team awards at the annual Bucknell Backcourt Club Awards Banquet, held Apr. 14 in the Terrace Room on campus.
In addition to the annual awards, it was announced that rising seniors Muscala, Johnson and Joe Willman (Tinton Falls, N.J./Monmouth Regional) have been elected team captains for the 2012-13 season.
Muscala won the Benton A. Kribbs Memorial Award, presented for most outstanding contribution to the program. He shared that award with Darryl Shazier in 2011, and Muscala became the 13th Bison player to earn the Kribbs Award more than once since it was first bestowed following the 1974-75 season.
Muscala enjoyed a spectacular 2011-12 season, helping lead Bucknell to a second straight Patriot League regular-season championship followed by the program's first-ever appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. Muscala finished the season averaging 17.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, setting career highs in both. He led the Patriot League in rebounding by a wide margin and ranked fourth in scoring.
A member of the Lou Henson Mid-Major All-America Team and a First Team All-Patriot League selection, Muscala's 596 points this season rank third on Bucknell's single-season list, while his 319 rebounds rank sixth. That rebound total is the highest by a Bucknell player since 1968-69. Muscala also became only the second player in program history to make 200 free throws in a season. His 203 charity tosses just missed Patrick King's school mark of 205, set in 1991-92. Muscala shot 85.3 percent at the line this season (203-238), the sixth-best mark in program history.
Muscala's 59 blocked shots are fifth-most on the single-season chart, and he now owns the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots on that list. On Bucknell's career charts, Muscala now ranks ninth in scoring (1,399), 10th in rebounding (715) and second in blocked shots (191).
Muscala turned in one of the best individual postseasons in school history this year. He tallied 30 points and 14 rebounds in the Patriot League championship game against Lehigh, and then in the NIT he logged 20 points and nine rebounds in a first-round win over top-seeded Arizona followed by 25 points and 15 boards in a second-round loss at Nevada. In those final three contests of the season, he totaled 75 points (25.0), 38 rebounds (12.7), 10 assists (3.3) and eight blocks (2.7) while shooting 50 percent from the field (22-44) and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line (31-35).
Cohen capped off a record-setting career by becoming the first player to win the Thomas A. Thompson Award four times. The Thompson Award, named in honor of Bucknell Hall-of-Famer Tommy Thompson, is presented for "spirit, intensity and outstanding defensive play."
Cohen was the clear choice for the award once again in 2011-12 after another terrific year at both ends of the floor. This season Cohen earned his third straight Patriot League Defensive Player of Year Award, making him the only player in league history to win the same major award three times and just the seventh in any Division I conference to win a defensive MVP honor three times.
Cohen also earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors this year. He broke the school record with 130 career games played and never missed a game in four years while averaging just under 30 minutes per contest. He scored 1,102 career points to rank 25th on Bucknell's all-time scoring list, while his 313 career assists rank eighth in program history.
Johnson captured the Malcolm E. Musser Award for Leadership. Elected a team co-captain prior to his junior year, Johnson selflessly relinquished his starting spot early in the season for the betterment of the team. Not only did Johnson become one of the Patriot League's top sixth men, but Bucknell went 18-6 after the lineup change was made, which allowed the Bison to get a more natural point guard on the floor.
Johnson averaged 9.3 points per game while continuing to cement his legacy as one of the top 3-point shooters in Bucknell and Patriot League history. After breaking the school record with 99 3-pointers in 2010-11, Johnson canned 84 more this season while shooting 40.6 percent from the arc. He now owns the top two single-season totals in program history, and his 250 career treys rank second all-time behind only Kevin Bettencourt's 294.
Following in the footsteps of Muscala and Cohen, Johnson became the third Bison to reach 1,000 career points this year, and Johnson did it in style. His 1,000th point came at Arizona on a deep 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining. The shot pushed Bucknell's lead up to seven points and effectively clinched the victory.
Ayers claimed the Coaches' Award in recognition of his outstanding sophomore season. Ayers started all 35 games for Bucknell, playing both the point and off-guard positions, and he ranked second on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game. He shot 44.3 percent from the field, 46.8 percent from 3-point range and 82.7 percent from the foul line. Ayers also had 63 assists and only 35 turnovers in those 35 games while leading the team in minutes played.
A Second Team All-Patriot League selection, Ayers led the Patriot League in 3-point percentage this season. He also ranked ninth in overall field-goal percentage and 13th in scoring average. Ayers scored 21 points in the NIT game against Nevada, his fourth 20-point game of the season.
Willman will join Muscala and Johnson as team captain next season. Willman had his best season yet in 2011-12, earning Second Team All-Patriot League honors after logging 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Willman led the Patriot League in field-goal percentage (.528) while starting all 35 games at the power forward position. He also shot 85.5 percent from the free-throw line and was a member of the Patriot League All-Tournament Team after totaling 46 points in three games. Willman has played in all 100 of Bucknell's games over the last three seasons.
In addition to the student-athlete awards presented last month, Bison coach Dave Paulsen also presented the Backcourt Club Award for outstanding contributions to the program to Brad Brown. A 2011 Bucknell graduate, Brown energized the Sojka Pavilion crowd as the lead "Sojka Psycho" during his student days. This past season he joined the staff as a volunteer video coordinator.
Cohen and fellow seniors Enoch Andoh (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) and Probese Leo (Nassau, Bahamas/St. Pius X) offered remarks at the banquet and were presented with their framed jerseys.
After finishing 25-10 this season, Bucknell will return four starters and 11 lettermen in 2012-13.