By Cooper Sutton
Returning all five young, talented starters from last year, much hype surrounded the Bison basketball team going into the 2010-2011 season. Chosen to finish second in the Patriot League behind American, the Bison surpassed expectations, finishing first with a 13-1 league record.
The season did not start as smoothly as it ended for the Orange and Blue squad. Before league play began, the team faced a tough out-of-conference schedule and went 9-7.
After ending that schedule on a three-game win streak, the Bison carried momentum into league play. They won their first six Patriot League games, including a 75-56 home defeat of Lafayette.
On Jan. 29, the team saw its streak snapped on the road at Army in its only league loss of the year, a crushing 90-70 defeat. Since that game, the team has won nine straight.
In one of the most satisfying wins of the season, the Bison convincingly knocked the Black Knights out of the Patriot League tournament, 78-51 in the first round.
In the second round, the team fought through one of the most contested games of the season, defeating Lehigh 66-64. The Bison commanded the game throughout, but Lehigh kept it close until the end. In front of a packed and raucous crowd of “Sojka Psychos,” the team punched its ticket to the finals behind the always-strong play of Mike Muscala ’13, the Patriot League Player of the Year.
Muscala has led the Bison all year, dominating the boards at 6’11”. Muscala is averaging 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The strength of the team, though, lies in its balance. Along with Muscala, point guard Darryl Shazier ’11 was awarded first-team all-Patriot League honors. Bryson Johnson ’13 played superb basketball all season using his long-range shooting. He averaged 11.5 points per game and made second-team all-Patriot League.
Bryan Cohen ’12 was awarded the Patriot League’s defensive player of the year award for his shut-down abilities. Cameron Ayers ’14 also made the Patriot League all-rookie team, and the coach of the year award went to Dave Paulsen. This is Paulsen’s third year with the team and his first winning season in Lewisburg.