How is it possible to have one of the top 10 statistical players in all of college basketball not make the top 12 finalists chosen by writers who claim to cover the game?
How is it possible to have a player averaging a double-double and a fringe top 25 team in the country not get any love?
How can you call yourself a basketball writer and not think that Mike Muscala deserves to be considered the best player in college basketball this season?
Now we have firmly stood behind Doug McDermott earlier this season -- both pre- and during -- but that doesn't mean we have forgotten the Bucknell senior. It is too bad that during the only game we have been able to watch him play, he took a knee in his leg, and that caused him to spend a long time sitting instead of playing. That cost the Bison a win against a depleted Lehigh, and probably cost him some much needed television hype.
But it is hard not to believe he deserves better than to be left off the Oscar Robertson POY shortlist, as nominated by the UNITED STATES BASKETBALL WRITERS ASSOCIATION. What are they watching?
It isn't like they aren't writing about him. Pete Thamel profiled him Friday. Raphielle Johnson mentioned his snub. Someone had to know this kid was playing.
Heck, he has been on the short list at Ken Pomeroy's site since he debuted his POY candidates earlier this year. Muscala might have fallen to No. 10, but it isn't because his performance has degraded.
Back in November, we pegged Muscala as one of the players of the month. He was so good that he was on track to beat Anthony Davis' HW30 score from last season, a number we thought would be almost impossible to top. After all, Davis ended up being responsible for almost half the wins that Kentucky earned last year. (The Portland Trailblazers' Damian Lillard admittedly came close to matching Davis' score)
When we ran the HOOPWAR numbers, Muscala had a 15.4 HW30 through nine games. Regression ready to happen? Not so fast.
Through 22 games, Muscala is now on track for a 16.6 HW30.
Let that sink in. For every 30 games played, he would be worth 16.6 wins over a replacement player, for all of his production on both offense and defense.
And yet that isn't good enough to be considered one of the top 12 players in the country? Come on, man.
It isn't like we haven't run these numbers for more than 300 teams, both current and historical since developing this statistic over the off-season. We aren't claiming that 16.6 is just some number without being able to back it up.
It is frankly the best single-season performance (if it stands) that we have seen. Maybe someone can nominate another player that we can compare him with (if the stats are available), but I would be hard pressed to come up with anyone that has done as well.
The last time we ran McDermott's numbers (still our pick, although I am beginning to wonder why as I type this), he was on track to maybe score a 9.0 HW30. I can't even claim that McDermott has more help than Muscala, considering that Cameron Ayers and Joe Willman are both 2-plus HW30 players. Grant Gibbs and Gregory Echenique were a few total wins better than that, but neither was bumping toward five or six. Muscala is just that good.
So we give an ironic slow clap to the USBWA for their oversight here.
Not that the list is a bunch of slackers, but I will even do the hard work for you and take off two players that you can choose from to replace with Muscala.
Eliminate either Michael Carter-Williams or Jeff Withey. Both have been good this season -- at times great -- but neither has been as dominant all year long as Muscala. And we are admittedly big Jeff Withey fans. It is hard to remove him.
But if we had to choose, it is Muscala all the way.