A couple weeks ago, after the Towson men’s basketball team lost a large first half lead against Northeastern University and eventually lost the game 70-59, head coach Pat Skerry said afterward, that his team needed to learn how to handle prosperity. At that moment, he was speaking about how to play with a large lead and turn it into a larger lead and eventually a win.
However, you could very well use that same phrase to see how the Tigers handle the prosperity that now comes with a winning record. The Tigers are 12-12 overall and 7-4 in Colonial Athletic Association play. This is new territory for Towson, in its eleven previous seasons in the CAA, Towson has never posted a winning record in conference play.
Not only is Towson on pace for a winning record in the CAA, it’s only one game out of second place, and they play the current second place team—Delaware—tonight at the Towson Center in a 7:00 PM start. In fact, the Tigers have three games this week, and each one presents the Tigers a chance to handle prosperity. If a team is going to be considered a top tier team in its conference, then there are three type games it’s must win on a regular basis. It must win at home, against the teams that will finish well below .500 on the season. Check, Towson accomplished that in its 81-68 win over UNC-Wilmington on Monday night. A game in which Towson actually led by 24 points until Coach Skerry cleared the bench with about three minutes left to play.
The second type of game a top tier team must win is a home conference game against a team that is also in the top tier of the league. The game against Delaware tonight will be just such a game. The Blue Hens are currently 6-3 in the CAA and are on a three game winning streak. The Tigers will get a chance tonight to put a check mark in that box.
The final type game a top-tier team must win is on the road against a team with a like record. That chance will come Saturday night when the Tigers take on Georgia State in Atlanta. The Panthers have the exact same overall and conference records as the Tigers. Like Towson, Georgia State has won two games in row, the first of those wins was handing first place Northeastern its first conference loss of the season last Wednesday night in Boston.
The Tigers have shown incredible improvement, as this season has progressed. Not only have they far exceeded last year’s win total of one; they are playing their best basketball of the season right now. The convincing win over UNCW exhibited the depth that Towson expected to display this season. In all seven of the Tigers conference wins they have had at least four players score in double figures and on two occasions landed five players in double figures. When asked about his team’s offensive balance of late coach Skerry responded, “I really thought we’d have a lot of them—big offensive nights earlier in the season—and I was really worried about how we were going to defend and rebound. I probably made an error early on, because we spent so much time on our defense and rebounding. Then the games started and we weren’t as efficient as we could have been on offense. But we have good players and good players get you baskets.”
If the Tigers are able to win these next two games, they will have pulled off the trifecta of quality wins, and in the process will be well on its way to posting at least a 10-win season in conference play since the 1995-96 when it was a member of the America East Conference.
Behind Delaware with a CAA record of 6-3 are four teams including Towson at 7-4. With a little less than half of their league games remaining, teams will begin to separate into one of three tiers, the top, middle or the bottom. Towson has spent the better part of the past five seasons in the bottom part of the league. They no doubt will finish at least in the middle tier this year and if they continue to combine the offensive balance and strong defense that Skerry so often preaches, they could very well find themselves in the top tier for the first time ever. That would be handling prosperity very well.
Photo Courtsey of Towson Athletics