Posted on 16 November 2013 by WNST Audio
Posted on 06 November 2013 by Robert Canady
Prior to one of the final practices before the start of the 2013-14 season, Towson basketball Head Coach Pat Skerry, stood at midcouort smiling and greeting his players as they came out to warm-up. Skerry gave many of them a fist bump or pat on the back. There is just cause for Skerry to be smiling as he looked over this group of players. For the firt time ever Towson had recently been ranked No. 1 in the CAA Coaches/Media Preseason poll. “Well, be careful what you ask for,” Skerry said recently. When asked how he will prepares the team to reach the high expectations of this season, Skerry continues, “It’s about honoring the process. Continuing to do the daily things, that you need to do as a team.” Back to practice a few minutes after the start, during a five on five full court scrimmage, Skerry was backing up those words, as he called out players for not being in position defensively, or not running the proper offensive set. There will be no resting on last seasons accomplishments. “We’ll get everyone’s best shot each night. We’ve gone from being the hunter to being the hunted,” added Skerry.
It’s been well documented everything that the Tigers achieved last season. The team finished tied for 2nd in the CAA with a 13-5 conference record. An overall record of 18-13 enabled Towson to set the NCAA record for the largest one season turnaround of 17.5 games. This followed the 1-31 campaign in coach Pat Skerry’s first season. A record that unfortunately will follow him on his coaching resume, however for all intents and purposes should be accredited to the previous coaching staff.
Towson returns four starters from last year’s team-including CAA Player of the Year, Senior Jerrelle Benimon, who was recently voted Pre Season Player of The Year by the CAA coaches and media. Benimon comes off an impressive season that saw him finish second in the nation in double/doubles while accumulating 17.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. If that wasn’t impressive enough Skerry says Benimon is even better this year than last, “He’s got more range on his shot, he has really improved his 3 point shot. We also plan to use him at back-up point guard as well.” When a reporter chided Skerry for not being serious, he said he absolutely was, “We’ve got to get Jerome (Hairston) some help there, and Jerrelle handled the ball a lot for us last year. Don’t get me wrong, he still has to rebound. That has to be first,” Skerry said with a smile. As if all that wasn’t worry enough for Tiger opponents, Benimon is visibly bigger and appears stronger than last year.
While Benimon is expected to lead the team in scoring again, there are plenty of other Tigers who are capable of carrying the team on any given night. Senior Marcus Damas is coming off a season in which he scored 11.5 points per game, Damas also averaged double figures as a Sophomore in the 1-31 season, scoring 12.5 per night. Damas is capable of hitting threes, as well as driving to the basket and finishing strong. He is one of the strongest Tigers in finishing on a fast break.
Senior shooting guard Mike Burwell finished just shy of averaging double figures last year ringing up 9.0 points per game. Burwell led the Tigers with 47 three-pointers in 2012-13 He was considered the Tigers biggest threat from long range, and should improve on his percentage this year. Experiences in a big time conference were two elements that both Burwell and Benimon brought to the Tigers. Transferring from South Florida and Georgetown respectively the duo provided the Tigers with players who were not intimated playing against top level Division I players.
Skerry mentioned needing to get point guard Jerome Hairstonsome help and that wasn’t any reflection of his accomplishments or ability. It’s just that too often last year he was the only viable option for bringing the ball up the court. A big task to ask of a freshman who started 30 of 31 games last year. As point guard Hairston was third on the team in scoring tallying 9.9 points per night. He struggled a bit early in the season with his assist to turnover ratio, but made strides in that area toward the end of the year.
Sophomore Timajh Parker-Rivera is expected to fill the starting center spot vacated by Bilal Dixon who graduated after one year at Towson. Dixon’s presence in the paint and his 7.3 rebounds per game will be a tough void to fill. However, Rivera saw action in all 31 games and logged over 15 minutes per contests as a freshman. Rivera showed a bit of what he might be capable of this summer when the Tigers took a trip to Canada and played four games against National Canadian teams that would be equal to college level teams in the US. Rivera averaged 10.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in those four games. Rivera worked hard during the summer in the Tigers conditioning program and has added weight and strength to go along with his tremendous athletic ability. He certainly could be a player that catches opponents by surprise if they just look at his numbers from last year.
The Tigers will be much deeper this year than they were last year when they only had an eight man rotation. Coming off the bench for the Tigers will be invaluable sixth man senior Rafriel Guthrie. Guthrie averaged over 20 minutes per game last year playing in all 31 after transferring from College of Southern Idaho junior college. Guthrie played high school basketball in Washington, DC averaging 28.8 points per game as senior at Cardozo H.S. Guthrie exhibited this same scoring prowess in the Tigers final exhibition game by scoring 32 points against Mansfield last week. Guthrie who is known for his fierce drives to the basket went to the foul line 18 times and converted 14 of them. He could be one of the biggest beneficiaries on the team of the rule change in college that prohibits hand checking. Guthrie is often called upon to up the Tiger’s defensive pressure when he comes into a game, and was second on the Tigers in steals with 26 to go along with his 8.1 points per game.
Depth in the back court will definitely be one of the Tiger’s strongest areas this year. Sophomore transfer Four McGlynn will make his much anticipated debut after sitting out his year as a transfer. Those that got to see McGlynn practice last year know he has seemingly unlimited range on his 3-point shot, and makes them with astonishing frequency. McGlynn accumulated all kinds of accolades and impressive stats during his freshman year at Vermont, where he was named the America East Rookie of the Year. McGlynn led the Catamounts in scoring, even though he came off the bench in all 36 of the tams games. He was the only player in the nation to accomplish that feat. His threat of hitting the 3 pointer when he’s in the game should, help ease some of attention Benimon will get on the inside.
Four other Tigers could very well end up getting regular playing time, meaning the Tigers could go as many as 10 deep on some nights. Two players who were going to be counted on as Freshman last year 6’8” Forward Barrington Alston and 6’5” Guard Marquis Marshall ended up being redshirted. They both return with another year of the weight and conditioning program under them, and will play as red shirt Freshman with four years of eligibility left.
The final returner is Junior Jamel Flash a 6’10” Forward/Center who Skerry says will definitely play this year as opposed to his first two years when he never averaged more than five minutes a game. Flash has perhaps transformed himself more than any other Tiger in the weight room. He will play this year at 220 lbs up over 30 pounds since his freshman year.
Success on the court usually leads to success off the court in other areas as well such as recruiting. The higher level of player that Towson is able to recruit began last year with the incoming class of Hairston, Marshall and Alston. In addition, the transfers of Benimon, Burwell, Guthrie and McGlynn all were an indication of the tireless efforts of Skerry and his assistants. Each one of those players took a leap of faith committing to Towson considering the past history, but Skerry sold them on what he had planned for this team.
The two true freshman on this year’s team, continue that high level recruit trend. Johnny Davis at 6’5” 215 pound is an all Catholic League player from Philadelphia. Skerry has said Davis will need to show some patience as he will be playing behind Benimon and Damas. However once he gets on the court Davis makes the most of his minutes. During the two exhibition games Davis totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Skerry said Davis has gone up against Benimon every day in practice and gives him all he can handle. Joining Davis in adding depth to the Front Court is 6’8” 230 Forward/Center Walter Foster from Atlanta Georgia. Both Davis and Foster will have to learn to play defense at the level Skerry expects in order to gain the playing time the Tigers will need from them.
The depth of this Tiger team could come in handy early in the year while teams are adjusting to the new hand check rule. Towson did bring in actual officials to call some of the early practices in order to give an indication of what teams will see this year when the ball goes up for real.
One thing everyone in Baltimore and the CAA will see is a team that has completely transformed its identity from the one of the worst teams in the country, to a team that is predicted to win it’s league title and compete for a berth in the NCAA tournament in March.
Not taking anything away from Skerry or the players, but the biggest (literally and perhaps most important) addition this year won’t ever score a point or grab a rebound for the Tigers. But the brand new SECU Arena will be the envy of every CAA team that visits this year. The 5200 seat arena has hosted some exhibition games and other events over the summer, but will make its official Tiger debut on Friday night against Navy. The arena is so spectacular that the referees who worked the Mansfield game commented to members of the media before the game, that the arena was unbelievable. It’s equipped with every modern feature you’d expect to see in an arena, including a nearly 50 foot long scoreboard/video screen hung over center court. Among the seating choices are 340 club seats, 104 courtside seats and 4 private boxes.
Below is the complete results of the CAA Pre-Season poll. I’ll have an in-depth look at the new CAA prior to the conference season. But the big changes this season are the departures of Old Dominion, Georgia State and George Mason. The College of Charleston joins the league as the 9th team. They were the Southern Conference champions last year and won 24 games.
Coaches/Media 2013-14 Pre-Season CAA Poll
3-College of Charleston
5-William & Mary
-photos courtsey of Towson University-
Posted on 02 July 2013 by BaltimoreSportsNut
Charm City boasts several avenues for the avid sports fan and over the past 14 months it is hard to find any type of fan that has not experienced the thrill of victory.
For chronological sake, we will exemplify just how wonderful Baltimore sports have been by going back 14 months as Loyola kick started a run of Championships and playoff runs. The Greyhounds have often taken a back seat to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA Lacrosse world, but 2012 was the year of the hound. Loyola entered the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse tournament as the number one seed and did not falter. They battled their way through the bracket and on May 28th, 2012 Loyola hoisted its’ first ever NCAA Championship in lacrosse. It was a sight to behold.
After 14 consecutive losing seasons and fans refusing to go to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles brought back meaningful baseball to Charm City. While still being ignored halfway through the season, Baltimore proved all of the naysayers and so called “experts” wrong as they battled in September and clinched their first playoff berth since 1997 as the second Wild Card team. Despite being the underdogs (as they had been all season) the Orioles walked into Texas and beat the powerful Rangers in the one game playoff to advance to the American League Division Series against the hated New York Yankees. Although the Birds came up just short, playoff baseball had returned to Baltimore and the atmosphere was electric at Yard!
Perhaps the crowned jewel of the Baltimore sports world, the Baltimore Ravens continued the trend of local winners. The Ravens, much like their baseball counterparts, consistently were labeled underdogs as they entered the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. After making easy work of the visiting Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore hit the road to take on the heavily favored Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. Courtesy of the ‘Mile High Miracle’, the Ravens disposed of the Broncos in double overtime to advance to their third AFC Championship game in five seasons. Baltimore proceeded to figuratively and physically beat up the Patriots to setup a ‘Harbowl’ in Super Bowl XLVII. Ray Lewis’ last ride ended with his everlasting confetti falling experience and Baltimore brought back the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in franchise history.
From one football to another, the Baltimore Blast would not be out done in the sudden resurgence of Baltimore sports glory. After losing in the MISL Championship in 2011 and 2012, the Blast had something to prove and desperately wanted to hoist the ship in 2013. The Blast tied for the best record in the regular season and entered the playoffs with one goal in mind. In game one of the Championship series, the Blast demolished the Missouri Comets 21-12 and although they were shutout in the first half, Baltimore fought its way back and secured the 2013 MISL Championship with a 8-6 victory in game two.
The final leg of this great 14 month journey was the Towson University baseball team. After nearly seeing their program shutdown due to budget cuts, the Tigers made an incredible run through the CAA tournament going undefeated as the four seed to secure a berth in the NCAA Baseball tournament. Not letting the big stage scare them, Towson won their first game in the tournament against Florida Atlantic 7-2, but a loss to North Carolina in their next matchup setup a rematch with Florida Atlantic and lost a heartbreaker in the elimination game 6-5. Their run was extremely inspirational and capped off one of the greatest 14 months of Baltimore sports that this city has ever seen.
This is Josh Michael, aka Baltimore Sports Nut and I hope you have enjoyed this post and look forward to hitting the air waves on Friday at 3:30 as I take my shot at becoming the next King of Baltimore Sports Media!
Posted on 19 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut
Ok, I was having a great Baltimore sports weekend, the Blast won Friday Night, Towson absolutely destroyed New Hampshire at New Hampshire without their best defensive player, and the Ravens were about to play at Pittsburgh in the best rivalry in the NFL…..then I got pissed off to say the least.
How in the world did the FCS selection committee keep the Towson Tigers out of the tournament? They absolutely beat the hell out of New Hampshire, the 7th ranked team in the country, in their own stadium. Not good enough! Towson also scored the most points against LSU, yes that LSU, at Death Valley than any other team has all year! Not good enough, oh Towson also lost to a Kent State team that is currently in the top 25 in the BCS rankings as well, and played them close. Not good enough! I feel bad for the Tigers and WNST’s own Damon Yaffe, you litterally got robbed and those players deserve better.
UMBC played an outstanding game at North Carolina and took them to penalty kicks to decide the game, have to admire that effort and am proud of the Retrievers. UNC is the defending National Champs, not too bad for a school with county in its name!
The University of Maryland announces they are attempting to leave the ACC and head to the Big 10. WHAT?? Good luck with that, I know more goes into that move than just Athletics, but we all know Athletics are your biggest money maker, and its going to be pure embarassment when they join the Big 10. Wooo they have their own TV network, joyous occassion to get beat on TV every week. Maryland was already struggling to bring in big time recruits, don’t see the Terrapins beating out Ohio State and Michigan for top recruits much easier than beating North Carolina and Duke, or even Virginia Tech for that matter…..disappointing.
Ahhh some emotion uplifting, the Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, couldn’t be happier, sure the offense could play better and undoubtedly Cam Cameron could have called a better game, but we are 8-2 with a two game lead in the AFC North! Turn on WNST this morning and all I hear is how disappointed fans are with the win?? the win?? Wow, simply stunning. Baltimore is 8-2 right? Sure we have to get better, but what team in week 11 doesn’t say to themselves, “we need to get better before the playoffs”. Zero, listen to the New England Patriots, they are always stating how they have pleanty of things to work on.
Bring on San Diego, and let’s make it 9-2!
Posted on 18 November 2012 by John Sears
The Towson University football program was robbed of a spot in the 2012 FCS Playoffs today. The selection committee who determines who makes the cut and who doesn’t, is shrouded in mystery. No one truly knows the criteria in order to make it except that each conference has one automatic bid.
This year, Towson repeated as champions of the CAA (sharing it with four other teams) and finished with a 7-4 overall record and 6-2 in the CAA. They finished the season with a 4 game win streak knowing that their playoff hopes were on the line. All five of their conference road games were against ranked opponents. They won all but one, against James Madison; a game in which they had the lead in the final minutes but lost 13-10.
Towson finished the season ranked 15th in the Sports Network FCS poll, the poll widely recognized as the definitive poll in FCS play. They were never unranked at any point. They were 1-2 in their non conference schedule, beating St. Francis. Their two losses came against LSU, who are 3rd in the BCS rankings, and Kent State who had one loss and won the MAC conference. They put up points against both teams and even lead LSU at one point in the game.
In the FCS playoffs, 10 teams receive an automatic bid for “winning” their conference. Villanova received the autobid from the CAA even though 4 teams were co-champions. They received the bid based on combined record against the remaining 3 teams (Towson, New Hampshire, and Richmond). Towson beat Villanova by 14 on the road.
The remaining 10 spots are “at large” and take into account the teams who didn’t receive their conference’s autobid. They were given to Cal Poly (Big Sky), Appalachian State (Southern), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Montana State (Big Sky), New Hampshire (CAA), Old Dominion (CAA), Sam Houston State (Southland), South Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Stony Brook (Big South) and Wofford (Southern).
I have no qualms with ODU making it because they beat Towson and are clearly one of the best teams at the FCS level though they are moving to the FBS level Conference USA next season and their non conference schedule includes imposing Duquesne, Hampton and Campbell (sarcasm implied). I do, however, wonder how New Hampshire made it over Towson even though the Tigers beat them on the road by 29 points. Also, New Hampshire’s out of conference schedule included Holy Cross, Minnesota, and Central Connecticut. Overwhelming right? Yeah didn’t think so.
I also take issue with the fact that two teams ranked below Towson (Illinois State at 16th and South Dakota State at 19th) made it in over them. Illinois State’s non conference schedule included Dayton, Eastern Michigan, and Eastern Illinois. While South Dakota State’s included Kansas, South East Louisiana and UC Davis. How can you penalize Towson for playing a harder schedule than most teams.
How does the 15th best team in the FCS not make it into a 20 team playoff that should be comprised of the best teams in the nation? Towson not only should have made it over half these teams but also should have hosted a game. I mean they beat two out of the three teams that made it from their own conference!
My first thought was money. As it should be with the NCAA. However, Towson sold out their playoff game last year against Lehigh so that couldn’t be it, right?
Towson isn’t the only team that got snubbed. CAA teams, Richmond and JMU should have also received a bid. It baffles me how the best conference in the FCS, often referred to as the SEC of the FCS, has so many snubs.
The university, the players, the students, and the fans were robbed of one more game with a group of seniors who brought football back to my school and made Saturdays fun again. I hope the FCS selection committee can sleep at night knowing that their decisions have no integrity or merit after these decisions.
Posted on 23 October 2012 by Drew Forrester
Suddenly, Towson University football is in the spotlight.
In 2011, it was for an upstart season that literally saw the school go from bottom of the barrel to top of the league in one of the most shocking single-season turnarounds ever.
Now, head coach Rob Ambrose is on the hot seat for some alleged non-compliance issues surrounding practice time and a couple of malcontents who suddenly decided they no longer wanted to hear the coach’s foul language while running laps at 6am.
I’ll handle this the way I deal with everything else here at WNST.net. I’ll give you the truth and the story-behind-the-story. You won’t find this at The Sun and you most certainly won’t hear this on the FM station in town because most of the people on the air over there wouldn’t know how to get Johnny Unitas Stadium or the Towson Center if you gave them a GPS and a free meal for showing up.
If you’re interested in knowing the truth, here it comes.
First, let me offer a friendly reminder of how sports works. This isn’t meant to endorse the practices that take place in the locker room or on the field, but it’s just the way things go. There’s an old saying when guys or gals hop on a plane and head to “Sin City” for a bachelor or bachelorette party — “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It’s seedy and dirty and almost comical that the Las Vegas visitor’s bureau markets themselves as a destination to forget about your core values, but that’s what they do and, frankly, it probably works wonders for their revenue stream.
Substitute the word “locker room” in place of “Vegas” and there you have the sports theme.
“What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.” Or, it should.
Think back to the scene in A Few Good Men when Private Santiago reported one of his peers for an illegal fence line shooting. He was dealt with by the two young Marines on trial because he violated the credo — “what happens in the field, stays in the field.”
It’s the same thing going on at Towson, except no one ordered a code red.
And no one got hurt.
The two young men who stepped forward – only one was willing to publish his name, if that matters to you – suggested that Ambrose filed incorrect practice time logs in an effort to hide from the compliance folks that he was “over-practicing” his football team. They also claimed that Ambrose used inappropriate and foul language, most notably prior to the team’s September 18 home game vs. Saint Frances.
Always remember this: Just because someone says “this is what happened” doesn’t actually mean that’s what happened. It might mean that’s what you PERCEIVED happened…but that doesn’t mean it went that way in real-life. We at WNST – and me, specifically – found that out nearly two years ago when a former media member in town filed a completely baseless and fraudulent lawsuit against the station. Immediately there were folks in town who said, “Did you hear what those guys at WNST did to xxx-xxxxx?” Well, as it turned out some 6 months later, we didn’t really “do” anything. Once of the odor of $800,000 disappeared because there wasn’t any REAL evidence in place to support such a lawsuit, the whole case was suddenly dropped like a Lee Evans touchdown catch in the AFC championship game. So, I know firsthand about the whole issue of “just because someone says this is what happened doesn’t necessarily mean that’s really what happened.”
Now, these two young men who stepped forward (and there are rumors that others are in the process of perhaps doing the same thing in the next day or two) obviously felt strongly enough about their “case” that it led them to go public with all of it.
Are they wrong for bringing those issues to light?
They’re not wrong, per-se. Sure, they might have violated the unwritten rule that most college and professional sports abide by which, as I noted above, is to consider things that happen “in the family” need to stay in the family.
But if they felt as if they were in danger, somehow, they had every right to “report” their coach.
The fact of the matter is that at no time were those two players or anyone else ever in danger or was their health ever at risk.
Here’s what I know about Rob Ambrose. He’s a tough coach. He wants to win. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why Towson has been winning over the last 13 months.
I also know he’s loud and over-bearing and very capable of salty language…sort of like the Wyoming coach who lost his mind last weekend when they lost a close game to Air Force.
Is Rob Ambrose capable of lashing out at kids who are late, not paying attention or insubordinate, as one of his star players was just an hour or so prior to last Saturday’s game against Old Dominion? Absolutely. Guess what? Coach K at Duke is not only capable of doing the exact same thing, he wrote Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the book on “How to scream at your players and still love them and get the best out of them.”
(Please see next page)