Local college hoops: Towson not in St. Joe’s class

December 09, 2008 | Drew Forrester

In what could only be fairly described as one of the most listless efforts in the Pat Kennedy era, Towson University got hammered at home by St. Joseph’s on Tuesday night, 85-64.

If the game would have doubled as a court case, the judge would have cited the Tigers for “failure to appear”.

Towson trailed 38-31 at the half and needed a good start to the final twenty minutes to work their way back in the game, played before an energized crowd of 2,619 at the Towson Center.  Instead, it was St. Joe’s who came out firing in the second half as they quickly jumped out to a 14-point lead to turn a ballgame into a laugher.

Ahmad Nivens led the Hawks with 25 points and did most of the damage to Towson as he continually pounded the boards and out-muscled numerous Tigers for the ball under the basket.  Darrin Govens chipped in 22 for St. Joseph’s (4-4) and was equally effective in the final 20 minutes as he also took advantage of the Tigers’ inability to battle.

As the second half rolled on and the deficit increased, Towson’s defense disappeared as quickly as Redskins’ fans leaving M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night.  And the Hawks didn’t let up, as they scored three straight fast break buckets to open a 24-margin with five minutes to play before Phil Martelli emptied his bench down the stretch.

Towson was out-rebounded 37-20, a sure sign that intensity and energy, along with the will to fight for the ball, just weren’t there for the Tigers.

“I’m surprised we didn’t respond better,” Pat Kennedy said afterwards while talking on his post-game radio show.  “We just weren’t very tough in the second half and we’re going to have look very closely at that and figure out what happened.  Right now, I don’t have much of an explanation other than to say we needed a better effort in the second half and we didn’t get it.”

That’s a coach’s way of saying his team gave up when the going got tough.

Granted, Towson (4-5) has played a reasonably difficult non-conference schedule to date, with games against Villanova, Penn State, St. Joseph’s (all losses) and defending America East champion, UMBC.  Only the game against the Retrievers last week provided a favorable result – and the losses were by an average of 21 points.  Combine those numbers with an 11-point defeat at home in last Saturday’s conference opener against Hofstra and you have reason to be concerned if you’re Pat Kennedy or a member of his staff.

To lose to a quality program like St. Joseph’s is one thing.  

But for the players to throw in the towel in the final 10 minutes and allow the Hawks to run-up the score is something all together different.

Kennedy and his staff have a tough assignment tomorrow when they gather the team for practice.

How do you tell the players you feel like they didn’t put forth their best effort, yet build them up for Saturday’s game at High Point?

The proof will be in the game film.

Players can THINK they played hard or THINK they gave it their best effort.

But the game tape NEVER lies.

And when they watch it, the Towson players will see for themselves that Tuesday’s EFFORT was the reason they lost by 21 points.  

It was so bad, I wouldn’t blame Kennedy if he ran a double feature tomorrow.

I’m a fan of the Towson basketball program, make no mistake about it.  But tonight wasn’t good enough.

The players need to know that.

I can only imagine Pat Kennedy will make it well known to all of them the next time he sees them.