It’s been four days since Towson wrapped up one it’s most successful seasons ever. By finishing 18-13 after a 1-31 record last year the Tigers improved by 17.5 games, a new NCAA record for biggest turn around in one year’s time.
However, in those four days I have not been able to put in adequate terms, just how shocking this is. I watched Towson lose many games last year in which they were clearly overmatched and despite playing very hard, had no realistic chance to win. Improvement was expected this y ear. How much improvement, I had said if things went really well, they might win 12 to 13 games. Most people thought I was being overly optimistic, or that I really had no clue as to how much that was asking of a team.
However, having a chance to see this year’s transfers Jerrelle Benimon, Mike Burwell and Bilal Dixon in practice on a regular basis, I could tell this was a team loaded with talent. It was only a question if they would stay healthy, and they stayed remarkably healthy, and if they could play as a team with all the individual talent.
I knew one thing from watching head coach Pat Skerry last year. He had a way of getting his team to do what he wanted them to do. In addition, to do what is necessary in his game plan to win, that being rebound and play defense. “Everything starts with rebounding and defending the ball. If we do that we’ll have a chance to be very good,” Skerry said before this season started.
I have many thoughts on this season and a lot to say about the team, coaching staff, administration and everyone at Towson. Nevertheless, I want to wait until the league awards are handed out late this week in Richmond, Virginia.
I’ll write in more detail then on how this season started with hopes and expectations of an improved team and morphed into being one of the best stories of the college basketball season for any team. This weekend seven of the 11 teams in the CAA will be in Richmond to play for the CAA Title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Skerry and Towson are not playing in the CAA tournament, because they are ineligible for the NCAA tourney, and therefore cannot play in the league tournament.
Saturday’s win over Hofstra drew the largest crowed in several years at the Towson Center. Over 4,000 fans showed up to say goodbye to the 35-year-old arena and to recognize more than two dozen players from past Towson teams going back over 35 years.
Next year Towson moves into brand new Tiger Arena. When I was researching some facts on the Towson Center the term “state of the art” was used to describe the facility that would host some of the most notable acts in music, comedy, sports and a sitting President of the United States, when Barack Obama attended last season’s Oregon State game. I find it funny that all these years later, that same term is used to describe new arenas of today. It’s just that what was state of the art then barely passes for useful today.
The Tigers and Tiger Arena will both bring a lot of excitement to a school and program that has its sights set on being considered the class of the CAA. They opened those doors this year, and next year the team will step inside a completely new territory and arena. We will see what the view is like in both places.