Towson hands hoops rebuilding project to Pat Skerry

April 05, 2011 | Drew Forrester

So the task of reviving the Towson University basketball program has been handed to former Pitt assistant coach Pat Skerry. He’ll be introduced at a press conference at Towson later today, but he better start recruiting by the evening news if he wants to meet the timetable established by athletic director Mike Waddell.

Here’s Skerry’s bio from the recent Pitt media guide.

Waddell spoke to the local media on Monday once word leaked out that Skerry was his choice and put his new coach on a 3-year watch-list with hopes of winning again by the time Towson’s new basketball arena opens in 2013.

I respect the effort and hours of pursuit that Waddell just went through in bringing on a new coach, but I don’t think he and I are watching the same Colonial Athletic Association if he thinks Towson can “win” in the next 3 years. Or maybe we just have a different definition of winning.

To me, when you say, “we plan on winning”, that means either a regular season conference championship or a conference tournament title that gets your program an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

No offense to Pat Skerry or Mike Waddell, but Towson would need a minor miracle to win in the next three years. Biggest reason? They don’t really have much of a nucleus right now. And their best player, junior-to-be Isaiah Philmore, is already dropping cryptic Facebook hints about “doing the right thing for my career.”

If Philmore leaves, Towson’s really in a hole.

Then again, they went 0-18 WITH him this past-season.

Skerry will take over a program that is in desperate need of a full-on infusion of just about everything that makes a college team successful. Towson needs it all: more money for the program, better players, more fan support, better players, better players and…better players.

If Pat Skerry can get those things together and on point in a year or two, they should name the new court after him when the building opens for the 2013 season.

This is not a job for the meek of heart.

But Skerry has been down this road before, with CAA experience at William and Mary nearly a decade ago. And he’s been toughened recently while working on the bench at Pitt, where he saw night after night what kind of effort and heart it takes to compete in perhaps the nation’s top conference, the Big East.

I’m sure he knows what he’s getting into.

All he had to do was watch the NCAA tournament for validation about the CAA and it’s potential.

And it doesn’t really matter if Skerry wasn’t the school’s first choice, because most job openings aren’t filled by the person that ranks as #1 on the team’s wish list. My guess — and it’s just a hunch — is that Skerry was one of Waddell’s ten hopefuls. That makes him a very viable candidate, to me at least, given how many successful assistant coaches and good mid-major coaches would be interested in a CAA head coach position. The only name Towson didn’t pursue that would have served them well to at least interview was Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman. Waddell refused comment a week or so ago when I asked him about Bozeman, but a source familiar with the hiring process says Bozeman wasn’t contacted. That’s a shame. He would have a good hire at Towson.

And Pat Skerry might very well turn out to be a good hire too.

He brings a wealth of experience to Towson.

He’s known as an outstanding recruiter.

There’s no doubt he’s keenly aware of what it takes to win at the highest level of college basketball.

If the school provides him with the necessary resources and Skerry can sell young men in the Mid-Atlantic on Towson, he’ll have something to work with in this uphill battle he’s taking on today.

I wish him nothing but success.

And may this edition of “Pat’s Cats” have more success than the previous version did.