Saturday, January 28, 2012
Strange premonition before Towson's win
By Andy Katz
Less than an hour before tipoff Saturday at Towson, Kristen Skerry called her husband Pat and told her that an owl had crashed into a window at their house.
Pat told her to call 911. Kristen called back and said it wasn’t an owl but a hawk. She said it was bleeding and dying on the ground outside the window.
“I said great, we’re playing the Seahawks today, maybe it’s a premonition,’’ Skerry told ESPN.com Saturday afternoon. “I told my assistants that the hawk died at my house and now we have to slay the Seahawks.’’
Towson did just that, snapping an NCAA-record 41-game losing streak with a 66-61 victory over UNC Wilmington. Binghamton (0-21) is now the nation's only winless team.
The victory, the first of Skerry's head-coaching career, was the first for the school since December 2010. On Wednesday, the Tigers play Hofstra, which is tied with Towson at 1-10 in the CAA.
Could this be the start of a win streak?
Maybe. Skerry, who was an assistant at Pitt last season, took over the job with only one returning player, Enrique Gumbs.
“I think we were the only team in the country with one returning letterwinner,’’ Skerry said. “We have six freshmen and we’re trying to reload quickly.
“We’ve got a chance to be competitive quickly. We’re getting players, developing them. We have a winning formula.’’
Skerry said it was bizarre that last season he was on Jamie Dixon’s Pitt staff celebrating a Big East title and now he was celebrating the end of a 41-game losing streak.
He said he had no idea the climb would be this challenging when he took the job, but he said the support has been tremendous and by upgrading facilities (the school is building a new arena), the hope is that Towson will no longer be the doormat in the CAA.
“We’ve been in some games, but we’ve had trouble sustaining things,’’ Skerry said. “We lost to a D-II team in the exhibition season in Virginia State that’s 2-14. I knew then that we were in for a grind.’’
Towson did play well in a seven-point loss at Virginia, but lost by at least a dozen in each of its past eight games before Saturday.
“We have gotten markedly better,’’ Skerry said. “Our problem has been with turnovers and shooting the basketball. I knew there were challenges ahead but we’ve got good recruiting classes coming in.’’
Before the UNC Wilmington game, Towson ranked 344th (out of 344 nationally) in points, 343rd in field goal percentage and 344th in assists.
“It’s been crazy,’’ Skerry said. “But I don’t feel any different right now.’’
The number on the left side of the record is different, though.
And for the long-suffering Tigers, that makes all the difference in the world.