Monday, June 18, 2012
Towson's time in the cellar may be over
By Eamonn Brennan
No, I don't mean the Colonial Athletic Association cellar. The Towson Tigers have been there for years, of course, but that's a small byproduct of Towson's continued existence in the ur-cellar -- of the entirety of Division I basketball itself.
From 2010-12, the Tigers posted a 5-56 record, including a 0-41 stretch and zero -- yes, zero -- wins throughout the calendar year 2011, a mark that was only broken by the 2012 Tigers' lone victory. (This win over UNC-Wilmington mercifully moved Towson off the Bottom 10 in early February, which was obviously a motivating factor.) In 2012, the Tigers finished ranked No. 338 (out of 345 teams) in Ken Pomeroy's final efficiency rankings. Towson has never been particularly good, especially in the past decade. But in the past two years -- 2011 was former coach Pat Kennedy's first season; 2012 was Pat Skerry's first in deep-dive rebuilding mode -- few teams in the sport have managed to match the Tigers for sheer futility.
Don't look now, but that futility may soon become a thing of the past. The largest indicator of such came this week, when former Vermont freshman Four McGlynn announced his decision, after late transfer-release drama with the Catamounts, to transfer to Towson, according to the York Daily Record. McGlynn said he spoke with Penn State and Virginia Commonwealth, among other schools, about his future plans, but ultimately chose the Tigers thanks to the proximity to his hometown (Dallastown, Pa., about 50 minutes north of Towson's campus) as well as his comfort with Skerry, the energetic second-year coach.
McGlynn, the America East Rookie of the Year last season, told the York Daily Record he believes Towson is rebuilding. He might well be right. Per the usual transfer restrictions, McGlynn won't be able to take the court until next fall, but the 2012 Tigers are already looking much more capable thanks to two transfers Skerry landed last summer. Forward Jerrelle Benimon appeared in 29 games for Georgetown before his transfer to Towson; guard Mike Burwell appeared 31 times for South Florida in the 2010-11 season. Neither player is going to change the trajectory of Towson forever, but both are obviously of much higher quality than Towson has recruited at any point in the recent past.
Throw in Towson's new arena -- a 5,200-seat arena tentatively set to open in May 2013, complete with garish tiger stripes all over the court -- and it's clear the Tigers are headed in a new direction. Climbing out of a cellar this deep is never easy, and no one will expect the Tigers to challenge for an NCAA tournament bid anytime soon. But for the first time in a long time, the Towson Tigers men's basketball program has hope.