CAA Preview: Towson Tigers

Image result for towson tigersBy: Justin Littman

Head Coach: Pat Skerry (8th season)

Last Season: 18-14 (8-10, 5th in CAA); lost to William & Mary in CAA Quarterfinals

Losses:

  • G Zane Martin (20 ppg; transferred to New Mexico)
  • F Justin Gorham (transferred to Houston)
  • F Mike Morsell
  • F Eddie Keith
  • G Brian Starr
  • G Deshaun Morman
  • G Jordan McNeil
  • G Travis Ingram
  • G Van Rolle
  • Jeffrey Prophete

Newcomers:

  • G Allen Betrand
  • G Chris Caliguiran
  • G Jakigh Dottin
  • G Quinton Drayton
  • G Brian Fobbs (transfer from Genesee Community College)
  • F Juwan Gray (transfer from San Diego)
  • G Tobias Howard (transfer from Chipola College)
  • F Nakye Sanders (transfer from Duquesne)
  • F Yagizhan Selcuk
  • G Nicholas Timberlake
  • F Solomon Uyaelunmo

If you take a look at the Towson Tigers this season and wonder whether the CAA added a new team this year, you are not alone. After an offseason filled with graduations and unexpected transfers, head coach Pat Skerry faces a challenge that few other tenured coaches have ever had to bear. Unprecedented roster turnover has left Towson with just two returning players from last year, Dennis Tunstall and Alex Thomas, who accounted for just 7 percent of the team’s scoring output last season (each averaged 2.7 ppg).

While Towson lost 5 players to graduation, it was the loss of two blossoming stars, Zane Martin and Justin Gorham, that truly provided the knockout blow. Martin, one of the leading scorers in the CAA as a sophomore last season, initially declared for the draft before withdrawing and transferring to New Mexico. Gorham, another sophomore, had seven double-doubles in conference play, and seemingly improved in every game he played. For a program that seemed like they were on the cusp of building something great, the loss of these two was a devastating blow.

While the outlook may seem bleak, keep in mind that Pat Skerry has dealt with a trickier situation before. When Skerry took the program eight seasons ago, the Tigers had won just four games in the previous year. Sure, it wasn’t all sunshine and blue skies at first, as the Tigers won just one game in his inaugural season. But Skerry’s positive demeanor persisted, and the Tigers quickly climbed the CAA ranks to finish second in the league in each of the next two years. Since that first season, the Tigers have finished in the bottom half of the league just once.

Skerry has a lot of new faces to balance, 11 to be exact, and it’s anybody’s guess to see exactly how this rotation plays out. Nakye Sanders, a transfer from Duquesne, and Juwan Gray, from San Diego, are the only two newcomers with Division I experience. The Tigers bring on seven new freshmen, who will have plenty to play for as Towson looks for the players to usher in a new era. The other two are Junior College transfers, a  path we have seen most recently with Kevin Keatts at UNCW, though that success was likely the exception to the rule.

So what’s the moral of this story? Just because the names are new and unfamiliar does not necessarily mean it’s all bad for Towson. A clean slate means they have an opportunity to redefine their identity. While size and strength was good enough to fend off mid-major foes in the CAA, this program never really had much of a chance against major programs with bodies just as big. With the game of basketball trending more towards a pace and space style, perhaps Towson will head in a similar direction.

Bottom Line: There’s no denying the fact that this program has been totally depleted. Coach Skerry will do his best to build this program up once more, but in the short term there are far more questions than answers. This should lead to a competitive practice environment, and the young players may very well be better off in the long-run. While this team lacks talent, they most certainly will not lack heart. Don’t expect the Tigers to finish in the top half of the CAA, but teams will have to be ready to go when they face this team.

 

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