In This Corner: Skerry poised to succeed
The most painful part of the Pat Skerry era has come to an end.
The Tigers finished out Skerry’s first season as head coach with a 1-31 record.
Although that record is historically bad, let’s look at the positives. Towson won one more Colonial Athletic Association game than the Pat Kennedy-coached squad did the season before.
That might just be the only positive, apart from the play of Rob Nwankwo.
Many Towson students might feel embarrassed about the Towson basketball program.
Considering that the program lost an NCAA Division-I record 41 straight games; was made the joke of the nation, thanks to ESPN’s SportsCenter; and was the subject of a Grantland.com article titled “A Visit With the Worst College Basketball Team in America,” that embarrassment might be warranted.
Although Skerry will tell you otherwise, he does not deserve the blame for such an atrocious season, and neither do the players.
Years of uninvolved coaching allowed a program that had a promising future with high-potential players to struggle on and off the field and become a big mess in the hands of Skerry and his assistants.
The circumstances in which Skerry took over the program were not perfect.
After Kennedy was fired, it became clear that many of his players would leave Towson as well. When the top-scorer from 2010-11, Isaiah Philmore, decided he was going to transfer out of Towson (now at Xavier), everyone knew that Skerry’s first season would be a rough one.
Though I don’t think anyone could have predicted that it would be as bad as it was.
When Skerry’s top recruit for this past season, Kelvin Amayo, was ruled ineligible to play, everyone knew that a team with one point guard was going to have some serious, serious issues on the court.
The lack of depth and talent forced a team filled with mostly freshmen and sophomores to play out of position.
When inexperienced players are forced into situations in which they are uncomfortable, they are being set up for failure.
In a perfect world, Kris Walden would not have started any games this season.
Out of necessity, he started all 32 and led all CAA freshmen in minutes per game.
As the only point guard on the roster, he was thrown into the fire early in his collegiate career. Because of it, he turned the ball over quite often, but did improve as the time went on.
The one message that Skerry sent to his players is that they were all fighting for playing time, or even a spot on next season’s roster.
Now that transfers Mike Burwell (USF) and Jerrelle Benimon (Georgetown) are eligible to play, the team is already improving and two starting spots are already taken for next year. If these two had played this year, the Tigers might have won four or five more games.
The program also adds four highly-regarded high school recruits, two of which are guards. All four of them received three-star ratings and were rated in the 80s by ESPN.
Although I don’t expect the Tigers to be competing for the CAA Championship next season, around 10 to 15 wins is not out of the question.
Now that the first season is behind Skerry, don’t be surprised how quickly the program turns around.