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What lies ahead?

2 April 2014 By Jesse Jones, Sports Editor No Comments

Heading into the 2013-14 season, Towson carried the burden of high expectations and one goal: make it to the postseason.

The Tigers were predicted by many to win the Colonial Athletic Association and make the NCAA Tournament, and senior forward Jerrelle Benimon was the Preseason CAA Player of the Year.

And while Head Coach Pat Skerry’s team came up just short of a CAA title and an NCAA Tournament berth, the Tigers set multiple program records en route to a quarterfinal appearance in the
CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

“Obviously it’s important and something I’ve talked about here,” Skerry said of making the postseason. “Just under 40 percent of the teams play in the postseason, and I think to remain relevant and to become
relevant consistently in college basketball, you got to play in the postseason.”

Towson won its inaugural game in SECU Arena with a 72-45 victory over Navy and finished the regular season with a 22-9 record, despite losing its first six road games.

The Tigers earned the No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament but suffered a last-second loss to William & Mary. Still, the Tigers finished the season with an overall record of 25-11, the best in program history as a
Division-I team, including a school-record 15 home wins. Towson’s two wins in the CIT were also the first postseason wins in program history as a D-I program.

“I’m proud of our guys, obviously. [It’s] not easy to do,” Skerry said of winning 25 games. “I think only 30 teams did that. We’ve come a long way shortly here. I think the trademark of this team that I’ll always
really appreciate is just how tough they were and just the way they battled on a daily basis.”

Along with team records, the Tigers set several individual records.

Benimon, who was named the CAA Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, set a program record for rebounds in a season with 404. It’s also the second most in CAA history.

The Georgetown transfer played just two seasons in a Tiger uniform, but scored 1,203 points in his career, ranking 16th all-time at Towson.

Benimon will also compete in the 2014 Reese’s College All-Star Game on Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“He’s a special, special player,” Skerry said. “He did so much for us. He’ll have a long and luscious career. I don’t think you can replace him with one guy. We got some guys that are better than some people
realize and some guys coming in.”

Benimon’s classmate, forward Marcus Damas, also reached the 1,000-point mark this season, becoming just the 23rd Tiger to accomplish the feat and finished the season with 1,140 points, good for 19th
all-time.

However, Skerry will have to move forward without Benimon and Damas, along with seniors Mike Burwell and Rafriel Guthrie.

All four finished the season as Towson’s leading scorers and were the only players to average double-figure scoring on the season.

“They’ve done so much,” Skerry said. “Just the way they battled, the way they became leaders and closed in on their degrees, for a young head coach, it’s just a level of great appreciation and respect for those
guys. Those are my guys. I love those guys.”

While replacing the leadership and talent of this year’s seniors presents a challenge, Skerry won’t have to look far for players to lean on.

Sophomore Four McGlynn proved his worth to the team this season. The guard shot 91.3 percent from the free throw line, a school record. He also hit the game-winning shot in Towson’s first Division-I
postseason win, and led the Tigers to their second postseason win with 23 points. He also shot a team-best 42.8 percent from three-point land.

“McGlynn is talented,” Skerry said. “He showed that in stretches and had a solid sophomore year. He has the chance to take the next step up and be a major scorer and we need him to do that.”

Forward Timajh Parker-Rivera grew tremendously in his second year. The sophomore started every game for the Tigers and finished the season with a team-high 44 blocks.

“[Parker-Rivera] really had a great second half of the year,” Skerry said. “An unbelievable motor and who, in my opinion, will take the next step up for us. He also has the makings to be the best leader we’ve
had.”

Freshmen forwards Walter Foster and John Davis, who missed most of the season with an illness, also showed a lot of potential throughout the season.

“Foster was hurt most of the year and battled through that, had a good freshman year,” Skerry said. “He might have the highest ceiling in our program. I think everyone can see that he’ll be really good.

“And getting Davis back late was big for us,” Skerry continued. “It was unfortunate we missed him for a long stretch. He’s the toughest guy we’ve got and he’s going to be a really good player here.”

Skerry also mentioned junior forward Jamel Flash and transfer A.J. Astroth as players to watch out for next season.

The Tigers will also be welcoming in five recruits: forward Allen Costley (Baltimore), point guard Byron Hawkins (Upper Marlboro), Eddie Keith (Orlando, Fl.), Jordan McNeil (Baltimore) and Mike Morsell
(Washington, D.C.).

Costley, a combo guard from Milford Mill, was a first-team All Metro performer, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Hawkins, a point guard, averaged 18.1 points per game at Good Counsel his junior year before transferring to Clinton Christian his senior year.

Keith, a guard/forward, was a two-star recruit and was First Team All-State in Florida’s 6A class.

McNeil, a shooting guard, was a member of a Mount St. Joe’s team that won the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament and played for B’more’s Finest, an AAU program.

Morsell is a wing player who played at St. John’s High School and played for the AAU team DC Assault.

“We’re adding some perimeter guys,” Skerry said. “Hawkins is going to give us something we haven’t had. He’s the fastest kid we’ve had with the ball in his hands. He can shoot it, he’s quick. We’ve got some
long-ranging wings that fit in very well with our style of play, especially defensively and on the backboards. Freshmen are freshmen, but I think on paper, it’s our most talented group of freshmen we’ve had to
date.”


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