By Corey Johns
Once winners of seven-straight games, the Towson men’s basketball team has hit a wall, struggling to find their way while losing eight of their last nine outings and standing at just 1-3 in conference play.
But according to Towson basketball head coach Pat Skerry, there remains plenty of reason for optimism and reason to believe the young team can still make an impact down the stretch.
“We’ve got to be more consistent,” Skerry said. “You get consistent when you have a greater sense of urgency and that’s what we need to do moving forward.”
Skerry doesn’t need to look back far to show what me means about his team’s inconsistent sense of urgency. Last Saturday, against preseason favorite Northeastern, Skerry said it was “maddening” to see his team fall behind big, come roaring back, only to fall behind big again and repeat the process.
“Lately, we just haven’t done a good enough job winning close game,” he said. “That was our trademark the last couple of years but we have to get back on track.”
In a way, Skerry said getting his team back on track and getting them back to the level they were at when they won seven in a row, is as simple as just playing more consistently and executing plays.
“There’s no magic to make it happen,” he said.
Junior guard Four McGlynn and graduate wing Alex Gavrilovic are the two players Skerry will look to lean on to spark the turn around. McGlynn, who leads the team in scoring (12.5 ppg), and Gavrilovic, who leads the team in 3-point percentage (41.5 percent), are two veterans who know how to win and get to the NCAA Tournament.
As a freshman, McGlynn carried the offensive load for a Vermont Catamounts team that not only won the America East championship, but won an NCAA tournament game. Just last year, Gavrilovic was a member of the Dayton Flyers team that upset Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford to make the Elite 8.
“You need to fall back on some of your veteran guys, especially in conference play,” Skerry said, adding, “It’s big.”
McGlynn and Gavrilovic, along with freshman guard Byron Hawkins, form the outside shooting trio Skerry’s offense revolves around. Early in the year all three hitting from downtown, but during the last nine games they been hit or miss.
Junior Timajh Parker-Rivera and sophomores John Davis and Walt Foster all have potential to become All-Conference players in the front court before they graduate. Parker-Rivera is a very long, 6-foot-7 inside player with tremendous athleticism and a great ability to run the floor. Davis is a bit shorter but stocky, at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. He ranks second on the team with 10.4 points per game while leading the team with 7.9 rebounds. This year he’s reached double-digits in score 11 games and had recorded a double-double six times. Foster has come on strong lately, averaging over nine points per game over his past three outings.
But what could really make the Tigers a dangerous team as the season becomes a grind is their depth. Ten different players have played in at least 15 games this year and all of them have averaged at least 14 minutes per contest. Towson’s ability to play a lot of bodies and keep their players fresh will be especially important by the time the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament comes. Then there is the tournament itself, which will be played in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, practically in the Tiger’s back yard.
Four games over four days – what the tournament champion will have to win — is as much of a grind as anything in sports but Towson’s athleticism combined with their depth makes them built for such an event. But it will all come down to consistency.
“I really like the group,” Skerry said. “It’s a high ceiling….but we’re looking for consistent play.”