Towson basketball has potential to go on March run

Special to One-Bid Wonders from So Much Sports Baltimore.

By Corey Johns

Towson sharp shooter Four McGlynn. Courtesy photo / Corey Johns
Towson sharp shooter Four McGlynn. Courtesy photo / 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.”

OBW CAA Power Rankings v8

The Pride remain atop the OBW CAA Power Rankings. Courtesy photo / Hofstra Athletics
The Pride remain atop the OBW CAA Power Rankings. Courtesy photo / Hofstra Athletics

This is really shaping up to be one heck of a CAA season, at least for the league’s top-tier programs. Hofstra continues to pace the pack, powered by it’s trio of star guards and the return of bruising freshman forward Rokas Gustys, but Northeastern, William & Mary and even UNC-Wilmington have all shown that they have the fire power to play with anyone in the league. With huge Wednesday showdowns at Northeastern between the Huskies and the Hofstra Pride, and at UNC-Wilmington where the Seahawks host William & Mary, this week will tell a lot about how the cream of the CAA crop match up.

Here’s a look at how we see the league stacking up in our latest OBW CAA Power Rankings.

1. Hofstra (13-4, 4-0 in CAA)
Results: W 71-66 at College of Charleston; W 79-61 at Elon.
This week: Wednesday vs Northeastern; Saturday vs UNC-Wilmington.
There’s only two teams who stand a chance against the Pride’s offensive force and that’s Northeastern and William & Mary. The Cougars tried to make Juan’ya Green earn his points from the line but he went 13-14, while Ameen Tanksley hit four 3-pointers. Tanksley then lit the Phoenix for 25 points, after Elon had just upset William & Mary. The Pride have scoring threats throughout its starting line-up and its bench in Dion Nesmith.

2. Northeastern (11-5, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: W 65-59 at James Madison; W 52-49 at Towson.
This week: Wednesday vs Hofstra; Saturday vs College Charleston.
When in doubt, give the ball to Scott. After UNC-Wilmington shocked the Huskies on their home court, Eatherton posted 13 point and 13 rebounds against the Dukes and then followed it up with a perfect shooting night against Towson (21 points on 10-10 shooting). It’s a little troublesome that Northeastern allowed the Tigers to rally late in the game but Wednesday marks the true test for the Huskies.

3. William & Mary (9-6, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: L 85-79 at Elon; W 81-73 vs James Madison.
This week: Wednesday vs UNC-Wilmington; Saturday at Towson.
What a week for Terry Tarpey. Before posting the first triple-double in William & Mary history (18 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) against the Dukes, the junior guard recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds against Elon. If the Tribe could have stopped rookie Elijah Bryant, they would still be undefeated in the CAA.

4. UNC-Wilmington (8-7, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: W 74-73 vs Delaware; W 62-57 vs Drexel.
This week: Wednesday vs William & Mary; Saturday vs Hofstra.
The Seahawks may not hold the No. 4 spot for two long after all. After an outstanding effort against the Huskies, UNC-Wilmington nearly dropped one to a Kory Holden-led Blue Hens, the last-place team in the CAA. Freshman Jordon Talley, a key part of the Seahawks’ defense and offense was held to just 2 points in that game. When he plays well, UNC-W is on par with Northeastern and William & Mary – but good luck heavily relying on a freshman all season.

5. Elon (10-7, 2-2 in CAA)
Results: W 85-79 vs.William & Mary; L 79-61 vs Hofstra.
This week: Wednesday vs College of Charleston; Saturday at Hofstra.
Elon stood no chance against the Pride but had their most convincing win of the year against William & Mary. Elijah Bryant continued to impress with 25 points and Tanner Sampson had 20 points on 6-14 shooting – all makes and attempts from behind the line. Sampson lives and dies behind the arc and its becoming more of a problem for the Phoenix. When he only makes two 3-pointers Elon loses big (i.e. Saturday’s game against Drexel).

6. James Madison (9-8, 2-2 in CAA)
Results: L 65-59 vs. Northeastern; L 81-73 vs. William & Mary
This week: Thursday at Drexel; Saturday vs Elon
You can’t win games if you can’t play two halves of solid basketball. The Dukes closed the first half on a 21-9 run against the Huskies but allowed Northeastern to go on a 13-3 run and a 13-0 run in the second. If the Dukes can’t finish games, Drexel could have a chance to steal one from JMU.

7. Towson (8-9, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: L 55-41 vs. Drexel; L 52-49 vs. Northeastern
This week: Wednesday at Delaware; Saturday vs. William & Mary.
Towson has lost eight of its last nine, including a defeat to a completely downtrodden Delaware squad, and the trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon. This is what happens when you schedule Goucher in non-conference play.

8. Drexel (3-12, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: W 55-41 at Towson; L 64-57 at UNC-W.
This week: Thursday vs. JMU; Saturday at Delaware.
The Dragons’ loss against UNC-Wilmington encapsulated their season. Damion Lee scores a career-high 32 and no other player scores above eight.

9. Delaware (2-13, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: L 74-73 OT @ UNC-W; W 64-58 @ Charleston
This week: Wednesday vs. Towson; Saturday vs. Drexel.
The Kory Holden-led Blue Hens may very well send the Tigers and the Dragons home with losses this week. Delaware is playing with a spark after taking the Seahawks to overtime and taking their first CAA victory over the Cougars.

10. College of Charleston (5-12, 0-4 in CAA)
Results: L 71-66 vs Hofstra; L 64-58 vs Delaware.
This week: Wednesday at Elon; Saturday at Northeastern.
A loss against Delaware marked the Cougars’ ninth straight. With Elon and Northeastern coming up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cougars claim the longest losing streak in the CAA.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Terry Tarpey, G, JR, William & Mary

The Connecticut-native showed the nation there’s more to the Tribe than just Marcus Thornton. Thornton hit 3-pointers against JMU but Tarpey did a little bit of everything and made program history with a triple double.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Kory Holden, G, FR, Delaware

Elijah Bryant made this one hard, but Holden has provided a spark for the Blue Hens that needs to be recognized. The rookie scores 25 and pulls down seven rebounds in a overtime win against UNC-W and then follows it with 14 points for the Blue Hens first win against the Cougars. I said a couple weeks ago that Bryant should just get the award now. I stand corrected.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Terry Tarpey, G, William & Mary

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Rokas Gustys, G, Hofstra
Donovan Gilmore, F, Charleston
Hari Hall, G, James Madison

Towson basketball comeback attempt falls short against Northeastern

Four McGlynn has struggled from 3-point range in January, going just 3-for-19 in four games. Photo credit: Corey Johns
Four McGlynn has struggled from 3-point range in January, going just 3-for-19 in four games. Photo credit: Corey Johns

Special to One-Bid Wonders from So Much Sports Baltimore.

By Corey Johns

Towson basketballheld the preseason CAA favorite Northeastern Huskies to just two points over the final eight minutes as they attempted to mount a comeback, but their late 3-point attempt to tie the game rattled out.

“I like how hard we played but we just didn’t do quite enough,” Head Coach Pet Skerry said. “I thought both teams played hard but we got to keep grinding, we’ll get their. We didn’t just get quite enough done.”

While the Tigers played well defensively to keep Northeastern mostly off the scoreboard for nearly one quarter of the game, their own offensive struggles did not allow them to capitalize as they dropped to 8-9 on the season with a 52-49 loss.

The Tigers made half their shots during that late stretch but only scored nine points and failed to make four of their five 3-point attempts.

While Skerry felt his team had good looks from three-point range late in the game, they team went just 4-for-17 from distance in the game. Four McGlynn, who leads the Tigers with 28 threes this year, double Alex Gavrilovic’s second-best total, has been ice-cold from 3-point range in January, going just 3-for-19 in four games.

McGlynn, finished the game with nine points in the game, as did Gavilovic after sinking three three’s in the game. John Davis led Towson with 11 points t go with six rebounds and a block. He was also the only Tiger to get to the foul line, where he went 3-for-4.

Earlier in the season, during their 7-1 start, Towson would used their incredible front court depth to establish themselves in the paint and draw fouls but against Northeastern they were outscored 38-26 inside and barely got to the line.

Northeastern built up as much as a 12-point lead in the first half after Quincey Ford hit a jumper with 4:30 remaining before intermission but back-to-back layups by Timajh Parker-Rivera, the second coming after a steal on a fast-break, and a third-straight layup by Eddie Keith II in barely over 30 seconds, gave Towson momentum going into halftime.

Out of the break, Towson continues to bring is. In the first four minutes of the second half, Towson went on an 8-2 lead to tie the game at 34 a piece following a fastbreak layup by Davis. Northeastern did score five-quick points but the Tigers seemed to be getting in a groove offensively after Gavrilovic sunk a three to make it 39-37 just over five minutes into the second half.

But Northeastern’s defense stood their ground and didn’t allow a Tiger score for the next five minutes as they built up a nine-point lead and regained a double-digit lead after a dunk by Ford with 8:04 remaining in the game.

That 10-point lead was just barely enough for Northeastern to hold off the Tigers on their late run. Northeastern scored once more when Scott Eatherton hit a jumper in the paint with 1:44 remaining to regain a five-point advantage. McGlynn got in the paint for a layup on the next possession but his attempt from distance to tie the game a bit later didn’t go down.

Towson basketball falls to hapless Drexel 55-41

Special to One-Bid Wonders from So Much Sports Baltimore.

By Ryan Winner

Towson basketball just couldn’t score as they were downed the Drexel Dragons, 55-41. Towson shot just 37.2-percent on the night and hit only 2-of-11 shots from downtown, falling to 8-8 on the season while Drexel moves to 3-11.

Making matters worse, Drexel continuously drove to the basket throughout the entire game and managed to draw foul after foul. The Dragons went 18-for-24 from the free throw line, compared to the Tigers who attempted just 13 free throws all night, making seven.

Drexel star guard Damion Lee finished with 16 points and was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. He also made two 3-pointers and led the team with seven rebounds as well.

“Lee is as good as anyone in the conference. He’s a guy that can play at the next level,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said.

Towson guard Four McGlynn, who leads the team in scoring this year, struggled mightily in the game and went just 1-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-7 from beyond the arc. He only also only got to the line for two free throws and sunk just one.

“[McGlynn] has missed some shots and he’s letting it affect some other parts of his game,” Skerry said. “He had four turnovers tonight.”

Despite being one of Towson’s top ball handlers McGlynn was only averaging two turnovers per game heading into the contest. He also failed to register an assists.

Only Walt Foster and John Davis reached double-digits for Towson and led the team with 10 each. Foster displayed good post moves against Drexel and has put together his two best performances of the season the past two games.

With 2:50 remaining in the game, Drexel only led by five but Towson couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Drexel used this opportunity to build their lead on free throws as the Tigers were forced to preserve time by intentionally fouling. Drexel went on an 11-0 run before Mike Morsell hit a meaningless shot at the end of the game.

OBW CAA Power Rankings v7

Addison Spruill and the UNC Wilmington Seahawks are soaring after a convincing win over CAA favorite Northeastern. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Addison Spruill and the UNC Wilmington Seahawks are soaring after a convincing win over CAA favorite Northeastern. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Just two games into the two month long gauntlet that is the CAA conference schedule and the OBW CAA Power Rankings have already been thrown into a state of flux, with an upstart rapidly climbing the league ladder after thoroughly dismantling what had been the CAA top dog. Here’s a look at how we see the CAA teams stacking up right now.

1. Hofstra (11-4, 2-0)
Results: W 68-56 at UNC-W; W 71-58 vs. Delaware.
This week: Thursday at Charleston; Saturday at Elon.
The Pride started the New Year with a convincing win over a Seahawks team that would go on to knock off the championship-favored Huskies. After allowing UNC-W to score 36 points in the first half, Hofstra’s defense finally clamped down and held coach Kevin Keatts’ team to just 20 points in the second half. Even more promising was the performance by Rokas Gustys in the Pride’s win against Delaware. The rookie had his best game of the season with 11 points and 16 boards. With four of the best guards in the league, an emerging center and inconsistent play from Northeastern, Hofstra is the best team in the league at this point.

2. William & Mary (8-5, 2-0)
Results: W 75-45 vs. Charleston; W 73-47 at Drexel.
This week: Thursday at Elon; Saturday vs. James Madison.
The trio of Marcus Thornton (16 points), Omar Prewitt (18 points, six rebounds) and Terry Tarpey (12 points, 10 rebounds) expunged any prospective of the Cougars being a contender in the league. They shot 55 percent while holding Charleston to 35 percent. The Tribe followed with a massacre against the deplorable Dragons, in which Marcus Thornton recorded 23 points (7-12 shooting, 5-7 3-pointers) and six assists. They probably won’t beat Elon by 30 but a win should be in the books.

3. UNC-Wilmington (6-7, 1-1)
Results: L 68-56 vs. Hofstra; W 75-68 vs. Northeastern
This week: Thursday vs. Delaware; Saturday vs. Drexel
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. After an upset against the Huskies, the Seahawks proved they have of the best defensive front lines and some of the boldest guards in the league. Even with Cedrick Williams and Chuck Ogbodo coming off the bench, the Seahawks were still the more physical team than the championship-favored Huskies (UNC-W outscored Northeastern 42-26 in the paint). Jordon Talley (21 points 8-12 shooting) was the best player in the game and that’s with fellow guards Freddie Jackson and Addison Spruill scoring 18 and 20 points, respectively. If the Seahawks can consistently finish games – which they did not do against the Pride – they could make noise in early March.

4. Northeastern (9-5, 1-1)
Results: W at Delaware 72-53; L vs. UNC-W 75-68.
This week: Thursday at James Madison; Saturday at Towson.
Sorry Huskies but beating Delaware by 19 isn’t the least bit impressive. Much more telling was Northeastern’s loss to UNC-W in its first game at Matthews Arena this season. The Seahawks came into the game believing they were better than the Huskies and for good reason. Coach Kevin Keatts’ team matched up well against Northeastern and exposed them. If Northeastern is out-muscled, bullied or even fouled when attempting shots close to the basket, they aren’t the CAA-champion Huskies they were picked to be by the league’s coaches in preseason. The Huskies will rebound against James Madison and smack the Tigers but remember this game when Hofstra and William & Mary come to play.

5. James Madison (9-6, 2-0)
Results: W vs. Towson 61-52; W 61-50 at College of Charleston.
This week: Thursday vs. Northeastern; Saturday at William & Mary.
The Dukes had a rough end to non-conference play but are off to a hot start in CAA play. Yohanny Dalembert got them off to a hot start against Towson (14 points 4-4 shooting) and Ron Curry led the way against the Cougars (19 points 6-9 shooting). Andre Nation has also been a consistent force with 12 points in each game. Their winning ways should change with Northeastern and William & Mary coming up.

6. Towson (8-7, 1-1)
Results: L 61-52 at James Madison; W 57-53 vs. Elon.
This week: Thursday vs. Drexel; Saturday vs. Northeastern.
The Tigers rebounds from a loss at James Madison nicely with a win over what had been a red-hot Elon squad. The Phoenix, winners of four straight, were held to 35 percent shooting from the field and just 19 percent shooting from beyond the arc (Tanner Sampson did you really go 1-11 from beyond the arc?). The fact that the Tigers won a game with their defense is not only shocking but also promising.

7. Elon (9-6, 1-1)
Results: W 77-67 at Drexel; L 57-53 at Towson.
This week: Thursday vs. William & Mary; Saturday vs. Hofstra.
After six of their last seven games were on the road, the Phoenix will be happy to return to their home court – even if it means their facing one of the CAA’s best in William & Mary. Oh, and Elijah Bryant is absolutely filthy at basketball. Not many rookies would pour in a career-high 32 points in their inaugural CAA game.

8. College of Charleston (5-10, 0-2)
Results: L 75-45 William & Mary; L vs. James Madison 61-50.
This week: Thursday vs Hofstra; Saturday vs Delaware.
I gave the Cougars the benefit of doubt because their losing streak came against more competitive teams than most CAA teams have played but after getting embarrassed by the Tribe and allowing the Dukes to take a win on their home court, reality is starting to set in. Charleston may just not have enough scoring ability to thrive in this league.

9. Drexel (2-11, 0-2)
Results: L 77-67 vs. Elon; L 73-47 vs. William & Mary.
This week: Thursday at Towson; Saturday at UNC-W.
It’s a shame. Damion Lee is ninth in scoring in the nation, in yet he and his team just can’t seem to find a way to play a lick of defense. At this point, teams should expect to score a season-high in points when the Dragons are scheduled.

10. Delaware (1-12, 0-2)
Results: L 72-53 vs. Northeastern; L 71-58 at Hofstra.
This week: Thursday at UNC-Wilmington; Saturday at Charleston.
The Blue Hens need something to celebrate and Kyle Anderson provided it in a loss to the Pride. Three triples in the loss gave him 231 for his career, a new record for 3-pointers made in Delaware history.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Marcus Thornton, SR., PG, William & Mary

The senior had 39 combined points in the first two games in conference play and led the Tribe in blowouts against College of Charleston and Drexel. Thornton is the second-leading scorer (19.2 ppg) and the fourth most efficient shooter (48 percent) in the league. He’s not too bad shooting the long ball either; the guard averaged three treys a game on 44 percent shooting.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Elijah Bryant, FR, G, Elon

Just give him the award now. The kid scores a career-high 32 points and pulls down a season-best seven rebounds in a road win against Drexel and then follows it up with 12 points off the bench in a loss against Towson. Those 12 points were the highest among any Elon player in the loss.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Omary Prewitt, G, William & Mary

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Hari Hall, G, James Madison
Jordon Talley, G, UNC-W
Rokas Gustys, G, Hofstra

Towson basketball snaps six-game skid

Special to One-Bid Wonders from So Much Sports Baltimore.

By Ryan Winner

An incredible start against Elon gave Towson men’s basketball enough of a cushion to hold off the Phoenix for the rest of the game, snapping Towson’s six-game losing streak with a 57-53 win.

“We really needed the win and I’m really proud of our kids,” Towson Head Coach Pat Skerry said. “It’s a good club and Elon is going to be a factor in our league. [Elon] is a great up-tempo team and one of the best at 3-point shooting.”

Not in this game.

A superior presence in the paint forced Elon to shoot from outside and didn’t even give them the choice. The Phoenix went just 3-for-16 from outside.

Towson dominated the battle of the boards 40-33 and seemed to simply overwhelm Elon with their superior strength. Timajh Parker-Rivera scored nine points on several dunks and drives to the hoop to help Towson establish their presence around the rim..

The tone of the game was set early, with the Tigers racing out to a 26-8 lead 12 minutes in. Walt Foster controlled the paint early, scoring eight of his team-high 13 points in the early run and a thunderous fast-break dunk by Parker-Rivera gave the Tigers the 18 point lead 8:03 in. Foster was all over the court, scoring on jumpers and lay-ins alike. He finished with a sole double-double of the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“Four McGlynn and Byron Hawkins found me a lot on the roll-ups and roll down,” Foster said.

Elon would respond with a run of their own, rattling off a 14-2 srint over and eight-minute span, cutting the Tigers lead to 28-22. Elon was led by freshman guard Elijah Bryant, who scored eight points in the first half en route to 12 points on the night.

Towson’s opening sprint out of the gates would prove to be the difference, as the team’s played as equals for the entire second half. A 3-pointer by Tanner Samson early in the second half gave the Phoenix a 38-36 lead but the Tigers responded right away with a key eight-point run over the next two minutes to retake a lead they would never give back up.

Towson won the game in part by their performance at the line, hitting 19 free throws to Elon’s 10 on 19 attempts. Towson also held the Phoenix to just 35-percent from the floor (20-of-57).

“We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to get better on offense, but if we continue to guard like that, we’ll be in the mix,” Skerry said.

OBW CAA Power Rankings v5

Northeastern sophomore point guard T.J. Williams went off for 20 points in a 58-57 win over Richmond. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Northeastern sophomore point guard T.J. Williams went off for 20 points in a 58-57 win over Richmond. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Northeastern and Hofstra, Hofstra and Northeastern. Back-and-fourth, neck and neck the two teams have gone during the non-conference slate, putting a lot of distance between themselves and the rest of the CAA pack but unable to gain separation from each other. We’ll have to wait through nearly two weeks of conference play — until Jan. 14 at the hallowed grounds of Matthews Arena – before we can see the two squads slug it out. Here’s a look at how we see the Huskies and Pride, along with the rest of the conference, stacking up on the eve of the start of league play with the latest edition of the OBW CAA Power Rankings .

1. Northeastern (8-4)
Results: W 58-57 at Richmond
This week: Saturday at Delaware; Monday vs UNC Wilmington; Thursday at James Madison.
Northeastern sure picked one hell of a way to close out the non-conference slate, with a last second, come from behind 58-57 win at Atlantic-10 foe Richmond – a very nice way to avenge their heart-breaking loss at St. Mary’s. We’ve known for some time that center Scott Eatherton is a beast on the blocks and an automatic double-double. We know forward Zach Stahl is going to scrap, scratch and claw with everything he has; forward Reggie Spencer is going to come off the bench and attack the glass; and that no matter how he is shooting, talented forward Quincy Ford is going to demand defenses pay attention to him. But what we didn’t know before New Year’s Eve, was that the Huskies could get dynamic, dominant play from the point guard position. That all changed when sophomore T.J. Williams went off for 20 points, scoring 15 after the intermission including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left. Northeastern with simply solid play from the point guard position is good enough to win the CAA. With dynamic play from the point, the Huskies could be special.

2. Hofstra (9-4)
Results: W 88-62 vs LIU Brooklyn; W 84-56 at CCSU.
This week: Saturday at UNC Wilmington; Monday vs Delaware; Thursday at College of Charleston.
The Pride put on a show in the Barclay’s center – it’s a shame Jay-Z and the royal family weren’t in attendance. They would’ve witnessed Ameen Tanksley score a career-high 32 points and Juan’ya Green post a 15 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist triple-double. Green followed his performance up with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 28-point romp at CCSU while Tanksley added 15 points and seven boards. Tanksley and Green alone playing alongside a couple of grade schoolers from the local CYO league are enough to compete for a title, but considering the dynamic guards are playing alongside two more difference makers in the back court in Brian Bernardi and Dion Nesmith, this team is going to be fun to watch all season long.

3. William & Mary (6-5)
Results: L 86-64 at #19 North Carolina.
This week: Saturday at College of Charleston; Monday vs. Drexel; Thursday at Elon.
Coach Tony Shaver made a smart move scheduling his team’s hardest opponent for right before the conference play. No.19 UNC wiped the floor with the Tribe but Marcus Thornton and Daniel Dixon have continued to lead Shaver’s offense (combined for 37 points against UNC). Their CAA opener against Charleston might be the most interesting CAA game all week.

4. Charleston (5-8)
Results: L 67-40 at Miami.
This week: Saturday at William & Mary; Monday vs James Madison; Thursday vs Hofstra.
The Cougars didn’t end conference play the way they would want to but don’t expect Charleston to be under .500 as the first couple weeks of conference play go by. With Anthony Stitt, Canyon Barry and Adjehi Baru, the Cougars should see their wins increase as the competition of their opponent’s decreases with the start of CAA play.

5. Elon (8-5)
Results: W 69-63 vs Marist.
This week: Saturday at Drexel; Monday at Towson; Thursday vs William & Mary.
It’s a promising sign for Elon that Tanner Sampson scored under 10 points and they were still able to defeat Marist — granted that the Red Foxes were 1-11. Kevin Blake stepped up for Elon, scoring a career-high 20 points, while Elijah Bryant continues to be the best rookie in the CAA.

6. UNC Wilmington (5-6)
Results: L 108-82 at Minnesota; L 72-53 at Ohio.
This week: Saturday vs Hofstra; Monday at Northeastern; Thursday vs Delaware.
After two losses to great teams, I’m predicting a Seahawks upset over Northeastern. UNC-W has proven to have a formidable defensive frontcourt with Maurice Ndour, Cedrick Williams and Chuck Ogbodo. It’s the type of defensive line that can match-up with Scott Eatherton, Zach Stahl and Reggie Spencer.

7. Towson (7-6)
Results: L 85-84 (OT) vs Fairleigh Dickinson.
This week: Saturday at James Madison; Monday vs. Elon; Thursday vs Drexel.
Four McGlynn had the best individual performance of the year among Towson players, scoring 27 points while shooting a simply stupid 78 percent from the floor, but it wasn’t enough in an overtime thriller. The Tigers do have a confidence booster in their CAA opener with an inconsistent James Madison team as their opponent, but after losing five straight, the Tigers CAA opener could be a must win from a confidence perspective.

8. James Madison (7-6)
Results: L 79-52 vs Valparaiso.
This week: Saturday vs Towson; Monday at College of Charleston; Thursday vs Northeastern.
The Dukes third straight loss was cemented in the first half against Valparaiso. James Madison allowed the opponent to score 40 points on 51 percent shooting to jump out to a 24-point halftime lead. When Jackson Kent, Ron Curry and Andre Nation combine for 6-25 shooting, a loss is certain for the Dukes.

9. Drexel (2-9)
Results: L 81-62 vs Iona.
This week: Saturday vs Elon; Monday vs William & Mary; Thursday at Towson.
The Dragons simply are not good enough to fall behind by 15 in the first half against any opponent, let alone a respected Iona squad. The way they are playing now, Drexel might not have another win until they face the team shown below.

10. Delaware
Results: W 82-77 vs St. Bonaventure.
This week: Saturday vs Northeastern; Monday at Hofstra; Thursday at UNC Wilmington.
A sigh of relief. Delaware recorded its first win of the season behind the effort of – a freshman. The future is now for Kory Holden. If Delaware hopes to get any more wins, give this kid the rock.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Juan’ya Green, G, R-Jr, Hofstra.

The guard messed around and got a triple-double and was the first guard to do so in Pride history. Green’s 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against LIU Brooklyn was arguably the most impressive performance by a CAA player this season. His prolific scoring has under shadowed his playmaking ability. Green is averaging a CAA-best 6.8 assists-per-game.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Kory Holden, G, Delaware

We might not see another breakout game from Holden for awhile. Despite torching St. Bonaventure for 27 points (11 in the second half), the freshman injured his leg in the final two minutes of the game. Still, getting Delaware win is more than enough to earn this honor.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Four McGlynn, G, Towson.

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Byron Hawkins, G, Towson
Chivarsky, Corbet, G, Delaware
Hari Hall, G, James Madison

Towson coach Pat Skerry: Lack of ‘mental toughness’ costs Tigers again

Special to One-Bid Wonders from So Much Sports Baltimore.

By Ryan Winner

Four McGlynn poured in 27 points, but it wasn't enough to help the Tigers avoid a fifth-straight loss. Courtesy photo / Corey John
Four McGlynn poured in 27 points, but it wasn’t enough to help the Tigers avoid a fifth-straight loss. Courtesy photo / Corey John

At one time Towson was 7-1 and looked like a legitimate contender to win the CAA and make the NCAA tournament. Five-straight losses later, the Tigers have nothing but questions to hang on to.

Despite having the size, depth and athletic advantage against Fairleigh Dickinson one thing the Tigers didn’t have was “mental toughness,” according to head coach Pat Skerry and it led to the team dropping a 14-point halftime lead and losing in overtime, 85-84.

“We just aren’t a mentally tough team,” Skerry said. “Our guys are hard worked but when the game is on the line they don’t have the mental toughness.”

In the first half, Towson was firing on all cylinders, shooting 20-for-30 from the field while dominating on the boards and used a staggering 24-8 advantage on the glass to go into the half up 46-32. In the first stanza, the Knights only managed to grab one defensive rebounds and Towson had 11 offensive.

Towson’s star guard Four McGlynn was on fire from beyond the arc early, hitting three 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the game. He finished the first half with 14 points and went 4-for-4 from behind the arc. He ended the night with 27 points on 7-for-9 shooting and a 5-for-6 effort from distance while making all eight of his free throw attempts.

But not even McGlynn’s effort could overcome the rest of the team’s inability in the second half.

Towson was able pound the ball inside early and often in the first half, awere led by Timajh Parker-Rivera, who has a couple early lay-ins and dunks, opening the floor up for McGlynn. Parker-Rivera scored eight of his 15 points before the intermission Hover, the second half proved to be far harder going in the paint.

Fairleigh Dickinson came out of halftime fired up and smothered Towson’s ball handlers, forcing 17 turnovers in the second half along. Taking the ball away and ending possession that often.

“If you turn it over like this you can’t win at this level,” Skerry said. “We just wasted so many opportunities and played without poise.”

Towson lost the turnover battle 25-3 and despite shooting 57-percent from the field could not take enough shots to give themselves a chance to prevent FDU’s comeback.

The Knights’ second half run was led by guard Darius Anderson and Mustafaa Jones, with 23 and 17 points respectively. Towson had no answer for their shooting as they dominated the Tigers with their quickness. Anderson was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and Jones went 5-for-9.

Thanks to their halftime cushion, Towson was able to keep ahead of Farleigh Dickinson for most of the second half, but with just over two minutes remaining Marques Townes tied things up with a layup and Darius Stokes followed it up with another to give FDU the lead.

Parker-Rivera got the lead back with an old-fashion three and two separate three throws made by Townes gave FDU a 77-76 lead.

With only one seconds remaining in the game Eddie Keith III was fouled while taking what could have been the game-winning shot, but split the freebies, clanging the first attempt and finding the bottom of the net on the bottom to send the game into overtime.

Scoring was hard to come by in the extra period, but Towson was able to get inside and get to the line. But 3-pointers by Stephan Jiggetts and Townes and more missed free throws by Towson kept the Knights alive and with five seconds remaining in the game Townes got in the paint for the game-winning layup.

Four McGlynn attempted a last second half-court shot and his attempt hit the rim but rattled out.

CAA Power Rankings v5

David Walker and the Northeastern Huskies appear to be back in the CAA driver's seat, with Hofstra in hot pursuit. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
David Walker and the Northeastern Huskies appear to be back in the CAA driver’s seat, with Hofstra in hot pursuit. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

With the conference slate just around the corner, Northeastern and Hofstra continue to go back-and-fourth for the title of “CAA team to beat,” with the Huskies edging out in front as they head towards the second-half of the season. But if we’ve learned anything from the CAA thus far, it’s that everyone is beatable and the league still looks relatively wide open.

Well, unless you’re Delaware — the Blue Hens are just trying to win a game.

With that said, here’s a look at how the team’s stack up in the latest OBW CAA Power Rankings.

1. Northeastern (7-4)
Results: L 60-58 vs Cal Poly (Cable Car Classic); W 78-72 vs Santa Clara (Cable Car Classic); L 72-68 (OT) at St. Mary’s College.
This week: Off
A 1-2 record on the Huskies’ California trip does not encapsulate how much the Cable Car Classic and a game against St. Mary’s benefited this team. In a tough loss against Cal Poly, Northeastern played one of their best first halves of the season. Against Santa Clara, Northeastern exploded for an offensive outpour and coach Bill Coen’s defense was as active as it’s been all year in a overtime loss to St. Mary’s. Scott Eatherton continues to dominate, Quincy Ford looks comfortable and even Northeastern’s bench has come alive.

2. Hofstra (7-4)
Results: L 82-77 at Columbia; L 83-74 vs La Salle.
This week: Saturday at LIU Brooklyn.
Facing their hardest competition of the season exposed a major flaw for the Pride. Columbia and La Salle are fine teams but Hofstra can’t expect to survive if its defense continues to let up 80-plus points to competitive teams – unless coach Joe Mihalich expects Ameen Tanksley, Dion Nesmith and Juan’ya Green to combine for 50-plus points every night.

3. William & Mary (6-4)
Results: W 86-46 vs Washington College (Div. III); L 69-62 at Old Dominion
This week: Tuesday at #20 North Carolina
Marcus Thornton surpassed 1,700 point mark but the Tribe still couldn’t beat former CAA foe Old Dominion. Even with the talented players in the Tribe, William & Mary still goes on stretches when they can barely score a bucket. How do you go from beating a team by 40 to allowing Old Dominion to go on a 13-1 run in the second half?

4. UNC Wilmington (5-4)
Results: W 73-70 (OT) vs Liberty; W 66-54 vs East Carolina; L 69-63 at Campbell.
This week: Saturday at Minnesota; Tuesday at Ohio.
With Freddie Jackson and Craig Ponder leading the offense and Cedrick Williams hosting a block party, the Seahawks make a jump in this weeks power rankings. Ponder led UNC-W in a win against Liberty with 18 points but more importantly was the Seahawks’ defense against rival East Carolina. Williams and Chuck Obgobo each had 4 blocks and helped hold East Carolina to 28 percent shooting. That front court defense will be important when the Seahawks face off against Scott Eatherton and Northeastern at the start of CAA play.

5. College of Charleston (5-7)
Results: L 90-85 (OT) at Charlotte; L 80-68 vs Davidson; L 71-47 at LSU.
This week: Tuesday at Miami.
The Cougars may be in the midst of a losing streak but they are also competing in one of the harder non-conference schedules in the CAA. With one more non-conference game against Miami, Charleston will surely be ready for a William & Mary squad that’s been inconsistent as of late.

6. Elon (7-5)
Results: W 71-64 at UNC-Geensboro; W 68-65 at Kennesaw State.
This week: Sunday vs. Marist.
What a week for Elijah Bryant. In a win over UNC-Greensboro, the rookie exploded for a career-high 20 points and then followed it up by leading the Phoenix to a comeback win against Kennesaw State. Elon erased a 15-point deficit in the win and Bryant’s fourth 3-pointer gave them the lead late in the second half.

7. James Madison (7-5)
Results: Win 72-52 at Ball State; L 80-71 vs High Point; L 74-71 vs Norfolk State.
This week: Monday vs. Valparaiso.
The Dukes can’t seem to play 40 minutes of consistent, solid basketball. Against High Point, James Madison shot 43 percent and made a season-high 10 3-pointers, but then allowed a 10-0 High Point run late in the second half. In the final 25 minutes against Norfolk State, James Madison shot 27 percent compared to Norfolk State’s 64 percent.

8. Towson (7-5)
Results: L 67-53 vs La Salle; L 61-56 at Navy.
This week: Monday vs Farleigh Dickinson
As the Tigers’ competition rises so do their losses. Oh wait, they lost to Navy; scratch that, they have now shown the ability to lose to anyone. The loss at Navy made it four-straight for Towson and the streak couldn’t have come at a worse time with conference play right around the corner.

9. Drexel (2-8)
Results: L 80-70 at Buffalo; L 73-68 vs Penn State (PPL Center).
This week: Sunday: vs. Iona.
You’ve got to feel bad for Damion Lee, who had 37 points in the Dragons’ two games. The red shirt-junior guard has played outstanding after sitting out most of last year with an injury but unfortunately he’s stuck on another injury-plagued, young Drexel team.

10. Delaware (0-10)
Results: L 76-74 at Fairleigh Dickinson; L 84-81 at Robert Morris (84-81).
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Bonaventure.
Are the Blue Hens really facing Northeastern, Hofstra, UNC-Wilmongton and the Charleston to open up CAA play? If Delaware doesn’t beat St. Bonaventure, they have a strong chance of losing their next seven games.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Scott Eatherton, R-Sr., C, Northeastern.

Eatherton was an absolute monster on the week, with double doubles in both of the Huskies game in the Cable Car Classic in California. The red shirt-senior has 20 and 10 in a win against Santa Clara and 17 and 12 in a loss to Cal Poly. Against St. Mary’s, Eatherton had 11 and five in a overtime loss. The reigning CAA defensive-player-of-the-year’s one-on-one post defense has also been stellar.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon

Bryant is ranked 12th in scoring (12.5 ppg), tied ninth in field goal percentage (39 percent) and fifth in free throw percentage (83 percent).

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, R-Sr., C, Northeastern
Marcus Thornton, Sr., G, William & Mary
Juan’ya Green, R-Jr., G, Hofstra
Freddy Jackson, Sr., G, UNC Wilmington
Ameen Tanksley, R-Jr., G, Hofstra

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Donovan Gilmore, F, College of Charleston
Hari Hall, F, James Madison
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Jordon Talley, G, UNC Wilmington