Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

Defense helps Towson as they gain experience

February 7, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

BOSTON – Pat Skerry’s reaction told it all.

After Northeastern forward Scott Eatherton backed down a Towson defender for a basket and made it look easy, Skerry’s reaction was as if no defensive effort was made. The Tigers are normally a good defensive team, but they struggled there in a loss at Northeastern on Wednesday night, and that put too much pressure on an offense that still has a lot of room to grow right now.

All night long, Northeastern basically got what they wanted at the offensive end against the Tigers. They shot 60 percent from the field, including a 6-8 mark on three-pointers. That also included shooting at a 72.2 percent clip in the first half, when the Tigers dug themselves a hole that left a late rally as being too little, too late.

“For us to beat them, we’ve got to guard them, and we didn’t guard them tonight,” Skerry said.

As Skerry went on to note, the Tigers entered the night leading the conference in field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The only thing they don’t do is force turnovers, which is mainly a function of style of play as they don’t press teams. They are the top defensive team in the conference, a key anytime, but especially when you have an inexperienced team that lost a lot of production from the prior season. Northeastern beat them in all facets, adding a 31-25 rebounding edge to the aforementioned shooting numbers. Oddly enough, the Huskies gave the ball away 15 times on the evening.

The Tigers have gone through their share of growing pains this season, which was to be expected. They started out 7-1 in non-conference, winning seven straight after losing at Alabama in the opener. After that, they took some losses when the December portion was much tougher, as they took on the likes of Temple, Georgetown and La Salle. The end of January was the first time since that seven-game winning streak where they won two in a row, with the second coming at Hofstra, so there’s reason to believe this team is gaining confidence.

The win at Hofstra was a high-scoring affair, with the Tigers putting up 86 points. That’s their second-best total on the season behind the 97 they put up against Goucher, a Division III team. While they appear to be gaining confidence and are making strides, they can’t let that come at the expense of other facets of the game, especially the one that Skerry has emphasized from the minute he took over the program.

“One thing I was worried about with a young team as a coach is when you do start playing a little faster and scoring, you can’t get away from what really allows you to have success, which is guarding,” Skerry reflected.

The youth shows more in the Tigers’ offense. Junior Josh Ivory is the only Tiger with more assists than turnovers on the season, while the Tigers shoot just 41 percent from the field. Young perimeter players Byron Hawkins and Mike Morsell, the latter of whom has come on of late and was the CAA Rookie of the Week last week, have grown as the season has come along. It doesn’t help that their top holdover, junior Four McGlynn, has been inconsistent, especially since conference play began as his scoring is down significantly. The challenge for him is that he needs to play off others to get shots, and with a very different cast around him now, that task is markedly different than it was last year.

Thus far, the Tigers have had nine different starting lineups this season, a function of the youth as well as game inexperience. Ten different players have started at least one game; in CAA play, that number drops to eight. In addition, no player averages 30 minutes a game overall, while only Timajh Parker-Rivera averages over that in CAA play (barely, at 30.1).

Slowly, they appear to be finding out some combinations to go with, perhaps notably settling on having leading scorer and rebounder John Davis come off the bench because he has had trouble defending without fouling. Skerry said the staff and players have a better feel for everyone’s game, and that should show up more later on than it is right now, and there are signs of it. In CAA play, McGlynn and Hawkins both have more assists than turnovers, and Morsell has scored in double figures in three straight games after doing so only twice all season before this stretch.

Towson is in the midst of a stretch with four of five on the road. If they manage through this – they still have to go to Drexel and College of Charleston – they finish with three of four at home, although it’s tough in terms of who they play (Hofstra, UNCW, at William & Mary and Delaware). They could position themselves to end the regular season well, then be a team no one wants to face in Baltimore next month.

Towson defends well enough on most nights to win games if they can score just enough. With the room to grow that this team has, in time they should score enough more often to complement that.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2017

April 4, 2017 by

We look back at Monday’s national championship game, which was not a thing of beauty but had plenty of drama. Along the way we share some post-game quotes from both coaches.

College Basketball Tonight – April 2, 2017

April 3, 2017 by

In our Final Four special edition, three head coaches join us to offer their insights on the Final Four, as well as their own programs.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout