TOWSON, Md. - On December 10, 2009, the Tiger women's basketball team had a game at the Towson Center. A record-setting crowd was expected as many were coming to see the opponent.
The team coming into the Towson Center was ranked 25th in the nation while the Tigers came in with a 4-4 record and had been beaten by 27 points in the opener at West Virginia. No one gave them a chance. People talking before the game about how it could get real ugly real quick.
But, Towson Coach Joe Mathews' team had other ideas. The Tigers had the best player on the court that night with Shanae Baker-Brice. The senior point guard scored 25 points with 7 assists. The Tigers were up seven points at the half and many there still felt like the Tigers had given a great effort, but in the end it wouldn’t be enough. Wrong. Everyone was wrong.
The Tigers outscored that 25th-ranked opponent by five in the second half and won, 67-55. The record crowd stormed the court. Many who had come to cheer the visitors were now applauding the home team. It was one of the greatest nights in Towson Athletics history.
Who was the opponent we are talking about? Maryland.
As every sports fan in Baltimore knows, the Tiger football team will travel to College Park to take on the mothership for the first time ever on Saturday. For those who have heard me throughout my career on the radio, my dislike (my mother told me never to use the word hate) for the University of Maryland runs deep.
When Dr. Robert Caret, the recently-departed president of Towson University, used to talk about how he was tired of us being the ugly stepchild to Maryland, I would think to myself that it's about time someone else feels the way I do.
Over the last 30 years, I have memories of Towson against Maryland. Some were good, but most were not.
I remember in 1985 when the Tigers played at Cole Field House against the Len Bias-led Terps. I had never heard a player talk more trash than Bias. He never stopped. Neither did the Terps. They had lost like 5 games in a row and Coach Lefty Driesell was one win away from his 500th career victory.
The Tigers were depleted and filled with mid-season walk-ons. It didn’t go well and Lefty pressed from the opening tap to the final buzzer. The Tigers lose by a 91-38 margin and Towson Coach Terry Truax gives Lefty a congratulatory cake. A sad night.
I remember the night in 1995 at the Baltimore Arena (now the First Mariner Arena) when the Tigers lost to Coach Gary Williams' Terrapins by just three points. The Tigers were leading for much of the game. But, it was also almost the first time I had ever been thrown out of an arena.
For some reason at the last second, Towson decided not to broadcast the game. I was still sitting in my seat thanks to Maryland SID Chuck Walsh. Chuck is one of the few people at Maryland that I came to really like. And he is smart. He came over from the darkside and left Maryland to go to Florida State.
Anyway, Towson came out in the second half and was beating the Terps. At one point, the team fouls were in the Tigers' favor by a 6-1 margin. Coach Williams was doing his typical routine and got to the officials. In just a couple of minutes, the team foul situation went to 8-6 in favor of Maryland. During a media time-out, one of the officials (if memory serves correct, it was then-Bucknell Athletic Director Rick Hartzell) was standing right in front of me. I said, “It's tough enough for us to beating these guys 5 on 5, but 8 on 5 is ridiculous.”
The referee didn’t take kindly to that and threatened to boot me out of that lovely building on Baltimore Street.
If he had thrown me out, I wouldn’t have seen the horrible flagrant foul call on the Tigers' Stevie Thomas down the stretch that turned the game in favor of Maryland. For many Tiger fans, that was a HORRIBLE night.
Let's fast forward six years to 2001 and one of the best days in Tiger men's lacrosse history. Towson upset the Terps at Byrd Stadium in the NCAA quarter-finals to advance to the national semi-finals at Rutgers University.
That brings us to October 1, 2011 - a game that many of us had always dreamed about is now upon us. Towson versus Maryland in college football!!
As we all know, the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start while Maryland is 1-2. The Terps got squashed by Temple last week, 38-7, at home. Their only win is against a Miami team that seemed like it had half its team suspended.
But, this game has an added twist that we never could have imagined when this game was scheduled 4 years ago - Ambrose vs. Edsall. Coach Rob Ambrose spent seven years under first-year Maryland Coach Randy Edsall at Connecticut, including the last few seasons as offensive coordinator.
We all knew Rob would be the head coach of this game three years ago when he was named as the Tigers' coach. No one would have ever felt that Edsall would be Maryland’s top guy. It just adds to the aura surrounding this game. Throw in the fact that Maryland’s starting tailback is the son of one of the Tigers' all-time greats, David Meggett, and it gets even better.
Word around campus is that a very large number of students will be heading down to College Park Saturday. When the Terps played Temple last week, Byrd was pretty empty. How great would it be if the majority of the crowd is rooting for the Tigers?
This game could be epic for this program. Many of the players on the Tigers' side are from Maryland and probably got passed over by the Terps. Read the stories and message boards on the Internet and you can see that Terp fans are NERVOUS.
Someone asked me the other day if this would be the biggest win in the history of Tiger Athletics. I did not have to hesitate. YES!
There are plenty of seats available folks, so there is no excuse not to make the short drive down I-95 to root this special group of men on if you are a Tiger fan.
On a personal note, I am proud of myself for getting through this whole blog without calling Maryland the Twerps. Oops. ☺
Programming Note: Join me and Damon Lewis for Tiger Talk on Thursday night at Bill Bateman's Bistro from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coach Ambrose will join us in the second half hour to talk about this week's battle with Maryland. The first half hour will feature the four-time reigning CAA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year Pat Mead. Coach Mead will talk about the upcoming men's and women’s swimming and diving season, which starts on Friday.
If you can't make it out to Bill Bateman’s, you can tune in on WNST-AM 1570 or right here on TowsonTigers.com. See you at Bateman's.