TOWSON, Md. - With less than two weeks until the Tigers tip off their 2009-10 basketball schedule against Miami of Ohio in the Towson Center on November 13th, head coach Pat Kennedy continues to put the Tigers through their pre-season paces.
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"These next two weeks are going to be important," said Kennedy. "We're still looking at various combinations and haven't really settled on any line up yet."
Kennedy might just go with the older group until the newcomers become more comfortable. But the coach admits there's spirited competition for every position.
When pressed to name a player who is having an impressive pre-season, Kennedy didn't hesitate.
"Calvin Lee has played extremely well and has been very consistent," the coach said of the 6-8 senior power forward. Lee averaged a little over 17 minutes on the floor last year with six starts. He could be a steady starter on the back line this season.
Elsewhere juniors Jarrel Smith and David Brewster are engaged in a duel at the small forward. Smith is the returning starter but Brewster is applying a lot of pressure.
Junior Brian Morris and sophomore Troy Franklin are in the race at point guard. Both appeared in a team high 34 games last year. Franklin made 30 starts and Morris 22. The Tigers would prefer to keep both at the point but each is versatile enough to move over one spot on the floor.
Sophomore transfer RaShawn Polk is keeping senior Josh Thornton honest at the off guard. Thornton is Towson's top returning scorer, having averaged 10.9 points per game last year. Polk averaged over 24 points per contest at Guilford Technical Community College last year. The hurdle for both players to overcome has been injury.
Junior center Robert Nwankwo is also trying to shake off an injury. A former walk-on who has earned a scholarship, the 6-8 Nwankwo figures to be the big guy in the middle and the cornerstone on defense.
Several other newcomers are in earnest contention for minutes including freshmen Isaiah Philmore and Erique Gumbs plus junior Josh Brown.
Philmore and Gumbs are beginning to come alive. The 6-7 Philmore is versatile enough to play either the power or small forward. Gumbs, at 6-9, is backing up Nwankwo in the middle. Brown, a walk-on guard and transfer from Mt. Olive College, continues to be impressive with his speed and quickness.
Kennedy mentioned the Tigers are most improved on defense.
"Defensively, we're much better, " the coach said. "We're fully committed to the man-to-man scheme. We made that decision with about 10 games left last year. We're hoping to build on the finish we had in last year's CAA Tournament and the success we had on the Canadian Tour this past August."