Using a Memory to Move Forward
Courtesy: Milton Kent,  
Release: 11/14/2012

Most people would just as soon discard the memory of a 1-31 season as quickly as they would the wrapper of a candy bar.

Kris Walden is not one of those people.

Walden, a guard on the Towson men's basketball team, not only doesn't want to forget last year's record, he wants to make it a central part of this year's efforts.

It's not that Walden wants to wallow in such a painful recollection, but he believes you can't get to the new and better place the Tigers are going until you understand what didn't work before.

"I never really put it (memory of last season) away," said Walden. "I feel like I carry it everywhere I go. It's kind of like that chip on my shoulder that makes me play hard. I definitely will never forget about it because I don't want to endure it again."

Although only five players on this year's Tiger roster were a part of last year, Walden said he senses his current teammates are as motivated to rise above last year as he is.

"I've seen what we did last year, the things that guys did, how we looked, how it felt," said Walden, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Richmond, Va.

"This year is 100 percent different. It's completely different in every sense. Off the court, on the court, I see guys doing things, the small things, to show that they care and they're willing to do whatever it takes."

Walden, who led all Colonial Athletic Association freshmen in assists last season, said players are spending more time in the gym at night after practice and correcting each other's mistakes in constructive but considerate ways.

The team's attention to detail even extends to staying in uniform and not removing their shoes after the game until coach Pat Skerry has had a chance to address the team.

These are little things, indeed, but Walden thinks they provide a window into where this team is heading.

"It feels like everybody has each other's back," said Walden. "It's a completely different environment this year than it was last year. The coaches are doing the same things they attempted to do last year. It's (that) the guys care more. They're more into it.

"Little things like that to show that everybody's all in and focused. All those little things, regardless how insignificant they may seem, add up. All the little things contributed to winning."

This season opened with a road loss to the College of Charleston, but even within that setback Walden says the Tigers learned hard lessons about how to take their opposition seriously and to come prepared from the opening tip to play hard.

"We came out as if we were the big dogs, like we were predicted to win," said Walden. "You just see how guys take certain things for granted, like not hustling as hard or thinking we're much more talented than our opponent. That started us out slow.

"Maybe if we didn't start off that slow, who knows? We could have had a check in the win column. Guys have to be hungry from the opening tip."

This season has found Walden, the only returning player to start every game last year, coming off the bench. It's an adjustment, to be sure, but Walden says he gets to see the game more analytically, which should sharpen his attack when he does enter.

"Everybody knows that defense wins games, but I knew that that was something that I struggled with," said Walden. "Now I play defense so hard so that when we're down and things aren't working that that makes up for it.

"It starts with the point guard. If I'm pressing the ball, then I know that the rest of our guys are going to get up in the passing lane and pressure their guys as well. If I'm just playing loose on D, that's what they'll do and it will start spiraling into something worse."

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