The Towson Tigers
men's basketball team came up with two more victories this past week, beating
both Delaware and James Madison.
The Tigers hung tough for 40 minutes against the Blue Hens last Wednesday to win 69-66. Delaware had come into the game undefeated in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play until Pat Skerry's crew out-toughed the Blue Hens.
Anyone who has watched this team knows he is going to get three things: hard play for 40 minutes, solid effort on the glass on both ends of the floor, and tough man-to-man defense.
Coming into the
Delaware game, Devon Saddler averaged 20.6 points per game to lead
the conference in scoring. But then
he met Towson's Marcus Damas and Rafriel
Guthrie. Those two made sure Saddler never got a
clean look at the basket. The Blue Hen
guard scored 16 points, but he really was not a factor in the
Towson Defeats James Madison - January 19
On Saturday, the Tigers hosted James Madison. The Dukes came into the Towson Center with a
3-2 conference record. They left at .500 with their tails between their legs.
The Tigers only led by three at halftime, 31-28. Part of the reason was Jerelle Benimon's first-half foul trouble, which limited him to only nine minutes. The junior came out in the second half and led the Tigers to their third-biggest margin of victory since they joined the CAA in 2001.
The Tigers out-scored the Dukes 42-19 in the second half, and Benimon ended the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds. It was his fifth straight double-double - the first time a Tiger has done that since Brian Matthews back in 1977. Benimon now leads the nation in double-doubles, and he is in the top three in the nation at rebounding at 11.7 per game.
The Tigers have three games this week. The Tigers host Georgia State for the last time on Monday night, as the Panthers will leave the conference after this season. Then on Wednesday night, the Tigers host the Patriots of George Mason. The Tigers will then hit the road for a game Saturday against the Tribe of William and Mary. It will be the first time the Tigers will face a conference foe for the second time this season. Back on January 9, the Tigers beat William and Mary in double overtime, 99-86.
With the Tigers sitting at 10-9, and 5-1 in the CAA, Towson has a chance to get to 11-9 for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Director of New Media Damon Lewis was still in diapers then. I hope everyone can come on out to the Towson Center to support this hard working talented team. If not, Vince Angotti and I will have all three of this week's games on the Towson Sports Network.
Towson Center Moment No. 8
This week's Towson Center moment was a night many of us had anticipated for a while.
Gary Neal had been the 2003 Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year. In two years at LaSalle, he averaged over 18 points per game. During the summer before his junior season, He was arrested for an incident that happened at a LaSalle summer basketball camp and dismissed from the team before his case went to trial. The Baltimore native who had played at both Aberdeen High School and Calvert Hall, enrolled at Towson to finish his degree.
Neal came to Towson, and as far as I know, he never intended to play basketball. He just wanted his trial to be over, have the truth come out, and get his degree. Word got out that Neal had enrolled at Towson, and with the basketball team not having much success under Pat Kennedy, he was approached to join the team.
It was decided if he was acquitted, he would
walk on the basketball team. The trial ended in an acquittal, and the wait was on.
Finally, on December
21, 2005, Neal was in uniform as the Tigers took on Virginia Military
Institute (VMI). VMI had the nation's leading
scorer in Reggie Williams, who scored 27 points.
But he was outdone.
Neal did not start that night; he came in at about the 14-minute mark in the first half. It didn't take long to see what all the hubbub was about. He nailed four threes in the first half and had 14 points in just 13 minutes.
Towson lost that night, 80-78. But Neal scored 28 points and tied the school record with six 3-point baskets. He also had 8 assists. Neal finished his career scoring over 1,000 points at two different schools. Only three other players had ever done that.
Neal took a lot of abuse that first year on the road, taunted by crowds for a crime he did not commit. Getting to know him over those two years, I have never met a more humble star player. He has gone on to be the most successful NBA player in the history of Towson basketball. But we all saw the first glimpse of that on 12/21/05.