A Week of Local Hoops
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 11/26/2012

It should be a fun week for Towson University men's basketball fans. The Tigers have two games this week against local rivals. Towson opens up the week against Loyola at Reitz  Arena on Monday night at 7 p.m., and Saturday night they travel to Catonsville to take on the Retrievers of UMBC. 

In the past there have been seasons when the Tigers have played all the locals and then seasons when they have not. Besides those two games, the Tigers will have a home game against Coppin State on Wednesday, Dec. 19. So Towson will have games against three of  the four locals. The only local Division I team Towson will not play  this year is Morgan State.

From  the 1998-99 season through the 2003-04 season, the Tigers participated every season in the "Battle of Baltimore" featuring Towson, Loyola, and UMBC. The fourth team would alternate each year between Coppin State and Morgan State. With five area teams, someone would be left out. Since Morgan and Coppin are both from the MEAC conference, they could not play each other, so one would sit out the tournament.  Why is this tournament no longer played? Several reasons.

First and foremost, interest. The tournament rotated schools each year. You would think  with all four schools being local, attendance would be great for each game since fans did not have far to travel to see their team. That was not the case. The two first day winners played for the championship, but before that would be a consolation game between the first day's losers. I remember several of those games being attended by dozens of fans. Even the championship games were always played in half-empty gyms. Why?

Well, back in the late '90s and early '00s, only Coppin was having any kind of success. But these games were always played early in the season, when no one really knew who would be good or not. So after everyone had a shot at hosting the tournament, the schools decided to put an end to the "Battle of Baltimore".

Another problem that plagued the tournament was coordinating each school's scheduling needs. Some schools like Coppin play as many guarantee games as they possibly can.  Morgan has done much the same. Conferences also like their members to play out-of-conference schedules that help the conferences RPI. Thus, the "Battle of Baltimore" came to an end.

There have been times through the years when folks have talked about reviving the tourney. But from what I understand, it really  has never been close to happening. I know that Towson under Mike Waddell, and before him Mike Hermann, like to play the locals.  The Tigers have been trying for a couple of years to get a long-term agreement with Loyola. But that deal has never been done. The game Towson plays against the Greyhounds this year is actually a return game Towson owes Loyola from a bracketbuster game in 2010-11. Who knows when they will play again?

So enjoy the  games this year. Its always fun to play the locals, and it's even more fun when your team wins. Remember, with the Tigers heading into the Loyola game with a 3-2 record, they will be looking for their first 4-2 start since the 1999-2000 season. Pat Skerry's young Tigers are gaining experience and gathering momentum with these early season victories.

This Thursday, Damon Lewis  and I will be at Buffalo Wild Wings in White Marsh for Tiger Talk. Come out and see Coach Skerry, as he makes his Tiger Talk debut. The show runs from 6-7 p.m. If you can't make it out, you can listen right here on TowsonTigers.com or on the Towson app on your iPhone or Android device.

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