What a 10-day stretch for the Towson Tiger men's basketball team. It was a journey that hit both coasts and finished in the City of Brotherly Love. It was amazing. This Tiger team is really starting to come together. It starts at the top with head coach Pat Skerry and goes all the way down to the team managers. Having broadcast Towson games for 26 years, I can tell you the last 10 days may have been the toughest road trip I have ever encountered. The fact that this team was able to put together the first three-game road winning streak since 1993 makes that feat even more impressive.
Oregon State - Dec. 28, 2012
The trip started on December 27 at 1:30 p.m. when we left the Towson Center. It ended on January 5 around 9 p.m. after arriving back at the Towson Center. In between, the Tigers took a 14 hour 52 minute trip to Corvallis, Ore. There they trailed by 19 points with 16:02 remaining in the game and were able to come back and beat the Beavers 67-66 in overtime.
Jerelle Benimon became the first Division I player in the nation to have 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game this year, finishing with 20 points and 21 rebounds. The Tigers then took the red-eye home with a detour in Chicago. Between time changes and weird hours, I know I had barely recovered when it was time to leave for the next trip.
UNC Wilmington - Jan. 2, 2013
That started at 12:30 p.m. on New Year's Day. The Tigers left the Towson Center and headed to Reagan Airport in the nation's capital. From there, the team boarded a puddle jumper that had Director of New Media Damon Lewis shaking. We flew to Wilmington, N.C. for a game the next day against the UNCW Seahawks. If the coaching staff had any concern about energy, those thoughts were quickly dashed as the Tigers laid it on the Seahawks early.
Towson built a 20-point lead before finally winning, 79-74. What made Coach Skerry happy was his four players with double-digit scoring. It gave the Tigers a good 1-0 start to Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play. Immediately following the game, the Tigers got on a sleeper bus and headed home. The team arrived at the Towson Center at 4:15 a.m.
Drexel - Jan. 5, 2013
The Tigers hit the road at 2:00 on Friday, Jan. 4 for the bus ride up I-95 to Philadelphia. Towson practiced in the DAC on the campus of the preseason CAA favorites, the Drexel Dragons. Much like the UNCW game, despite having plenty of reason to not have energy, Towson displayed it in spades the first half. The Tigers led 32-18 at the break and played tremendous defense.
But the Dragons have plenty of talent and did not go away. They came back and cut it to three in the final seconds. Two missed Drexel threes in the final 11 seconds, and the Tigers had a sweep of this tough road trip. With the 69-66 final score, the Tigers tied Northeastern at 2-0 to start the CAA.
Towson is now home for five of its next six games. It would be great to see the community come out and support this very good young team. The Tigers take on William & Mary on Wednesday night at 7 and then the Huskies of Northeastern Saturday at noon. That game could be an early season battle for first place. Hope to see everyone at both games.
Towson Center Top 10 - #10: Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran
With this being the final season of the Towson Center, I thought I would go down Memory Lane for my 10 favorite events at the Towson Center. Not all will be Towson University event oriented, but most will.
Although the building is dated now, when it opened it was state of the art. At one time, the Towson Center had the largest automated movable seats in the country. It had a new state-of-the-art synthetic basketball court. That was the wave of the future at the time. Denny Crum, the legendary coach of the Louisville Cardinals, sure didn't think so in 1995 when his team came to play Towson.
My No. 10 moment at the Towson Center is not actually related to the Tigers. For those of you under 45, you may not understand this event's magnitude.
In the 1960s and '70s, cable television just didn't exist in most of America. Some rural areas had it, but they only would have seven or eight channels on their cable tv. It wasn't until the early '80s cable tv and cable stations started being available in most of the nation.
Obviously all the major team sports were on regular TV. But certain events could only be seen in theatres and arenas around the country. The World Cup, for instance, could only be seen in these venues. It was pay-per-view at these venues.
The biggest of these events were boxing matches. The big fights were NEVER on network TV. They were always at venues via satellite. On June 20, 1980, one of the biggest non-heavyweight fights ever took place. I was lucky enough to see it at a sold-out Towson Center.
The fight was Sugar Ray Leonard versus Roberto Duran. Leonard was from Montgomery County and a 1976 Olympic hero. Duran had been the lightweight champion of the world and was moving up to welterweight to fight Leonard. He came into the fight with a record of 71-1.
I will never forget being in the Towson Center that night. It was hot and packed. They sold tickets not just for the stands, but also on the floor. There was a big screen at the north end of the arena. I can guarantee had the fire marshall come in, the promoter would have faced a big-time fine. They sold alcohol that night, and to say everyone in the crowd was sober would be a lie. Whenever they had those pay-per-view events, if they said the fight would start at 10, it wouldn't start 'til 11 or 11:30.
Smoking was also allowed in the Towson Center then, and with the heat, that cigarette smoke just hung in the air. This fight had been hyped for months. When they finally came into the ring, I have to say it may have been the most excited I had ever been for a sporting event. There is nothing like the anticipation of a big fight. Since I was rooting for Duran, I was thrilled when he won a 15-round decision that night.
What I will never forget is the emotion and size of the crowd that last day of spring in 1980.
By the way, don't tell the promoter, but I snuck in.