Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:28 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:29 pm

Future is brighter for Hofstra and Towson

By Jeff Borzello

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – It’s been a rough season for both Hofstra and Towson, with the two teams combining for three wins in the CAA and a record of 9-39 overall.

However, over the past seven days, each team has found reasons to be optimistic for the future. Towson snapped a 41-game losing streak with a win over UNC-Wilmington last weekend, while Hofstra beat the Tigers by 25 on Wednesday. Neither team is expected to do much damage in the final month of the season, but the future does look brighter for both programs in the coming seasons.

Clearly, neither team has thrown in the towel on the season. They’re playing hard, practicing hard, and building.

“We haven’t prepared any different,” Towson assistant coach Luke Murray said. “We practiced everyday before Wilmington, and since, with the intensity of a team that was competing for a league title.”

The Tigers still have confidence in themselves, despite the losing streak. With so many young pieces, that’s a good sign.

Hofstra is no different. The Pride had impressive wins over Cleveland State, Iona and Long Island in the non-conference, but have struggled to close out games in the CAA.

The win over Towson should give them a boost heading into the final eight games of the season, when the schedule eases up.

“We had two really good practices this week,” head coach Mo Cassara said. “That’s the sign of a team that hasn’t given up. Sometimes you work harder and coach harder when you’re losing.”

Next season should bring about a completely different season for each team.

Towson currently has Georgetown transfer Jerelle Benimon and South Florida transfer Mike Burwell sitting out; both are expected to start next season, and Benimon could be one of the best forwards in the conference. Incoming freshmen Jerome Hairston and Frank Mason will immediately provide speed and explosiveness at the guard positions, while classmates Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker can provide depth. Sophomores Marcus Damas and Erique Gumbs, and freshmen Kris Walden and Deon Jones, have also shown flashes.

There’s talk within the program that the Tigers could be headed for the biggest turnaround in the country next season.

Hofstra will lose three seniors next year – Mike Moore, Nat Lester and Dwan McMillan – but the Pride expect to improve drastically next season as well.

“Look at the guys at the end of the bench in blue warmup suits,” Cassara said.

He’s referring to transfers Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (Connecticut), Taran Buie (Penn State) and Daquan Brown (Fresno State). Coombs-McDaniel and Buie will immediately form one of the best perimeter duos in the league, and Brown gives Hofstra size it is severely lacking this season. Throw in freshmen Dallas Anglin and Jimmy Hall, and Hofstra has reason to be excited about the future.

It’s certainly not a vintage season for either Hofstra or Towson, but that should change in the near-future.  

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 28, 2012 4:04 pm

Towson's record streak of futility is history

By Jeff Goodman

THE STREAK is over.

Towson's 41-game losing skid, the longest losing streak in Division 1 history, came to an end on Saturday afternoon when Pat Skerry's team knocked off UNC Wilmington, 66-61.

It was the program's first win since Dec. 10, 2010.

Skerry took over a program in the offseason that dropped its final 19 games under Pat Kennedy a year ago and took a team with just one returnee and began this season 0-22.

That's 41 straight, but Skerry was undeterred and told CBSSports.com on Friday night that he had a feeling about Saturday's contest against Buzz Peterson's club.

Skerry had to sweat it out, though. UNC Wilmington had a chance to take the lead with 20 seconds left, but missed a pair of free throws. Then the team's one returning letterwinner, Erique Gumbs, put the team up 64-61 on a dunk with 9.3 seconds left. UNCW's 3-point attempt with a few seconds left was blocked.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 7, 2012 8:58 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 9:04 pm

Towson sets NCAA record for consecutive losses

By Jeff Borzello

It’s been a long time coming for Towson. 375 days, to be exact.

That’s the last time the Tigers won a game – December 29, 2010 at La Salle.

On Saturday, Towson set an NCAA record with its 35th consecutive loss, a 75-38 defeat at Old Dominion. The Tigers dropped to 0-16 on the season, 0-4 in the Colonial.

They were held to 50 points or fewer for the fifth consecutive game, but had a slight improvement over Wednesday’s 27 points – the new CAA record for fewest points scored in a game. Saturday's game was also the 14th game this season that Towson has lost by double figures.

Pat Skerry is in his first year as the head coach of Towson, coming over after being an assistant coach at Pittsburgh. The Tigers returned just one player from last season, but do have a very good recruiting class entering the fold next season.

Sacramento State had the previous Division-I record for consecutive losses, set in 1997-1999. Towson gets its next opportunity to end the streak on Wednesday at home against William & Mary. Coincidentally, that game is the best chance Towson has the rest of the season at getting a victory.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:57 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 9:02 am

Towson's Skerry undeterred as futility mark nears

By Jeff Goodman

The record-setting game could come on Jan. 7 at Old Dominion.

That's when rookie Towson coach Pat Skerry and the Tigers could set the Division 1 mark for futility - with 35 consecutive losses.

But if neither athletic director Mike Waddell nor Skerry seem overly concerned, it's because they aren't.

"There's a reason I gave Pat a six-year contract," Waddell told CBSSports.com. "I knew it was going to be a process."

Simply put, previous coach Pat Kennedy left the cupboard beyond bare. This was a team that lost its final 19 games under Kennedy - and then its leading scorer, Isaiah Philmore, transferred to Xavier. Big man Braxton Dupree bolted overseas to play in Israel and RaShawn Polk was kicked off the team by Skerry.

Skerry was forced to start from scratch. Towson is the lone team in the entire country with just one returning letterwinner: Erique Gumbs, who averaged 3.6 points per game. The Tigers are just one of three programs, along with Texas and Boston College, that didn't bring back a single starter.

"I knew exactly what I was getting myself into," Skerry said. "While we may not be loaded with talent, I can't fault these kids for their effort. They are playing hard."

Despite the current state of the team, Skerry is optimistic about the future. He has two impact transfers sitting out this season -- Georgetown's Jerrelle Benimon and South Florida's Mike Burwell - and he's put together a four-man class, headlined by guard Jerome Hairston, that nearly every every recruiting guru is raving about.

Skerry will take its 0-12 mark to Charlottesville next with a matchup against a ranked Virginia team on Friday. Then comes its most optimistic shot of ending the skid, a home game against Northeastern on Jan. 2. What follows are tough league road contests against Drexel and then ODU.

"We're competing and that's important," Skerry said. "And we're building something here. We knew it was going to take time."

Skerry isn't known for his patience, but even he has managed to remain even-keel as the one-year anniversary of the program's last victory approaches this Thursday.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 26, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:01 am

President Obama to attend Towson-Oregon State

By Gary Parrish

Pat Skerry's home debut as Towson's head coach just became more noteable.


Because President Barack Obama and his family will attend.

Towson's opponent Saturday is Oregon State.

The Beavers are coached by President Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson.

The game tips at 2 p.m. ET. Fans have been encouraged to arrive earlier than normal because of what should be an unusual crowd and increased security measures at the arena, which is only about 60 miles from The White House. This will be the second college basketball game President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have attended this season. They were also courtside for the Carrier Classic between top-ranked North Carolina and Michigan State.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 2, 2011 12:05 pm

Skerry filling a bare cupboard at Towson

By Jeff Goodman

New Towson coach Pat Skerry was asked whether the cupboard was bare.

Hs response:

"We went out and bought a new cupboard," Skerry said. "Now we're in the process of stocking it."

Skerry has just one player on his team that logged a minute on the court last season.

Erique Gumbs.

He averaged a whopping 3.6 points per game last season.

Skerry has no false illusions. He understands that his team will likely struggle this season.

In fact, they'll be fortunate to surpass last season's win total.

The Tigers won a total of four games.

Leading scorer Isaiah Philmore transferred to Xavier shortly after Pat Kennedy was fired. Braxton Dupree opted to play pro and is in Israel. Rashawn Polk, who averaged 11.6 points last season, has been suspended and likely won't return to the team.

Josh Brown and Brian Morris both graduated - as did walk-on Danny Quinn.

That leaves Gumbs as the lone player who made his way into any box score a year ago that remains on the team.

Skerry will get senior Rob Nwankwo, who was ineligible last season after leading the CAA in rebounding and blocks as a junior, back in the fold.

He's also got four freshmen - wing Deon Jones, point guard Kris Walden, forward Jervon Pressley and guard Will Adams - in addition to junior college forward Marcus Damas.

Skerry is regarded as a relentless recruiter and that's where he's been able to make strides. The class he's assembled for next season - to go along with then-eligible transfers Jerrelle Benimon (Georgetown) and Mike Burwell (South Florida) - are reason for optimism.

"We've been extremely well-received on the recruiting trail," Skerry said. "With the new arena opening up, we've got a lot to sell - including playing time."

The Tigers have four commitments that are expected to sign in the early period: Combo guard Jerome Hairston, ranked in Rivals.com's Top 150; shooting guard Frank Mason; big man Barrington Alston and forward T.J. Parker.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:39 pm

CAA Offseason Report

By Jeff Goodman

CAA Offseason Report

Delaware – Phil Martelli Jr. came from Niagara and took the spot opened when R.C. Kehoe left to become the head coach at Holy Family. Delaware will play at Villanova (11-18), at BU (11-30), vs. La Salle (12-19) and vs. Temple (12-30) in the non-conference. Malcolm Hawkins transferred out of the program while Carl Baptiste (St. Joe’s) came in and will sit out this year.

Drexel – The Dragons will play in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands from Nov. 18-21. Bruiser Flint’s team has a non-league schedule that includes games at Rider (11-15), at St. Joe’s (11-30), vs. Bradley (12-17) and vs. Princeton (12-10).

George Mason – New coach Paul Hewitt has put together the following staff: Roland Houston (GW), Mike Wells (NBA), Chris Kreider (Georgia Southern) and retained director of basketball operations Scott Lombardi. The Patriots will play in the Preseason NIT (the Virginia Tech pod) and open against Florida International. Hewitt’s team will also have non-league games at Virginia (12-6), vs. Duquesne (12-21) and at College of Charleston (12-30). Luke Hancock (Louisville) and Rashad Whack (Mount St. Mary’s) left while George Mason added Anali Okoloji (Seton Hall).

Georgia State – Ron Hunter came over from IUPUI and assembled the following staff: Darryl LaBarrie, Everick Sullivan, Claude Pardue and Tony Bollier as the director of basketball operations. The Panthers will play in the Basketball Travelers Invitational at Washington along with Portland and FAU. Georgia State will also play Rhode Island (12-10) in a non-conference contest. Two players transferred out – Javonte Maynor and Harold Doby – while Manny Atkins has come in from Virginia Tech and will sit out this season. Jordan DeMercy will be eligible this year after transferring from Florida State.

Hofstra – Pat Sellars, formerly at UConn, has replaced Allen Griffin (Dayton). The Pride will be in the Legends Classic and also play home non-league games against Long Island (11-13), and Iona. Paul Bilbo (Mercyhurst), Roland Brown and Yves Jules (Fairleigh Dickinson) all transferred out while Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (UConn) and Taran Buie (Penn State) both came in. Stevie Mejia (URI) is also eligible after sitting out last season.

James Madison – Bill Phillips replaced Kevin Hargrove as the director of basketball operations. The Dukes will play in the Hoop Group Classic (11-22/25) and will also be at Central Florida’s Holiday Tournament, along with Rhode Island and Stetson, from 12-29/30. JMU will also play against Kent State (12-6) and at George Washington (12-22) in the non-conference schedule. Chad Jackson transferred to Northern Kentucky while A.J. Davis is eligible this season after transferring from Wyoming a year ago.

Northeastern – Bill Coen’s team will play at St. John’s (11-26), at N.C. State (12-22) and at home against Southern Illinois (11-19) in the non-conference. Alex Harris transferred out while Kashif Edwards, who averaged 12.4 points last season at Niagara, came in as a grad student and is eligible for this season.

Old Dominion – The biggest news of the offseason for the Monarchs is the missing ‘stache. Actually, coach Blaine Taylor got ride of his famous mustache. Drew Williamson replaced Joel Hines as the director of basketball operations and ODU added video coordinator Chris Kovensky. Old Dominion will be in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off (11-19/20) and also have a non-conference slate that includes games vs. Iowa (11-12), vs. Missouri (12-30) in Norfolk, at Richmond (12-20) and at Central Florida (12-17). Donte Hill becomes eligible on Dec. 17 after transferring in from Clemson last year.

Towson – New coach Pat Skerry hired Kevin Clark (Rhode Island), Luke Murray (Wagner), Kenny Johnson and Duane Simpkins as his director of basketball operations. The Tigers will play in the Mainland portion of the Maui Invitational and also have non-league contests at Kansas (11-11), at Michigan (11-14), vs. Oregon State (11-26), at UMass (11-30) and at Virginia (12-30). Isaiah Philmore (Xavier), Braxton Dupree, Dre Conner and Cephas Oglesby all left while Jerrelle Benimon (G’Town) and Mike Burwell (South Fla.) both transferred in.

UNC-Wilmington – Buzz Peterson’s team is currently in the Bahamas. Matt McMahon (Murray State) and Kevin Norris (FGCU) both left; Brooks Lee was promoted to assistant coach, Andre Gray was hired and the director of basketball operations spot remains open. The Seahawks will play at Maryland (11-13), at Dayton (11-19), vs. Marshall (11-22), vs. Davidson (11-26) and at Wake Forest (12-21) in the non-league. Matthew Wallace transferred out of the program.

VCU – Mike Jones (Radford) and Kyle Getter were replaced by Jamion Christian (William & Mary) and new director of basketball operations Mike Morrell (Charleston Southern). The Rams will play in the Charleston Classic and also have a non-league slate that includes games at Alabama (11-27), at Western Kentucky (11-23), vs. South Florida (11-30), at Akron (12-29), vs. UAB (12-20), vs. Richmond (12-10) and against George Washington on Dec. 4 in the BT&T Classic in D.C. Toby Veal left the program.

William & Mary – Kotie Kimble replaced Jamion Christian, who left for VCU. The Tribe will play in the Coaches vs. Cancer event and also have non-conference contests vs. Richmond (11-30), at Missouri (12-18) and vs. Iona (12-21).

Offseason reports: Big 12 Pac-12 | Big Ten | ACC | Big East SEC | A-10
Posted on: May 19, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 2:19 am

Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore trims list

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Coming out of high school, Isaiah Philmore was a coveted recruit with offers and interest from a long list of high-major schools.

Philmore ended up choosing Towson, and it worked out well for him and the Tigers. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, despite Towson losing its final 19 games of the season. He was living up to the hype, but a team coming off a 4-26 record with a new head coach in Pat Skerry was not in Philmore’s plans. He decided he was transferring in mid-April, but is on the verge of a decision.

Philmore and former AAU coach Duane Coverdale visited four schools: Dayton, Missouri, Xavier and Delaware State.

“The plan is to have a decision by Memorial Day,” said Coverdale, who coached Philmore on the Delaware Sharpshooters. “It’s not set in stone, but that’s the plan.”

Coverdale said Philmore had trimmed the list to three schools; Missouri did not make the cut.

“It was a mutual situation,” he said. “The biggest thing was he didn’t commit while he was out there.”

With Dayton, the fanfare and support surrounding the school were very attractive to Philmore and Coverdale. New head coach Archie Miller picked up Georgetown transfer Vee Sanford on Wednesday, but Philmore is still interested.

“It’s a really, really strong basketball environment,” Coverdale said. “Everyone there knows about the Dayton Flyers, their fans knew Isaiah was visiting. Coach Miller did a great job with him.”

Atlantic-10 rival Xavier is also in the mix. The biggest basketball power left on the list, the Musketeers’ success in recent years essentially spoke for itself.

“Xavier is Xavier,” Coverdale said. “They won the A-10, and they showed us that while we were there. What surprised me was that it was such a small school, but coach [Chris] Mack did a great job.”

A productive player in the CAA is sure to garner interest from some of the best teams around, so it makes sense that Dayton and Xavier are on the list. It made sense that they took a visit to Missouri, and it made sense that Oklahoma State was pursuing Philmore at one point.

But Delaware State? The small MEAC school?

“Some people are surprised that he’s considering them,” Coverdale said. “But they did a great job, showed that there’s a lot of minutes for him. It’s a lower-level program, but they’ve been in the top two of the league in nine of the last 10 years.”

Coverdale also mentioned that two of Philmore’s former AAU teammates are on the roster, and the idea of being on the team with familiar players is an attractive option.

There’s a clear drop off between the level of Xavier and Dayton, and the level of Delaware State. But, as with Philmore’s decision coming out of high school, the bigger program might not be the choice for him.

“He’s a pretty level-headed guy, he’s not going to get caught up in that,” Coverdale said.

Where will Philmore end up? Obviously Delaware State could use him the most, as a player of Philmore’s caliber doesn’t fall into the Hornets’ lap very often.

One quote from Coverdale might have given a clue as to Philmore’s destination, though.

“He’s got some things to figure out, but playing time, his role on the team and team success,” he said when asked what factors would go into Philmore’s decision. “Which school gives him the best chance of getting to the NCAA tournament?”

Philmore is a very good inside-outside combo forward. He can score around the rim but also possesses a nice stroke on his jump shot, with range extending to the arc. Philmore has shown the ability to beat defenders off the dribble and is also faster than most players at his position.

Philmore would be able to hold his own in the Atlantic 10.

“He’s definitely talented enough to play in the A-10,” Coverdale said. “He showed that he can play at that level. It’s not a talent issue, he’s not going to be intimidated.”

Photo: Baltimore Sun 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com