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This is Coach Aura back with you. I’m so happy that the season is beginning.

We got through summer and fall recruiting and have 3 very good recruits who have committed verbally. While I’m pleased with the 2 PG’s we lassoed, they’re both JC players. My initial plan was that one of the two would be coming to us directly from high school, but sometimes things work out differently than we expect. To be honest I didn’t expect Adrian Brown to pick us. When he did, we considered dropping the offer to Mateen Carroll since I think we could have picked up a pretty good high school PG in the spring. But we stuck by our offer since Carroll has shown so much interest in playing for us. We still have a scholarship offer pending to SF Keiron Stone. But we’re continuing to make phone calls to create interest in recruits on our list and get information about their interests and those of their parents. I’m optimistic about Stone, but if he decides to go elsewhere, I think we’ll have some good options in the spring for that 4th and final scholarship.

Fall practice also finally is over. It went well but I was getting impatient get our guys on the court playing games against opponents rather than scrimmaging. We’ll soon see how well prepared we are to compete with the teams on our schedule. We begin this week with two home games. The first is against San Jose State and then later in the week we will host North Carolina-Greensboro.

Our interior starters are pretty solid. Craig Smith, a 6-11 senior will start at C. He’s probably our best all-around player. He’s primarily played at PF in the past, but has the size and strength to handle the center position. Freshman Jason Vickers will start at PF. Jason is 6-7, and while still developing, may have the highest upward potential of anyone on the team. Backing those two up will be 6-7 sophomore Melvin Steele and 6-8 junior Nick McPherson. 6-7 walkon Mike Edwards might also see a few minutes at C.

At PG we have decided to give sophomore Billy Thomas a try. Billy who is 6-1 initially was contesting for the starting SG position, but he has the skills and ability to handle the PG position. Most likely he will get some time at SG as well.

At SG will be last season’s starter, 6-0 senior Mitchell Evans. His experience should be a settling factor for our lineup.

Both 6-1 senior Ryan Holmes and 6-4 senior Matt Settles will back up at both of the guard positions and 6-1 freshman Ryan Taylor will sub at SG. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan and Matt starting some this season as well.

We were weak at SF since the SF’s on our roster all have little experience and it showed in practice. So I’m going to start 6-5 junior Eric Shannon at SF. Eric is a true SG but has the height to defend at SF and get inside to fight for rebounds. 6-8 freshman Bart Rose and 6-6 sophomore Matt Heard will come in off the bench at SF but unless they start performing better than they did this past month, we may also use others when Shannon is off the court. We very well may go with a 3-guard offense at times. I guess you could say we are when Shannon is playing the 3 position anyway.

After one on final practice, AD Perry Winkle pulled me aside and said, “Looks like your team is coming together, Coach. I just realized that I’ve never provided you with any goals. So how about you win at least 10 game.” Inwardly sighing with relief, I also was thinking that while he may have said we are getting it all together, he didn’t believe it. Then he added with a wry smile, “And finish in the top 3 in conference play.” This time my thought was “Oh s**t!”, but I held that within and just meekly replied, “We’ll do our best, Perry.”

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Janeka Aura: 

Frederick seems relieved to finally be having the season begin.  Even though he’s gone through recruiting and fall practice many times, its only been as a player or assistant coach in the past.  This year the pressures were different.  Of course, the pressures for him will be different when the team takes the court also, but he seems fairly confident.  Once he had the lineup set he actually spent more time with the kids than he had been doing…for which I’m extremely happy.  They have missed his attention.

I’ve begun talking with the hospitals here because I also want to get back to work.  Omari and Malik are in the 8th and 6th grades in their new school and are doing well and we’ve identified a great pre-school for little Devany to go to.  I’m missing work and will just ensure I can adjust my work schedule to allow me to be home the days Frederick is away with the team for road games.  I’ve also made friends with Rexa Cartwright, a student at Towson and she’s willing to come over to help with the kids when needed.

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We have our first game of the season tomorrow.  Practice in October and the first half of November proceeded smoothly.  Although we all needed to get to know Coach Fed, Coach Snoddy, the practice coach, has been with us a couple years so that made things easier.  While our new coach is sticking with the sets we used last season since most of us have gained familiarity with those, he’s added a 2nd halfcourt zone (2-3 zone) and  a second full count (1-2-1-1) press zone.  But I think it will be a while before we’re ready to spring those on our competition.  He also put more emphasis during practice on being aggressive defensively, avoiding turnovers, and crashing the boards.  As a senior I’m used to the lengthy fall practice in October and November, it’s a relief to be finally apply what we practiced into game situations and real opponents.  Our first game will be at home against San Jose State.

Oh, yeah, I guess you might like to know who you’re talking with. I’m Craig Smith. I expected to be the starting PF but Coach Fed has switched me to C.  While not starting there before I had played the position during games a little in previous seasons.  Jason Vickers, a freshman, will start in my old PF position.  Jason is coming along pretty well, but the rest of our freshman players probably won’t see that much action.

Speaking of freshman, we made then endure our frosh experience…wearing a costume throughout the day last Friday on campus and then to a party the team had that night.  Jason was “Captain Hook”, Bart Rose, a SF, was a space cowboy, SG Ryan Taylor was cartoon character Robin from Teen Titans, and redshirt SF Ross Davis was Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character from the Avengers.  They were a hit around the campus and at our party.

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Matt Heard, walkon SF:

The San Jose State Spartans visited us at SECU Arena for tonight’s game which is the first of the season for both teams. The Spartans are led by senior PF Kenneth Lucas. In the locker room Coach Aura told us a story about how nervous he was before his first college game that he puked in the locker room before he was able to get to the toilet and how the coach made him clean that whole section of the locker room so that he missed most of the warmups. His coach then told him to sit on the far end of the bench because he might not play, but then surprised him by quickly inserting him just 3 minutes into the game so that he never had a chance to let his nerves get the best of him. We were all yucking it up and went out onto the floor loose.

As one of the team’s 2 walkons, I am relegated to the far end of the bench. But I’m the team’s chief cheer leader from the bench. This is my 2nd year with the team as a walkon so I continually hope that we blow out the other team so I can get a few minutes of playing time at the end of the game.

We got off to a horrible start falling behind 14-2 as their 2-3 zone was giving us fits. So being loose didn’t help us. We also were whistled for 6 fouls in the first 4 minutes sending 2 of our starters on the bench with 2 fouls apiece. When a 3rd player joined them on the bench due to foul problems, it forced Coach Fed to wave players in and out of the lineup like a one-arm paperhanger. But we still slowly trimmed the Spartans lead, tying them at 25-25 when SF Bart Rose hit a 3 from the corner with a little under 9 minutes left in the half. It was a battle from there to the end of the half at which point the score was still knotted at 40-40.

We had a tough time scoring in the early going of the 2nd half. San Jose State held a small lead until SG Ryan Taylor drilled a 3 with 10-1/2 minutes to go to finally give us our first lead of the game at 49-47. Five minutes later we were ahead 61-50 and I was nearly hoarse from all the yelling I had been doing. The Spartans called a time out, and we then hit a dry spell, going scoreless for over 4 minutes. Meanwhile San Jose State scored the next 10 points and our lead was down to a single point with 58 seconds on the clock. Still we were unable to score and the Spartans had control of the ball with 28 seconds remaining. San Jose State called a time out, after which they hit a baseline jumper to pull ahead 62-61. We had 20 seconds to regain the lead. Coach Fed called a TO and set up a pick and roll. The Spartans broke that up but Ryan Holmes put up an 18 footer that fell cleanly through to put us up by a point. But there was still enough time for the Spartans final possession. Our defense kept them from getting the ball inside and forced a final 3 point attempt that was just off the mark. We escaped with a 63-62 victory.  Coach Fed congratulated us in the locker room but told us we need to get a killer instinct when we have the lead and that we’re going to work hard in practice on going up against a 2-3 zone.

Led by the two Ryan’s (Holmes with 14 points and Taylor with 11 points), our bench scored 44 of our 63 points. Our bench outscored their bench 44 to 8. Our entire team was +8 in rebounds with Craig Smith hauling down 9 boards. Both teams hit 34% of their shots. Our starters knocked down just 5 of 24 shots. Ryan Holmes, who also had 4 rebounds and 4 assists to go along with his 14 points, was our Player of the Game.

Yeah, you guessed it. No minutes on the floor for me.

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Mitchell Evans here.  It’s rather embarrassing to tell you that Coach Fed pulled the starters aside before our next practice after our win and read us the riot act.  He reminded us that the five of us only scored 19 points, that we hit just 21% of our shots and 13% of our 3’s, that our reserves had one more rebound than the 5 of us had.  He said we needed to get our act together and play as a cohesive unit.  He ended by telling us that he was going to start all 5 of us in the next game, but another subpar outing would mean some wholesale changes in the starting lineup.  As SG my game stunk.  I hit just 1 of 5 shots and scored just 3 points. So I’m definitely worried.

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C Craig Smith:

A 2nd straight game against the Spartans, but this time instead of San Jose State it’s North Carolina-Greensboro on our court.  They lost their opener 67-60 to Alabama State.  PF Peter Brown and SG Aubrey Johnson both scored 17 points in that game.

After the chewing out we got from Coach Fed, we starters got off to a good start and opened a nice lead.  We let the Spartans come back though and only led 36-35 at the break.  But the starting 5 had scored 25 of our 36 points and Mitchell Evans accounted for 11 of those points plus grabbed 4 rebounds from his SG position.  Since we hit less than 40% of our shots as a team, Coach was on us to set more screens to get some open shots in the 2nd half.

We stumbled out of the gate in the 2nd half and let NC-Greensboro score the first 7 points and 14 of the first 18.  It took us 6-1/2 minutes to hit our first FG.  Coach was steaming and brought on the bench.  They did a good job of closing the gap and recapturing the lead with 10 minutes to go.  When the starters came back on the court, our confidence had returned and we were able to begin pulling away.  We inished with a 78-66 win.

Stats: both teams hit 43% of their shots; we were -3 in rebounds but +7 in turnovers.  Our bench came on strong in the 2nd half and finished by combining to score 36 points in this game.  We scored 30 points in the paint.  SG Mitchell Evans 14 pts, 7 boards, 8 ast; PG Billy Thomas 11 pts, 4 ast; SF/SG Ryan Holmes 13 pts, PF/C Melvin Steele 9 pts.  Offensively I didn’t do much, just 5 points, but had a solid defensive game holding Peter Brown to just 5 points and had 2 steals and a block.  Mitchell Evans was our Player of the Game.

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Michael Snoddy, 2nd assistant coach:

Damn! We just got the bad news confirming that starting PG Billy Thomas, who had a really good game, tore his MCL in the 2nd half. So he’ll miss the entire rest of this season and possibly some of next season. That’s a big blow. We can cover the position with Ryan Holmes and Matt Settles, but it means we will have a much shorter bench. With 4 straight road games coming up, we’ll definitely be stressed.

Billy was so excited to have become a starter and was really working hard to develop his skills at a position he hadn’t really played in the past. I feel bad for him and know he’s devastated.

Looks like Matt Settles will be starting at PG for now. We’re also going to have Melvin Steele start at C and move Craig Smith to his more normal PF position. That means Jason Vickers will drop out of the starting lineup for now, but he’ll still be getting a lot of playing time.

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Matt Settles, PG:

Love going to NYC. Fun place. Wish Coach would give us more free time though.

Although I was sorry to see Billy the Kid (Thomas) get hurt, I am happy to be in the starting lineup. Gonna be tough though since I have to go up against Columbia’s top scorer, PG Josh Smith, who’s scored 15-24 points in each of the Lions 3 wins this season. Two of the Lions’ wins have been on the road so they sure ain’t no pushover and they’ve been averaging 68 ppg while only giving up 53 ppg.

Matt’s game thoughts:

1st half: Smith’s tough…put 7 points in against me in the first 5 minutes…Coach sat me and provided some advice. Refs were all over us but let the Lions get away with things. We hung with Columbia until the last 5 minutes of the half. Refs called 12 fouls on us and 4 on them giving them 11 more points from the line than us. We trailed 40-28. Smith had 10 for the Lions but Ryan Holmes and I had 5 points each going up against him. Coach told us to work the boards harder and then gave us all a pep talk and said he knew we would come back.

2nd half: We quickly cut their lead to 5, but refs continued to whistle us. Coach was all over ‘em and finally got T’d. We lost by 18, 75-57. We scored as many points from the field as the Lions but the freakin’ refs gave them 18 more points from the free throw line. Smith finished with 18 against us. I had 14 points, SG Ryan Taylor got 10. Coach gave me a pat on the back…said I played a great game. But losing ain’t fun.

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15 hours ago, ImAnOhioGuy said:

I'm oddly mesmerized by these posts. Love all of it. Good luck!

 

15 hours ago, ImAnOhioGuy said:

I'm oddly mesmerized by these posts. Love all of it. Good luck!

Well, I'm oddly creating them. 😛

Thanks!  Glad you're enjoying.

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Janeka Aura:

I was hired as an RN at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (which is located in Towson) and am working in the ER.  It’s huge medical complex.  I’m loving it…it’s great to be back at work.  There’s always something different and challenging when working in the ER.  My schedule allows me to get home when Omari and Malik are getting out of school, and I then pick up Devany at pre-school.  Since I head to work early in the morning, Frederick makes them breakfast and gets them off to school.  My friend Rexa Cartwright is helping take care of the kids when Frederick travels with the team.

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Posted (edited)

Michael Snoddy, 2nd assistant coach:

The Eastern Illinois Panthers have a 1-2 record but both losses were on the road and to good teams (Southern Illinois and Georgia Tech), so we’re going to have to play well to compete.

We were plagued by turnovers in the first half.  But we shot well and forced the Panthers to make even more turnovers.  We hounded them on defense and kept them from getting any open shots.  Midway through the half we had opened an 18-4 lead.  We continued to hit our shots and play solid defense and finished the half with a 40-18 lead.  We outshot Eastern Illinois 63% to 22% and while we had 12 turnovers we caused the Panthers to turn the ball over 17 times.  We also had a 16-10 rebounding advantage.  Our only problem was that we had 4 players with 2 fouls apiece. 

We held onto our large lead throughout the 2nd half as we continued to shoot and rebound well.  The final score was 74-54 in our favor.  Eric Shannon topped our scoring with 15 points.  Craig Smith, Ryan Taylor, and Michael Steele each scored 10 points with Smith also picking of 10 rebounds.  Matt Settles had 9 points and 5 assists.  Other than making 20 turnovers, our guys played great to score a nice road win.  We hit 55% of our shots, 50% of our 3’s, and were +13 in rebounds, and +3 in turnovers.  This was the first game in which we shot well.  Our record is now 3-1.

Edited by PointGuard

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Tiger Blog

Losing Billy Thomas for the rest of the season seems to have created more problems for Coach Aura than expected. Trying to replace his minutes on the court has created issues not only at PG but also at SG and SF as the coach tries to keep fresh legs on the court. It’s necessitated him having to sub more often and to put players at different positions than he planned at certain points during each game. Ultimately this could be a good or bad thing. If players don’t adapt to playing multiple positions, their performance may suffer. And if the shallower bench tires players too much, both their offensive and defensive proficiency may deteriorate. But if they do adapt, his players may ultimately improve their skills more quickly than they would have otherwise as well as providing the flexibility for a coach and team that is always important as the season progresses. Time will tell how this goes for Towson. Another potential major issue would be if there is another major injury. That could well cripple the Tigers.

Last night the Towson Tigers ventured to Itta Bena, Mississippi, a town with a population of 2,000 souls in an area of Mississippi of even smaller towns. Their mission: to take on the Mississippi Valley Delta Devils. The Delta Devils came into the game having lost their first two games but then turning things around to come out victorious in their next two games. Mississippi Valley was led by PF Greg Fry who was averaging 15.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg. The Delta Devils primarily employ a 2-3 zone so the question on the minds of Tigers’ fans was: could the Tigers solve to shoot as well as they had in their previous game against Eastern Illinois? Coach Frederick Aura must have been thinking that way also because he started Matt Settles at SF who thus far has hit a much higher percentage of his shots than previous starter, Eric Shannon. That means Ryan Holmes will start at PG. Thus far Holmes has more assists than does Settles so that was also a likely factor in the coach’s decision. Ryan Taylor has been the team’s best shooter from the perimeter, so he probably will be getting more time at SG which will all the coach to move Mitchell Evans from SG to PG when there is the need.

The starters for the game means that Aura’s starting lineup is in shambles. Of the 5 original starters, only 2 remain in tonight’s lineup. Mitchell Evans continues to start at SG (but he’s being challenged by Ryan Taylor, the surprising freshman mentioned above) and Craig Smith is still in the starting lineup but has been moved from C to PF. But…Billy Thomas is no longer at PG due to his injury, PF Jason Vickers wasn’t yet ready for prime-time, and Eric Shannon’s transition from SG to starting at SF has at least been placed on hold due to his shooting problems.

And as to last night’s game?

During the first 14 minutes of the first half neither team could gain an advantage, but as fouls mounted against the Tigers, the Delta Devils began pulling away. Towson outshot Mississippi Valley 50% to 41%, but had a 19-13 rebounding deficit, was -3 in turnovers and picked up 12 fouls compared to 5 by the Delta Devils. This results in Mississippi Valley scoring 11 more points on free throws that the Tigers which was more than enough for the Delta Devils to lead 40-30 at the break. Craig Smith and Nick McPherson each were saddled with 3 fouls.

Mississippi Valley’s shooting improved in the 2nd half, particularly their 3P shooting Meanwhile Towson’s shooting went south. The Delta Devils gradually expanded their lead and finishes with a 75-56 win over the Tigers. SF Jay Thomas knocked down 20 points for Mississippi Valley and PF Greg Fry had 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks for Mississippi Valley. Although PF Craig Smith’s time on the court was limited due to foul trouble, he still led Towson with 10 points and 6 boards.

The loss dropped Towson’s season record to 3-2. Aura’s search for a dependable starting lineup cotinues.

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Posted (edited)

Omar McDade:

Crash is finding out how difficult it is to mold a team into a cohesive group who blend their talents to create success. Sometimes we have 5 independent and very inconsistent individuals out on the court.

Thus far I’ve been most impressed by Melvin Steele, Ryan Taylor and Craig Smith. Steele has played well while on the court but his endurance sucks. Taylor is a good shooter and is our top scorer thus far, but needs to work on his defense and distributing the ball, so we’re going to continue to bring him in off the bench as a spark plug. Smith is solid inside and a good rebounder but has yet to demonstrate the offensive production we need from him. Unfortunately freshman Jason Vickers hasn’t been the force we expected inside. After dropping him from the starting lineup, we’re returning him tonight but at SF to see how he does working a bit more outside.

Tonight’s opponent, the Florida A&M Rattlers are 1-3. And speaking of those kind of numbers, they also employ the 1-3-1 defense so I’m hoping Steele and Smith can do some damage inside against that. The Rattlers’ best player is PF Alex Williams, but their scoring is pretty evenly distributed.

We had a strong first half, hitting 61% of our shots and forcing Florida A&M to turn the ball over 10 times. The refs teamed up against us though resulting in the Rattlers being able to score 9 more points at the free throw line than us. Even with that inequality we still led 42-37 going into the 2nd half. Our scoring was distributed throughout all 10 of our players who saw action in the half.

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The refs continued to favor the Rattlers in the 2nd half and they captured the lead from us at 51-50 with 13 minutes left. Florida A&M then got hot and quickly jumped ahead 67-54. Our inside game was effective but their 1-3-1 defense completely stymied anything by us from outside. With momentum clearly with the Rattlers, we never recovered and dropped this game 81-64. The difference in the game was primarily that the Rattlers outscored us at the charity line and outside the arc. 


Craig Smith and Melvin Steele each scored 13 points while Ryan Holmes and Matt Settles combined for 11 assists.

Oh yeah...the Jason Vickers experiment at SF? It didn't pan out. While not a complete failure, it didn't result in anything special either. So I imagine he will continue to come in off the bench at PF primarily.

Edited by PointGuard

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Harry Iacona:

As the academic term gets closer to ending, Coach Aura had me put 3 players (Bart Rose, Melvin Steele and Matt Heard) on our Study Table Program. Their grades are OK but Coach A wants those three to improve so they’re on really solid ground academically.

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Notes taken by Bobby Simpson for Baltimore Sun article

Towson Tigers (3-3) host Central Michigan Chippewas )3-2)
Chippewas are agood shooting team, hitting nearly 50% of their FGA’s and 42% of their 3PA’s.
Central Michigan’s leading scorers: SF Ledard Crawford, 15.2 ppg and SG Ricky Gipson, 13.0 ppg.

1st half notes:
-Down 13-4 after 5 minutes…too few chances due to TO’s by Tigers and Chippewas shooting lights out.
-McPherson, scoring 7 in 5 minutes, sparks rally to tie game at 22-22 with 10:22 to go in half.
-Steele dominates inside and rallies team to 40-28 lead with 5 minutes remaining.
-Fouls mount allowing Central Michigan to reduce lead at end of half to 48-40.
-Towson hit 63% of shots, Central Michigan hit 42% of FGA’s and just 2 of 10 on 3PA’s; Chippewas outscored Towson by 9 at free throw line.
-14 points/6 rebounds by C Melvin Steele; 10 points by C Nick McPherson; SF Eric Shannon saddled with 3 fouls.
-SF Ledard Crawford scored 16 for Central Michigan.

2nd half notes:
-Ugly start by both teams with lots of TO’s.
-Tigers take advantage of TO’s to go up 61-45 with 15 min left.
-Chippewas exploit ragged play by Towson to narrow lead to 65-59 with 11 minutes remaining.
-Fast breaks give Tigers a 74-59 advantage with 8-1/2 minutes to go.
-Fouls have multiple Towson players on bench with 4 apiece. Central Michigan pours in free throws to cut lead to 78-73 with 4 minutes to go.
-82-78 with 46 seconds on clock.
-Chippewas foul and Holmes hits both free throws putting Tigers up by 6.
-Another intentional foul…Settles drops in both shots…8 point lead with 24 seconds on clock.

-Final Score: Towson-86, Central Michigan-78.

-Tigers outshoot Chippewas 54% to 42%; 19 turnovers by Central Michigan, 14 by Towson; 36 point in paint for Towson.
-C Melvin Steele-22 pts, 6 reb; C Nick McPherson-12 pts, 5 reb; PG Matt Holmes-11 pts, 4 ast; PF Craig Smith-10 pts; SF Eric Shannon-5 pts, 5 reb, 3 stl, 3 blk.
-SF Ledard Crawford knocks down 24 pts and gets 8 reb for Central Michigan.
-Coach Aura ecstatic about getting a combined 34 points and 11 rebounds from his 2 centers.

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Matt Heard:

I’ve still not got into any game action this season. Not complaining but really hoping we blow out the Brown Bears (4-4) tonight and Coach Fed puts me out there. But there’s another reason I’d like us to blast Brown, I had a good friend throughout school. We spent a lot of time together and he was great. But his parent were another matter. They both went to Ivy League schools and continually were talking about how much better the Ivy’s were than other colleges. Their condescending attitude made me wanna puke. And of course they got Sean into Princeton on a legacy admission. I got together with Sean last summer in between our freshman and sophomore years, but things were different. We still got along but things just had changed. So I’m going to be boisterously cheering our team with hopes we rock. Coach wants us to get Brown out of their slow-paced discipline offense.

The first half was close the entire way, but we had 4 players in foul trouble. With no fans to cheer us on it was all up to we bench players and we did the best we could. We kept things close but trailed 39-35 at the break. PF Craig Smith led us with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

There was absolutely nothing to cheer about in the 2nd half. Brown began to pull away from the onset and then we simply fell apart. We trailed by over 20 points for most of the last 10 minutes. With 3 minutes to go, Coach Aura put me in the game. Going in with us trailing 75-55 was not the way I was hoping my first game time of the season would occur. I got to touch the ball a couple times but wasn’t able to do anything productive. Three minutes of play with no stats. We took a disappointing 79-61 drubbing. We headed back to Maryland with a 4-4 record, but fortunately play our next 3 games at home.

PF Craig Smith was our only player who had a good game. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.

After the game, Coach Fed told us, “We played them pretty much even up in the first half. We hit a rough patch to start the 2nd half and they grabbed a double digit lead. At that point we needed to dig deep and come back. Instead we just gave in and let them run away. We should have been able to compete with Brown even when playing them on the road. So we gave this game away. We just can’t be doing that. Let’s put this game behind us, but it’s time to toughen up and compete the entire 40 minutes.”

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Omar McDade:

We just got an update on the national ranking for recruits. All 3 of the recruits we signed dropped significantly. I still think they will be solid players for us, though. Meanwhile we continue to contact recruits on our list so that we will eventually award our last remaining scholarship. Slow but steady progress is the best we can hope for this time of the year. Recruits are focusing on their high school or JC seasons right now.

Here's what happened in our most recent game:

The Howard Bison (2-6) won their first 2 games this season but is now in a 6-game tailspin. But some of those losses have been to good teams and all but one were on the road.

We started well building a 28-14 lead midway through the first half. Howard cut into our lead but we renewed it to hold a 44-35 halftime advantage. We outshot the Bison 58% to 43%. PF Craig Smith and SG Ryan Taylor each scored 9 points. SG Don Moore kept Howard in the game by scoring 10 points.

We opened at 15 point advantage with 8 minutes to go and then coasted to an easy 86-77 victory over the Bison. We hit 55% of our FG’s and held an 18-9 turnover advantage. We scored 36 points in the paint.

Leading our team was PF Craig Smith with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Matt Settles and Ryan Taylor both tossed in 14 points. C Melvin Steele scored just 6 points, but had 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

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Tiger Tales (Towson University’s Public Affairs Newsletter)

Tiger Earns Award

The Colonial Athletic Association awarded it’s Freshman Player of the Week award to Towson’s Ryan Taylor. Taylor scored 14 points in the Tiger’s 86-77 win over Howard University last week. He hit 5 of 8 FG’s, 2 of 3 from outside the 3 point arc, and 2 of 2 free throws. He also had 2 assists and 2 steals. Taylor, who is from Washington, Maryland is one of the Tigers’ leading scorers even though he has yet to start a game. He is presently averaging 8.7 ppg. Coach Frederick Aura said, “Ryan has really impressed us with his ability to step right in and contribute as a freshman. He’s shown a lot of confidence on the court. In his first 9 games for us he has scored in double figures 4 times.”

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Baltimore Sun article:

Towson in Thriller

Even though the Tigers started slowly in their game against the Montana State Bobcats last night, they were able to tie the Bobcats at 9-9 after the first 4 minutes of play. From that point Montana State took control, but the Tigers fought back and finished the half in a 40-40 tie. Leading scorers for Towson at the break were SF Eric Shannon and SG Ryan Taylor with 8 points apiece.

The Bobcats again moved ahead early in the 2nd half but with 10 minutes to play the score was tied at 63-63. The lead shifted back and forth from thereon. The Bobcats were kept in the game by the refs who called twice as many fouls against the Tigers as Montana State. But the plucky Tigers moved ahead 82-76 with 3 minutes remaining. The home crowd’s excitement and encouragement grew with each subsequent possession. The refs put the Bobcats on the line allowing them to cut the lead to 82-79, but then Craig Smith drove to the basket and scored on a reverse layup. Mitchell Evans then picked off a pass and sent the ball upcourt to Melvin Steele who slammed it home to put Towson on top 86-79 with 1:15 on the clock. The Bobcats hit a field goal to reduce the lead to 5. With under a minute to play, Montana State fouled sending Evans to the line. He made one of two free throws making it 87-81 with 44 seconds to go. Following a time out, Montana State hit a 3 to reduce the lead to 3 with 28 seconds remaining. Towson tried to work the clock down but the Bobcats fouled. Ryan Holmes dropped in two free throws to make it 89-84. Montana State hit another 3 and fouled immediately. Evans stepped to the line to sink both free throws to ice the game and make the final winning score for Towson 91-87. Towson’s season record is now 6-4.

“Montana State played extremely well and we were continually having to come back. But our guys kept the Bobcats from pulling away too far. When we finally got a lead in the waning moments of the game, Montana State kept making it close. But each time we responded to maintain the lead. The cheering by our home crowd drove our players to do their very best,” said Coach Aura.

C Melvin Steele finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds while PG/SF Matt Settles, SG Ryan Taylor, and SF Eric Shannon each scored 13 and PF Craig Smith added 11. SG Mitchell Evans had 8 points, 3 rebounds,3 assists, 4 steals and a block. Montana State’s SG Rod Dixon and C Daniel Moody both scored 20.

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Bart Rose, reserve SF:

Bigger than average crowd at SECU Arena tonight, so that’s cool.  We may need their support since Chicago State (5-5) is favored.  Their two main scorers have been SF Charlie Harrison (14.9 ppg) and C Damian Selby (12.8 ppg).  Their primary defense is a 2-3 zone.

We had a hard time putting the ball in the hoop early in the game and fell behind 15-9 with 11 minutes left in the half.  But our defense was solid and we scored the next 8 straight points to take a one point lead two minutes later.  And even though the Cougars immediately regained a small lead, that 8-0 run restored our confidence and our shots started raining in.  We scored 17 of the final 21 points in the half to sport a 42-29 lead at the break.  PF Craig Smith had a big half scoring 10 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.  We outshot Chicago State 42% to 29%, but more importantly dominated the boards 28-15.

We let Chicago State back into the game.  After 6 minutes of play in the 2nd half they trailed by just 5 points.  Coach Aura jumped all over our guys during a timeout.  We responded with 5 quick points to raise our lead to 53-43 and forcing the Cougars to take a timeout.  With us ahead by 10 points, I got into the final minute of play, but just got to touch the ball once.  We beat the Cougars 74-64.  Chicago’s C Damian Selby was the top scorer in the game with 20 points, but that was offset by Craig Smith’s 16 points and 11 boards, Melvin Steele’s 13 points and 7 boards, Matt Settles’ 10 points, Ryan Taylor’s 9 points, and Eric Shannon’s 6 points and 9 rebounds.  The win improved our record to 7-4 with our final pre-conference game next week at Navy.

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Paul Jonovich, CDR, USN(Ret)

USNA insignia.jpg

Three other retired naval officers joined me for the hour drive to Annapolis.  We all attended the Naval Academy and then served over 20 years in the Navy.  So while we are fans of Towson, we also have a strong allegiance to Navy. 

The Navy Midshipmen have won 5 and lost 4 this season. Two of those wins were against Penn State and St. Bonaventure. The Middies have won 4 of 5 at home while the Tigers have lost 4 of their 5 road games.

Towson held Navy scoreless for over 5 minutes and was up 7-0 at that point.  PF Craig Smith, the Tigers’ top scorer and rebounder, picked up his 2nd foul at the 14:28 mark.  But Navy scored 12 of the next 14 points.  The Tigers fought back and the lead flipped back and forth. With 5 minutes left in the half, the refs called the first foul against Navy.  By then 8 fouls had been called against the Tigers.  Navy pulled ahead late in the half to take a 34-30 lead to the locker room.  The Tigers hit just 33% of their first half shots.  Mitchell Evans scored 10 points to top Towson’s scoring. 

Navy went ahead by 5 points early in the 2nd half but Towson came back to lead 52-50 with 7 minutes left in the game.  With 2:14 remaining the game was tied at 62-62.  SF Eric Shannon hit 3’s on consecutive possessions by Towson to give them a 68-65 advantage with 58 seconds left.  The Tigers’ PG Matt Settles picked off a pass and drove the length of the floor for a layin to put Towson ahead by 5 points with 35 seconds remaining.  C Melvin Steele then blocked a shot on Navy’s next possession and Navy was force to foul.  Shannon made one of two free throws.  Navy wasn’t able to score and Towson came away with an exciting 71-65 victory.

PG/SF Matt Settles scored 14 points and dished out 4 assists, SF Eric Shannon hit for 12 points while pulling down 6 rebounds, and SG Mitchell Evans also scored 12 points.

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Coach Aura:

Pre-conference play has concluded and our 8-4 record looks good. But our record is deceiving. We purposely set up a powder-puff schedule with no really tough teams. So pre-conference play served as a good way to build confidence for our team but may not have prepared them as well as possible for conference play. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Colonial Athletic Association team records at the end of pre-conference play:

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Top Player Stats thus far:

PPG: PF Craig Smith, 10.7 ppg; C Melvin Steele, 10.3 ppg; PG Ryan Taylor, 8.7 ppg; PG Matt Settles, 8.5 ppg

RPG: PF Craig Smith, 6.9 rpg; C Melvin Steele, 5.3 rpg; SF Eric Shannon, 3.4 rpg

APG: PG Matt Settles, 3.6 apg; PG Ryan Holmes, 31 apg; PG Billy Thomas, 3.5 apg

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Assistant Coach Michael Snoddy:

The media reps who follow Colonial Athletic Association have combined their individual predictions.  Their combined consensus is that we will finish 2nd in the conference behind North Carolina-Wilmington.  If you believe that they really have any predictive capability, then that puts some pressure on us to perform to their expectations.  We’ll just let the season progress and do our best from game to game.

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 Perry Winkle, Athletic Director

DIdn’t want to miss our first conference game. We’re hosting the James Madison Dukes who have a 3-8 Precord but they played most all of their pre-conference games on the road and had some tough competition.  So they definitely are better than their record would lead you to believe.

Coach Aura has recently settled on a starting lineup of Steele at C, Smith at PF, Shannon at SF, Evans at SG and Settles at PG. 

We have a decent size crowd tonight.  I think there would have been even more if the weather hadn’t turned bad which has kept a lot of James Madison fans from making the 3 hour drive from Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.

We can out flat and it was nearly 5 minutes into the game before the Tigers made a field goal. A minute before that I could hear Coach Aura screaming at his team during the media timeout to get their act together.  It worked though and they pulled ahead a couple minutes later at 8-7 after making 3 straight FG’s.  But James Madison was dominating the boards and used that advantage to maintain a small lead over our guys.  Peter Myers, JMU’s head coach, was really riding the refs and they called a technical on him with 4:30 to play in the half.  While he gave up a point, his action psyched up his players who scored 8 straight points to take a 34-28 lead with 2 minutes remaining.  The half ended with Towson on the short end of a 37-35 score.  James Madison outplayed our team in every area except for turnovers where we held a 13-6 advantage.  But if we wanted to win, we needed to attack the boards where we had a 20-9 deficit in the first half.  C Nick McPherson was our top scorer with 8 points.

Coach Aura must have gotten on his guys in the locker room because they came out more aggressively to start the 2nd half.  We took a 3 point lead but the Dukes struck back to regain the lead.  The lead was exchanged several times but then James Madison spurted out to a 72-58 lead with 4-1/2 minutes to go.  James Madison took advantage of a subpar performance by the Tigers resulting in a disappointing 87-73 loss at home.  The Dukes outshot the Tigers 53% to 41% (and hit 50% of their 3’s compared to just 14% by Towson), out-rebounded the Tigers 39-23 but had 18 turnovers to just 11 by Towson.

PF Craig Smith had 13 points, C Nick McPherson had 12, SG Mitchell Evans scored 11, and SG Ryan Taylor hit for 10.

Hopefully this was just an off night for our guys or it’s going to be a long Colonial Athletic Association season.

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