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Omar McDade

The decision to go after top-rated recruits definitely upped the ante this year.  We put a lot of them on our list and slowly got some of them interested, but minimally so.  Some simply would not talk to us at all.  When we were able to create interest, we just kept chipping away…phone call after phone call.  Tedious work with only occasional minor victories.  When it came time to offer two available scholarships, we first offered to #12 ranked C Llewellyn Alvin.  Even though he was so highly rated, we thought we MIGHT have a chance since he was from Maryland.  We also offered a scholarship to C Steve Buchanan from Maine.  He was ranked #34 and had shown a fair amount of interest.  But the home visit didn’t go well and he quickly opted to go to North Carolina (not much chance of competing against the Tar Heels).  We offered the scholarship that Buchanan refused to SG Steven Campbell, #59-ranked recruit from New Hampshire.  His interest level rose but and we had some good home visits, but he picked Clemson.  In the meantime even though Alvin liked our home visits, he decided to go to Oklahoma State.

We then offered a scholarship to 41st-ranked PF Deon Penn who is attending a JC in Oregon.  Surprisingly he showed some strong interest during the late summer. Penn’s interest in us rose with our first home visit but dropped significantly when we re-visited him.

With our budget running low, we decided to drop down to #243-ranked C Melvin Wilden from New  York for our 2nd and last scholarship offer.  Wilder was rated higher earlier this year and we like what we’ve seen of him.  

At that point I was distressed that we were going to run out of money with no success at all.  Coach Aura said, “Don’t worry, there are always transfer players to go after at the end of this coming season.”  Then, lo and behold, after our 3rd visit to Penn (with no remaining time for home visits), Penn accepted our offer!  You could have heard my sigh of relief in Oregon.  That left Wilden interested but unsigned and dangling.  We plan to cut back all costs and see if he accepts this winter and otherwise try to have a tiny bit of money left to hook him in the spring.  Then in mid October, Wilden let us know he was going to go to George Mason.  So we’ll continue to contact the remaining recruits on our list and see who rises to the top with the hope we are able to get a good recruit to commit this coming spring.

Coach Aura admitted we shot too high this summer.  It’s just too tough for Towson to recruit against the big boys for the top-rated recruits.

Deon Penn is a 6-6 PF from West Linn, Oregon.  Not only is he ranked #41 in the nation, we’ve evaluated  him as an overall A rated recruit.  He’s a very good scorer, particularly from inside, but also has pretty good range from outside.  He’s an excellent rebounder who has very good passing and stealing skills. Last season he averaged 18.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.9 bpg, and 2.5 spg.  I expect him to fit right into our starting lineup when he arrives next year.

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Harry Iacona, 3rd Assistant Coach

Coach Aura had me set up a study table for any of our players whose GPA is below 3.0.  So now I’ve got six players on it that I have to keep tabs on. 

Michael Snoddy, 2nd Assistant (Practice) Coach

We began team practice sessions in early October.  Ross Davis and Matt Heard got into it during one of our early practices.  So Coach Aura laid into both of them and both responded well to it.  The team pulled together after that.  I’m happy with how the team is developing, but we’re going to need to use pre-conference play to clean things up if we’re to challenge in the Colonial Athletic Association this year.

Here’s how I see the team shaping up:

Jr Adrian Brown definitely has the edge to start at PG. But Jr Mateen Carroll will be a good backup.

Sr Eric Shannon seems to have the early edge to start at SG, but Jr Billy Thomas and So Ryan Taylor both could challenge him.  Thomas again probably will put in time at PG as well but we don’t plan to get him into any games until December 1st to let the MCL he tore last season to fully mend.   Shannon is likely to continue to move over to SF for portions of some games after Thomas returns.

Fr Wayne Burrough is likely going to win the starting role at SF.  But to my surprise, redshirt Fr Ross Davis really improved his game over the summer.  So he’ll come off the bench to get some solid minutes at SF this season.  If he continues his improvement Coach Aura was right not to have cut him to go after a transfer player.

So Jason Minor looks to be our starting PF with So Jason Vickers being a good substitute.

Sr Melvin Steele has a very small edge over Jr Nick McPherson (who has improved a lot) at C.

We’re redshirting Fr SF Keiron Stone as we figured we would.  He has tremendous potential but needs some maturing and refinement of skills, and I don’t think he’d be happy riding our bench all season.

Media Prediction:  The media has picked our team to finish 4th in the conference behind Northeastern, William & Mary, and Hoftstra.

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Jeremiah Dunwoody (JD), NCAA Investigator visits Coach Aura (CA)

JD: Hey Coach, your first season as head coach in Division I went pretty darned well. 

CA: Thanks.  Not sure if any of the credit goes my way.  The players worked their butts of and did their best I think. 

JD: Yeah Coach, and I’m sure you’re doing your best to get even better players for the future.  Actually that’s why I’m here.

CA: (Laughing) Your son plays ball?

JD: Hah!  Hell, Coach…I got 5 kids and not one of them a boy.  But a couple of my girls aren’t bad out on the court. 

CA: Then it’s probably Coach Jenny Portman you want to be talking to.  She’s doing a terrific job with our women’s team.

JD: Nah, that’s not really why I’m here.  Coach, let me get right to the point.  Tell me, have you been recruiting Kenley Carter?

CA: We had him on our list for a while, but not now.  Why?

JD: He’s a helluva player, isn’t he?  I’m guessing he will be a one-and-done for some college, but in that one year he certainly could make a difference for a team.

CA: You could well be right, but I really like guys who put in four years with us. 

JD: Yeah, but I bet you wouldn’t turn down a kid like Carter.

CA: I’m sure he’s got his sights set on a college in a much higher level conference than we play in.

JD: Maybe, maybe not.  We know his parents are dirt poor.  A family like that sometimes sees a kid like Kenley as a way to move quickly up the economic ladder. 

CA: That could well be true, but he’ll probably be getting a big payday when he signs with the pros.

JD: Absolutely, but it’s not a certainty.  Even playing a year of college ball, he might sustain an injury that would take that all away.  We see this all the time…a family just decided that they want what they can get, when they can get it.  Let me be straight up with you, Coach.  Did you ever have someone contact you about making a solid donation to the Carter bank account?

CA: No, not in so many words.  I did get a call that led me to believe that MIGHT be the case.  But I showed no interest.  And as I said, he’s no longer on our list of recruits we’re going after.

JD: So who was it that contacted you? 

CA: Beats me.  It was just a phone call out of the blue and he never gave me a name and his phone number never showed up on my phone…it just said “Private number”.

JD: Come now!  You can’t be serious that you never considered finding some way to get that kid to come to Towson.

CA: Sure, but through our regular recruiting efforts.  Not by paying a bribe.  As I said, I showed no interest.  In fact, I hung up on the unidentified caller.

JD: Why didn’t you let the NCAA know that a bribe was being solicited?

CA: Hey, I had no idea who was calling, if he really was connected with the Carters, what exactly was wanted, or if he was just a complete scam.  So there really was nothing to report since I never gave the guy the time of day.

JD:  OK, OK. No need to get all defensive and in a huff. I’m just trying to put this puzzle together.  Someone’s gonna take a fall.  In the future Coach, if something like this occurs, you need to give us a holler and let us know.  Not only does it help us keep the game clean, but it protects you.  You’d probably have needed some serious coin to get a stud like that to come your way anyway.  But you know, because you did get contacted and didn’t notify us, I can’t just delete you outta our list of guys we’re keeping our eyes on, even though I’d like to.

CA: Alright, I understand.  It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered anything like this.  And you can look this way as much as you’d like.  We have nothing to hide.

JD: Like I said when I got here, nice job in your first season.  It looks like you might be able to get the Tigers able to make some noise in the conference and in the post-season.  Just keep your program clean, Coach.

After Jeremiah Dunwoody leaves Coach Aura’s office:

CA: [Expletive Deleted]

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The next day, Coach Aura (CA) let’s 1st Assistant Coach Omar McDade (OM) know what happened during Jeremiah Dunwoody’s visit:

OM: Damn, I’m sorry you had to go through that.

CA: I musta been asleep in coach’s school when this subject came up.

OM: (Laughing)  Yeah, it’s just ONE of the dark corners of college basketball.  We give these kids a free scholarship and that’s great.  But a scholarship doesn’t mean much to a kid like Kenley Carter.  He’s only going to college to punch his ticket to move on to the NBA, not to get a college degree. But the colleges are making money off basketball and football players and paying them nothing otherwise.  Quite a few of these kids come from homes where money is scarce.  And there’s a hell of a lot of pressure on coaches to produce.  So it’s not surprising that there are those programs that cheat to get recruits. 

CA: You don’t have to tell me all that. I’m well aware of it.  But I want you to look at our recruiting protocols and tune them up so that there is absolutely no doubt about what we need to do to keep things totally on the up and up.  Then we need to get all the coaches together and go over it so everybody completely understands and there are no unanswered questions.  It’s just too damned easy for someone to say or do something even a little wrong or to not cross a T or dot an I in what we do.  I also want to talk with our players to ensure they completely understand what can’t be done and that they need to let us know if an alum, a fan, or anyone offers or provides them with something that is illegal with the NCAA.  We’re gonna have EVERYone sign that they’ve been apprised of all this also.

OM: I’m on it, Crash.

After leaving the office:

OM: [Expletive deleted]'ng NCAA!

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Nov 14, 2020: Towson Tigers (0-0) @ Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (0-0)

PG Adrian Brown:

I’m was excited to be starting my first game for the Tigers.  The level of play is way above what went on in Junior College ball.

Andy Miller is The Mount’s starting PG that I’ll be going up against.  Last season he averaged 7.6 ppg and had 3.6 apg.  He’s a ball-hawk so I need to protect the ball.  SF B.J. Jefferson scored 13.7 ppg so we’d like to shut him down.

We picked off passes by the Moutaineers on their first two possessions of the game.  50 seconds into the game I drained a 3 for our first points.  We then pulled out to an 11-0 lead after 4 minutes of play.  Then we went scoreless for 3-1/2 minutes and allowed Mount St. Mary’s to tie us.  We then pulled away again and held onto a 5-10 point lead the rest of the half.  We went to the locker room up 34-26.  In his first collegiate game, SF Wayne Burrough led us with 9 points in the first half. 

Our defense clamped down on the Mountaineers early in the 2nd half and we opened a 46-30 lead with 13 minutes remaining.  But Mount St. Mary’s came back to tie the game at 51-51 with 9-1/2 minutes to play.  We went on an 9-0 run to lead 64-55 with 6 minutes to go.  We held on to come away with a 70-63 road win. 

We hit 48% of our FG attempts and 50% of our 3P attempts.  We held the Mountaineers shooting to 38% on FG’s and 27% on 3’s.  We made 23 turnovers so I’m sure Coach Fed will be on us at practice about that.

After scoring just 3 points in the first half, I finished with 14 points and had 2 steals and 2 blocks plus held Andy Miller to just 3 points.  So I felt good about my defense.  SG Eric Shannon and SF Wayne Burrough both scored 11 points and each had 5 rebounds.  The coaches gave me the Player of the Game award, but I didn’t feel I deserved it since I had 7 turnovers and only 3 assists.

Best performance by a Colonial Athletic Association team tonight was by Hofstra which scored a 76-65 upset on the road versus Tennessee.

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Nov. 17, 2020: Towson Tigers (1-0) @ Nicholls State Colonels (0-1)

SF Wayne Burrough:

Now that I have a game under my belt, I’m not as nervous as I was before our first game.

C Melvin Steele-9 points in the first 1:36 of play to put us ahead 9-3.

7:31 Nicholls State takes 25-24 lead.

Halftime score: Nicholls State-43, Towson-32.

We were outshot 48% to 35% on FG’s and 44% to 10% on 3’s.  The Colonels went to the line 7 more times than we did.

We scored Ok in the 2nd half, but Ncholls State burned us the entire 2nd half with hot shooting.

We got slammed 95-77. 

The Colonels hit 54% of their FG’s and 57% of their 3’s.  Just downright poor defense by us.

Leading scorers: C Melvin Steele-15 points, PF Jason Minor and me-10 points each.  I also had 8 rebounds.

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Nov.21, 2020: Towson Tigers (1-1) @ Omaha Mavericks (2-1)

2nd Assistant Coach Michael Snoddy:

Tonight we have the 3rd of 7 straight road games to start our season.  This pre-conference schedule stinks.  Coach Aura has presented it to the players as a “challenge”…one that is up to them to overcome.  My challenge is my back.  The bed at last night’s hotel was hard as a board and I slept badly and my back is now killing me.

The Mavericks’ PF Troy Finley has been hitting a high percentage of his shots.  So we hope to at least only give up contested shots rather than open ones.

Eric Shannon got called for fouls on the Mavericks first two possessions.  Hope this doesn’t portend quick whistles from the refs all night.  We don’t score until the 15:20 mark and then just from the foul line.  At the 2nd media time out, we trailed 17-4 and were oh-for-nine from the field.  Coach Aura tore into the guys during the time out, but the players seemed unfazed.  Before we finally scored from the field with 8:07 remaining in the half, we had fallen behind 29-5 with Omaha score 21 of their points at the free throw line.  14 fouls had been called against us and only 5 against the Mavericks.  It was obvious this was going to be a long night.  The first half mercifully finally ends.  While our  offense finally picked up some we still trailed 42-24.  We hit just 26% of our FG attempts, got pounded 25-10 on the boards by Omaha, and the refs had called us for 16 fouls which put the Mavericks on the line 28 times where they scored 25 points.  We allowed Troy Finley to score 12 points for Omaha but half of those came at the free throw line.  Our top scorer was Jason Vickers who got 7 points coming off the bench, but also picked up 3 fouls.  Our five starters combined to score just 10 points.

Eric Shannon was injured midway through the 2nd half.  Our other SG Ryan Taylor fouled out a minute later.  With 4-1/2 minutes remaining in the game we had cut the lead to 10 points, but that was as close as we could get and we ended up losing 75-60. 

PF Jason Vickers led our scoring with 11 points with PF Jason Minor adding 9.  Omaha’s Troy Finley fired in 24 points.

After the game our worst fears were realized when Eric Shannon’s injury was confirmed to be a torn ACL which will sideline him the rest of the year.

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Nov. 24, 2020: Towson Tigers (1-2) @ Montana State Bobcats (1-2)

Ryan Taylor:

We traveled north from Nebraska to Montana for another road game.  Due to Eric Shannon’s injury I’m in the starting lineup at SG, but hate that it hate that Eric, who is a senior, will not be able to play another collegiate game.

The Bobcats hit two quick 3’s putting us down by 6 but we fought back to take a 13-12 lead with 12 minutes to go in the half.  The remainder of the half was a dogfight but we took a 41-38 lead to the locker room.  Little used Bart Rose came off the bench to play 3 different positions (SF, SG, and PF) and led our scoring with 7 points.  We let SF Troy Anderson score 15 points, so need to put a stop of that guy in the 2nd half.

We couldn’t get the ball in the hoop in the 2nd half and the refs called fouls on us but not against the Bobcats.  We therefore slowly slipped behind and then let Montana State take the game away from us in the latter stages.  We dropped the game 78-64 as we were outshot 46% to 35% and scored 7 less points at the foul line that did Montana State.

I had a terrible game scoring just 3 points and hitting only 1 of 8 FG attempts.  If I’m to hold onto the starting SG job, I’ll need to do a lot better with Billy Thomas coming back from an injury very soon.  SF Wayne Burrough scored 12 and PG Adrian Brown added 10.  But the Bobcat’s Troy Anderson bombed in 24 points.

 

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Nov. 28, 2020: Towson Tigers (1-3) @ Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (0-4)

Harry Iacona, 3rd Assistant Coach

7 straight road games!  We won the first one and I thought maybe we’d be OK, but now we’ve had 3 straight losses.  Time to turn things around. 

I’ve been leapfrogging ahead of the team so I could check out our upcoming opponents.  Not a helluva lot of fun since controls are still pretty tight due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Tonight there were no opponents to scout, so I’m on the bench at the game.

Another slow start put us down by 8 points after just 3 minutes of play.  That meant we had to play catch up ball.  We got it close over and over but could never get the lead and then the Golden Eagles pulled away late to finish the half ahead of us 36-23.  Poor shooting and 11 turnovers on our part.  None of our players scored more than 4 points in the half.  Tennessee Tech’s PG B__ Dumic dropped in 10 against us.

We struggled throughout most of the 2nd half to catch up and finally with 6 minutes to go Andre Brown hit a 12 foot jumper on which he was fouled and he sunk the free throw to tie the game at 50-50.  We were able to move ahead by a few points but the refs kept the Golden Eagles in the game with picky fouls against us.  Coach Aura got his 2nd Technical with 3 minutes to go and Omar took over coaching the team.  That T got our team aroused enough to overcome the refs.  With 1-1/2 minutes to go the game was tied at 62-62.  Then with a minute left, Ryan Taylor zipped a sharp pass inside to Jason Miner who threw down a slam to give us a 2 point lead.  Neither team could score so with 15 seconds on the clock, Tennessee Tech was forced to foul.  Ryan Taylor made hit both free throws and we went on to escape with a 66-64 victory. 

Although Tennessee Tech scored 6 more points at the free throw line, we shot well in the 2nd half to pull our FG percentage up to 48% for the game compared to 42% by the Golden Eagles.

Wayne Burrough scored 11 and had 9 rebounds, Melvin Steele scored 10, and Jason Vickers and Ryan Taylor both added 9.

Coach Aura was pumped up after the game and heaped praise on the team for their comeback win.

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Dec. 1, 2020: Towson Tigers (2-3) @ Tulane Green Wave (3-2)

Coach Omar McDade, 1st Assistant

Pregame:

It was fun coaching the team for the final 3 minutes of our last game.  I had to thank Crash (Coach Aura) for setting it up for me by his getting two T’s.  He said the win was all mine and said maybe he needs to be kicked out of more games.

There’s a step up in our opposition tonight as we take on Tulane.  The Green Wave have won all 3 of their home games this season with ease.  SF Doug Flannery has hit 65% of his FG attempts and 62% of his 3P attempts.  He’s going to be tough to stop.

After a full year of rehab for a torn MCL, SG Billy Thomas is back!  He might be rusty, but we’re going to start him tonight to get him right back into the game and see how he does.  He’ll share playing time with Ryan Taylor.  Billy can also put some time in as PG when needed so that added flexibility is a big plus.

1st Half: 

Turnovers on our first two possessions resulted in breakaway layins for the Green Wave.  We fell behind by 6 but PF Jason Miner scored our first 7 points and PG Adrian Brown sunk a 3 to put us on top 10-8 with 15:12 remaining in the half.  We played well and stayed ahead by a small margin until Tulane hit a 3 to recapture the lead 29-26 with 5 minutes to go.  As the half ended, the Green Wave hit a 3 that put them on top 41-35.  Jason Miner finished the half with 12 points and 4 boards.  We we let the Green Wave hit 56% of their FG attempts, but held Tulane’s Doug Flannery to 5 points on 2 of 9 from the field.

2nd Half:

Even though we made some minor runs, Tulane gradually pulled away from us in the 2nd half as they continued to hit a high percentage of their shots and the refs layered foul calls on us.  After trailing by 15 we made a late run that brought us to with 3 points at 77-74 with 3-1/2 minutes to go.  But Tulane withstood the onrush and slapped an 84-77 defeat on our shoulders.

PostGame:

We were outshot 55% to 43% and out-rebounded 34-26 plus Tulane got to the foul line more often and scored 5 more points there that did we.  We held a 16-10 turnover advantage and hit 10 of 19 from beyond the arc. Four of our starters scored in double figures led by PF Jason Miner’s 19 points with PG Adrian Brown scoring 12, and SG Billy Thomas and SF Wayne Burrough both adding 11.  We held Doug Flannery to just 11 points but five players on Tulane scored in double figures.  Had we not been outplayed in the middle 10 minutes of the 2nd half, we would have had a good chance of winning this game.

Tough to lose another one, but it was nice to see Billy Thomas have a solid game.  Hopefully this will be a springboard to bigger and better things for him.

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Spencer Meadows, President of the Tigers Boosters Club:

Because Towson’s Boosters Club isn’t huge, we’re close knit.  Besides sitting together at games, we also have quite a few parties, activities and various types of get-togethers.  I moved to Towson 25 years ago and began regularly attending the college’s games.  I joined the Boosters Club almost 20 years ago and after retiring four years ago from being an engineering firm’s COO, I was elected as the club’s president.

We’ve gone through some tough years with the basketball team.  Too many losing seasons.  We’re optimistic that Coach Aura can turn things around and build a winner.  My assessment is that his year 2 team is solid but not great.  No real stars.  But any one of the starting five plus 3 or 4 of the reserves can take the lead for any given game.  We have yet to see the team perform since they’ve played all their games thus far on the road.  They finally will get a home game next week when Ball State visits.  We’ll be there to cheer them on.

The team has a good sub for each of the five positions. PF seems to be the team’s strongest position with Jason Miner and Jason Vickers together averaging over 16 ppg and 6.5 rpg.  Freshman SF Wayne Burrough has been the top scorer on the team thus far, averaging 10.3 ppg and also pulling down 5.8 rpg.  He’s ably backed up by Ross Davis.  Billy Thomas looks like he could be what the team needs at SG with Ryan Taylor serving as a solid reserve.  The two JC transfers, Adrian Brown and Mateen Carroll are doing a good job at PG.  At the Center position, Melvin Steele continues to start but Nick McPherson, coming off the bench, is just as strong as Steele.  The two have combined to average 13.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg.  Bart Rose has played limited minutes, primarily at SF but also at SG and PF, and has shown some good scoring capability.

This team only has two seniors graduating after this season, Nick McPherson and Eric Shannon.  Shannon sustained a season and career ending injury in the team’s second game of this season.  So that portends good things for next year’s squad, particularly since they’ve got a high quality JC interior player who has signed a Letter of Intent to join the Tigers next season.

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