By Jalon Dixon
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Last season was an anomaly for Pat Skerry. The Towson men’s basketball coach had won at least 18 games in five of his last six seasons, and at least 20 in three of them.
But in 2018-2019, the Tigers won just 10 games and went 6-12 in conference play. Hurt by injuries and roster turnover, the Tigers ended the year on a five-game losing streak, including a 74-73 loss to James Madison in first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
But Skerry is optimistic that Towson can turn it around quickly this season by winning close games.
“I couldn’t get us over the hump in close games last year, so we didn’t have the type of year we’ve become accustomed to having,” Skerry said. “Whether that was I couldn’t get them over the hump, we had 10 new guys, we had a lot of injuries and we lost close games. So sometimes when it rains, it pours. So obviously we have more experience, certainly made adjustments on the offensive side of the ball which I think will be beneficial for is and now we’ve got to win close games.”
Towson has its first chance to show its improvement Tuesday when it hosts George Washington (7 p.m., SECU Arena). Last season, the Tigers lost 68-64 to GW in one of many games it couldn’t control down the stretch.
George Washington is coming off an equally disappointing season — going 9-24 and 4-14 in conference. There are new faces for the Colonials since last year, most notably head coach Jamion Christian and freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr., son of former NBA player Jameer Nelson.
Skerry said GW provides a good opening-night challenge for Towson.
“It’s great to have such a quality opponent at home to open the season,” Skerry said. “This is only our second home opener since I’ve been here. The first when we opened the arena. So we know they’re going to be really good…You hope our guys remember that we kind of coughed one up there late game last year.”
One of the Tigers’ most prominent returners from last year is former junior college transfer and senior guard Brian Fobbs. After transferring from Genesee Community College, Fobbs came to Towson and quickly became the team’s best player. As the only player to start in all 32 games, Fobbs became one of the conference’s top scorers, averaging 17.5 points per game and had the 10th best single season scoring total in program history scoring 561 points. After being named to the preseason all-CAA first-team, Fobbs is excited as he looks forward to the start of the season.
“We’re definitely excited to come out here,” Fobbs said. “Obviously it was a pain losing all those games and losing to that team, so we’re definitely going to come out with a certain motivation. But also it’s not just about them. It’s about us wanting to play because we haven’t got to play in so long, so we want to come out and we want to win.”
Skerry said that in year two with Towson, Fobbs has the potential to be the team’s go-to player in closing moments.
“[Brian] Fobbs is a key piece,” he said. “He’s got to be a guy that can be a closer for us late game, much like when you get the ball to you relief pitcher and he shuts the door, hopefully Brian’s [Fobbs] the guy. We believe he can do that for us too.”
Fobbs may have that first chance Tuesday. Skerry knows getting revenge against GW won’t be easy.
“I think it’s a challenging, but good upcoming measuring stick for us, there’s no question about that,” Skerry said. “We’re not dipping out toe in the pool, we’re kind of submerging the whole body right away, but I think long term that’s good for us.”