Thursday, January 16, 2003

Towson Basketball Update

After having listened to many of the Towson men's basketball games this season, I finally got a chance to watch one in person Saturday, and what I saw wasn't pretty.

The Tigers were coming off a relatively close loss to James Madison, but it was a game in which Brian Allen, Gerald Weatherspoon and Derrick Goode didn't play in. A casual fan would have instantly thought, "hey, if those guys had played, maybe we would have won."

That thought was dispelled by George Mason, who beat Towson by 34 points in the Towson Center, despite the presence of Allen and Goode (Weatherspoon still sat).

After the game, Head Coach Michael Hunt explained that he sat the three experienced players because they hadn't been performing in practice and the freshmen had. In fact, he pointed out that none of his freshmen had missed a single practice all season, which is one of the most impressive statistics I've ever heard.

Hunt made a good point, saying that if his freshmen are going to show up and want to practice and want to play for him, then why not give them the most playing time and let them see what they can do, and to be honest, I agree.

Throughout his career, Brian Allen has gone through slumps like this, and they've almost always been mental, and they've always only been broken when he's hit rock-bottom, by being benched.

Of course, as Hunt pointed out, sometimes for a program to rebound, it needs to first hit rock bottom.

"Our program has been dead. We're at rock bottom right now. It's the older players I'm frustrated with," Hunt said. "It's time to cut the dead branches off and let the youth grow."

I applaud Hunt for trying to do just that, especially because some of the young players do show a lot of promise. However, they do all seem to each have a big hole in their games. Lawrence Hamm is a great slasher and an improving rebounder, but his outside shot is suspect. Jacob McCartney struggles with possession in the high post. Stephen Warner just needs some all-around improvement. Cilk McSweeney and Andrius Petkunas probably will benefit from collegiate experience (as an aside, I got to talk to McSweeney, who played a year of prep ball in Connecticut, after the game, and he seems like a great kid who reminded me a little of Sam Sutton. Hopefully his game will develop the same way), though Hunt said the duo had hit a wall leading up to the win over Hofstra yesterday.

In all honesty, bigger things were expected from this year's Towson team, especially after Hunt got so much out of Sutton, Kerry Augustus and Mike Shin last season. But it's not his fault that Goode showed up out of shape or Allen can't get his head screwed on straight.

I have faith in Michael Hunt to be the man to lead Towson to success. He deserves that from us.

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