#88 Towson Tigers: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Two years ago, the Towson Tigers finished with an atrocious 1-31 record.  Even the Charlotte Bobcats cringed at that.  Their turnaround last year was historic and the program is quickly heading in the right direction as they have a very realistic chance at competing for the CAA Championship and earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

TOWSON TIGERS
Last Season: T-2nd, 13-5 in CAA, 18-13 overall
Predicted CAA Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Timajh Parker-Rivera (So)/Jemel Flesh (Jr)
PF: Jerelle Benimon (Sr)/Barrington Alston (So)/Walter Foster (Fr)/John Davis (Fr)
SF: Marcus Damas (Sr)/Rafriel Guthrie (Sr)/Shamiek Sheppard (Fr)
SG: Mike Burwell (Sr)/Four McGlynn (So)/Marquis Marshall (Fr)
PG: Jerome Hairston (So)

Gone: F/C-Bilal Dixon, PG-Kris Walden (transfer-Delaware State)

2013-2014 Outlook:
With four of five starters returning, it’s clear to see why expectations are high for Towson this year.  They return CAA Player of the Year and double-double machine Jerelle Benimon who was an absolute beast last year averaging more than 17 points and 11 boards per game.  His ability to carve space down low but also step out and knock down jumpers makes him an inside/outside threat and defensive nightmare for opposing teams.

Finding a frontcourt partner for Benimon will be the biggest question mark for the Tigers since they lose Bilal Dixon to graduation.  Timajh Parker-Rivera figures to be that guy as he was a solid contributor off the bench as a freshman and has bulked up during the off-season which should help out.  Expect to see an increased role from Jemel Flesh while Barrington Alston (who missed most of last season due to illness), freshmen Walter Foster, and John Davis try to earn PT as well.

Another option for head coach Tom Skerry will be moving last year’s starting small forward Marcus Damas to more of a power forward position.  It would give Towson a smaller, more athletic and versatile line-up but make the Tigers a bit vulnerable inside especially since Damas is probably the team’s top perimeter defender.  More than likely though, Damas will start at his natural three and see some spot minutes at the four.

Towson returns their starting backcourt of All-CAA Rookie Team honoree Jerome Hairston and former South Florida transfer Mike Burwell.  The Tigers also welcome Vermont transfer Four McGlynn to the fold.  He was the American East Conference Freshman of the Year before sitting out last season and is an absolute gunner from the outside which was a weakness for this team a year ago.  All three guys could end up starting if Towson goes with a smaller starting five.  Otherwise, expect Burwell and McGlynn to compete the starting two guard spot with McGlynn probably seeing some minutes at the point due to the transfer of last year’s backup, Kris Walden.

Towson has even more quality backcourt depth with glue guy Rafael Guthrie who was one of the better sixth men in the CAA last year.  Marquise Marshall redshirted a season ago but might find minutes hard to come by in the crowded backcourt as will freshman wing, Shamiek Sheppard.

Skerry picked up a transfer in Vanderbilt wing A.J. Astroth.  The former Commodore didn’t see a whole of lot playing time last year and will have to sit out this season per NCAA rules.

Along with optimism of the season comes the opening of a brand new Tiger Arena.  As it stands right now, the Towson Tigers will likely compete for the CAA title with Drexel and the new kids on the block, Charleston.

Player to Watch: Jerrelle Benimon
Duh.  After being a non-factor in his first two seasons at Georgetown, Benimon broke out in a MAJOR way last season.  He finished third in the nation in rebounding and posted 20 double-doubles which ranked second across the country.  If there was one complaint about Benimon, it is that he turned the ball over nearly four times a game which is a ton for a guard, let alone a post player.

Key Non-Conference Games:
at Villanova
11/15 vs. Temple
11/22 at Kansas

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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