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Towson deserved a better end than it got

While two teams from the state of Maryland are headed to the NCAA Tournament, and two more are playing in other consolation postseason tournaments, it’s hard not to sit here and feel for the Towson Tigers. This year’s Towson team maybe wasn’t quite as good as the 2013-14 squad that went 27-11 with eventual NBA player Jerrelle Benimon leading the way, but it was certainly one of the best groups they’ve had during the program’s resurgence under head coach Pat Skerry.

Towson had a team that really could have won the CAA and gone to the NCAA Tournament, but we’ll just never know what could have been. After being left for dead following a 0-4 start to conference play the Tigers got scorching hot and won their next five games and 11 of their next 12.

Towson was deep, physical, tough and had good playmakers out on the wings. They were a matchup nightmare for opponents and as their freshmen and sophomores getting more confident and comfortable, the Tigers were getting deeper and more dangerous.

But adversity struck, and not the adversity of a twisted ankle, or another sort of on-court injury. February 11 at around 10:30 at night, star senior forward John Davis was grazed by a bullet in an apparent drive-by shooting near his home in Philadelphia a few hours after the Tigers beat Drexel.

Certainly, things could have been much, much worse, Davis was lucky to only be grazed by the bullet. But his college basketball career was over and the Tigers lost one of their toughest competitors, best players and star off the bench that brought a tremendous spark into the game. His willingness to come off the bench also helped the Tigers be more flexible in their lineup, which really made them hard to match up against.

After Davis’ injury, the Tigers came together and won two more games. They learned a great lesson and got great perspective from the entire ordeal. They were reminded that basketball was only a game and that they should give everything they have every time they step out on the court because it can end unexpectedly at any time.

But the on-court reality also set in. Towson lost one of their very best players, who was tough-as-nails in the paint. He was averaging 11.8 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds per game and shooting a team-best 52.7-percent from the floor. The Tigers ended up losing their last two games of the regular season to two of the top four teams in the CAA, then after a win in their conference tournament opener, they fell in the semifinals to the second-seeded team.

Towson wasn’t dominating on the glass or in the paint like they were. They missed one of their best players and their season came to an unceremonious end, an end that became truly official when it was announced on March 9 that they had rejected an invitation to one of the consolation postseason tournaments – likely either the College Basketball Invitational or College tournament.

The decision to decline a postseason was a tough one, but understandable for the Tigers. Perhaps they were just ready to finish because without Davis able to go on the court, they weren’t a complete team. Perhaps going through that sort of live-pausing moment just had the Tigers ready to move on from this season altogether. Or perhaps it was a monetary decision. Postseason tournaments cost money to participate in. Last year’s one-and-done trip to the Vegas 16 reportedly cost teams $50,000. Considering only eight teams ended up accepting invitations to the tournament, only 160 people attended the game, and it doesn’t even exist this year, it’s hard to imagine that Towson didn’t end up deep in the red with that trip.

But no matter the reason for declining that postseason invite, the end of Towson’s season was not the one they deserved. But going 20-17 with the winningest senior class in Tigers history, this year is something they should be proud of.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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