Game #9-252: Towson Tigers at Drexel DragonsJanuary 5, 2013 4:00 pm
Daskalakis Athletic Center
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~ T.S. Elliot, "Little Gidding"
Hello again, Hoops Nation! My words last appeared on this site over a year ago. After a few months of watching the action from the sidelines, I'm returning to TMM to lend a hand to team Ballyfest Destiny.
After captain Bill Harty graciously added me to his Team, I decided it would be appropriate to pick up TMM9 where I left off
with the 800 Games Project: Drexel's Daskalakis Athletic Center. Sidebar: with the benefit of hindsight, I will admit that the headline of that recap was melodramatic and a bit unfair. But more on the atmosphere of the DAC later.
Unfortunately, in my excitement I confused myself. I had long planned to see a different game on January 5--Penn-La Salle--prior to joining Ballyfest. That game started at 2pm, and in my haste I mistakenly assumed the Drexel-Towson game did as well. It was actually a 4pm start. Clearly I, like any player in any Game, was rusty after an extended hiatus, and needed to warm up.
Two hours and two beers
later, I took my seat in the DAC. Drexel University utilizes a system of quarters instead of semesters, so despite the fact that the game I covered last year took place on January 12--long before most colleges recall their students--classes in Drexel were back in session, and the DAC was packed to the gills. This year, students don't return to campus until next week, and so the arena wasn't quite at capacity. Nonetheless, it was still much louder than most schools' gyms are on homecoming nights. The Dragons ought to be proud of their fans, who were characteristically cheering boisterously as the ball went up on the game and my season.
This season's Towson Tigers defy the standard mid-major narrative. While many greats below the Red Line transfer to the "greener" pastures of Durham, Columbus or the like, coach Pat Skerry managed to convince three students from Big East schools to come to a program that won just one game last season. Without question, the most imposing of these is Jerrelle Benimon, a 6'8", 245-pound forward from Georgetown who dropped 20 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the Tigers' recent RLU over Oregon State. It was encouraging to see that while the big man certainly got his due on this night--he finished with 18 points and 16 boards in 38 minutes--he did not dominate every offensive possession.
I don't know how Skerry convinced Benimon and Company to join him, but perhaps it was his intensity. Even when his team was up by double-digits early in the second, he could be found at least three feet onto the court, screaming at both his squad and the officials. I was unable to completely capture this intensity with my pedestrian handheld camera, but this shot does it a modicum of justice:
My favorite part of this scene is the expressionless assistant coach seated to the left of Skerry. Just another day at the office, he seems to be thinking.
At halftime, the crowd was serenaded by a unique circle of local musicians, Drummers With Attitude:
Towson built a 19-point lead just after the first media timeout of the second half, before Drexel began a slow but steady comeback.
Sadly, I had to leave the DAC with about 1:40 remaining and the Dragons down five, due to both a previous obligation and because my parking meter was about to expire, and I wasn't about to become the next star of Parking Wars
. Josh Verlin tells me
that the Dragons pulled within three in the final minute, but missed two potential game-tying #superhoops
in the final seconds. A deserved road win for Skerry's squad; despite some late controversy, including a nearly 15-minute delay while the zebra-striped fellows debated a potential flagrant foul, the Tigers were the better team tonight.
Drexel, meanwhile, looked more like the team that lost to Rider by nine than the preseason CAA favorites. Particularly troubling for Dragons fans must have been free-throw shooting; they missed 6-of-7 to open the second half, and finished just 20-of-34 from the line.
Personally, Towson at Drexel was an excellent way to return to The Mid-Majority. The game was captivating, the emotions raw, and the atmosphere intense. It reminded me why I--why we--are doing this. It's not for career advancement, or romanticized notions of individual glory. Rather, we play The Game because we love the game, and our reward reflects only our investment
. After months allowing the real world to get in the way, I'm thrilled to once again be investing in this beautiful game. Thanks for having me back, friends.
TOWSON 69, at DREXEL 66
TOWSON 7-8 (2-0) -- J. Benimon 4-13 9-15 18; M. Damas 2-7 9-10 13; J. Hairston 4-8 3-6 12; B. Dixon 3-3 0-0 6; M. Burwell 3-6 5-6 12; K. Walden 1-3 0-0 3; T. Parker-Rivera 0-2 0-0 0; R. Guthrie 2-2 1-1 5. Totals 19-44 27-38 69.
DREXEL 5-9 (1-1) -- D. Thomas 5-12 2-4 15; F. Massenat 6-17 2-4 17; D. McCoy 2-4 3-6 7; D. Lee 3-11 6-6 14; D. Ruffin 0-4 0-2 0; K. Abif 1-3 3-6 5; T. Allen 2-5 4-6 8; A. Younger 0-0 0-0 0; G. Pantovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 20-34 66.
Three-point goals: TOWS 4-11 (J. Benimon 1-2; M. Burwell 1-4; M. Damas 0-2; K. Walden 1-2; J. Hairston 1-1), DREX 8-23 (D. Thomas 3-8; F. Massenat 3-7; T. Allen 0-2; D. Lee 2-6); Rebounds: TOWS 37 (J. Benimon 16), DREX 31 (D. McCoy 11); Assists: TOWS 9 (J. Benimon 4), DREX 13 (D. Thomas 6); Total Fouls -- TOWS 23, DREX 26; Fouled Out: TOWS-R. Guthrie; DREX-D. Ruffin.