After an impressive 2015-16 season, the Towson men's basketball team faces high expectations this year.
Last year, the Tigers earned a No. 3 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament after finishing the regular season 20-11 overall and 11-7 in the CAA. Towson fell to Northeastern, 71-60, during the quarterfinals of the conference tournament but still earned a spot in the Vegas 16 postseason tournament. But the Tigers came up short again, falling to Oakland, 90-72, in the first round.
Towson head coach Pat Skerry said throughout last year's success, the Tigers were focused on consistency, a theme he intends to highlight this year, as well.
"Obviously, whenever you win 20 [games] it's a good year," Skerry said. "... Consistency has a lot to do with mindset. Are you ready to perform? What's your routine? Are you focused on what we need you to do in order to win? These guys know that. It's a connected group, but like I said, it starts with our better guys. When our better guys play well, that sets the tone for others and keeps guys in their roles."
One of the players Towson will look to this year is senior forward Arnaud William Adala Moto, who will look to improve on his impressive debut season with the Tigers. After sitting out a year following his transfer from Wake Forest, the then-junior led the Tigers in scoring (13.9 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game) during his first season at Towson.
"I wouldn't trade him for anybody," Skerry said. "... He's certainly gotten better this offseason, and I'm expecting him to play at an even higher level than he did a year ago."
The Tigers' other top offensive weapon is junior guard Mike Morsell. The 2014-15 CAA All-Rookie team selection saw marked improvement during his sophomore campaign, throughout which he recorded double-digit scoring in 24 of 33 games played. Skerry said Morsell doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
"He's gotten a lot better," Skerry said. "He's talented. We've seen it in our first couple of scrimmages and certainly in practice. I think he's in a really good place right now -- letting the game come to him. If [he] and [Adala Moto] are consistent, it's going to make everybody's job much easier."
Along with his returning stars, Skerry is excited to show some of the newer talent on his roster, including junior guards Brian Starr, who transferred from Colby (Kansas), and DeShaun Morman, a Cincinnati transfer.
"Brian Starr is a pure point guard. He's kind of the fastest guy we've had with the basketball," Skerry said. "DeShaun Morman is certainly going to play a lot. He's a great athlete, really competitive, talented kid with a little bit better basketball IQ than I originally thought."
Towson was picked to finish second in the CAA, behind only defending champion University of North Carolina-Wilmington. But before they enter conference play, the Tigers will begin the season with some critical nonconference matchups, most notably against the University of Maryland, which is ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press preseason poll. But Skerry said his Tigers aren't intimidated by the matchup with the Terps.
"We know how good Maryland is, and we understand it's an important game, but it's one game," Skerry said. "We won't play scared there, but we have great respect for them. We know we'll have to play very well. You can say that almost any night on the road, though."