The Towson University women's basketball team is looking to get back on track during the 2016-17 season. Last season, the Tigers went 7-24 overall and 3-15 in the CAA to finish last in the conference.
Head coach Niki Reid Geckeler said the focus heading into the season is not so much on their last-place finish but more what they must fix to avoid that fate again.
"I'm not going to say there were any expectations of where we're going to place," Reid Geckeler said. "We really have just been talking about building and the process. I think if you take care of the day-to-day process -- the small details like playing together, playing as a team with a lot of energy -- then everything else will take care of itself."
The fourth-year head coach points to the Tigers' defensive issues from last season as the team's focal point. The Tigers' 70.7 points-per-game were the most allowed by any team in the conference last season.
"The one thing the team, the coaching staff and everyone a part of the program committed ourselves to was playing on the defensive end," Reid Geckeler said.
The Tigers will look to senior guard Raven Bankston to lead the charge during Towson's rebuilding effort. The Detroit native was named preseason second-team All-CAA after she led the team in scoring last year, finishing second in the conference with a 15.5 points-per-game average.
"The expectations for Raven are high," Reid Geckeler said. "She's a very explosive guard and can score in a number of ways. So we're looking forward to her doing that same thing and continuing to grow."
The biggest date circled on the Tigers' calendar is Dec. 6, when Towson takes on the University of Maryland in College Park. Reid Geckeler said she looks forward to testing her team against an elite program.
"It's a top-notch program in this area," Reid Geckeler said. "Maryland, when you think about the women's basketball program, has been top 25, Final Four, in contention for a national championship on a yearly basis. So we're going to go in there with the expectation of playing that team, doing what we do, which is playing defense and just playing team basketball.
"I think it's always good when you have a high-caliber team like that in your backyard and you can play against them and really have an opportunity to compete at the highest level."
Reid Geckeler expects to face an uphill climb in her team's attempt to rebound in CAA play, but the Tigers coach is excited about the product they will roll out this season.
"We're not really worried about anything" she said. "It's a very, very competitive conference. I think with the CAA, there's so many different styles of basketball. So on any given night, anything can happen.
"Again, what we do is just focus on who we are, what our identity is as a basketball team. We've grown in so many ways. We had a lot of lessons, and we learned from those lessons. So I think this is going to be a very fun year for us. I'm excited about this squad. I'm excited about where they are mentally, physically and just how driven they are right now."
Issue 227: November 2016