To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Towson coach Pat Skerry about the role luck plays in March.
In 2013 you were named Colonial coach of the year. What did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor? It speaks to the players and the staff. I am fortunate to have good talent both on the court and on the sideline.
Jerrelle Benimon was named 2013 Colonial player of the year after recording 20 double-doubles last year (2nd-best in the nation). What makes him such a great player? He does it all. He has talent, toughness, and a great work ethic. The best part is that he has gotten better at each of these things over the off-season.
You return three other starters besides Benimon while also bringing in former America East ROY Four McGlynn. How much of an advantage do you think your team’s experience will give you? I certainly hope it does in our execution in certain situations, but only time will tell. I know that we have the chance to be a very deep team and we hope to capitalize on that.
Your non-conference schedule includes a three game stretch in November against Temple, Villanova, and Kansas. Which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? We have a saying: “honor the process”. We just try to take things day by day. That stretch is like heading to the electric chair, but we will also have hard games both before and after those, so we will have to play at a very high level.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We want to get better day by day and give ourselves a chance to win every night, and I think we can do that. Our goal is the same as that of everyone else. Win a tough league and get to the dance. There are a lot of minefields along the way that we have to navigate.
You were a two time captain at Tufts where you set the school record with 634 career assists. What is the secret to being a good PG? There are all different type of PG’s, but I was the type of guy who could pass the ball, not turn the ball over, and play great defense.
In the 2008 postseason, as an assistant under Jim Baron at Rhode Island, Mike Gerrity made his only two free throws of the game after driving to the basket with 0.3 seconds left in a two win by Charlotte in the A-10 tourney. Then Cavel Witter made his only field goal of the game on a three point shot with 3.2 seconds left in a one point win by Creighton in the NIT. Where does that rank among the worst months of your life? It is up there! All losses hurt, but they sting a little more when they occur later in the year and last a lifetime.
In the 2011 postseason, as an assistant under Jamie Dixon at Pitt, Kemba Walker scored 24 points including a crossover, step-back jumper in a two point win by UConn in the Big East tourney. Then Matt Howard made a free throw after getting fouled by Nasir Robinson with 0.8 seconds in a one point win by Butler. Do you think the key to winning games in March is more about the players or the coaches? It is a lot about luck at that time of the year. That Pitt team was well-coached by Jamie and we had the ability to win it all, but Butler just hit some big shots at the end. They were two tough losses that could have gone either way.
In 2011, you were named head coach at Towson. Why did you take the job? There were a few reasons. It is a great academic school in a good location, and I wanted the chance to be a head coach and build something really special .
In your first year with the Tigers, you went 1-31. Just one year later you went 18-13. How were you able to turn things around so quickly? Good players! I got them to play hard and play together. We tried to change habits, which helped develop a culture of winning.