Loyola-Maryland (0-0) at Towson (0-0)
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DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 19th, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Towson Center (5,000) -- Towson, Maryland. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola-MD 0-0, Towson 0-0. Away Record: Loyola- MD 0-0, Towson 0-0. Neutral Record: Loyola-MD 0-0, Towson 0-0. Conference Record: Loyola-MD 0-0, Towson 0-0. Series Record: Loyola-Maryland leads, 30-25.
GAME NOTES: A couple of schools coming off seasons they would rather forget meet at the Towson Center tonight, as the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds take on the Towson Tigers in the season-opener for both schools. The Greyhounds have been one of the worst teams at the Division I level over the past five years, although the club did show signs of life in 2004-05. Still, the team posted just a 6-22 overall mark a year ago, including a 1-9 record versus non- conference opponents. With four starters back in the fold from last year's team, Loyola could very well reach double-figure wins. However, the team is still probably a few years away from posting its first winning season since 1993-94. As for Towson, it suffered through an even worse season than Loyola last year, going just 5-24 overall and 2-15 in CAA action. As a matter of fact, the team ended the year with 13 straight losses and is in search of its first win since thumping James Madison (86-69) all the way back on January 19th, 2005. While four starters return from last year's club there still remains little hope that the Tigers will compete for their first winning campaign since 1995-96. Tonight's game is the 56th meeting between Loyola and Towson, with the Greyhounds out front 30-25. The Tigers however, have won 13 of the last 18 meetings with the Greyhounds, including the last two.
With the return of four starters and a couple of experienced reserves there is finally reason for some optimism in Baltimore this season. The Greyhounds' strength this season will reside in the backcourt, where Charlie Bell (10.3 ppg) and Linton Hinds (9.7 ppg) hang their respective hats. Both need to improve in several areas, but should produce even better numbers than they did a year ago. Guard Andre Collins, who sat out last season after transferring from Maryland, should play a big role in the team's attempt at a turnaround. Freddie Stanback, at 6-5, can play either forward or guard and is coming off a solid 2004-05 campaign in which he averaged 9.6 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Josko Alujevic at only 6-7 is one of the team's tallest players, which is certainly a concern for the Greyhounds, as the will turn to several newcomers to shore up the frontcourt.
Despite the return of four starters, Pat Kennedy has retooled his roster to include five new faces that will see immediate playing time. Lawrence Hamm however, is the one exception, as he will retain his starting role after leading the team in both scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg) a year ago. The 6-6 forward will be accompanied in the frontcourt by newcomers Marc Pratt and Dennard Abraham. Pratt, a community college transfer, is a tremendous athlete that should contribute at each end of the court. As for Abraham, he comes over from the juco ranks and at 6-9, gives the Tigers some much needed height. As for the backcourt, Kennedy plans to start a pair of true freshman in Tim Crossin and Velmar Coleman. Crossin is an excellent shooter and distributor of the ball, while Coleman is a bit better on the boards and at the defensive end of the floor. If any of Kennedy's new faces were to falter he could easily turn to his bench that includes several starters from a year ago.
Both teams are coming off dismal seasons and neither wants to get off on the wrong foot this year. Loyola returns a bit more experience and should take advantage of a rather young Towson starting group that still needs time to come together.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Maryland 70, Towson 64