Towson men's basketball turning up heat on defense

Last season, the Towson men’s basketball team led the Colonial Athletic Conference in scoring against league opponents (73.1 points per game), but ranked seventh out of 11 in defense after surrendering 69 points per game.

The Tigers (12-6 overall and 3-0 in the conference) have flipped the script this year. They rank fifth out of nine teams in scoring (70.7), but lead the CAA in defense (59.3) as they head into Wednesday night’s home game against Northeastern (5-14, 2-3).

“I think our defense has been very good, and we need that to continue to be good starting tomorrow night,” coach Pat Skerry said Tuesday. “That’s something that’s going to carry us, and we pride ourselves on that.”

UNC Wilmington, Drexel and the College of Charleston have converted on just 33.9 percent (62-of-183) of their shots against Towson and just 24.1 percent (14-of-58) of their 3-point attempts. The 53 points UNC Wilmington scored in a seven-point loss on Jan. 11 were the third-fewest the season for the Seahawks.

The 68 points Drexel scored in a 12-point loss on Jan. 14 were the sixth-fewest scored by the Dragons, and the 33.3 percent shooting (20-of-60) the College of Charleston posted in a 72-57 loss last Sunday was tied for the second-worst shooting percentage of the season for the Cougars.

But one area that pains Skerry is the Tigers’ poor rebounding on the defensive glass. They rank last in the CAA in defensive rebounds, having allowed the aforementioned three opponents to collect an average of 39.3 rebounds per game.

“We’ve got to rebound better in conference,” he said. “We’ve done a lousy job of that. We’ve got to do a better job with that. But I think our focus has been really good. We’ve tried to tell our guys to do what we do and stick with the script, and not very often, especially on Sunday, do guys deviate from ball-screen coverage or some of our responsibilities in transition D or in the half-court D.

"If we can do that, we’re going to be in games, and then you’ve just got to try to find a way to make enough free throws and not turn the ball over. We always tell our guys that defense is effort and concentration. So I think we are doing a much better job of carrying those two things over for close to 40 minutes.”

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