Towson became the second team in Division I (after Lehigh) to seal its path to the NCAA tournament when it knocked off No. 9 Penn State, 11-10, for the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship last Friday. So unlike area neighbors like No. 5 Loyola, No. 11 Maryland and Johns Hopkins, the Tigers enjoyed last weekend.
“It was actually pretty nice after being away for four days,” coach Shawn Nadelen said with a chuckle Sunday night. “It allowed our guys to catch up with some of their school work, and it gave us two days of a little extra rest. It allowed our guys to take that deep breath after the CAA tournament to regain our focus and get excited about Sunday night with the selection show. We’re obviously going to draw on that and be ready to go on Monday morning with our preparation.”
Bryant (8-10) and Detroit (5-9) are the only teams in the field that have more losses than Towson (10-7), which did not help itself with a 0-3 start that included a setback to High Point in its first season in Division I. The Tigers have made a remarkable comeback, but Nadelen said the players and coaches have not taken much time to reminisce about their re-emergence.
“We’re a team that takes it day by day, game by game,” he said. “Obviously, starting out 0-3 was frustrating, and I think that allowed us to wake up and get a little quicker within the year and regain our focus and understand that we’re a pretty capable team, but we can’t just go out there on the field and expect it to happen for us. We’ve got to earn it on the field, we’ve got to work for it in practice, and that allowed us to regain our focus a little bit and make sure that our guys understand that when it comes to game time, that’s when all of our hard work and the extra work away from practice – like working out on your own and watching film and doing extra shooting – need to shine through. Our guys really committed to that and I’ve just been extremely impressed with our guys believing in each other and believing in what we do. A team that trusts each other is a very dangerous team and I think down the stretch, our guys never stopped believing and never stopped trusting in each other. I knew we were capable of really good things.”