Improving Towson State is weary of moral victories, wants real thing

At the end of Maryland's 83-76 basketball win over Towson State at Cole Field House Saturday, a fan near the Towson bench screamed at coach Terry Truax, "Another moral victory, huh, Truax?"

In a way it certainly was.


With 5:46 to go, heavily favored Maryland was ahead by a mere point, 68-67.

For Towson, which is now 2-5, the performance was a great improvement over the team's feeble showing in losing to UMBC and Mount St. Mary's in the Beltway Classic earlier this month.


Truax admitted he was pleased with his team's effort at Maryland. Said Terps coach Gary Williams: "You have to give Towson credit. They're well coached and they put up a great fight."

Somehow, the words of John James, 6-foot-8 center-forward for Towson, rang truest. When James was asked if he felt better because of the improved showing, he answered:

"Not really. We've got to put it together. We needs wins, not moral victories."

Wins will not come easily in Towson's next 10 games. All of them will be played on the road, starting Saturday night at Southern Methodist.

* The 11-year-old baseball fanatic who lives on my block didn't take long to assess the Orioles' acquisitions of pitchers Storm Davis and former Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe.

"The Orioles," the kid said, "need to sign some players who are in their prime, not past their prime." Looks to me like the youngster has the makings of a GM.

* English-born and raised Blast coach Kenny Cooper says the news media back home expresses concern whether the United States will be able to pull off the upcoming World Cup soccer championships.

Cooper, who knows both sides of the Atlantic, says flat out -- and I'm sure he's right: "The savior of the World Cup in the U.S. will be corporate America."


* When the Blast, after a poor start, spruced up its record to 6-5, Cooper cited the fact that the team had been breaking in 11 new players and said: "There are only better things ahead."

Since then, the Blast has won only one of four games and, Saturday night, lost its third straight home game, 3-2, to league-leading Wichita.

* Sylke Knuppel, the leading scorer (24.4 average) on the 5-0 Johns Hopkins women's basketball team, is not related to the Baltimore Bullets star of the '40s of the same (almost) name, Dutch Knupple.

In fact, Sylke, who went to high school here at Glenelg, says she's never even heard of Dutch Knupple. Dutch was the center on a Bullets team in the mid-'40s that had such notables as Jake Ahern, Ace Abbott (real name Goldman), and Moe Dubilier, who GM Bob Elmer passed off as a cousin of General DeGaulle.

Sylke Knuppel and the Blue Jays next play Jan. 4 at home against Carnegie-Mellon.

* Speaking of women's basketball, the team at Loyola College, coached by Frank Szymanski, is only going to improve because of a recent addition.


Jim Casey, who did the recruiting for Szymanski when the two put together outstanding men's teams at the University of Baltimore in the '70s, has signed on to recruit players for Loyola.

Former Loyola basketballer Buck Ward knows Casey well and says: "Case has a fantastic personality. That's why he's a great recruiter. He'll be a big help to Frank."

* Gordy Combs, assistant football coach at Towson State, was all smiles when he returned to school over the weekend after a three-week recruiting trip to New Jersey.

For one thing, he had a successful trip. "They love Towson State in New Jersey," said Combs. "They can't believe we only have 38 scholarships."

For another, Youngstown State -- a team Towson gave fits late in the season before losing, 27-17 -- won the NCAA Division I-AA championship, beating Marshall, 25-17.

Finally, all the football coaches at Towson smile these days at the mention of a transfer student named Tony Vinson. Vinson, 6-2, 215 pounds and swift, played tailback at Purdue. He transferred to Towson when the Purdue coaches wanted to switch him to wide receiver. Vinson, who is from Newport News, Va., will play for the Tigers next fall.


"Tony will compliment [freshman quarterback Danny] Crowley nicely," said Combs, "the way Mike Smith did when we had Dave Meggett. Defenses were set to stop Meggett's running and Smith was able to catch 60-some passes."

Towson, which was 1-10 this year, needs something good to happen in football. Maybe Tony Vinson will provide it.