Other than an announcement over the public address system, there was no fanfare for Terry Truax's 200th coaching win at Towson State. He shook a few hands after an 80-70 victory over Maine yesterday, then prepared for the Tigers' next opponent, as he drove home and taped West Virginia's game against Syracuse.
"No one was presumptuous enough to have a cake or anything," said Truax, who recalled being on the other end of a similar milestone at Maryland more than a decade ago. "They had one when Lefty [Driesell] got his 500th and beat us by about 100."
There are no sure things in Truax's 14th season at Towson.
The rebuilding Tigers (7-17, 4-13) were picked to finish seventh in America East, but even their second straight win couldn't lift them out of last place. Towson is headed to its worst finish in 11 years, and after a long push to get his career mark above .500, Truax again looks back on more coaching losses (201) than wins.
Truax gets questions about whether he'll be around long enough to catch Vince Angotti's school record for wins, 231. Truax took Towson to the NCAA tournament in 1990 and '91, but this is his second losing season in the past three. He has contended in three leagues, but now he has the 10th-place team in a 10-team conference.
How is he holding up?
"Disappointment is when kids get picked up on burglary charges or when they abuse women," Truax said. "We've got good kids. To their credit, they've shown a lot of character this year. Look, the expectations weren't too high to begin with.
"What's most disappointed me is the lack of defensive intensity. People don't know it, but we've traditionally been a good defensive team. When we gave up 104 and 102 points back-to-back [at Delaware and Drexel], that was pretty disturbing. From a coach's perspective, the turnovers have been ridiculous."
Both items were a plus against Maine (10-16, 6-9), which had prospered on the road, with wins at Marquette and two other stops in the past 10 days.
The Tigers committed only nine turnovers, nine below their average, and they did a good job defending point guard John Gordon, a sophomore from Wilmington who was the hero in the upset of Marquette. He had 10 points, but made only four of 11 shots.
Truax employed a box-and-one on Gordon. Maine coach John Giannini, who last year guided Rowan to the NCAA Division III title, used the same strategy on Ralph Biggs, but the junior forward led a strong second half for the Tigers, as he had 17 of his 21 points and six of his eight rebounds after the break.
Junior center Ryan Lexer, whose free throws with 14: 28 left put Towson ahead for good at 43-41, had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Derick Newton, the other forward, had 14 points and six rebounds despite a cut lip.
The inside game brightened the mood of Truax, who wasn't even sure he was going to work yesterday, because the virus that has hit the area hit his office.
"Jim Meil missed the New Hampshire game, and I think he's missed one other game here," Truax said of the assistant who predates him at Towson. "At 10 this morning, I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but you don't want to be hypocritical. I get on the players about not being tougher. I guess I've got to do the same."
Pub Date: 2/16/97