In his first six games, all of which he started, Towson sophomore Walter Foster averaged 4.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. After a two-game absence for what coach Pat Skerry described as a failure to "live up to some standards," Foster returned and totaled six points and eight rebounds in the team's losses at Georgetown on Dec. 7 and Temple on Dec. 10.
Despite his struggles, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward is slated to make his second consecutive start when La Salle (5-4) visits the Tigers (7-3) at SECU Arena in Towson on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"I thought at Georgetown, he played pretty good," Skerry said Wednesday of Foster's five-point, five-rebound, two-block effort. "Temple, he had two fouls in the first 45 seconds. I think that just kind of took him out of the game. He's certainly a guy that we're counting on heavily, and we think he'll do more than he's done. At Temple, it was just one of those things where he had two quick fouls, and sometimes it's hard to get going."
Foster's absence was filled by fifth-year senior forward Alex Gavrilovic, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in those two games. After getting shut out and collecting five rebounds against the Hoyas in another start, the 6-9, 245-pound Gavrilovic had 17 points and seven rebounds against the Owls, and Skerry said the Dayton transfer will continue to come off the bench.
"He's having a really good year for us," Skerry said. "He's averaging [8.9 points] and [5.3 rebounds] and is a weapon off the bench. I really like where he's at. And we talk about how one of the strengths of our team is our depth. So on Saturday night, we'll bring Alex off the bench unless something changes. And we always preach to our guys that we're going to play 10 guys, and it's not about the minutes, but who closes games."
There is a little more ambiguity at the point guard position. Freshman Byron Hawkins earned his first career start at Temple and responded with nine points and four rebounds. But the 6-1, 175-pound Hawkins has posted 13 assists against 17 turnovers, while 6-2, 195-pound junior Josh Ivory has 20 assists and 11 turnovers.
"I just made a change, still trying to figure some things out," Skerry said of starting Hawkins. "He's been practicing better and played a couple better games. I think his confidence is growing. I thought he had a good game against a very good Temple team. Will he start Saturday? It's possible. We don't know yet.
"He's talented, he's starting to play well, he gives us speed and scoring ability in the open floor, and he can shoot it. But Ivory's still going to play a lot, and the one thing about Ivory that I really like is he's 2-to-1 in assists-to-turnovers, and he's physical. That's something that we value. So they're both going to play a lot, and I think with new guys in a really difficult position, the better they play, the better our chances are to be where we want to be in March."