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Towson has two options at point guard as it tries to replace core

They'll miss Jerrelle Benimon, but finding a new point guard will also be critical for Towson.

Towson began last season with Jerome Hairston at point guard. He made five starts before he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and then dismissed. Senior Mike Burwell shifted from his shooting guard position and stabilized the point guard spot.

With Burwell gone, the Tigers are back to square one at that position. And two players are competing for the starting role.

Junior Josh Ivory spent his freshman year at Cleveland State before transferring to Baton Rouge Community College. At 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, Ivory has the strength to play in the physical CAA, but his biggest asset may be his collegiate experience.

“The physical part of the game, the speed, I understand that,” he said. “I’m really just trying to be a leader on the floor. Be vocal, hold myself accountable for turnovers, set a tone for my team.”

At 6-1 and 175 pounds, freshman Byron Hawkins is slightly smaller than Ivory, but he averaged 18.1 points at Good Counsel as a junior and has the ability to create his own shot.

“You have to be a scoring threat when you’re a point guard because there’s no way you can draw out a defense if you can’t score,” Hawkins said.

As the Tigers work to replace four of their top players from last year — including two-time CAA Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon — coach Pat Skerry said he is looking for an important quality in his point guards.

“They’ve got to guard and not turn it over,” Skerry said. “That’s going to be a key and maybe the biggest key for us.”

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Coach: Pat Skerry, fourth season

Last year: 25-11; second in Colonial Athletic Association

Opener: Friday at Alabama