Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Five pre-game thoughts: Towson

1.) The Flying Dutchmen bussed to Towson yesterday, leaving well ahead of the latest blizzard and getting there in a mere four hours and change, which means they spent less time getting to Maryland than they did standing still on Route 84 last Friday. They had plenty of time for the usual pre-game routine and more than 24 hours to relax before first tip, so the Dutchmen should be good and prepared for a second straight game against a foe winless in CAA play. All of which means…

2.) This is a definite trap game. Towson is in even worse shape than Northeastern, playing for a lame-duck coach in a lame-duck building with a roster that is now, following the transfer of guard Troy Franklin, lacking its two best players. This is a game a potential top-four team such as the Dutchmen should win by double digits, Vegas spread be damned. If they don’t, I’d expect Mo Cassara to be more critical than he was Saturday, when the Dutchmen let Northeastern hang around before they finally won by nine.

3.) Focus has not been a problem for the Dutchmen the last 10 days, though and also working in their favor is the friendliness of the Towson Center rims: In their last two games at Towson the Dutchmen have scored 90 and 84 points. Charles Jenkins scored a total of 45 points in those two games and the Dutchmen put three players into double figures both times (you know, back when that was a rarity worth noting). Towson likes to race up and down the floor, but the good news is the Dutchmen have proven the last week that they can keep pace.

4.) That said, your good friend and mine Mike Litos is correct in noting this morning that the Dutchmen defense is the key. Towson is the reason the cliché “nothing to lose” was invented. The Tigers are 0-4 and going nowhere fast. The longer they stay close, the more confident they’ll become and the more likely they’ll be in a position to steal one late. A four- or six-minute spurt in which the Dutchmen limit Towson to a couple field goals (or less) will go a long way.

5.) Focus, focus, focus: Litos also notes that human nature being what it is, the Dutchmen might be looking ahead to a potential battle for first place Saturday against preseason favorite Old Dominion at what better be a packed Hofstra Arena. This is when it’s time to channel Crash Davis: Don’t think. It can only hurt the ballclub. As our good friend Gary Moore noted, today is the five-year anniversary of the loss at Towson that cost the Dutchmen the top seed in the CAA Tournament and, perhaps, an at-large bid (though I’m confident that certain people on that committee would have found another way to keep Hofstra out—oh hi Mason Nation!). Play 40 solid minutes tonight and then we can all spend the next three days imagining the awesomeness of taking on the Monarchs with the opportunity for the Dutchmen to cement their status as one of the teams to beat.

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