#73 Towson Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Towson Tigers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #73
Conference Rank: #2 CAA
Two years ago Towson went 5-13 in Colonial Athletic Association play. Heading into last season, the expectations were pretty low, but the Tigers ended up 11-7 in conference play and 20 wins overall. Towson’s 2015-2016 campaign did not end well though. After losing their regular season finale, Towson fell in their CAA tournament opener to Northeastern and lost their first game in the Vegas 16 tournament. That was not a good way to end the season, but Towson is ready for a better season in part due to the return of leading scorer and leading rebounder Arnaud William Adala Moto. The 6-7 senior forward averaged 13.9 points and 8.3 rebounds last season. He is a great interior scorer and the offense will work through Adala Moto again this year. But he can also stretch the defense with his shooting ability.
2015-16 Record: 20-13, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: Vegas 16
Coach: Pat Skerry
Coach Record: 76-87 at Towson, 100-112 overall
Who’s Out:
The transfer of Byron Hawkins is a big blow to the Tigers. The 6-1 guard was second on the team during his sophomore season with 13.2 points per game. He was also the most prolific shooter on a team that desperately needs some shooters. Towson has the experience to get over the loss of Hawkins, who is heading to Murray State, but they will miss his scoring and shooting. Also gone is starter Timajh Parker-Rivera. The 6-7 forward averaged 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a senior and he was a big reason for the team’s success on the glass. Josh Ivory played a few minutes every game and did occasionally provide the Tigers with a shooting threat off of the bench.
Who’s In:
The two experienced newcomers will have to make a big impact for Towson. Brian Starr, who comes from Colby Community College in Kansas, will likely take over the starting point guard duties. He will not be the shooter the Tigers need, but Starr can set up his teammates and provide leadership on both ends of the floor. Deshaun Mormon, a transfer from Cincinnati, will not likely be the shooter Towson needs either, but he can score by attacking the basket. In his one healthy season at Cincinnati, Mormon averaged 3.6 points in 10.0 minutes per game. Incoming freshman Zane Martin will add options on the perimeter. He will likely come in off the bench, but he can be one of the shooters on this team. The frontcourt adds freshmen Justin Gorham, J.J. Matthews and Dennis Tunstall. Gorham has a lot of potential and could be Adala Moto’s main backup this season. Matthews is the star recruit of the frontcourt, but he is rehabbing an injury. If healthy, he should make a big impact in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt does return some talent so they will not have to rely entirely on the newcomers. Wing John Davis was a regular starter last season and averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. At 6-5, he can attack the basket effectively, but he is also a pretty consistent outside shooter. His three-point shooting percentage of 37.9 percent was the best on the team, but he only took 66 shots from beyond the arc. Most of Davis’ scoring will come inside the arc, but having a player who can score inside and out and help out on the glass is a valuable asset. Junior Mike Morsell will slot back into the starting lineup as well. He averaged 13.0 points per game last season and is the team’s top returning three-point shooter with 42 made three-pointers. Like most of his teammates, Morsell will do most of his scoring by attacking the basket and finishing or getting to the foul line. Eddie Keith will be in the battle for playing time at the point. He is a big 6-5 guard, but can handle the ball quite well. He was a key reserve for Towson last season and averaged 22.4 minutes per game. He is not a great scorer or rebounder for a player his size, but Keith will also play very good defense. Jordan McNeil may find playing time tough to come by, but he had a promising freshman campaign.
Final Projection:
Towson does need to find a new starter in the frontcourt to replace Parker-Rivera. Walter Foster will likely step into a full-time starting job. He averaged 5.6 points and 4.9 rebounds last season and the 6-8 senior is certainly ready for a bigger role. Alex Thomas, a 6-9 sophomore, will at least be able to help out on the glass. But the frontcourt and rebounding is not the potential problem area for Towson. The Tigers need to find a floor leader and a shooter or two. If Starr can handle the point and emerge as a leader, Towson will be in very good shape. The shooting may be a bigger issue, but there are a handful of players who can knock down some outside shots for this team. They just need to be more consistent than last season in order to compete for a CAA title and an NCAA Tournament spot.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Brian Starr, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Mike Morsell, Junior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
John Davis, Senior, Forward, 10.3 points per game
Aranud William Adala Moto, Senior, Forward, 13.9 points per game
Walter Foster, Senior, Forward, 5.6 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (211th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.5 (67, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.6 (239, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.8 (87, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.5 (311, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.7 (295, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.4 (265, 8)
Rebound Margin: 7.2 (22, 1)
Assists Per Game: 11.2 (307, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (122, 7)