Coming off a forgettable 2020-21 season, Towson men’s basketball coach Pat Skerry is optimistic for a bounce-back season with the help of some returning starters and a few key transfers.
Skerry has been the Tigers’ head coach since 2011. Before his arrival at Towson, Skerry was an assistant at Pittsburgh (2010-11), Providence (2008-2010) and Rhode Island (2005-2008), among other schools. Skerry was a head coach was at Curry College (1996-1998), where he had an overall record of 24-25 in his two seasons.
When Skerry was hired at Towson, the program had suffered through 15 consecutive losing seasons. The Tigers endured another disastrous season in Skerry’s first year, finishing with an overall record of 1-31. They bounced back and finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association in Skerry’s second year as head coach (2012-13). They’ve won at least 18 games in six of Skerry’s 10 seasons.
The 2020-21 season was a rough one for Towson, though. The Tigers placed ninth in the CAA at 3-9 and finished 4-14 overall. Thirteen of the Tigers’ games were either postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Last year was harder than my first year [at Towson],” Skerry said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 29.
However, Towson brings back starters Jason Gibson, Juwan Gray, Nicolas Timberlake and Charles Thompson. Gibson, Gray and Timberlake all had surgery either during or after the 2020-21 season but are looking better than ever, according to Skerry. Gibson needed back surgery. Gray suffered a torn Achilles in January after only playing five games but has made a fast recovery. Timberlake had bone spurs removed.
“[Gibson] had to have a piece of a disc removed in his back. He tried to grind it out for some games, so we were very slow getting him back. He looks good. He looks really good physically,” Skerry said. “I thought he was our second-best player two years ago after Brian Fobbs on a 19-win team.”
Skerry also said that Thompson has “made a big step in his game.”
The Tigers added a key transfer in graduate guard and Baltimore native Terry Nolan Jr. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard out of Mount Carmel was a key contributor for Bradley before joining Towson. Nolan started 21 games for the Braves in 2020-21 after redshirting in 2019-20. In those 21 games, Nolan averaged 11.2 points while shooting 42.5 percent from the floor, 34.3 percent from beyond the arc and 81 percent from the free-throw line.
Nolan also played for George Washington from 2017-2019 and was a two-year starter for the Colonials. Nolan appeared in 62 games, starting 51 of them. He averaged 9.8 points per game while shooting 38.3 percent from the floor, 33.6 percent from 3-point range and 66.1 percent from the line. Nolan totaled 607 points in two years at George Washington.
“Terry’s really, really gifted. He’s an unbelievable guy and leader,” Skerry said. “… He’s an infectious personality, so hopefully people will come out to see him. I’m very grateful to get the chance to coach him this year.”
Skerry brought in transfers Antonio Rizzuto (UAlbany) and Chase Paar (George Washington) as well. Rizzuto is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior guard, while Paar is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound junior forward out of Glenelg Country School.
“Big Chase, he’s good. He’s big … and he’s got some game,” Skerry said. “Antonio Rizutto is my kind of guy. He’s built like a Russian tank and he can guard you, he can shoot it.”
Regarding all three transfers, Skerry said that “the seamless transition with those guys in the locker room has been something that I have tremendous appreciation for.”
Towson is picked to finish eighth in the CAA in 2021-22. However, Skerry and the Tigers are ready to prove the doubters wrong,
“Our players and our staff are keenly aware of what the conference, the conference membership and some media people think of our coaching and our ability,” Skerry said. “We have a great opportunity to either prove people right or prove some people wrong.”
The Tigers will open the regular season at UAlbany on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
For more from Skerry, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Towson Athletics