This is not a blog about basketball talent, for to write about that the author should have some exceptional knowledge about the sport, which, alas, this writer does not.
I do know something about character, however, and the gutsy first win of the season for Pat Skerry, former assistant coach at my alma mater, University of Pittsburgh, and his never-give-up Towson Tigers in a transformative feat was a game I shall never forget.
The players, including especially, but not exclusively, Marcus Damas, Erique Gumbs, Robert Nwankwo, Jervon Pressley, and Deon Jones were effort personified. They never relaxed; they listened to their coach; they focused throughout, and they won a game they could win but were not favored to win.
I don’t know the stats, but it seems their rebounds, shooting percentage and turnovers must have been their best all year. Doesn’t matter. They could not have played with more heart than they did yesterday. Every rebound was contested. When a ball appeared to be turned over, they pursued and pursued and pursued again. Throughout the game they fought every moment.
Their coach throughout the long season – a season that would seem longer but for the hard, unremitting work these young men put forth – has never mailed it in either.
I used to watch the team work out in the bad years when I would jog during practice, and many of them would lounge around – it was so devastating: not the losing, but the lack of the very character they have shown before yesterday. They won more games than the players this year, but they had less guts.
A poetic note was sounded when an ESPN announcer called us Towson State – go ahead, buster; you obviously don’t prepare with the intensity of this group.
Again, my sport is tennis, another sport which measures character, so I cannot give you analysis of roundball playing excellence per play. But I go to all the games. I love Towson University, and the basketball men and their coach made me and the less-than-thousand or so folks who come to every game proud yesterday afternoon.
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Professor Vatz teaches at Towson University.