Two years ago, the Towson men were arguably the worst basketball team in the nation. The Tigers went 1-31 and were the team that anyone would want to play.
But those days are long gone.
The Tigers earned the top spot in this year's Colonial Athletic Association's pre-season poll. In addition, senior forward Jerrelle Benimon was tabbed as the pre-season player of the year. Towson coach Pat Skerry knows all of these things will make life a bit tougher for his Tigers this season, and he wants his team to be ready.
"It's a little different being the hunted," Skerry said at the conference's media day on Tuesday in Baltimore. "Now you've got some expectations, you've got some accolades. But it's got to be team. It's got to be program. It's got to be winning. We've got to be diligent and respectful of everyone we're playing."
The Tigers went 18-13 last season where they had the biggest turnaround in NCAA history. They also posted their most wins (13) and best finish (tied for second) ever while in the CAA.
Benimon was picked as the CAA Player of the Year last season and also gained honorable mention All-America honors. He averaged 17.2 points per game, but the 6-foot-8 forward also finished third in the country in rebounding, pulling down 11.2 boards per game.
Skerry said Towson's even going to experiment with putting Benimon at point guard at times. They've been working on that in practice, and it's something that will help get the ball in the hands of their most dangerous player, something Skerry's hoping will work out nicely.
"When there's expectations, there's pressure to perform," Skerry said. "He's got to perform well. He's got to rebound. He's got to cut down on turnovers."
Senior forward Marcus Damas earned an honorable mention spot on the team pre-season All-Conference team.
Here's the order of the rest of the pre-season rankings: Drexel, College of Charleston, Delaware, William & Mary, Northeastern, James Madison, UNCW and Hofstra.
Towson also will have an added incentive as the CAA tournament is moving to Baltimore this year. That is scheduled for the Baltimore Arena on March 7-10.