CAA Tourney Preview: #4 W&M vs. #5 Towson

This Tribe team has come a long way since the beginning of the season; it’s now time to see if they have what it takes to make history. [photo by Jim Agnew, tribeathletics.com]
This is it! The regular season is over, and we now turn our attention to the CAA Tournament. I don’t think we have to underscore the importance of this tournament for your boys in Green and Gold: a chance to make the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament is on the line. The path for the Tribe won’t be easy, but coming off two straight wins (including one over top seed Charleston), W&M has to be feeling good about itself.

If you haven’t already checked out our complete guide to this year’s CAA Tournament, we highly suggest you do; it includes team-by-team analysis, the tournament bracket, and more! Below, we preview W&M’s first CAA Tournament game against the Towson Tigers. Roll Tribe Roll.

 Towson This Year

Record: 18-13 (8-10 CAA)

Last 5 Games: (1-4)

Bad Losses: Swept by Elon, JMU

In the beginning of the year, Towson was picked to finish 2nd in the CAA behind the league favorite Charleston Cougars. Through the first 13 games (all against non-CAA opponents), Towson went 10-3, and looked like a frontrunner heading into CAA play. However, despite being picked to finish 2nd, the Tigers disappointed in league play, finishing just 8-10 on the season. To make matters worse, Towson was swept by two of the worst teams in the league, JMU and Elon.

Although the Tribe finished the season strong, the preseason #2 Towson Tigers are a formidable force. [photo via espn.com]

Towson vs. W&M This Year

Do we have to? Okay, fine. If you’re making us. Towson swept W&M this year, finishing 2-0, including an overtime victory. In both games, Towson came back from double digit deficits. All of this came on hot shooting, as Towson shot an insane 61% from the floor through the two contests. The Tigers were led by sophomore sensation Zane Martin, who averaged 27.5 points per game against the Green and Gold. Towson seniors Mike Morsell (17.0 points per game) and Brian Starr (14.0) also averaged double digits against the Tribe this season (take a wild guess on which players we think W&M should try to shut down this Sunday).

But all of this doesn’t surprise us much. Dating back to the 2015 season, W&M is just 1-5 against Towson over the previous six games. In the contests Towson won, they have won by a margin of 13.2 points. In this year’s games alone, Towson has won by an average margin of 20 points. In the Tribe’s lone win against Towson over the past 3 seasons, it won by just 4 points. If you couldn’t figure it out by now, all of this is to make the point that W&M has been dominated by the Tigers in recent memory. Towson appears to be the Tribe’s kryptonite, as no other CAA team has had more success against W&M than they have in recent years.

There is a silver lining though, Tribe fans. The last time W&M faced off against Towson in the CAA Tournament (back in 2014), the Green and Gold pulled off the victory, 75-71. We will forget about all of the losses in recent years if the Tribe can pull off a victory on Sunday, which they certainly are capable of doing. You know what they say, the third time’s the charm, isn’t it?

Towson’s Key Players

  • #0 Zane Martin (19.9 points per game, 2.5 assists per game): The aforementioned Martin exploded onto the scene this year and has firmly established himself as one of the premier players in the league. Only a sophomore, Martin averages around 20 points per game, good enough for third in the league. He has scored in double digits in every game except one in CAA play. As we noted above, he is also averaging 27.5 points per game against W&M this year. Stopping Martin will be key to the Tribe’s success on Sunday. You’re looking at a potential future CAA Player of the Year here; look for W&M to double #0 this Sunday.
Towson’s Zane Martin will be a player to shut down on Sunday. [photo via towsontigers.com]
  • #23 Mike Morsell (14 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game): Morsell is one of those players that makes us feel like he’s been in the CAA for 10 years. Every year we play Towson, they somehow still have Morsell on the roster. As a senior, he is the leader of the team, averaging double digit point totals, while also bringing a level of consistency to a Towson team that can dominate on any given night.
  • #4 Justin Gorham (9.6 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game): Gorham is a solid player across the board. He averages just under double digit point totals per game, and is 11th in the CAA in rebounds per game. One place Gorham really thrives is offensive rebounding, where he ranks 6th in the league, averaging 2.4 offensive rebounds per contest for the Tigers. In a game where second chance points may play a big role in the outcome, the Tribe needs to do all it can to box out Gorham and prevent him giving Towson another chance at an easy basket.

 Towson Key Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 76.8 points per game (4th in the CAA)
  • Scoring Defense: 70.9 points per game allowed (3rd)
  • FG PCT Offense: 46.9% (3rd)
  • Free Throw PCT: 68.7% (8th)
  • FG PCT Defense: 42.9% (1st)
  • 3 Point FG PCT Defense: 33.7% (2nd)
  • Offensive Rebounds: 12.5/Game (2nd)
  • Rebounding Margin: +5.5 (1st)

Is there anything this Towson team doesn’t do well? Despite an average finish in the overall league standings, Towson ranks in at least the top 4 in most major statistical categories. Here’s what we glean from a quick look at the stats:

  • Towson has a really strong defense: Towson arguably has the top defense in the entire CAA. The team ranks 3rd in the league in points per game allowed, but is first in FG PCT defense and 2nd in 3rd point FG PCT defense. They also rank first in the league in blocked shots and third in steals. This team can flat out play defense.
  • Towson is built to rebound: This is nothing new, as Towson has always been a physical team that crashes the boards. The Tigers rank first in the league in rebounding margin, and second in offensive rebounds. W&M will need all 5 players in Green and Gold crashing the boards to have a chance on Sunday.
  • Their offense is better than you think: Towson is a very balanced team. As stated, they rank in the top 5 in almost every statistical category in the league. We were surprised to learn that they rank 4th in the league in scoring as well as 3rd in the league in FG PCT offense.
  • Free throws may be key: In a game that figures to be close, it may come down to free throws. If that is the case, we like W&M’s chances. The Tribe is first in the CAA in free throw percentage (80.9%), while Towson ranks toward the bottom, shooting just 68.7% from the charity stripe. If there’s one category where this Towson team fails, it’s at the free throw line.
[via espn.com]

Tribe Keys to Success

  • Keep Towson out of the Paint: In the two games this season against the Tigers, Towson is outscoring W&M in the paint by 54 points (90-36). That is a number that MUST change come Sunday. Towson ranks 3rd in the league in FG PCT offense, converting 46.9% of their shots from the field. In the two games against W&M, this number sky-rocketed to 61% by making the pass inside, getting to the paint, and converting the easy bucket. Team defense will be paramount in this one, as W&M will need to make sure Towson isn’t able to have its way underneath. And let’s keep Nathan Knight out of foul trouble, shall we? W&M’s 6’10” big man has been known to get into foul trouble this season, and Towson is surely aware of that. As we’ve said all season long, the longer Nathan Knight stays on the court, the higher the odds are that W&M will come out victorious.Either way, protect the paint.
    Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 7.28.25 PM
    W&M’s David Cohn has played like a man possessed this season, as he leads his team into this year’s 2018 CAA Tournament. [photo via Bob Keroack, tribeathletics.com]
  • Crash the Boards: This is a strong, physical Towson team that specializes in crashing the boards and wreaking havoc on opposing teams by boxing out and coming down with the rebound. It’ll be a fight all night long to make sure that the best rebounding team in the league doesn’thave its way with the Tribe on Sunday; every Tribe player on the court will be expected to crash the boards, box out, and compete for each and every rebound. If they don’t, it’ll be a long night for those wearing Green and Gold.
  • Contain Zane Martin: Unquestionably the most talented player on the Towson roster, W&M will need to have an answer for #0, Zane Martin. Martin can drive to the basket, as well as shoot the open three-point shot. He’s a nightmare to defend, but the Green and Gold will have to game plan for him accordingly. Here’s to hoping he has an off night.

Ultimately, this year’s Towson team has had the Tribe’s number all season long. But can they do it three times in one season? As good as the Tigers have been against W&M, they’re limping into the CAA Tournament with a 1-5 record, while W&M comes marching in following a big overtime win against #1 Charleston. It’ll be a battle of the league’s #1 offense vs. the #1 defense on Sunday, and we’re excited to see it all unfold. See you in Charleston. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

How to Watch – Time & Place

 

When: Sunday, 2:30 PM EST

Where: Charleston, SC

Watch: CAA.TV — link here!

Follow our Instagram below, as we’ll be posting several pictures and videos from Charleston during the CAA Tournament!

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#NotOurWords 🔰#RollTribe🔰

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2 thoughts on “CAA Tourney Preview: #4 W&M vs. #5 Towson

  1. PLAY MORE THAN 6-7 PLAYERS AND GIVE STARTERS A REST IN EACH HALF. PLAY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS THAT ARE TOUGH AROUND THE BASKET AND WON’T GIVE UP LAYUPS

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