Team preview: Towson

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

In a season of changing expectations in the CAA, none may be as radical as those at Towson. The Tigers have languished near the bottom of the CAA since coming into the league five years ago as part of the group that moved from the America East.

In fact, Towson had always been the get-healthy game, the get-your-bench-minutes game, the homecoming opponent. Towson had won 11, 4, 8, and 5 games in the four seasons before last year. Its conference victory total over those first four years -- 7, 1, 4, 2 -- was one fewer than both UNC Wilmington and George Mason had last season alone.

But in 2005-06, Towson equaled, with a win over James Madison on Jan. 7, its conference total and surpassed its overall victory total from 2004-05. The Tigers finished the season with eight conference wins and 12 overall, sniffing the .500 mark for the first time since the move to the CAA.

When athletics director Dr. Wayne Edwards hired Pat Kennedy to take over the flagging program in 2004, some were surprised at the move. Others were not.

"We knew Pat was going to get it going down there," Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora said about Kennedy. "He's a heckuva coach. I turned to my staff [when it was announced Kennedy was hired at Towson] and told them we'll have about a year before he gets it going in the right direction."

Pecora was right, as Kennedy begins his third season with expectations not of a championship, but for something perhaps greater -- the move past just respectability and perhaps to the role of being a feared opponent.

While Kennedy remains cautiously optimistic -- "We're excited," he said -- he adds that "this is the most talented group I've put together since [he coached at] DePaul. How good are we? I don't know, but talent-wise, we can play."