Pat Skerry

Towson sets NCAA record, goes from 1-31 to 2nd place in CAA

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Last season, Towson was the worst team in college basketball. The struggling Tigers finished 1-31 on the season, including a 22-game losing streak to start the year.

What a difference a year can make.

With its 67-64 home win over Hofstra Saturday, Towson finishes the season at 18-13, an NCAA record-setting 17.5-game turnaround from the previous season. The Tigers improved by 17 wins, but played one less game in the 2012-13 regular season, which accounts for the half-game.

That mark breaks the record previously held by Mercer in 2002-03 and UTEP the year after in 2003-04. Both teams improved by 17 games. For coach Pat Skerry’s team, this is the most wins the program has had in one season since 1993-94 when the Tigers were 21-9 and won the Big South title.

One of the biggest keys to Towson’s turnaround has been likely CAA Player of the Year and double-double machine Jerrelle Benimon. The Georgetown transfer averaged 17.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and has recorded 20 double-doubles this year, including Saturday in the win over Hofstra.

Towson finished tied for second place in the CAA, but is barred from the conference tournament and any other postseason play after APR sanctions placed on the program by the NCAA.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.