Terry Truax admitted four weeks ago that it wasn't going to be easy keeping everyone on his Towson State basketball team happy this season. The Tigers' depth is hardly a dilemma, however, because it provides him with many pleasant alternatives.
Truax might not have Kurk Lee, but he does have the deepest team he's had in his eight years with the Tigers. There's a logjam in the backcourt that might not sort itself out until January, but December began just fine for Towson State: The Tigers repeated as Beltway Classic champions by beating UMBC and Loyola.
Devin Boyd was the tournament Most Valuable Player, with 34 points and six assists. The junior guard out of Walbrook High is a three-year starter at the point guard spot. Senior Lew Waller, a super sub the last two years, has been starting alongside him, but Truax intimated that might not be the case for long.
"Waller has paid his dues," Truax said. "The fact remains, our best combinations might have Devin and Lew splitting time at the point, and Terrance Jacobs and Myron Ray at the two [shooting] guard spot. We've got X number of players dividing into Y number of minutes, and you don't recruit any of these guys to be subs. It's a delicate situation."
Jacobs, a junior from Southern High who spent 1988-89 at Old Dominion and 1989-90 at Allegany Community College, is one of the state's best college athletes. He had 16 points and four steals in Friday's 83-75 defeat of UMBC.
Ray, a junior who sat out last year after spending two seasons at St. Bonaventure, scored 20 points in the season opener at Dayton, seven since. Towson State was 0-9 from three-point range against Loyola in the Beltway championship game Saturday, one reason the Greyhounds threw a 62-60 scare into the home team. The Tigers are shooting 16.6 percent from beyond the stripe, and Ray is needed as a zone-buster.
Competition for minutes will intensify when Mike Manns, the former Towson Catholic standout who spent two years at a Wyoming junior college, becomes eligible later this month.
"Whoever is playing well at the time will play more, and I know that motivates me," Waller said. "It's not really a problem, it's something that will work to our favor. You get the right rotation of players going, and you don't have to worry about getting tired. We can't worry about who plays how many minutes."
Truax said that three-guard lineups will be kept to a minimum because Towson State has just as much balance up front.
Junior forward Chuck Lightening and sophomore center Will Griffin, who didn't shoot against UMBC and then went 7-for-7 against Loyola, made the Beltway Classic all-tournament team. Sophomore forward Larry Brown had 15 rebounds in the two games, and Truax has four capable freshmen up front he's trying to develop.
"I have a guy like Tom Caldwell [a 6-foot-8, 225-pound freshman from Trenton, N.J.], who needs to play," Truax said. "The early-season games are when you want to give everyone a look, but UMBC was a conference game and Loyola never let up on us [after trailing 23-8]. Come conference time, it will work itself out. It always does."