The Loyola-Towson State basketball game coming up Monday night at the Towson Center may be the best local matchup of the season. Both teams are rolling right now.
Loyola has upset Iona and Siena in its last two starts. That's even more impressive than the Greyhounds' midseason, back-to-back wins last year over Army and Navy.
Loyola appears to have turned the corner under second-year coach Tom Schneider. The win over Iona, whose talent was clearly superior, was a coaching victory for Schneider. His team simply was better prepared.
"Towson-Loyola is not the same thing as North Carolina-Duke or Carolina-N.C. State," says Towson coach Terry Truax, who once coached at Carolina under Dean Smith, "but this game reminds me of those neighborhood rivalries. Tom Schneider thinks this would be a good opening game for us each year, especially if the kids at both schools are on campus.
"In the eight years I've been at Towson [and won 102 games], I can't recall a better potential matchup between us and Loyola than this one. The teams are close in personnel and ability. We're guard-oriented with Devin Boyd and Terrance Jacobs and so are they with Kevin Green and Tracy Bergan.
"Loyola's playing well. I think they're more comfortable with the new system and the new coach. And we're playing well."
To say the least. The overtime 88-84 win over Delaware Wednesday was Towson's seventh consecutive victory. This is the Tigers' longest win streak since coach Vince Angotti's Division II team won 17 in a row in '77-'78.
The streak is starting to bring out the crowds. The announced attendance Wednesday of 2,076 was conservative if anything.
"The crowd was really into that game," said Towson's Devin Boyd, who scored a career-high 38 points against Delaware. "We're not used to seeing crowds at the Towson Center get into it like that."
Towson has already met Loyola once this season, beating the Greyhounds, 62-60, in the Beltway Classic final on Dec. 1 at the Towson Center.
* Larry Washington no sooner got home from his news conference at Randallstown High Wednesday afternoon announcing his decision to play his football at Maryland than his phone rang. Michigan was calling.
The Wolverines told him it still wasn't too late to change his mind. They wanted to know what they could do to get him to come to Ann Arbor. This is how good Washington is. The other schools still don't want to give up on him.
I saw him play as a freshman at Loyola High and knew even then he was an exceptional running back. Landing him is a coup for the Terps.
* A coaching change often charges a team's batteries but not for the reason the Cleveland Crunch, here tomorrow night against the Blast, has been re-charged.
The Force fired coach Kai Haaskivi a month ago -- and last week player Kai Haaskivi, at 35, was the Major Indoor League's Offensive Player of the Week. Haaskivi, who used to play for the Blast, has 14 points in his last five games.
As it always does, Blast home attendance picked up in January. The team averaged 8,600 for its last four games.
* When New York Mets executive vice president Frank Cashen was here for the Tops in Sports banquet three weeks ago he talked of retiring in a couple years and he spoke of aide Al Harazin, who once worked with the Orioles. Said Cashen: "You couldn't find a better or brighter front office guy in the country to step in and run a ballclub."
This week all that came together as the Mets promoted Harazin to executive VP. Cashen moves up to senior executive VP. Old hands in the Orioles' front office, knowing both men well, are applauding the promotions.