The last time Towson State traveled this road, the Tigers got stuck with the 64th seed in a 64-team NCAA tournament. The reward for winning the East Coast Conference a year ago was a trip to Austin, Texas, to play No. 1-ranked Oklahoma.
The Tigers dropped a close game to Oklahoma, but coach Terry Truax doesn't need a reward like that again. Especially when this year's No. 1 is Nevada-Las Vegas.
"There probably are some teams we can match up with, but this year's No. 1 seed isn't one of them," Truax said last night after the Tigers earned a return trip to the NCAA tourney, beating Rider 69-63 in the ECC championship game.
The Tigers (19-10) won't learn the identity of their first-round opponent until the NCAA announces the pairings Sunday. UNLV isn't high on their wish list.
"Nobody in the country wants to play UNLV," said point guard Devin Boyd, who joined teammates Terrance Jacobs and Chuck Lightening on the ECC's all-tourney team.
Truax didn't sound thrilled over the prospect of an appearance in the East sub-regional at College Park, either.
"Only if the NCAA will fly us there," he said. "We don't want to take a bus anywhere."
To Truax, Towson's second straight ECC title is more deserving of a game against a second seed. "I have no problem playing against North Carolina. We know their system," he said.
The second ECC title was "sweeter" than the first, Boyd decided. "This year's team was much hungrier because people didn't expect us to win," he said.
Truax seconded the motion.
"This team really earned everything it got. Last year we had four seniors. This year we had one starter returning and we played two freshmen. This team didn't get the credit it deserved."