Towson's season hangs in balance Truax's job could be in jeopardy after tourney

February 28, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Terry Truax's future as Towson State basketball coach after 14 years on the job could be in jeopardy.

The Tigers (8-18), who meet Northeastern tonight at 9: 30 in a first-round America East tournament game at the University of Delaware, are stumbling through their worst season in the past 10 years under Truax, although they have won three of their past four games. Truax said this week that he heard a "rumor" in January that he would not be asked back for the 1997-98 season.

Second-year athletic director Wayne Edwards says nothing will be decided until after he meets with Truax after the season is over.

"I'll meet with Terry and make a determination on his future a week to two weeks after the season," Edwards said. "That's the way I do it with the women's basketball coach, the football coach and the men's basketball coach."

When asked if speculation over Truax's status would be ended by a strong showing in the America East tournament, Edwards said, "The tournament is just a part of the overall season. One game or a few games won't make a season and one season won't make a career."

Edwards says he has been impressed with the team's play in recent weeks, especially during a 100-86 loss to West Virginia on the road nine days ago.

"We played well enough to win against West Virginia from the Big East," Edwards said. "We took the lead with six minutes left. But obviously, we've got to get better. The step from the Big South to the America East was a big one, but it should help our recruiting because we recruit more kids from Virginia to the North than Virginia to the South."

Truax, who has a 201-202 career record and two trips to the NCAA tournament that resulted in near upsets of Oklahoma and Ohio State, doesn't seem overly concerned about his status for next season.

"If I were making $400,000 a year, there would be a reason to be nervous," said Truax, whose salary including his summer camp ranges between $65,000 and $70,000 a year. "There are jobs in basketball coaching that I call heroic jobs, and this is one of them.

"My whole focus has been attempting to get this team to play better," he added. "I know it hasn't looked like it until the last couple of weeks. I just do what I'm asked and meet with Wayne Edwards biweekly. I just have a one-year appointment, not even a rollover contract. As far as I know, I'll be back. But I have to realize Wayne has his own agenda and criteria. It's all in his hands."

Truax said he expects Edwards to assess the team's performance, effort and attitude and talk to the team captains (seniors Michael Keyes and Florian Schneider) before reaching a decision.

"There are a lot of positive things going on in our program," Truax said. "We're getting a wood floor, we have Michigan coming in to play us next year and we're trying to get North Carolina on the schedule based on me being the coach [Truax was once an assistant coach for Dean Smith]."

Former Towson State basketball coach Vince Angotti, who teaches sports management at Towson State, said Truax deserves a chance to coach the team next year.

"When I discussed it [Truax's status] with people in January, I thought he might be in trouble," Angotti said. "But the way we're playing now and the team is coming together, you don't make a change in coaches. I watched practice the other day and the kids were practicing hard and going after each other. That's a real good sign."

Angotti is a member of the school's athletic fund-raising Tiger Club board of directors and said there is "no talk at all" about Truax leaving.

"You have to realize that this year's team is inexperienced at probably the two most important positions on the floor [freshman guards Damon Cason and Marlin Wise out of Baltimore's Southern High]," Angotti said. "They lost six of their top eight scorers to graduation from last season and then lost one more player to academics [DeRon Robinson] and another [Derrick Earl] left with a knee problem. It [losing] is the kind of thing all coaches go through with young guards and a young team."

America East

At Newark, Del.

First round

Today

No. 7 Maine (10-19, 6-12) vs. No. 10 New Hampshire (7-19, 5-13), 7 p.m.

No. 8 Northeastern (7-19, 6-12) vs. No. 9 Towson State (8-18, 5-13), 9: 30 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Tomorrow

No. 4 Hofstra (12-14, 9-9) vs. No. 5 Delaware (14-15, 8-10), noon

No. 1 Boston University (22-4, 17-1) vs. Maine-New Hampshire winner, 2: 30 p.m.

No. 2 Drexel (20-7, 16-2) vs. Northeastern-Towson State winner, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Hartford (16-10, 11-7) vs. No. 6 Vermont (14-12, 7-11), 9: 30 p.m.

Semifinals

Sunday

Hofstra-Delaware winner vs. Boston U.Maine-New Hampshire winner, 1 p.m.

DrexelNortheastern-Towson St. winner vs. Hartford-Vermont winner, 3: 30 p.m.

Championship

March 7

Semifinal winners at higher seed, 4: 30 p.m.

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