I'll admit it; I never saw this coming. There was no way to see this after last season's debacle.
In fact, I was so sure that Towson would be an almost cellar dweller this season that I loudly proclaimed as much to the Georgetown site Casual Hoya when they asked me to chime in before the Hoyas' game against the Tigers.
Yeah, I said this:
Towson may have gotten a break this season with Hofstra's best players getting a case of sticky fingers. That has decimated the roster and pretty much guarantees that the Pride aren't going to be competing for anything this season. That should give the Tigers at least two wins in the conference this year.
At best maybe they are looking a few more against the likes of James Madison and Old Dominion. But this is a team that is finishing in the bottom tier of the league.
So by bottom tier, I must have actually meant second in the league.
You read that correctly: Towson has gone from 1 and a billion to a 4-1 record in the Colonial, and are second to George Mason.
If you want to talk about a team playing for pride, that doesn't have the nickname Pride, then you need to be talking about Towson. Remember that the Tigers aren't going anywhere after the final game of the season. A low APR score will be keeping them home in March.
But they can certainly make the conference look foolish if they can not only contend for the regular season title, but win it.
And they are on track to do something like that right now because of one man: Jerrelle Benimon. The Georgetown transfer has gone from bench role player to the most important man on the Towson roster, and potentially the player of the year in the conference.
Forget guys named Massenat, Hagins and Wright. The real deal plays for the Tigers.
We can start with his numbers from KenPom: a top 200 shooter all-around, one of the best rebounders at both ends of the floor, and blocking 6.6 percent of the shots against him.
And those are the advanced stats. If you want to know what he means to this team, just look at how many categories in which he leads the Tigers: points, rebounds, assists, blocks. And he is second in steals.
Bottom line, without Benimon -- who we graded out in HOOPWAR not too long ago as a 8.1 win player -- this team is looking a lot like last season's 1-31 embarrassment.
That got us wondering if anyone could have seen this coming from Jerrelle, especially back at Georgetown. Since we helped out Casual Hoya, we asked if they could answer a few questions about Benimon for us. Andrew to the rescue. Here is our conversation:
Mid-Major Madness: Jerrelle Benimon has been so good so far this season that he is being considered a leading candidate for player of the year in the Colonial. Now the Colonial is not the Big East by any stretch, but are you surprised at how well he has done?
Casual Hoya: Can I curse on this site? Because if so, then absofuckinglutely! Jerrelle's success at Towson has been one of the bigger but least publicized stories of this college basketball season. Benimon was a nice role player for the Hoyas but no one and I mean NO ONE could have foreseen this kind of output from him. The Hoya fanbase is very happy for him and the success he's having because he always gave 100% on the court when at Georgetown. He wasn't very good, of course, but he's a good kid and we wish him well.
MMM: Do you think that JT3 regrets allowing the transfer seeing as how well Benimon has blossomed in his new home, especially since he likely has to read about it when the Post deigns to cover Towson every now and then?
CH: It's tough for me to get inside the mind of JT3, but clearly he saw something in Benimon to recruit him to Georgetown in the first place. Given the relative lack of frontcourt depth on the Hoyas this season, it wouldn't surprise me if JT3 hums some casual Sinatra while shaving in the morning:
Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
MMM: If you could have Benimon back, how well would he fit back into the Georgetown scheme?
CH: I don't know how adept he is as a passer, but Georgetown could certainly use Jerrelle's bruising play and physicality in the paint. Even if he were to average just 8 and 8 or something to that effect in his earned minutes, that would have been a big help on this year's squad.
MMM: If he was still there and getting 80 percent-plus of the available minutes, do you think he could have been just as productive in Washington, vs. up the road in Maryland?
CH: Easy there, Tiger. No chance he would be getting the same minutes and be putting up the same gaudy stats at Georgetown as he is at Towson. At the end of the day the CAA is the CAA, and though Jerrelle has developed into a nice player and one who might even sniff a pro roster if he continues on this trajectory, I don't think he'd have the same impact at a high major.
MMM: Do you think that Benimon can sustain his performance?
CH: I'm sure that when Towson starts to see teams a second or third time he'll see a lot more double teams and such, so that might effect his numbers. But he may evolve as a player as well. The danger for Towson is if he begins to force things to keep up his scoring averages as they may have an effect on the team's performance.
MMM: Do you think the transfer and/or Benimon's subsequent success was actually motivated by a fake girlfriend who may or may not be dead as we write this?
CH: How can you be so sure that I am not a fake blogger who is sending you these answers from beyond the grave? Also, you are very pretty.
So there you have it straight from the fake blogger's mouth: Benimon is good and no one could have seen this coming, no matter the difference in talent level between the Big East and the CAA.
And I am pretty, so there's that.
Someone on Twitter described Deadspin as an irreverent look at sports last night. You could pretty much use the same term about Casual Hoya. But seriously: go read their stuff. They knock it out of the park every time.