Towson Has Edge On All Of The Rest

Posted: March 03, 1990

With the competition so evenly matched in the East Coast Conference basketball tournament, which begins today, Towson State may be the team to beat - mainly because it will be playing on its home court.

Only one game separates the top six seeds, as Towson, Lehigh and Hofstra finished 8-6 in the conference, while Drexel, Delaware and Lafayette finished at 7-7. But in a conference where the home teams have won 43 of 56 (76.8 percent) games, the Tigers definitely have an advantage. At home, Towson State has a record of 20-3 over the past two seasons.

Drexel enters the tournament on a mini-roll, having won four of its last five games. The sixth-seeded Dragons open up against Lehigh tonight at 7:30. This season, Drexel split its games with the Engineers - winning at home and losing in overtime on the road.

"This is about as even as a tournament can get," said Drexel coach Eddie Burke. "For instance, in the first round, every team has split with their opponent. That means every coach can realistically say to his team, 'Hey, we've beaten these guys before, we can do it one more time.' The tournament is a trilogy, though, and you have to get past the first one."

This will be the last ECC tournament for three schools. Bucknell, Lehigh and Lafayette will join the Patriot League next year. University of Maryland- Baltimore County and Central Connecticut will be the additions to the ECC.

Here is a look at the tournament field:

TOWSON STATE. (No. 1 seed) - A couple of factors make the Tigers (15-12 overall, 8-6 in the conference) the favorites heading into the tournament. Along with the home-court advantage, they've also been the hottest team in the league over the last few weeks, having won six of their last eight. Senior guard Kurk Lee led the conference in scoring for the second straight season, averaging 25.6 points per game, and is joined by sophomore Devin Boyd (12 points, 3.7 assists) to give the Tigers the best backcourt in the ECC.

HOFSTRA. (No. 2 seed) - Butch Van Breda Kolff's Flying Dutchmen (13-14, 8-6) try to create a deliberate tempo and keep the game in the sub-70s. Senior guard Frank Walker, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, returned to average a team-high 15 points this season. Junior forward Derrick Flowers chipped in with 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.

LEHIGH. (No. 3 seed) - The Engineers have the best forward tandem in the conference with Church Farms School's Dozie Mbonu (14.9 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Bob Krizansky (16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists); both are sophomores. Lehigh was this season's surprise team, and David Duke has been named the ECC coach of the year. Picked to finish seventh in the preseason conference poll, the Engineers tied for first place with Towson State and Hofstra.

LAFAYETTE. (No. 4 seed) - Senior center Matt Roberts (10.5 points, 4.6 assists) plays the high post and helps control the Leopards' disciplined half- court game. Lafayette (15-12, 7-7) gets the bulk of its scoring from its two guards. Senior Andy Wescoe, an all-ECC first-team selection, averaged 15.3 points per game, and junior Bruce Stankavage, from Central Bucks East, added 14.3 points a game.

DELAWARE. (No. 5 seed) - The Blue Hens (15-12, 7-7) like to apply heavy defensive pressure on the perimeter, create turnovers and run the ball. Sophomore forwards Mark Murray and Alexander Coles have combined for nearly 26 points and 11 rebounds a game. Tournament pressure is mounting on Delaware; it

hasn't won a tourney game since 1980.

DREXEL. (No. 6 seed) - The Dragons (13-14, 7-7) like to spread the ball around and have four players averaging in double figures. Senior guard Todd Lehmann, who led the nation in assists with 256, is the high scorer with a 16.6 average. Cardinal O'Hara's Chris Arizin, a forward, averaged 14.3 points per game, guard Michael Thompson contributed 12.9 and Jon Raab kicked in 10.3, with a conference-high field-goal percentage of 58.9 percent.

BUCKNELL. (No. 7 seed) - The defending tournament champions have two all- ECC first-team players this season but still wound up as only the seventh seed. Playing an up-tempo game, the Bisons (14-13, 6-8) are led by senior forward Greg Leggett (20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) and senior guard Mike Joseph (18.0 points, 6.4 assists).

RIDER. (No. 8 seed) - The young Broncs (10-17, 5-9) are the only team not being given much of a chance in the tournament. Rider doesn't have a senior on its roster and has not won an ECC road game in 23 tries. Top performers have been freshman guard Darrick Suber (12.7 points) and junior forward Jim Cleveland (11.7 points).

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