Shooters Shoot: Towson's Fobbs Excelling For The Tigers

Shooters shoot. 

It’s a simple, yet enduring philosophy in basketball that presumably dates back to some time shortly after Dr. Naismith first nailed a peach basket to the Springfield YMCA balcony. 

In the 2019-20 season, Towson guard Brian Fobbs has embodied the mindset. A proven scorer and leader for the Tigers, he came into the campaign off a 17.5-point per game 2018-19. And Fobbs has continued on that course this year, hitting for double-figures in each of Towson’s first eight games. 

Watch Towson vs Elon LIVE Jan. 23 on FloHoops

That stretch speaks to Fobbs’ versatility as a scorer, as he went the first five games without making a 3-pointer. He went 6-of-40 from outside through the first nine games. 

But while finding other ways to score, Fobbs has maintained an approach on his deep shot. 

“Just keep shooting my shot, don’t think about it,” he said. “Be shot-ready and keep being aggressive.” 

He broke out in a big way against UMBC on Dec. 10, hitting 7-of-9 from outside en route to 33 points. Two games later, he knocked down another 3-of-7 for 24 over a Tulane bunch that just a week later gave nationally ranked Memphis all it could handle. 

The Tulane win rounded out a tough non-conference slate for the Tigers, which included four teams ranked No. 74 or better in the rankings. It’s a schedule Fobbs said was beneficial preparing Towson for the Colonial Athletic Association, giving the Tigers “confidence that [they] could play with anybody.” 

And confidence is the underlining theme of that "shooters shoot" mentality, which extends beyond Fobbs. 

“We went through some patches where we didn’t shoot the ball great,” Tigers coach Pat Skerry said. “But we had some good players who worked at it and we wanted them to keep shooting.”

Armed with knowledge that the shots would fall, Towson’s outlook has come to fruition in the CAA. The Tigers ride a four-game winning streak into a road swing through Elon and William & Mary, with an opportunity to claw into a wildly competitive title race. 

Watch Towson vs William & Mary LIVE Jan 25 on FloHoops 

Towson is averaging 77.3 points per game in this run, and Fobbs has set the pace with games of 16, 28 and 21 points. He went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in his 28-point outing, an 89-73 defeat of Drexel. 

“That’s a credit to him,” Skerry said of Fobbs. “He works at it, and we want him to keep taking good shots.”

And as Skerry noted, part of taking good shots -- particularly from long range -- is a byproduct of how the offense is functioning from inside the arc. 

In this age of analytic approaches placing a higher premium on the 3-point shot, it can be easy to overlook how much more effective an offense functions when operating from inside-out. That was not lost on Skerry’s staff. 

“More as a staff, we focused on doing a better job finishing closer to the basket, and then are we delivering the ball on time and on target to our shooters?” he said. 

You see the results when that clicks reflected in the numbers. Take Towson’s two highest-scoring games in the current winning streak, against Delaware and Drexel. The Tigers shot 52.8 percent from inside the arc against Delaware, 39.1 percent beyond it, and 18 of the team’s 28 made buckets were assisted. 

Against Drexel, Towson made two-thirds of its shot attempts inside the arc, and just below 37 percent outside the line. Seventeen-of-26 makes came via assist. 

Fobbs isn’t the only Tiger heating up, either. Allen Bertrand has hit at least 16 points in every game since Dec. 20, and is averaging 18.3 per during the winning streak. Against Delaware, Juwan Gray and Nicolas Timberlake both scored double-figures off the bench. 

Nakye Sanders shot 5-of-7 from the floor and added 15 points in the win over James Madison. 

The balanced scoring coming as a result of sharing the ball offers a reflection of the make-up of this Tigers team, as Skerry explained. 

“They’re talented, they’re competitive, and they’ve worked hard,” Skerry said. “They have good chemistry.” 

What’s more, the offense coming alive as it has effectively complements what was already an outstanding defense. Towson leads the CAA in adjusted defensive efficiency. 

Shooters shoot, but champions defend. And as Skerry put it, when a team’s defend well and the shots start to fall, teams gain some separation. 

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