2019 Year In Preview

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Compiled by: Kerry Ingram, Mary-Ellen Davis, Megan Clark, Aaron Thomas, Glenn Kaplan, Jordan Kendall, Timothy Klapac and Brooks Warren

The Towerlight examines events and initiatives set to take place in 2019. Join us as we peek into the future and predict what will happen in the upcoming year.

Construction continues

Since last spring, Towson has seen significant changes to its appearance with the start of major construction projects campus-wide. These projects, including a new Science Complex and renovations to the University Union, are set to continue in the coming years.

The Science Complex, slated for completion in 2020, is no longer a hole in the ground. Its frame now stands tall and will continue to form and take shape throughout 2019. It will feature 50 teaching laboratories, 30 research laboratories and an outdoor classroom leading into the Glen Arboretum.

University Union renovations have also started. The rear entrance of the building has been blocked off for the beginning of phase one, which will add a 85,000 square foot expansion to the existing building. During this phase, the University Store will be moving to the second floor.

Over the next year, campus detours will also continue to change. Be aware by watching for sign postings near affected areas of campus.

TU to debut new branding in January 2019

Beginning in 2019, TU will have its first new logo in more than 20 years. Announced at President Kim Schatzel’s Fall Presidential Address in October, the new logo is the culmination of 18 months of work by community members campus and statewide. For Schatzel, the new logo is meant to spread the contemporary story of Towson and is part of her presidential initiative, “TU Matters to Maryland.” The new branding will launch campuswide beginning in January.

New Towson gear will also be coming to campus, hitting the shelves of the University Store in January. Students should watch for t-shirt swaps and other similar events, where they can trade in old Towson gear for items with the new logo on them.

Professors and staff will also be given the opportunity to phase out the inventory they already have, such as letterhead, through the end of 2019.

Towson theatre productions take off

Towson University’s Center for the Arts will be putting on “The Electric Baby” this coming spring. The play tells the story of a young man who dies in a car wreck, and a group of “fractured souls” who come together to care for his magical baby. The production will run from March 6  until March 14. The university’s theatre department will also be showing the musical “Merrily We Roll Along” in spring 2019. The musical is based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, about the ups and downs that come with friendships. The musical is told in reverse, starting in 1976 and ending in 1957, making it unique from traditional musical formats. The show will run from May 2 to May 11. Tickets for both shows will be available for purchase at the TU Box Office in the spring. All proceeds will benefit the TU Foundation.

Looking ahead to Tigerfest 2019

Tigerfest is an annual week-long music and arts festival at TU that reflects student life and culture. The event is usually held during the third week of April, but the dates for this spring have not yet been determined. Tigerfest usually includes arts, athletic events, a concert at SECU Arena and The Big Event, a large community service project for students to participate in. The 2018 fest included karaoke, art exhibits, Earth day events and the biggest concert event of the year, with performers Dave East and Young Thug. Other usual attractions of Tigerfest include alumni meet-ups, club sport tournaments and lectures by special guests. 2018’s keynote speaker was Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams. Towson’s Campus Activities Board (CAB) will be hosting a live Tigerfest Survey Tuesday, Dec. 4, for students to give their input on who should perform at the Spring’s concert. The survey will take place from noon to 3 p.m. in the University Union.

TV shows and movies set to premiere

A lot of new content is hitting screens this spring. January will welcome several reality shows, including “The Masked Singer,” a new talent competition where celebrities sing in head-to-toe costumes while viewers and panelists are challenged with having to guess their identity, and “The Titan Games,” a mental and physical obstacle course led by actor Dwayne Johnson. February will introduce the world to “Proven Innocent,” a new legal drama on FOX, while late spring will showcase the return of “Showtime at the Apollo,” hosted by Steve Harvey. As for the big screen, the flicks dropping in the coming months are ones audiences have been waiting for. March 8 will bring the release of “Captain Marvel,” allowing the Marvel Cinematic Universe to finally have a female superhero movie under its belt. Avengers 4, with its official title still being kept from fans as a way to build anticipation towards the film, will be released May 3. Will Smith makes his magical debut as The Genie in Disney’s Aladdin remake, which drops later that same month.

New albums on the way

Backstreet’s back this spring, with the Backstreet Boys dropping their latest album, “DNA,” on Jan. 25. Meghan Trainor will also be releasing her album, “Treat Myself,” that same day, bringing her classic bluesy-pop sound to tracks meant to empower those who listen. On March 1, Weezer will release their self-titled black album, followed by British singer Dido’s new album, “Still on my Mind,” being released the following week. Despite there being a short list of confirmed album dates for spring 2019, there are a ton of records fans are anticipating specific dates for. Artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Dua Lipa, Maxwell and Lana Del Rey are all still holding out release dates, however, have each notified that new albums are coming in the new year.

Fashion trends to look out for

The new season is going to be all about beauty compromises and fashion risks. Trendy makeup looks for the spring are going to involve choosing one aspect to glam up while leaving the rest of the face bare and minimal. 70s-inspired shimmery smokey eyes will be paired with chapstick-covered lips; bright eyeshadow colors will be blended softly for a subtle look; metallic and glitter lipsticks will be popular, but in neutral shades. As for fashion, yellow will be continuing its takeover as the go-to color. PVC jackets are going to grow in trendiness as spring’s rainy weather approaches, with colorful options adding small doses of fun to otherwise plain outfits. Blazers will mean business come spring, with fashion trends ditching the cropped-and-colorful blazer look of years’ past for a more serious, black and structured approach, although with the intention of being paired in untraditional ways in order to add interest to outfits.

Football gearing up for next season 

Towson celebrated its 50th season of football with a 7-5 overall record and a return to the FCS playoffs after a five year postseason drought.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tom Flacco was a key component in the team’s turnaround. He won the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Offensive Player of the Year and was awarded the CAA Offensive Player of the Week three times. He was also named to the CFPA FCS National Performer of the Year watch list and named a Walter Payton Award semifinalist. He led the Tigers with his arm and with his feet, throwing for 3,258 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushing for 742 yards and four scores.

Redshirt junior running back Shane Simpson also was a key contributor, racking up 711 yards and six touchdowns. He also contributed in the passing game with 356 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Simpson also earned some recognition, winning the CAA Special Teams Player of the Year and capturing a first team selection at running back. He also earned second team honors at kick returner and third team at punt returner. He was second in all purpose yards in the FCS this season with 2,058. Towson compiled 11 All-CAA selections total.

The Tigers kickoff the 2019 football season on Aug. 31, as they travel to face The Citadel. Towson beat The Citadel 44-27 this season at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Baseball set to start In spring 

After finishing with a 13-42 record overall and a 6-17 record in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play last season, the Towson Tigers decided to make a change at coach. Matt Tyner will be in his second year as the coach. They have 16 freshmen and sophomores on the roster.

“There are a number of guys on the pitching staff that we feel will contribute,” Tyner said. “You got a number of freshman that will play prominent roles defensively and offensively. We are pretty young.”

One of the young players he praised about is freshman outfielder Javon Fields.

“He’s got an unlimited amount of potential,” Tyner said. “The young man is going to be a special baseball player.”

They will only have 10 returning players from last year’s roster and Towson will have a total of 33 players on the roster this season. A few of the key players they return from last season’s roster is, sophomore infielder Dirk Masters, senior pitcher Dean Stramara, and senior infielder Richard Miller.

“He went out this past summer and had an incredible year,” Tyner said. “He was the player of the year in the prospect league. His offensive numbers were off the charts.”

The Towson Tigers will have their work cut out for them when they start to practice before the season begins.

“You have to develop, you have to get stronger, you have to do all the right things before it turns into realistic expectations,” Tyner said. “We have a long way to go.”

The coaching staff doesn’t expect result to show right away.

“Their best baseball will not be in February and we understand that as a coaching staff and I hope our players do,” Tyner said. “We want their best baseball to be happening in the middle to the end of the season because we fully expect to be in the conference tournament this season.”

They will open the season on Friday, Feb. 15 on the road against the Davidson Wildcats. It will be a three-game weekend set down there. They will have another three-game weekend series the following week in Kennesaw State. Coach Tyner thinks it is a positive thing that they will start the season on the road.

“You’re going to get a chance to show our guys right out of the shoot, what type of grind this is and what kind of grind it can be,” Tyner said. “It also gives us a chance to grow as a team.”

Towson’s first home game will be against Lehigh on Friday March 1. It will be a three-game weekend series against them.

CAA play will start on Friday March 22 against UNC Wilmington at home for a three-game weekend series.

Men’s Basketball season outlook

Towson men’s basketball team have been showing the signs of a young team in the early part of the season. The Tigers (2-5) have started the season slow, only recording wins against Wesley College and Loyola University. The team returned home winless in three games during their trip to the Bahamas.

On the bright side, Towson has a ton of talent. It is all about putting these pieces together and continuing to improve with every game. Recently, the Tigers have seen good improvement in areas the team struggled with in the first two games. In Friday night’s loss to Vermont, Towson shot 19-of-22 from the free throw line and only committed two turnovers in the second half and 10 for the game. That is a huge improvement compared to the 25 turnovers the Tigers recorded against Pepperdine.

Towson will be able get their record right back at .500 with the next three games against George Washington, Morgan State and UMBC before school closes for winter break.

Women’s Basketball season outlook

At 3-3 with only five games remaining until Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play begins, Diane Richardson has the Towson women’s basketball program battle-tested after grueling non-conference schedule. The Tigers will be battle-tested after facing three Power-5  opponents in Wake Forest, No. 12 Syracuse University, and West Virginia.

Right now the Tigers are at a low-point, going through a two-game skid after losses to Mount St. Mary’s and George Washington. Kionna Jeter is on a scoring tear, averaging 23.3 points per game. Unfortunately, she’s been the Tigers main offense, Nukiya Mayo is the only player averaging double-digit production. In their latest, a loss against George Washington, Danielle Durjan and Nukiya Mayo complemented Jeter’s 17 point outing with 14 and 12 respectively. In order to prevent Jeter from hastily being worn down as the season chugs along, players like Qierra Murray and Jalynn Holmes must improve their efficiency and shot-selection.  

Coach Richardson will also continue to change the lineup as the season goes along. Ryan Holder and Aislinn Flynn were each inserted into the starting lineup vs George Washington and are candidates to see more minutes. Danielle Durjan, a starter from last year’s squad, has adjusted well to her sixth man role. Although her shooting percentage isn’t where she prefer them to be, Richardson has seen her veteran point guard take her role as a leader very seriously. She took pride in Durjan bridging chemistry between new and old players.

NFL Playoff Predictions

AFC

New England Patriots

If anybody fell for the classic Patriots stumble out of the gate in September, this should be a lesson learned, never doubt the Brady/Belichick combination. New England benefits from an easy division with their only tough game being against Minnesota at home, where they are unbeaten this season. Once again, the road to the Super Bowl will run through Foxborough.

Kansas City Chiefs

The story of the season has been the meteoric rise of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense. However, the defense has been a concern and the recent release of running back Kareem Hunt will be why Kansas City fails to keep up with New England for the top seed in the AFC.

Pittsburgh Steelers

After a rough start to the season, the Steelers have figured themselves out and look to be a contender once again in the AFC. Ben Roethlisberger has utilized the weapons around him and their defense has improved dramatically in recent weeks. The question will be if they can succeed on the road in January. Roethlisberger’s playoff pedigree is hard to ignore, so I’m giving the Steelers respect regarding a postseason run.

Houston Texans

Another team with a bad start to the year, the Texans caught fire and haven’t looked back as they are leaving the rest of the AFC South in the dust. The addition of Demaryius Thomas is paying dividends, giving Deshaun Watson more passing options which limits his risk of injury outside the pocket. Similar to Pittsburgh, Houston needs to steal a road game in January if they want to be playing in February.

Los Angeles Chargers

I feel for Philip Rivers, as he has been the most overlooked quarterback from that iconic 2004 draft. Everyone continues to ignore Rivers and the Chargers thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs and that other team in L.A. Due to their unfortunate stadium situation, the Chargers essentially play road games every week, meaning they won’t be impacted by being a wild team, and that is scary. They might have the most talented team overall and if they can stay the course while Melvin Gordon heals up from his MCL sprain, this team could be a dark horse in the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have gained a lot of attention after their wins over the Chargers and Steelers and the rest of their schedule might be the easiest in the league. This team could easily win out and snag the final wild card from the two AFC South teams that are too busy beating each other up to gain an edge, or the Ravens and their tough schedule.

NFC

New Orleans Saints

Arguably the team to beat in the NFL, the Saints seem to have it all. Although their remaining schedule is not easy, New Orleans is built for a deep run and should be the favorites the win the NFC, maybe even the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams

Certainly the flashiest team this year, it’s been fun watching the Rams pick opponents apart with their stacked offense. But their defense needs to step up if they expect to be a legitimate threat to New Orleans in the NFC. They have all of the right pieces, but they’re not all in place, yet.

Chicago Bears

I’m not sure why people still doubt if Mitchell Trubisky can be successful in the NFL. He’s been very efficient and has a stout defense that keeps opponents in check. If Trubisky can take his game to another level, Chicago would be a viable threat for the NFC title.

Dallas Cowboys

My heart aches writing about the Cowboys in such a positive way, but I can’t ignore the turnaround they have made. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have figured out how to balance their skills on offense and the emergence of Leighton Vander Esch gives the defense a healthy linebacker to get behind. Benefitting from a beat-up NFC East, Dallas is poised to take the division and host a playoff game. From there, anything is possible.

Seattle Seahawks

Although it will most likely go to Matt Nagy, Pete Carroll deserves consideration for Coach of the year after this season. Written off as the end of an era, the Seahawks have successfully established a strong running game behind Chris Carson, taking the pressure off of Russel Wilson to do everything. With all of their remaining tough matchups being at home, Seattle could ride the 12th man to a wild card.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have a tricky schedule to end the season, but so do the rest of the wild card contenders. Kirk Cousins is settling in nicely with John DeFilippo’s offense, and the passing game continues to improve week by week. Their defense has enough talent to make the big plays when needed, and that makes the difference down the stretch.

Super Bowl Prediction: Saints over Chargers

NBA Playoff Predictions

Eastern Conference Playoff Seeding

  1. Toronto Raptors – The team that has easily asserted themselves to the top spot in the East after the departure of Lebron James. With the upgrade from Demar Derozan to an MVP caliber player in Kawhi Leonard and a deep, playoff tested roster, the Raptors are perfectly set up to run the table.
  2. Milwaukee Bucks – Two Words: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Averaging 27.6 PPG and 13.2 RPG on almost 58 percent shooting, Antetokounmpo is and has been capable of leading his team to a top seed. This team’s playoff success will be predicated on strong play from his supporting cast in players like Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon as well as Antetokounmpo’s ability to close games.
  3. Philadelphia 76ers – With Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler all on the same team, it would be nothing less than a disappointment if they were a low seed in the weak East. They have a prolific facilitator, a dominant big man and a veteran All Star caliber finisher who they can trust to take them home in the final minutes of games. If they can sure of their bench and add some more shooting, they are significant threat.
  4. Boston Celtics – An underachieving team with too much talent to fall out of the conversation of top teams in the conference. In the regular season, having a lot of talent just extends how long a team must work on playing together, but come playoff time talent is the difference between being swept in the first round and making it to the conference championship. One thing the Celtics have over every other team in the league outside of the Warriors is their amount of talent.
  5. Detroit Pistons – To put it simply, Blake Griffin has been playing out of his mind and Andre Drummond has a chance of averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds per game by season’s end. Guard play on the offensive end is their biggest dilemma with Reggie Jackson being the only guard providing any scoring with 16 PPG, but their domination on the glass is what makes them a wild card come playoff time.
  6. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers are a gritty, team oriented team that plays well enough to make the playoffs. Victor Oladipo has proven that he is a viable number one option, but Myles Turner has yet to have that break out season. Turner’s ability to improve his current averages of only 11.3 PPG and 6 RPG is what will have the greatest impact on how far this team can go.
  7. Orlando Magic – This team has definitely improved, but they are still a young team. With all their length, athleticism and their ability to get out and run on the fast break, the Magic definitely have the talent to make the playoffs.
  8. Charlotte Hornets – Honestly, the Hornets will only make the playoffs because of Kemba Walker. Without Walker, the Hornets would be tanking their way to the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft so they could get Zion Williamson. But, with Walker playing like he never has before averaging 27 PPG, he has done/will do just enough to make them a playoff team.

Western Conference Playoff Seeding

  1. Golden State Warriors – Yes they have their fair share of injuries and locker room drama, but they are still far and away the best team in the league. They are currently fourth in the Western conference and that’s with Demarcus Cousins out for at least another month, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both out with injuries and Kevin Durant unofficially announcing that he may be leaving after this season. This team is just too talented, too battle tested and too well constructed to not dominate their way to the top of conference by the end of the regular season.
  2. Denver Nuggets – From barely missing the playoffs two years in a row to the top of the conference. The Nuggets are young, talented and play strong team basketball. Nikola Jokic has asserted himself as a primary facilitator at that small ball Center position, and their backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are both giving the Nuggets 17 PPG. This team has taken a significant step this season and I see them riding it out through the rest of the regular season.
  3. The Los Angeles Clippers – Easily the surprise team so far this season. Currently sitting atop the Western conference with a 15 – 6 record, the Clippers are far and surpassing expectations considering that they do not have a definitive super star and they were just a lottery team last year. With Tobias Harris leading the charge averaging 21 PPG, the Clippers have four players averaging double digit points and they are putting the league on notice that despite “Lob City”  being over, they are still a good team. This is the team that will end up causing the most problems considering that every night a different guy could gash you for 20+ points.
  4. Oklahoma City ThunderRussell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams are just that good. Granted that the Thunder have been the fourth seed every year since Kevin Durant left, but in the staying a top the Western conference after losing your best player is pretty good. This team has significantly improved defensively since trading away Carmelo Anthony and Dennis Schroder, who they acquired in the trade, is giving them almost 17 PPG which is exactly what Melo gave them last year, but on less shot attempts.
  5. Los Angeles Lakers – They have Lebron James on their team so regardless of the conference, the man is easily worth a playoff spot. They do not have consistent three pointing shooting, but they have a plethora of players who can create their own shot. Their young core of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart provide a fast paced, length on the defensive end and playmaking through their ability to move the ball and slash to the basket. Veterans like Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Javele McGee and Tyson Chandler will have a more prominent role during the last month or so of the regular season as they push towards the playoffs.
  6. Houston Rockets – Despite the significant drop off from last season, the Rockets still are a playoff caliber. Where they lack defense from players like Trevor Ariza and Mbah a Moute, they make up for through their ability to score the basketball in a hurry. James Harden and Chris Paul are both willing scorers that also have the ability to facilitate with the best of them. Although I do not believe they will go as far in the playoffs as they did last season, they still are a viable threat in the Western conference.
  7. Portland Trail Blazers – This team will make the playoffs just off of guard play. In a tough Western conference where there is an All Star caliber guard on practically every team, the Trail Blazers have two in Damian Lillard who is averaging almost 27 PPG and C.J. McCollum averaging a little over 21 PPG. This team can hang in a shootout with any team in the conference.
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves – Since trading Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, all the advance metrics show that Robert Covington has actually improved the Timberwolves’ defense. He may not be a star player, but he is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Not to mention that Derrick Rose is reviving his career this season by averaging almost 20 PPG on 50 percent shooting from the floor. They may just barely squeak into the playoffs by fending off teams like the Spurs, Pelicans and Jazz, but if they do, it will be because of the defense.

NBA Finals Prediction

I predict that the 2019 NBA Finals will be the Boston Celtics vs. the Golden State Warriors. Both teams will have to go through a gauntlet of teams that have players having MVP caliber seasons like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Kemba Walker, but considering the amount of talent on each team, they both will end up willing their way to the finals. Boston will make it after a hard fought seven game series against the Raptors and the Warriors will probably beat the Lakers in six games in the Western conference finals. When it is all said and done, the Warriors will defeat the Celtics in six games with strong performances from Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Demarcus Cousins. The difference in this finals compared to the last two is that I believe that Stephen Curry will rightfully earn his first Finals MVP award after averaging about 28 PPG, 7 APG and maybe 5 or 6 RPG. The Warriors will finish out the way we expect them to: at the top of the league where they belong.

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