By: Matt Hamilton, Sports Editor
The Tigers had a historic run during the 90s that included reaching the NCAA tournament twice, winning 155 games and being expected to win their conference most years. The successes came largely in part from former Head Coach Terry Truax.
Truax, who coached at Towson from 1983 to 1997, died Feb. 16 in Fairfax, Virginia after suffering a stroke. He was 70 years old.
He finished with a 202-203 record with the Tigers, helping them transition into three different conferences and making the NCAA tournament in 1990 and 1991.
“I think Terry came in and took a program that was in its infancy as a Division I school and built them into a mid-major or low mid-major power,” Sprio Morekas, the radio announcer for Towson basketball, said. “Terry Truax is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of Towson basketball, there’s no question.”
Truax got his start in basketball playing alongside Gary Williams at Maryland. He served as an assistant coach at DeMatha Catholic School, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Mississippi State before joining Towson as a head coach.
Towson hired Truax to replace Vince Angotti, the program’s leader in wins with 231. It was only four years prior that Towson was a Division II basketball school.
Morekas met Truax soon after he was hired at a student-run radio station and spoke with him on one of his shows.
“He came in and we did the talk show,” he said. “He was confident then that he could turn the program around.”
It took five losing seasons before Towson began to find success in the East Coast Conference. After finishing second in the conference in 1989, Truax led Towson to its first-ever NCAA tournament bid in 1990.
The Tigers almost shocked No. 1 Oklahoma in the first round, eventually losing, 77-68. However, it was just the beginning of Truax’s winning ways with the Tigers.
He led the team back to the tournament in 1991, led by Devin Boyd and Lewis Walker. There, Towson lost to No. 5 Ohio State by a score of 97-86.
It was a historic two years for Truax and his team, but Morekas said he didn’t change his mind set.
“Terry’s demeanor never changed,” Morekas said. “You couldn’t tell if we were on a winning streak or a losing streak. He was an even-keeled guy. But he had a tremendous wit to him, and that was with him whether we were winning or losing. He was just a good guy to be around.”
The next few years were disappointing for Towson basketball and for Truax. Towson won the regular ECC regular season title in 1992, but failed to make the tournament.