Towson State's basketball history contains so many dark and dreary moments that the school has chosen to eliminate all except the last 19 years from the official records.
But there is no chance that the tale of this year's Tiger terrors will be expunged.
Towson is roaring. The Tigers have raced to a 25-1 record, 23 straight victories and, best of all, an unprecented No. 1 ranking in the weekly NCAA Division II poll.
"Hell, we were never even ranked before," said coach Vince Angotti, "and now we are No. 1. When you've never been there before, it takes some getting used to."
So far, the lofty rating fits the Tigers perfectly. They're beaten opponents by an average of almost 14 points a game, even when Angotti has called off his herd of kangaroo jumpers midway throught the second half.
One of the few thorns in their claws has been neighboring Baltimore University, currently ranked sixth. The Bees have lost only three games, each to Towson, and the schools could meet twice more, inlcuding in tonight's final of the Mason-Dixon Conference tourney at Towson.
Those three meetings were thrilling enough to make Angotti wonder why Towson has to prove itself against BU anymore. The first and second games were decided by one point, the third by three points. "But you just don't know how many times you can go to the well," said the Towson coach.
No matter what happens in the tournament finale, Towson is guaranteed a berth next week in the NCAA regional playoffs, which also is conveniently set for the Tiger lair. That's where Towson and the Bees could go at it once again.
Until then, Angotti and his players are enjoying all the trappings of success: new fans, increased publicity and, yes, added pressure.
It helps that Towson is the kind of loosey-goosey team that has a hard time recognizing pressure. The Tigers are hardly monsters - their front line goes 6-foot-7, 6-7, 6-5 - but, as Angotti have quickness galore.
"We aren't physical but we run very well," he said. "Other teams have very few big kids who can get up and down the court like ours can. With our quickness, we pose a tremendous amount of problems for opponents."
Six-foot-7 senior Pat McKinley is the leading leaper, averaging 12 rebounds and 16.5 points a game. Six-foot-5 junior Brian Matthews, a tough with 17.6 a game and is second in rebounds with 10 an outing. And 6-7 junior Bobby Washington, a Suitland High graduate, adds nine points and seven rebounds every time out.
McKinley, Washington and Matthews were all standouts on last year's 19-10 club, until now the best in school history and its highest-scoring ever. Angotti, who also had 6-3 sophomoe guard Savia Sharp returning from that team, knew good times were head if only he could recruit a standout point guard.
He did, although he had to outalk some major schools to land 6-3 Roger Dickens, a transfer from Baltimore City College who never played high school basketball. It helped that Dickens had long-standing friendships with McKinley and Matthews.
"We've had only one losing season in 11 years here but never this kind of talent," said Angotti. "Roger just tied everything together. You never can envision a No 1 ranking, but I knew when he decided to come here, we had a shot at a great year."
Dickens is averaging 16 points and five assists and is the fuel that ignites the Tiger fast break. Like the rest of his teammates, he also thrives on Angotti's agressive man-to-man defensive teachings ("I don't even teach them a zone.").
The success of the basketball team continues what already has been an incredivle sports year for Towson. The Tiger football team talked its way into the NCAA Division III playoffs - it was unranked - and went to the title game, losing on a last-second field goal. And the lacrosse squad is one of the favorites for the Division II national title.
"Suddenly, we are the darlings of North Baltimore," said Angotti. "But hey, we aren't knocking it."