Allen Betrand (above) has had a breakout sophomore season at Towson, averaging 14 ppg. (Photo courtesy Towson Athletics)
Andy Jasner (@AndyJasner)
The athleticism was always evident.
Pat Skerry saw it. He admired it. He was fascinated by it.
When the Towson coach would watch Allen Betrand at Roman Catholic, he was fixated on the guard’s ability. Skerry was adamant about landing a player of Betrand’s caliber based on his incredible athleticism.
That showed during Betrand’s freshman season with the Tigers. During practices and games, Skerry would come away almost in awe of what Betrand could accomplish.
Fast forward one year to Betrand’s sophomore season and Skerry is even more impressed.
Betrand has combined athleticism with basketball skills and knowledge to become one of the most dangerous players in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Watching the development has been pure joy.
“I loved him when we recruited him,” Skerry said. “He was incredibly athletic, had toughness, creativity, size … I liked what he did with his AAU team, with Roman. He was finishing strong with the basketball. As a freshman, he had his good days and his days where he struggled. In his last 10 games, he became a very good player in conference play.
“I think he’s one of the guys who has made an important jump from year one to year two. He has put the work in to become an improved shooter. He’s really shooting the basketball well and he has become a leader on this team with the way he’s playing.”
Betrand is playing at an extremely high level. And it isn’t just Skerry who’s noticing. For the week ending Jan. 13, Betrand earned his first CAA award when he was named Player of the Week. The week before, Betrand was named to the CAA Honor Roll.
Honors like this only come from players who put countless hours in to refine their craft. This explains Betrand in every way.
“Hard work pays off,” said Betrand, who recently scored in double figures in eight straight, including a career-best 23 against Drexel. “I’m putting the work in the gym. I’m working on my game. I’m working on my conditioning, running a lot in the offseason.”
For the season, Betrand is averaging 14.0 ppg and 2.9 rpg, shooting 44.4% overall, 40.5% from deep (30-of-74) and 86.3% from the foul line (44-of-51). It’s a big step up from his freshman year (4.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, .355 FG%, .283 3PT%).
Towson (10-9, 4-3 CAA) scuffled a bit to a 6-9 start but has since won four in a row.
It’s no coincidence that the Tigers’ uptick has been directly correlated with Betrand’s stellar play.
“Allen is out there being a leader and not thinking about anything, he’s just playing and leading the team,” Skerry said. “The work he put in is showing in all areas of his game. It’s showing on offense and how he’s leading the team defensively. Watching the success has been great because you can just tell he loves playing. I’m proud of him for all that he’s done and where he’s heading.”
Betrand’s journey began at Samuel Fels before he spent his last two years at Roman Catholic, and he’ll never forget the lessons he learned.
Especially defeating Bonner, 51-49, in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship game at the historic Palestra. It was the third Catholic League title in four years for Roman.
Lessons of hard began for Betrand with that championship.
“I watch that game all the time on YouTube,” Betrand was saying. “It’s always going to be special for me. My teammates have watched it with me. I probably watch it at least three times per week.”
That type of motivation drives Betrand to reach a goal on the NCAA Division I level – reaching the NCAA Tournament. When Betrand has time alone, he’ll think about this goal. He wants it. He craves it.
He’ll do anything to attain it.
“Yes, I think about it (NCAAs) every day,” Betrand said. “We talk about it as a team, with the coaches. We want to win our conference and achieve this goal. We know we have to go one game at a time. That’s our goal – to win every game. The coaches have confidence in all of us. We’re a very confident team. We like how things are going now and we want to keep it going.”
What will it take to keep it going?
“Like I said, we just have to clean up the little things like little defensive mistakes,” Betrand said. “Defense wins championships. In a few of our losses, it was just the little things which hurt us – defensive mistakes or poor shooting. We’re working each day to get better and clean up everything to keep winning.”