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NCAA countdown: No. 58 Toledo
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On August 28, 2013 @ 7:50 am In NCAA,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The First Word: The road to the top is never easy, and that’s especially the case when you inherit a program that lived in the basement of the Mid-American Conference with three consecutive losing seasons. Factor in scholarship reductions in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and a postseason ban last season, and you’ve got the hole that coach Tod Kowalczyk has been digging out of since his arrival in Toledo in 2010.
Now, daylight has arrived.
Following three years of NCAA punishment for poor Academic Progress Rate (APR) figures, Toledo finally has a clear-cut path to success, and Kowalczyk plans to take full advantage of it as he welcomes key transfers Justin Drummond (Loyola-MD), J.D. Weatherspoon (Ohio State) to a potent roster returning four starters.
2012-13 in Review: 15-13 overall (10-6 MAC, tied for first in West Division).
Path to the Dance: Winning the MAC Tournament for an auto-bid. The Rockets will have to go through defending champion Akron, which still remains a fully loaded, well-coached team. Ohio, a Sweet 16 finisher in 2012, is another stalwart not to sleep on with more talent available this upcoming season. And Western Michigan will be a serious challenger in Toledo’s West Division of the MAC.
Tournament Projection: No. 14 seed.
Coach’s Corner: “I feel really good about this team. We’re deep, athletic and a lot of guys can score the basketball. We have versatility. We’ve gotten a lot more skilled over the last year. I think the biggest questions for us this year are can we become more disciplined defensively? Can we share the basketball and play without egos? Our motto is one team and one goal. That’s what it’s gotta be.” — Kowalczyk
Star Watch: Senior Rian Pearson (17.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) returns as the team’s top scorer the past two seasons after transferring from Wisconsin-Green Bay. He’s joined in the backcourt by small-but-mighty point guard Julius “Juice” Brown (13.1 ppg, 6.0 apg), the 2012 MAC freshman of the year. Sophomore big man Nathan Boothe (8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) is expected to have a breakout season after a productive freshman campaign. Forward Matt Smith (9.8 … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 58 Toledo, click here.]
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