2012-2013 Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #3 MAC
Toledo Team Page
Toledo went from four wins in 2010-2011 to 19 in 2011-2012. And that was with a limited amount of scholarships for Coach Tod Kowalczyk due to poor APR ratings. The APR bug is hitting again this year with a postseason ban, so the Rockets will not be able to build off of their CIT berth of a season ago with another trip to the postseason, but they will keep improving. The good news with the postseason ban is that Toledo has only one senior on the roster. This group has an entire season to build chemistry and will be back in 2012-2013 for a big run at a MAC title. For now they will play spoiler.
2011-12 Record: 19-17, 7-9
2011-12 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Tod Kowalczyk
Coach Record: 23-45, 159-157 overall
Curtis Dennis is the only major loss for the Rockets. He was the sixth man for Coach Kowalczyk and could quickly provide an offensive spark off of the bench. This is not a team that had much depth due to the limited scholarships, so losing any experienced player will hurt. Somebody else who can knock down the long ball and get to the basket will need to step up and fill in for Dennis. The only other player not returning is Zack Riddle and he averaged less than three minutes per game in just ten contests.
The Rockets will need to get some depth out of their newcomers. However, this is not a big recruiting class with just three players eligible right away. Toledo does have a couple transfers in J.D. Weatherspoon from Ohio State and Justin Drummond from Loyola (MD) that must sit out this season. The two things Coach Kowalczyk needed to get out of this class were size and a backup point guard. The size comes with 6-9, 250 pound center Nathan Boothe and 6-7 forward Aubrey Williams. Boothe may not be a polished big man quite yet, but he does have the size and girth that this team needs in the paint. The backcourt is pretty crowded as it is, but Josh Lemons could see some action at the point. The Rockets survived last season when point guard Julius Brown needed a break, so they can do the same this time around if Lemons is not ready.
Who to Watch:
And it is Brown who will lead the talented group on the perimeter. Brown averaged 11.9 points and 4.9 assists as a freshman. His turnover numbers were a little high at times, but that is not surprising for a freshman. With a full year of starting experience under his belt, Brown should be able to keep the turnovers down. Brown is an outside shooting threat and is not afraid to finish himself around the basket either. With a little more consistency on his jumper, he will be a dynamic scoring threat on top of a fine point guard. Dominique Buckley is the pure shooter of the bunch and knocked down nearly 42 percent of his attempts from long range. Reese Holliday started 24 of the team’s 36 games and proved to be a decent scorer and a fine rebounder on the wing. However, it is Rian Pearson who allowed the Rockets to play small for most of the 2011-2012 season. Pearson is only 6-4, but led the team with 16.4 points and an impressive 8.3 rebounds. He is not much of a shooter, but he can obviously score in bunches. Ideally Pearson will play on the wing, which he did plenty of last season with the 6-4 Holliday manning the four spot. With improved frontcourt depth, Pearson should be able to concentrate more on scoring while the others can worry about hitting the glass. Pearson will still get plenty of rebounds and that could make this a great rebounding team.
But how much time Pearson and Holliday can spend on the wing where they belong depends on the development of the frontcourt. Matt Smith, a 6-7 junior, had a decent year, but he is much more of a power forward who can stretch out the defense than a bruiser under the basket. Smith did well to play the role he had to play, yet he generally played better when he was at the four spot. DeLino Dear and Richard Wonnell, both 6-9 centers, were thrown into the starting lineup on occasion to address just that problem, but neither were able to hold onto that role. As upperclassmen, Dear or Wonnell may be able to step up their game, but it will be just as tough to take out one of the guards in favor of Dear or Wonnell. However, those two will be on the floor at times whether they start or not and Coach Kowalczyk can play the situations and get the bigger bodies in there when needed.
Projected Postseason Tournament: None
Projected Starting Five:
Julius Brown, Sophomore, Guard, 11.9 points per game
Dominique Buckley, Senior, Guard, 9.7 points per game
Rian Pearson, Junior, Guard, 16.4 points per game
Reese Holliday, Junior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Matt Smith, Junior, Forward, 8.6 points per game