2014-2015 Overall Rank: #75
Conference Rank: #1 Mid-American
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Toledo went 14-4 in MAC play last season and ended up with an impressive 27 wins. Just about any way you look at it, it was a great year for the Rockets. But that did not lead to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Toledo did not play well against Western Michigan in the MAC championship game and lost 98-77. They followed it up with another loss in the NIT to Southern Miss. Julius Brown should lead this team to another big year. The point guard led the Rockets with 14.9 points and 6.0 assists. Brown makes this team tick offensively and this is one of the best scoring offenses in the nation.
2013-14 Record: 27-7, 14-4
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Tod Kowalczyk
Coach Record: 65-65 at Toledo, 201-177 overall
Rian Pearson is a significant loss. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.3 rebounds during his senior season. His scoring is replaceable, but getting that much production on the glass from another 6-4 guard will be tough. The only other departure is Matt Smith, a 6-7 forward who averaged 11.0 minutes per game. Frontcourt depth could become an issue without Smith around.
With four starters back and three reserves who were part of Coach Tod Kowalczyk’s regular rotation, Toledo will not need much from their newcomers. But they will get production from Dre Applewhite once he is eligible in December. The transfer from Mississippi State averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12 games with the Bulldogs before opting to head to Toledo. The 6-5 wing is a good all-around scorer and a very strong rebounder for a player his size. Incoming freshmen Kurt Hall, a 6-6 wing, and Stuckey Mosley, a 6-3 guard, should have time to develop their games. Angel Aparicio, another guard, could suit up for the Rockets this year after missing last season with an injury.
Who to Watch:
Brown will be the star of this team, yet there is plenty of other talent on the perimeter. Justin Drummond was right behind Brown in the scoring column, averaging 14.2 per game. He is not the best shooter around, but Drummond is very efficient inside of the arc. Jonathan Williams figures to step into a starting role this year with Pearson gone. The 6-3 sophomore was usually the sixth man last season and is ready for a bigger role. Williams likes to shoot, but made only 32.4 percent of his attempts from long range. He is much better than that number, but the Rockets would like to see more consistency and, perhaps, more attacking of the basket. With a year of experience under his belt, Williams should be able to do both of those things. Jordan Lauf, another sophomore, figures to step into the sixth man role. Lauf is more of a slasher and is also a very good rebounding guard. Lauf basically plays like Drummond and is a great replacement on the wing, but Coach Kowalczyk could also play a little bigger on the perimeter at times with Lauf and Drummond. At the least, that combination would be much more effective on the glass.
Most of the rebounding will go through J.D. Weatherspoon and Nathan Boothe. Weatherspoon, a 6-6 senior, averaged a team high 6.6 rebounds and added 10.6 points per game. Boothe, a 6-9 center, was not far behind Weatherspoon in either category. Boothe has been pretty consistent during his two years with the Rockets and could be looking at a breakout season. He is also the team’s best shot blocker and a defensive menace when he can stay out of foul trouble. And staying out of foul trouble will be more important this year since frontcourt depth could be the one thing that keeps this Toledo team from reaching the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore center Zach Garber will have to provide most of the frontcourt minutes off of the bench.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Julius Brown, Senior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Jonathan Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Justin Drummond, Senior, Guard, 14.2 points per game
J.D. Weatherspoon, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Nathan Boothe, Junior, Center, 9.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.2 (20th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 73.2 (261, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.6 (54, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 46.1 (288, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (227, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.5 (159, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.5 (77, 2)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (109, 4)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (42, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (23, 1)