Rockets to Open 2013-14 Campaign on Sunday with Exhibition Contest vs. Hillsdale
TOLEDO, OH — Rocket fans can receive their first glimpse of the 2013-14 Toledo men’s basketball squad when it hosts NCAA Division II foe Hillsdale College in an exhibition contest on Sunday, Nov. 3. Tip-off time is set for 3:30 p.m. in Savage Arena and admission is free for the game. The Toledo women will host Ashland prior to the men’s contest at 1:00 p.m.
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk is entering his fourth season at UT’s helm and has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround since his arrival in 2010. UT registered the second-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I Basketball in 2011-12 with its 19-17 win-loss mark and followed that up by sharing the Mid-American Conference West Division title with Western Michigan last season.
The Rockets return four starters from last year’s squad, including all-conference guards Rian Pearson (17.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Julius Brown (13.1 ppg, 6.0 apg), who were named to the West Division preseason All-MAC squad. UT’s other returning starters are 2012-13 All-MAC Freshman Team center Nathan Boothe (8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and senior forward Matt Smith (9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg).
Toledo is a near-unanimous favorite to win the West Division this year after receiving 24 first-place votes and 149 points, while Akron was tabbed as the East Division winner with 18 first-place votes and 143 points. The Zips also garnered 14 votes to win the FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament with the Rockets receiving seven votes.
Located in Hillsdale, MI, the Chargers posted a 17-10 win-loss mark last season, finishing second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s South Division with a 13-9 mark. Following Sunday’s contest vs. Toledo, Hillsdale will head to Bloomington, IN for a contest vs. Indiana.
The Chargers nearly pulled out a win at Valparaiso last Saturday but ended up on the short end of a 69-60 decision. Hillsdale led the Crusaders by a 34-29 margin at the half but an 11-0 Valpo run gave the hosts a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Sophomore forward Kyle Cooper paced HC with 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting from the field. Senior forward Tim Dezelski added 16 points and nine rebounds with 12 of his points coming in the first half.
The Rockets open their regular season on Saturday, Nov. 9 with a home game against Northwestern Ohio before venturing to the East Coast for a matchup at Atlantic Coast Conference foe Boston College on Thursday, Nov. 14.