Rockets Heading to Detroit This Weekend for Three Games at 2K Sports Classic Subregional
• Toledo (3-0) looks to continue its red-hot start to the 2013-14 campaign when it travels to Detroit, MI for three games in three days in the 2K Sports Classic Subregional at Detroit’s Calihan Hall (8,295). The Rockets will face Stony Brook (3-1) on Friday, Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m., the host Titans (2-2) on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. and Florida Atlantic (1-3) on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
• The Rockets are averaging a MAC-best 92.0 ppg and have posted home wins over Northwestern Ohio and Florida A&M along with a road victory over Boston College.
• UT has won its first three games in a season for the first time in 10 years. The Rockets opened their 2003-04 campaign with five victories.
• All five of Toledo’s starters are averaging in double figures in the scoring column, led by junior G Julius Brown at 18.0 ppg. He is followed by junior G Justin Drummond (16.7 ppg), senior G Rian Pearson (15.3 ppg), sophomore C Nathan Boothe (11.0 ppg) and junior F J.D. Weatherspoon (10.7 ppg).
• Brown is also dishing out a team-high 9.7 apg and has a sparkling 4.8 assist/turnover ratio. He registered his second-straight double-double and sixth of his Rocket career with 18 points and 11 assists in UT’s win over Florida A&M.
• Toledo owns a plus-11.0 rebounding margin with Boothe and Weatherspoon topping UT with 5.7 rpg and Drummond at 5.0 rpg.
• UT is shooting a red-hot 55.3 percent from the field led by Drummond and Pearson with 68.0 and 61.3 marks, respectively.
• Winners of America East’s regular-season title three times in the last four years, Stony Brook is off to a 3-1 start with home wins over Marist, Haverford and Northeastern and a road defeat at Indiana.
• Senior G Anthony Jackson leads the Seawolves with 18.0 ppg, while sophomore F Jameel Warney is averaging a double-double with 16.0 ppg and 10. rpg.
TOD THE BUILDER
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk posted a seven-win improvement from Year 1 (10-20) to Year 2 (17-11) at Green Bay. He doubled that feat and more at Toledo in the 2011-12 campaign as UT registered 15 more wins than his first season at the Rocket helm. Last year, Kowalczyk guided Toledo to a 15-13 ledger as the Midnight Blue and Gold tied for first place in the MAC’s West Division. He now has UT in position as one of the favorites to capture the league title and put the Rockets into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.
When looking at his career record minus his first season at the helm at both Green Bay and Toledo, Coach Kowalczyk’s record is 163-122 (.572) overall and 86-64 (.573) in conference play.
ROCKETS IN THE POLLS
Toledo moved up 12 spots to No. 10 in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll following its 95-92 win at Boston College on Nov. 14. The Rockets received 366 points and are one of six MAC schools to appear in the poll with Akron ranked No. 12 and Ohio (91), Kent State (82), Western Michigan (41) and Eastern Michigan (16) receiving votes.
The Rockets are also a near-unanimous pick to win the MAC’s West Division. UT received 24 first-place votes and 149 points in the conference’s preseason poll, while Akron was tabbed as the East Division winner with 18 first-place votes and 143 points.
TOLEDO REGAINING HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE ...
Toledo has won 16 of its last 21 home games (including 10 of its last 13 vs. MAC opponents) dating back to 2011-12 and was 8-4 last year. UT posted an 11-8 ledger in Savage Arena in 2011-12 for its first winning home record since the 2007-08 campaign when it registered a 9-3 mark. After experiencing just one losing home campaign (7-9 in 1991-92) in the previous 51 years, the Rockets notched 6-7, 4-11 and 4-12 win-loss marks for a combined 14-30 (.318) ledger over the previous three years (2008-11) in Savage Arena.
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk posted a 76-28 record (.731) at the Resch Center during his eight-year Green Bay tenure. In his last three seasons, the Phoenix were even better at home by posting a 35-9 (.795) win-loss mark.
Prior to the last three seasons, UT had posted a 55-8 (.873) home record for a five-year period from 2003-08 and was 107-23 (.823) on its homecourt from 1998-2008.
... AND ROAD SUCCESS STARTING TO DEVELOP AS WELL
The Rockets have won three straight road tilts dating back to the 2012-13 season as well as five of their last six games as a visitor. Toledo won four of its last five road contests last year with wins at Ball State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan and its only loss at Buffalo.
UT’s success on the road is a welcome departure from a four-year stretch (2007-11) that saw the Rockets win just one true road game out of 63 contests. Included during that period was a 47-game road losing streak that ended on Nov. 20, 2011 at Texas-Pan American.
PROTECTING THE BALL
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk places a high emphasis on keeping turnovers at a premium and that attention to detail played a big factor in UT’s 95-92 win at Boston College. The Rockets committed just six turnovers in the contest and are averaging just 11.0 miscues per contest in their first three games.
Toledo committed 13.6 turnovers per contest in 2011-12 and an even more impressive total of 12.0 miscues per game in 2012-13.
Kowalczyk’s teams at Green Bay averaged fewer than 14.0 miscues per game in each of his last seven seasons at the Phoenix helm, including an impressive 11.7 in 2006-07 and 12.4 in 2009-10. The Rockets averaged 15.9 turnovers in 2010-11 (with just seven scholarship players on their active roster) and ranked last in the MAC with a minus-4.26 turnover margin.
PEARSON LISTED ON LOU HENSON PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Rian Pearson is one of 25 student-athletes to be named to the Lou Henson Preseason All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com. The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in Division I college basketball. The award is named in honor of Lou Henson who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years.
A Raytown, MO native, Pearson has earned NABC All-District 14 as well as All-Mid-American Conference honors the last two seasons. He has ranked among the MAC’s top three scorers the last two years (1st in 2011-12/16.4 ppg & 3rd in 2012-13/17.9 ppg) and also appeared in the Top 10 in rebounding (3rd in 2012-13/8.3 rpg & 8th in 2012-13/6.8 rpg).
PEARSON SEEKING A THIRD ALL-MAC SELECTION
Senior G Rian Pearson is in his final season as a Rocket and looking to become a three-time All-MAC recipient. Pearson is averaging 15.3 ppg and a team-high 3.0 spg this season but saw his career-high 15-game streak of scoring in double digits end with a nine-point effort at Boston College on Nov. 14.
Pearson has earned first-team NABC All-District 14 each of the last two years and was a first-team All-MAC honoree as a junior and second-team All-MAC selection as a sophomore. He ranked third in the MAC last year with 17.9 ppg to go along with a team-high 6.8 rpg (8th in MAC) and 1.7 spg (6th in MAC) and scored a career-high 30 points against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 28).
Pearson also registered four double-doubles in 2012-13 (14 career) — 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals vs. UIC (Dec. 29), 29 points, season-high 14 rebounds vs. EMU (Feb. 9), 18 points and 12 rebounds at CMU (Feb. 16) and 21 points and 11 rebounds vs. McNeese State (Feb. 23).
Pearson tied for the MAC scoring lead as a sophomore with 16.4 ppg and ranked third with 8.3 rpg (1st with 2.9 offensive rpg). Pearson was a strong defender as well, leading the team with 1.6 spg (T-6th in MAC) and tying for third in the MAC with 1.9 spg in league games only. He tied a school record with seven steals to go along with 19 points and seven rebounds in a career-high 38 minutes vs. Ball State (Jan. 10).
Pearson notched 12 20-point outings in 2011-12 and ranked second in the MAC with 10 double-doubles.
RUNNING THE SHOW
Junior G Julius Brown is off to a quick start this season and averaging a team-high 18.0 ppg and 9.7 apg. He scored a game-high 23 points and dished out 10 assists in UT’s win at Boston College (Nov. 14) and followed that up with 18 points and 11 helpers in a home victory over Florida A&M (Nov. 18). Brown now has six double-doubles in his career.
Brown took over the reins of Toledo’s high-powered offense right from the outset of his collegiate
career in 2011 and has started every game as a Rocket. He has dished out seven or more assists on 30 occasions in his career (career-high 12 vs. Eastern Michigan) and set a school record for most points scored (427) by a freshman in school history.
After capturing 2011-12 MAC Freshman of the Year honors, Brown followed that up by earning third-team All-MAC accolades as a sophomore. Brown ranked second in team scoring with 13.1 ppg (11th in MAC). He also led the Rockets with 6.0 apg (2nd in MAC) and is the first UT player to average over 5.0 apg since Keith Wade tallied 6.0 apg in the 1990-91 season.
The conference leader in league play with 6.9 assists per game and a sparkling 2.9 assist/turnover ratio, Brown was selected MAC West Division Player of Week the opening week of league play after he averaged 14.0 ppg, 9.5 apg and 6.5 rpg in UT’s wins at Kent State (Jan. 9) and vs. CMU (Jan. 12).
SMITH AN INSIDE-OUTSIDE THREAT FOR ROCKETS
Senior F Matt Smith, who ranked third on the team last year with 9.8 ppg and fourth with 3.6 rpg, topped the MAC last season with a 44.4 3PTFG% (36-of-81) and ranked third with an 83.1 FT% (59-of-71). He scored a season-high 20 points at Cleveland State (Dec. 1). His second-best offensive output came with 19 points (including 5-of-6 three-point shooting) in a road win over Ball State (Jan. 30). Smith had a streak of 22 consecutive free throws end at NIU (Feb. 2). He also grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and scored nine points vs. UIC (Dec. 29) to just miss recording his first career double-double.
Smith ranked sixth in the MAC in 2011-12 with a team-high 54.0 FG%. The Whitewright, TX native raised his level of play against the MAC’s East Division, averaging 10.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg with an 86.4 FT% (19-of-22) in UT’s eight contests. Smith scored his MAC season-best 18 points and grabbed six boards against Ohio (Feb. 8).
Smith has come off the bench in UT’s first three games and is averaging 5.0 ppg and 2.7 rpg with a 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from three-point range.
WHAT’S NEW FOR THE ROCKETS ON THE FLOOR
The Rockets gained the services of a pair of junior transfers, guard Justin Drummond from Loyola (MD) and forward J.D. Weatherspoon from Ohio State, for the 2013-14 season as well as the freshman trio of center Zach Garber, guard Jordan Lauf and guard Jonathan Williams and redshirt freshman forward Aubrey Williams.
Drummond and Weatherspoon each have started their first three games for Toledo. Drummond ranks second on the team with 16.7 ppg and third with 5.0 rpg, including a 20-point effort in UT’s win at Boston College on Nov. 14. Weatherspoon is averaging 10.7 ppg and is tied for the team lead with 5.7 rpg and tallied a career-best 13 points and four rebounds in UT’s win over the Eagles.
J. Williams and Garber each reached double figures in their first collegiate contests and are averaging 7.7 and 5.0 ppg, respectively. Williams scored 15 points against Northwestern Ohio, while Garber contributed 11 points vs. the Racers. Lauf is averaging 2.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.7 apg and 1.0 spg.
ON THE HORIZON
Toledo will take nine days off before returning to action with a home matchup vs. Detroit on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. The Rockets will then return to the road to battle Robert Morris in Moon Township, PA on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4:00 p.m.