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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 17th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Toledo Rockets

 

Overall Rank: #84

Conference Rank: #3 MAC

 

2005-06: 20-11, 10-8, 2nd (t) West

2005-06 postseason: none

 

Toledo started to turn things back around last season, but still lacked consistency.  With a group of upperclassmen leading the way, the Rockets should compete with anybody in the conference.  However, the Rockets have had disappointing seasons in the not too distant past.  Toledo won seven of their last eight regular season games and made a great run in the MAC Tournament before bowing out to Kent State in the finals.  With much of the team returning, Toledo is hoping to keep that momentum going.

 

Who’s Out: Forward Anton Currie started 23 contests and averaged 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds as a senior.  Part-time starter Sammy Villegas, who averaged 6.0 points in a disappointing senior season, has also run out of eligibility.

 

Who’s In: Shane Ross can provide some depth up front right away.  He has plenty of room to improve but the 6-7 power forward will battle inside and can step out and hit the short jumper.  Depth in the front will be an issue with little experience behind Florentino Valencia and Jerrah Young.

 

Who to Watch: Kashif Payne, Justin Ingram and Keonta Howell are an experienced group in the backcourt.  Payne, a 5-9 junior, is a quality ballhandler and can use his speed to create opportunities for his teammates.  On the defensive end, Payne is a nuisance to the opposition.  Ingram, who led the squad with 14.6 points per game last season, will take the big shots for Coach Stan Joplin.  His long range shooting was inconsistent last season, and any improvement in that department will be quite helpful.  Howell, a 6-4 wing, has the strength to muscle people on the inside and the touch to hit the three-ball.  If the Jackson, Michigan product continues to improve, his senior season could be a big one. 

 

Final Projection: At times last year the rebounding was non-existent.  Of course the guards can get in on that, but mot of the blame has to be placed on Valencia and Young up front.  Valencia, who averaged 12.0 points and a team high 4.4 rebounds, needs to use his toughness to get on the glass.  Young averaged less than 16 minutes per game his first season at Toledo after transferring from West Virginia.  He is known for his rebounding, and with increased playing time, the 6-7 forward should answer most of the questions on the glass.  Keep an eye on sophomore guards Jonathan Amos, Tyrone Kent and Ridley Johnson.  All three showed potential during their freshmen campaigns and if they all continue to improve, the backcourt depth will be second to none in the MAC.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Kashif Payne, Junior, Guard, 8.4 points per game

Justin Ingram, Senior, Guard, 14.6 points per game

Keonta Howell, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game

Florentino Valencia, Senior, Forward, 12.0 points per game

Jerrah Young, Junior, Forward, 3.6 points per game

85 Penn State » Complete List » 83 UAB

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