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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

October 30th, 2006

Toledo Head Coach: Stan Joplin


Last year, Toledo was one game away from reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in Stan Joplin's 11 year tenure.  Despite multiple 20 win seasons, NIT trips, and MAC West titles, Toledo still hasn't reached the promise land in 25 years.  With just about everyone returning from last year's team, this could finally be that year.


Shawn Siegel (CHN): What will the strengths and weaknesses of this years team to be?

Stan Joplin (SJ): The strength of our team will obviously be in our perimeter players. I think we have some pretty good ones with Justin (Ingram), Kashif (Payne), Keonta (Howell) and our three sophomores Jonathan (Amos), Ridley (Johnson) and Tyrone (Kent).


We have some versatility, and they are all pretty athletic and those positions are interchangeable. Im hoping that our sophomores will become better players with experience, because they obviously have some skills and athletic ability. Another strength we have is inside with Florentino Valencia because he can score in the post and demand a double team.


Our biggest weakness is our rebounding. Our big guys just didnt rebound last year and Keonta Howell should be able to help us in that area now that he is completely healthy after having some issues with his shoulder last year.  We have to do a better job on the boards and have a big year from our post players. Tino (Valencia) and Jerrah (Young) both need to do a better job rebounding, and were hoping Shane Ross can come in and help us on the boards also.



CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out as being an unheralded leader and contributor?


SJ: Keonta Howell does a good job for us in the leadership department.  He leads by example and is sometimes overlooked, but he is someone that is a valuable member of our program. Kashif Payne is headed in that direction as well and its important for him to do that as our starting point guard.



CHN: Who is ready to take their game to the next level to replace the seniors?


SJ: I think our three sophomores (Jonathan Amos, Ridley Johnson and Tyrone Kent) really have a chance to blossom. Its hard to say which one specifically because they each have a lot of talent and potential. They should give us a lot of flexibility. With their athletic ability, they can rebound and defend, and I think they bring some toughness to the team.



CHN: What should we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?

SJ: Shane Ross is our only newcomer this year and he should be able to help us on the boards and knock down some perimeter jump shots. He gives us another big body and I expect him to be in the playing group and get some playing time right away.



CHN: Are you pretty well settled with your starting lineup? If not, what should be the biggest battle for a starting spot?

SJ: Were going to start Justin Ingram, Keonta Howell and Kashif Payne in the backcourt with Florentino Valencia and whoever can rebound the ball in the frontcourt.  The last starting spot will come down to Jerrah Young, Haris Charalambous and Shane Ross. I think Haris might surprise some people. Hes lost almost 20 pounds and is in much better shape this year. Were also hoping that with Jerrah being 100 percent healthy that hell be able to have a better year also.



CHN: How does this year's schedule compare to recent seasons in terms of difficulty?

SJ: Our schedule this year is the toughest in my 10 years at Toledo and it may be the most difficult in school history. Were playing at the Paradise Jam with a field that includes Villanova, Alabama, Iowa and Xavier. We also have games at Kansas, Vanderbilt, Missouri State, Drexel and Oakland and home games vs. UNC-Wilmington and Detroit. We really didnt have a choice with how our schedule turned out and we had to take the teams that we could. Were going to have to come out of the gates playing well, because were going to be facing some tough opponents.



CHN: Realistically, discuss what your goals and hopes are for this season: 


SJ: Our goals are always to win a Mid-American Conference championship and go to the NCAA Tournament at the minimum get to the NIT Tournament.  If we could win 20 games with the schedule were playing that should help us accomplish our goals.


CHN: Good luck coach.


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