The Toledo Ice of the American Basketball Association is set to tip off in November, and has brought back a hometown hoopster to guide the team.
Melvin Newbern, who played a Scott High School and the University of Minnesota, will guide the Ice through its inaugural season as coach and general manager.
"This is a great honor for me," Newbern said. "I can't say how wonderful it is to come back home. It's great to see a professional franchise coming to Toledo. I think it's about time, with all the talent we have here."
Newbern will be joined by assistant coaches Sean Reed and Steve Corrgens. Thirty-five players from the area and around the country attended the start of training camp a few weeks ago at Tam O'Shanter. That number has been whittled down to 15, but new players are still arriving.
No players have been signed, but within the next couple of weeks, a roster of 10 players and two alternates will be finalized. St. John's Jake Beck, Scott's Rob Sanders and Jeremy King, Bowsher's Keith Triplett and Aaron Bates, and Emmanuel Baptist's Lionel Armstead are among those vying for spots.
The Ice is part of a recent explosion of teams in the ABA, which currently has 49 franchises spread across the country.
"We want to help the league get past the 'semi-pro' tag," said Chris Dotson, head of sales and marketing for the Ice. "The ABA is a professional league, and we want to make our name as that."
The start of the season, originally scheduled for the first week of November, has been pushed back due to the damage Hurricane Katrina has caused in the area of some league teams. The ABA is still retooling the schedule to accommodate the needs of those affected by the disaster.
The Ice will begin its ABA season at the Detroit Wheels on Nov. 12. The home opener is Nov. 26 when the Ice welcomes the Kentucky Colonels.
Home games will be played on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. at the SeaGate Centre. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the SeaGate Centre box office. Single game ticket prices are as follows: $8 for general seating, $12 for courtside and $20 for floor tickets. Season ticket prices are $120 for general, $180 for courtside and $320 for floor seats.
The Ice will play 18 home games. BCSN will televise the games, and fans can listen on 97.3 and 107.9 FM as well.