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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2010

Pistons' Monroe ready to lead revival

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The last time the NBA's Detroit Pistons played in Toledo, the “Bad Boys” reigned as two-time defending NBA champions.

Pistons rookie forward Greg Monroe and Washington Wizards rookie guard John Wall weren't even born.

Furthermore, the Wizards were a franchise known as the Bullets.

Twenty-one years later, the Pistons will return to the Glass City to play the Wizards in an exhibition contest on Tuesday night at the Huntington Center. Tickets for the game are available at the Huntington Center Box Office (419-321-5007) and at all TicketMaster outlets.

Monroe, a 6-foot-11 post player, was selected No. 7 overall in the NBA Draft in the spring. The 20-year-old, who starred at Georgetown University, has displayed plenty of all-around skills and versatility. He has averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench during the Pistons' preseason contests.

“It's been going well,” Monroe said. “I'm just trying to go out and make sure I know all the plays and do whatever I can to help us win.”

Monroe, recognized as one of the most skilled big men in this year's draft, joins a Pistons team with a roster that includes veterans Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, and Richard Hamilton — leftovers from a Detroit team that played in back-to-back NBA Finals, winning the 2004 championship. The roster also includes veteran guards Ben Gordon and Tracy McGrady.

However, the Pistons are coming off a disappointing 27-55 record a year ago, which resulted in Detroit drafting Monroe among the lottery selections.

Monroe believes he can step in as a rookie and help turn around the franchise, which missed qualifying for the playoffs the last two years. He also believes the players are on the same page along with second-year coach John Kuester.

“Everybody has the same goal and that is to win and get back to the playoffs,” said Monroe, who was among a group of Pistons representatives that recently visited Toledo's Birmingham Elementary. “I'm just bringing in a big man who can make plays.”

Yet, Monroe said he doesn't feel any added pressure to produce immediately because he was selected among the NBA's Top 10 picks. He thinks his time mixing it up in the Big East Conference has helped him prepare for the pressure, as well as the rigors and grind, of the NBA.

“The Big East is a very tough conference,” Monroe said. “Pound for pound, it's one of the best conferences ever.

“With this organization, it's definitely about being tough.”

As far as taking on the Wizards and Wall, the 20-year-old rookie says he's looking forward to the meeting in downtown Toledo.

It will represent the first time he'll play against Wall.



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