The University of Toledo's basketball teams open pre-season practices tonight with a Rocket FanFest at Savage Hall. The admission-free event will begin at 7.
Men's coach Stan Joplin and women's coach Mark Ehlen will introduce their players. The men will stage a slam-dunk exhibition and the women a shooting exhibition before both teams hold 10-minute individual scrimmages.
Joplin's men return three starters - seniors Sammy Villegas and Anton Currie, plus junior guard Justin Ingram - and a total of eight letter-winners from a team that went 16-13 overall and tied for first in the MAC West Division.
Villegas was named to the preseason first-team All-MAC West Division team for the second straight year, according to voting announced yesterday by the MAC News Media Association.
Toledo has two key newcomers, 6-7 forward Jerrah Young, who sat out last season after transferring from West Virginia, and 6-5 freshman guard Tyrone Kent from Chicago.
The UT women return 11 of 12 players from last season, including guard Danielle Bishop, who was named earlier this week to the All-MAC preseason team.
"We've done this before and it's a fun night for our players and the fans," Ehlen said yesterday of the FanFest. "They can share in the excitement of a new season and it's an upbeat start to things."
Tonight's FanFest opens with an autograph session. At 7:30, all kids in attendance will be invited onto the floor to participate in the shooting of a Rocket Kids Club TV commercial.
ALMA-MATER MATCH: When UT's football team plays at Ball State tomorrow, the game will pit two of just 18 coaches in Division I-A who work for their alma maters. Tom Amstutz of Toledo played at UT in 1974-76 and has spent all but three seasons of his 28-year coaching career with the Rockets. Brady Hoke played at Ball State from 1977-80 and is in his third season as the Cardinals' head coach. Ironically, Hoke was UT's outside linebackers coach in 1987-88, two seasons that Amstutz was absent from the Toledo staff.
Other head coaches working at their alma maters include Mike Shula (Alabama), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Chris Ault (Nevada), Rocky Long (New Mexico), John Bunting (North Carolina), Chuck Amato (North Carolina State), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh), Tom Craft (San Diego State), Jeff Bower (Southern Mississippi), Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), Karl Dorrell (UCLA), Al Groh (Virginia), Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), and Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia).
UT ROUNDUP: The golf teams posted high finishes in national events earlier this week. The Rocket men had their best performance of the fall season with a fourth-place tie at the Gary Koch Invitational in Tampa. Led by a 10th-place individual finish by sophomore Ciaran McAleavey (72-71-70-213), UT forged a tie with LSU and South Florida at 3-over. Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M finished 1-2-3. .●.●. The women's squad was fifth in the Shootout at The Legends in Franklin, Ind. Tammy Cleland, a sophomore, tied for fifth individually with rounds of 74-71-73-218. .●.●. The UT women's soccer team, fresh off a weekend sweep of Akron and Ohio, continues its homestand with games against Buffalo (4 p.m. today) and Kent State (1 p.m. Sunday). Last weekend's sweep marked the first time in the 10-year history of the program that UT won two MAC matches in the same weekend. Sporting one of the MAC's top defenses, the Rockets have allowed 13 goals in 13 games. .●.●. The women's swimming and diving team opens its season today at 4 by hosting an intrasquad Blue-Gold Relays. Coach Lars Jorgensen led the Rockets to a 7-2 record a year ago, but he'll be coaching numerous newcomers this season. UT does return Brie Henning and Liz Hinkleman, relay and freestyle specialists, and butterfly ace Makenzie Manard.
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