University of Toledo men's basketball coach Stan Joplin is planning for a year devoid of individual stars in favor of solid team basketball to fight for a Mid-American Conference crown. That theory was evident last night as the Rockets topped Wayne State 85-65 in Toledo's only exhibition game of the year.
"We don't want anybody to play over 25 minutes a game, unless they're just having a super night," Joplin said. "The one thing we have this year is pretty good depth, and when we go to the bench, those guys have to play well."
True to his word, he played no one more than 21 minutes last night. Each of the 13 available Rockets saw playing time, with 11 scoring. Toledo's bench scored 44 points.
Sophomore Jerrah Young, senior Sammy Villegas and junior Keonta Howell led the way with 11 points apiece. Freshman Jonathan Amos chipped in with 10.
Toledo started fast, building a 27-10 lead after the first 10 minutes. The Rockets took advantage of missed shots by the Warriors and won the early battle of the boards.
The Rockets stalled, however, after Villegas drained a 3-pointer to make it 33-15 at the 7:21 mark. The Warriors took advantage of Toledo turnovers and quick, missed shots to rattle off eight in a row to cut the Rockets' lead to 10.
Freshman Tyrone Kent ended the scoring drought with a jumper with 1:12 left in the half, and the Rockets eventually took a 39-23 lead into the break.
"When they got it down to 10, we weren't sharing the basketball," Joplin said. "We shot too quickly, we weren't getting post touches and they pushed us around a bit."
Wayne State again cut the lead to 10 after the first three minutes of the second half, but the Rockets pulled away from there, leading by as many as 22.
"I think we wore them down," Joplin said. "We were productive off the bench, while they have five guys who played at least 28 minutes."
The Rockets outscored the Warriors 42-18 in the paint, but Joplin feels his team still needs to be stronger inside after grabbing just 35 boards to Wayne State's 31.
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