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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Rockets win, but rebounding troubles Joplin

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo's Tyrone Kent drives to the basket against Ferris State last night in an exhibition game at Savage Hall. Toledo's Tyrone Kent drives to the basket against Ferris State last night in an exhibition game at Savage Hall.
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In the University of Toledo's closed scrimmage against Cleveland State on Saturday, coach Stan Joplin felt the Rockets had taken the needed steps in improving rebounding from last season. UT controlled the boards against a taller team, led by junior Jerrah Young, who grabbed 14.

Last night Joplin felt the Rockets took a step back on the glass. Using 62 percent shooting, UT beat Ferris State 97-71 in an exhibition game at Savage Hall. But the Rockets were outrebounded 36-34 and allowed Ferris State to grab 18 offensive rebounds.

"We stood around and we didn't do a very good job rebounding," Joplin said.

"That's really pathetic and we basically have the same team coming back, so we have to do a better job in that area."

Senior Keonta Howell led the Rockets with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Howell, the Rockets' third-leading scorer last year at 11 points a game, also led the Rockets with five rebounds.

"We're a small team and we've got to get better than that," Howell said. "We'll be facing taller teams and we're really going to have to box out or we'll get killed on the boards."

In front of about 200 fans, UT's three post players, Florentino Valencia, Young and Shane Ross, combined for just seven rebounds and each finished with four fouls.

"They're calling the game tighter in the low post and we have to get used to it," Joplin said.

With Justin Ingram and Kashif Payne playing limited minutes, UT's sophomore trio of Tyrone Kent, Ridley Johnson and Jonathan Amos controlled the game on offense. The three seemed to have polished their games in the offseason, all scoring in double figures.

Amos started and had 14 points and three steals. He displayed an improved jump shot, hitting 7-of-9 from the floor.

"I worked on my shooting in the offseason, I got in the gym with [Howell] and Justin and let the leaders show me how to do it," Amos said.

The teams played a regular-season game last year and Ferris State kept it close, pulling within four points midway through the second half before UT took over to win by 12.

It was close for a while in the first half, but a Howell dunk off an Amos baseball pass 5 1/2 minutes before halftime put the Rockets ahead by 13 and the game effectively in hand. But Joplin was displeased with transition defense in the second half, when UT outscored Ferris State just 46-41.

It was the debut of Ross, a 6-foot-7 freshman from the same high school in Lansing, Mich., as Ingram. Ross had seven points and displayed his shooting range, hitting a 3-pointer with a minute left in the game.

The Rockets open their season Saturday at Missouri State. Their first home game isn't until Dec. 16 against UNC-Wilmington.

"We know this is our only game in November, so we wanted the fans to see something before we came back in December," Amos said.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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