CLEVELAND - For the first time in his 11-year career, University of Toledo coach Stan Joplin was named the Mid-American Conference coach of the year.
Joplin, who coached the Rockets to their first outright MAC regular-season title in 27 years on Sunday, received 25 of 50 votes from the MAC News Media Association to win the award.
UT finished 14-2 in the league, tying a school record for MAC wins. The Rockets were 8-0 at home in the conference and beat every team in their division twice.
The most recent UT coach to win the award was Bob Nichols in 1980, the last year the Rockets played in the NCAA tournament.
"I've always told the players, don't worry about individual awards," Joplin said. "If we win as a team, individual awards will take care of themselves."
When practice started last October, the Rockets had to cope with junior Haris Charalambous' sudden death. Also, Allen Pinson did not return to the team because of a medical condition.
The losses were challenging emotionally as well as what it meant to the makeup of the team.
"We had to go to a completely different style and use our athletic ability as much as we possibly could," Joplin said. "I knew we were going to have a good year. I didn't know we would play this well in the league, to be honest with you."
Joplin, whose career record at UT is 191-134, credited seniors Keonta Howell and Justin Ingram for using their desire to return to the MAC championship game as a way to keep their younger teammates in check.
"Keonta and Justin really set a good example for the rest of the players," Joplin said. "They allowed me to coach the team. When your best players are hard on themselves, they make the other players fall in line. I really didn't have very many problems as far as the little things."
Joplin said he thought Central Michigan's Ernie Zeigler and Eastern Michigan's Charles Ramsey did some of the best coaching jobs in the MAC this year.
Akron coach Keith Dambrot was the next highest vote-getter with eight. Zeigler, Kent State's Jim Christian and Miami's Charlie Coles also received votes.
Other end-of-season MAC awards will be announced today and tomorrow.
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