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Published: Friday, 10/12/2007

Joplin on lookout to find new leaders for Rockets

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Joplin Joplin
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Stan Joplin isn t particularly worried about replacing the statistics that Justin Ingram, Keonta Howell and Florentino Valencia produced for the University of Toledo last season.

The Rockets basketball coach is more concerned with who will assume the leadership roles of the former players.

I ve definitely been spoiled the last couple years, Joplin said. We ve lost some valuable experience.

As far as leadership, everybody has kind of a different role. It s going to be an adjustment for some guys. The guys have showed flashes, but now they have to show consistency.

The defending Mid-American Conference champions will begin practicing tomorrow morning. UT is coming off its first MAC regular-season title in 27 years after finishing 19-13 overall and 14-2 in the league.

The women s team, hoping to rebound from an 11-19 record last year, starts practice tonight.

When UT takes the floor tomorrow it will likely be without three of its incoming freshmen, Corey Bingham, Paul Becklens and Terrence Tubbs. All are awaiting OKs from the NCAA clearinghouse to start practicing. It s unknown how much longer the process will take.

The clearinghouse determines initial eligibility and freshmen around the country have endured a slower process. For example, UT freshman tight end Danny Noble was recently allowed to begin practicing with the football team after months of waiting on the sidelines.

We think everything s going to be cleared up, but when, we don t know, Joplin said.

Joplin said he thinks junior Tyrone Kent could be one of the better players in the MAC this season. Last year Kent averaged 5.8 points and shot 35 percent from 3-point range. He will take over some of the scoring duties along with Jonathan Amos.

The Rockets will go with a big-men-by-committee approach, at least to start. Senior Jerrah Young is joined by freshmen Mohammed Lo and Justin Anyijong in the frontcourt. Joplin said Young is healthy after battling knee problems last year.

The Rockets open the season at home Nov. 10 against Missouri State. They will play an exhibition game Nov. 4 against Ashland at Savage Hall.

The UT women s basketball team has received a verbal commitment from point guard Morgan Harrington of Belleville, Ill. Harrington informed UT coach Mark Ehlen of her decision last week and plans to sign a letter-of-intent next month.

Harrington, 5-foot-8, averaged 11.5 points and 3.8 assists last season at Belleville East High School. She is entering her fourth year as a starter for coach Keith Padgett.

She has a knack for making the big play, Padgett said. She s so intelligent on the floor. I think coach Ehlen is going to like the way she runs the floor.



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