Just a few months after he stepped on campus last summer as a University of Toledo freshman, Corey Bingham turned 21 years old.
But as Bingham quickly learned, being older than some of the Rockets' juniors doesn't mean he's let off the newbie hook.
"This program, they make you feel like you're a freshman," Bingham said. "You come here, you've got to play defense or you don't get on the court."
A 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard from the suburbs of Boston, Bingham has settled into his role for the Rockets. He's shot the ball well from long range in Mid-American Conference play, but he has also shown the ability to create energy and has even provided some vocal guidance for his teammates.
"Corey's trying to provide leadership, he's trying to encourage the guys by talking," UT coach Stan Joplin said. "I've got to give him a lot of credit. Sometimes he takes shortcuts and I'll jump him. But he's always back in the game."
Bingham is averaging four points and 2.2 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who host Western Michigan tonight at 7. In MAC play he's shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range and has made eight of his last 15 3-point attempts.
Bingham started five games earlier this year but has been the first player off the bench in MAC play.
"Coming off the bench, I try to see what's going on on the court and let the players know," Bingham said. "It's more comfortable because you get to see things that they don't see first."
Playing college basketball took longer than expected for Bingham. He played at Lynn (Mass.) High School and led his team to the state championship game his final year. But then he had to spend two years at Lee Academy, a prep school in Lee, Maine, to improve his grades.
"I was in a village, two hours away from Canada," Bingham said. "There was way more snow up there than there is here.
"I got to concentrate more on my work, there was study table. It was a great experience for me to learn and get away from home."
Bingham averaged 19 points a game at Lee and 27 points his final year at Lynn. He readily admits that when he came to UT, it was with experience on only one side of the ball. As his freshman year nears its end, things have changed.
"That was a real knock on him, that he wouldn't play defense," Joplin said. "He's done a pretty decent job, he's played solid for a freshman. I think he's learned a lot about defense and learned a lot about basketball. He's gone through that transition of learning what he has to do to be successful."
FAMILY NIGHT: Tonight is Family Night at Savage Hall and the entire family can be admitted to the UT-Western Michigan game for $5. The limit is 10 people per family.
MAC WOMEN: The first round of the MAC women's basketball tournament will now be split over two days, March 9 and 10. Two games will be played the night of March 9 and two the afternoon of March 10.
The UT women's basketball team will be either the fifth or sixth seed in the West division. The fifth seed plays at noon March 10 and the sixth seed at 7 p.m. March 9.
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