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HomeSportsUT
Published: 7/4/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Coaches getting time with team

Rule change allows offseason work

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tod Kowalczyk. Tod Kowalczyk.
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Tod Kowalczyk spent some of Tuesday morning standing beneath a basketball hoop at Savage Arena, giving shooting lessons to University of Toledo newcomer Justin Drummond.

Justin Drummond. Justin Drummond.
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Eliminating wasted motion in Drummond's release was the objective.

In past summers, college coaches such as Kowalczyk would have been barred from such activity, leaving players like Drummond to repeat poor habits until coaches were granted access to their teams at the start of the school year. Under an NCAA rule change, coaches are allowed to work with their players for two hours a week for eight weeks in the summer, a change that leaves Kowalczyk -- and presumably his contemporaries across the country -- happy.

"It does so much," Kowalczyk said. "First of all, it helps build their skill level, but more importantly it helps build relationships. I think when players and coaches work together on their individual games, that's where relationships start. I think it gives us an ability to be closer to our players both on and off the floor."

All but one player enrolled in the second summer session last week, a requirement to participate in workouts. J.D. Weatherspoon, a transfer from Ohio State, is finishing up course work in Columbus and will arrive on campus in the fall. He and Drummond, a transfer from Loyola Maryland, will be eligible in 2013-14 after sitting out next season.

Benefitting the most from the rule change, theoretically, are four newcomers. Drummond, the sixth man of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is trying to add an outside shot to his slash-and-drive game. He made just 25 percent of his 3-pointers last season, a number Kowalczyk believes can grow to 40 percent.

In past years, Freshmen Nathan Boothe, Aubrey Williams, and Josh Lemons would have been forced to play pick-up games with their teammates. As is, they're working on finer points, such as setting and coming off of screens, and getting instruction from coaches along the way.

"I've been really happy with the three freshmen," Kowalczyk said.

Lemons, a guard from Cincinnati, is an able defender who needs refinement on offense, Kowalczyk said. Post players Boothe and Williams have undergone body changes, with Boothe down 30 pounds to 240 and Williams also checking in at 240 after gaining 20 pounds of quality weight.

"I think they're a little further along, a little bit better, than we thought they'd be at this point," Kowalczyk said.

2013 RECRUITS: Per NCAA rules, Kowalczyk is not allowed to comment on the three recruits UT picked up on June 24, but it's evident he's excited about the addition of Napoleon's Jordan Lauf, Vanlue's Zach Garber, and Southfield-Lathrup's Jon Jon Williams. All three were high on UT's radar and spurned offers from other Mid-American Conference schools.

"We're really happy where our recruiting is at," Kowalczyk said. "I think certainly with us having success on the court and the second best turnaround in the country [an improvement of 15 wins], we've turned some heads, and I think that's impacted our recruiting. Our hard work in targeting the 2013 class is paying off."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.



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