Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
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UT notes: Fletcher making case as MAC's top player

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Tre'Shaun Fletcher is turning heads in the MAC with his versatile play.

Blade/Lori King Enlarge

As University of Toledo senior Tre’Shaun Fletcher continues to show off his versatile game, his case for potential Mid-American Conference Player of the Year only strengthens.

Fletcher is third in the conference in scoring (18.8 ppg), third in rebounding (8.5 rpg), and fourth in assists (4.3 apg). He is the only player in the conference in the top 10 in those three statistics. It is hard to argue that there is someone more vital to his team than Fletcher.

With the season progressing, MAC teams are getting to see what UT coach Tod Kowalczyk has known all along: this Colorado transfer can really play.

Color Akron coach John Groce impressed. After Toledo’s blowout win over the Zips on Saturday, Groce gushed about Fletcher and everything he is able to do on the court.

“He’s really talented,” Groce said. “I watch him and he had a double-double against us in game one and didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but got to the free throw line and rebounded. He’s a really good rebounder per minute played. I just think he affects the game in so many ways. I think he has been a real difference-maker for them. From an outsider’s perspective, I watch him and just think he impacts the game with his rebounding, he finishes at the rim, mid-range, long-range, playmaking, assist-to-turnover. In league-play his assist-to-turnover ratio is 2-to-1, bordering on 3-to-1. That’s pretty elite level stuff for a guy who is playing the three and occasionally the four.”

Kowalczyk has talked all season long about Fletcher’s leadership ability.

“He’s a guy that is so versatile,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s an exceptional passer, he can shoot it, he can rebound, and he guards one through four. But the best part is that he is as good a leader as I’ve ever had. He brings daily positive energy.”

PLAYING FOR A TITLE: If the MAC tournament were to start today, Toledo would be the No. 2 seed. At 9-2 in conference play, the Rockets sit three games ahead of four teams (Western Michigan, Kent State, Miami, and Ball State) who are 6-5.

Buffalo at 10-1 is in control as the top seed and beat Toledo head-to-head in the MAC opener.

When Kowalczyk was asked if he pays attention to those projections and is trying to secure the No. 2 spot, he said he and his team aim higher.

“We really want to get the No. 1 seed,” Kowalczyk said. “That’s all we care about. Our goal is to win the regular season championship. That is our mindset. We don’t go into it saying, ‘Let’s try to win the MAC West.’ Our goal is to win it outright. That’s the hardest thing to do is win a regular season championship. It trumps the conference tournament as far as how hard it is to do.

“But let’s face it, to get to the NCAA tournament in our league; it’s a one-bid league. You have to win the tournament. But our goal right now is to win the regular season and worry about the tournament when the tournament comes.”

GORDON EARNS EXTRA PT: Sophomore Willie Jackson missed his third straight game in Tuesday’s win over Northern Illinois. Jackson has been battling a shoulder injury. In his absence, redshirt freshman James Gordon has earned some extra minutes off the bench. Gordon scored seven points in seven minutes at Akron on Saturday and was the first sub off the bench against Northern Illinois and scored two points in seven minutes.

“I’m happy for him because he has been patient and he’s started to work hard,” Kowalczyk said. “He hasn’t always worked hard. Now he’s starting to work hard and he has an opportunity. When you work hard in our program, you will be rewarded and hopefully that continues.”

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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