Toledo opened up their contest against Western Michigan this past Sunday with an absolutely dreadful display of turnovers and poor shooting. It was so bad that one of the Rockets mascots came over to our row, where former UT three-point specialist Courtney Ingersoll was sitting, and practically begged her to go put on a uniform and storm the court.
Last year Ingersoll led the entire nation in three-point percentage at 44%. Andola Dortch and Haylie Linn were the other best deep threats on the team shooting 37% and 35% respectively. Toledo finished the 2011-1012 season shooting 36% from three. The Rockets are devoid of any kind of outside threat this season and are shooting under 30%. With Ingersoll and Linn lost to graduation, the remaining players from last year's squad are not performing well at distance. Dortch is connecting at just over 32%. Naama Shafir is shooting 32% and Inma Zonguera is just hovering over the 30% mark. The only other option has been Riley McCormick (35%) but she's seeing limited minutes in the rotation.
It's not just long range shooting that's been bad this year. Toledo's overall field goal percentage since the start of MAC play is an abysmal 39.1% heading into Wednesday night's contest at Miami. Toledo was shooting better in non-conference play but word has now gotten out throughout the MAC that the Rockets struggle against zone defenses and the shooting slump has been in full force ever since thanks to the lack of a decent mid-range shooter on the team.
Long stretches of Toledo's play has been almost unwatchable this year with their two main ball handers, Dortch and Shafir, both averaging under 39% from the field. The one bright spot has been Yolanda Richardson. She is shooting nearly 60% from the floor so far this season, and leads the conference, but she's only the third highest scorer on the team because the Toledo offense is having such a hard time feeding her the ball. Couple that with Shafir's reluctance to drive as much as she did two years ago, before her knee injury, and you have a recipe for shooting woes.
Fortunately for Toledo, the drop in shooting accuracy hasn't been reflected in the standings because UT is playing some of the best defense in the MAC right now. Opponents are currently averaging 49.8 points per game since conference play started. All of Toledo's hopes on wining the conference tournament right now rest on their defense. If teams begin to figure out how to crack Toledo's stalwart defense the Rockets are going to be in big trouble unless they can improve their performance on the offensive end to help compensate.