In 2007, the Toledo Rockets were cutting down the nets as MAC regular season champions. Three years later? 4-28 and they're on their second new head coach. (And a renovated arena that cost millions.)
Once Gene Cross went bye-bye after two years (his decision, he says) and 11 wins, half the team also rode the waves burgeoning from the floodgates out of Northwest Ohio. Phew. Now the rebuilding can begin, right?
Well, sure, but first there's one more guy to dismiss before that happens, you see. Incoming senior Mouhamed "The Descending Prophet" Lo, who was suspended for most of last year for pickin' a fight with the freshman team captain (jealous!), was finally shown the door last week.
That's five returning lettermen. Five. I have never heard of a team that lost so many players without (1) a single NCAA violation or (2) outgoing senior. Remaining beneath the rubble is a motley quintet of pine riders, overdribblers and one tall skinny guy that occasionally makes three-point shots. Oh, and one fifth-year senior transfer from Michigan. Four wins may be ambitions next year.
But how better can we demonstrate just how much manpower this team is losing? The answer usually lies within HTML tables.
Basically, more than two thirds of their production. Gone-sers.
Barnett will play at Saint Louis, while Dressler has committed to Columbia, the smartypants. And Albrecht, their most reliable shooter, decided to leave the team before conference play began (whereabouts unknown).
And Tod Kowalczyk chose to coach this team. He had a pretty little program in Green Bay of the Horizon League, who actually won more games aganinst MAC teams last year (2-1) than UT (1-15). That the Rockets were able to land a proven head coach (that wasn't a Steve Lavin-type castoff) is beyond me. They won the lottery there. I just hope Kowalczyk isn't planning on returning to the NIT anytime soon.
Note: I've gone to several UT Rockets basketball games since my youth and have waited all summer to mention this storyline. Promise, it won't happen again in such capacity until the season actually begins.