RECORD SO FAR
Their best win so far this season has to be against the top MAC East opponent Akron. The game was taken over by Julius Brown and J.D. Weatherspoon, who combined for 45 points. With a first half lead of 37-28, Toledo was able to control the game early, yet they did not take it easy on Akron. In the second half they put up 38 points to Akron's 33. The player of this game was J.D. Weatherspoon who recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. By taking out the top team in the MAC East, they have become the team to be in the MAC.
With only two losses so far this year, both become important to a team that could be invited to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. Their first loss against a tough Kansas team was a valiant effort, the final score was 93-83. Forcing a top 25 team to put up 50 points in the second half is no laughing matter. Toledo's offense gained valuable experience during this match as all but one of their starting five scored in the double digits. If their second half offense production started in the first half, this game could have ended with Toledo basking in the glory. Yet this game will pay dividends come MAC tournament time. Their second loss to Western Michigan, which followed the Kansas loss, was just a great game scoring wise by the Broncos, who shot 60% on the night. The game started off close at first, but the Broncos burst out on a 12-0 run and never looked back. The Rockets attempted to make a come back in the second, but their first half deficit ended up being the difference in this game.
Justin Drummond has lead the way for the Rockets with 290 total points scored this season. Drummond has made the most of his minutes, with the fifth most minutes on the team, he uses his time wisely scoring on average 14.5 points a game. With his field goal percentage up nearly 20% Drummond has earned time on the court and has displayed exceptional growth from a year ago.
Another player that has kept Toledo hot is Rian Pearson. The senior has made the most of his time on the court, as it has gone down from previous years, by making 20% more of his 3-pointers. He has also scored the second most points this year, 283, which is only 7 points behind Drummond. Pearson has lead the Rockets in steals this season with 32, which has helped his team get to an 18-2 record and a chance at an at-large NCAA Tournament appearance.
PLAYER(S) WHO NEED TO STEP UP
With the team going 18-2 and displaying a dominate offense, the old adage of, "Don't fix it if it's not broken," comes to mind. If there were any player that needed to step up, it would be the freshman center Zach Garber. Although he's still young, he needs to step it up on defense and help his team keep their offense rolling. If he can do that, this team can make it into the NCAA Tournament.
This team is an offensive machine, with the 13th highest points per game in the NATION, this team can put up points at will. If they can tighten up on defense and stay hot on offense they are bound to win the MAC Tournament and win an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. Once in the tournament, anything can happen. This team could win a couple games in the tournament this year.
With half a season to go, anything can happen. Their offense can become cold and their losses could pile up as they play 6 away games and 5 home games. The away games seem to matter to this team as they are a perfect 10-0 at home while 8-2 away. Worst case scenario, they win only win 6-7 of the remaining 11 games and lose early in the MAC Tournament, which causes them to miss the at-large bid.
NEXT 4 GAMES
At Ohio February 1st
Bowling Green at home February 5th
At Ball State February 8th
Ohio at home February 12th
This team has what it takes to make the NCAA Tournament and I believe that they can do that. They have more than one player who can take control of the game, while having the depth to let their starters rest. At this pace, they will only need to stiffen up on defense to go past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This offense is too good to overlook and their loss at Kansas will pay off in the long run as they make a bid to play in the NCAA Tournament.