Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk announced the Rockets' 2012-13 men's basketball schedule on Wednesday. UT will be returning all but one letterwinner from last year's squad which posted a 19-17 win-loss mark for the second-best turnaround in NCAA Division I basketball.
The Rockets open their season with a busy road stretch, playing three games in six days at Loyola (IL) (Nov. 9), at Minnesota (Nov. 12) and at Northern Iowa (Nov. 14). UT will then head to the Sunshine State a week later for a two-day tournament at Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, FL on Nov. 21-22.
The Rockets' home opener will be against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 28. UT will then play its next three contests on the road at Cleveland State (Dec. 1), Detroit (Dec. 5) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 8) before closing out its pre-conference slate with home games vs. UIC (Dec. 29) and Chicago State (Dec. 31).
"We're going to be facing a lot of quality opponents this year as we continue to build our program," Kowalczyk said. "We have more experience than we did a year ago, but we're still a relatively young team with only one senior on our roster."
The Rockets return their entire starting lineup, including second-team All-MAC honoree and junior Rian Pearson (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and 2011-12 MAC Freshman of the Year Julius Brown (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg). UT's other returning starters are senior G Dominique Buckley (9.7 ppg, 41.9 3PTFG%), junior F Matt Smith (8.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and junior F Reese Holliday (7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg). In total, the Midnight Blue and Gold return 83.3 percent of their points, 82.0 percent of their rebounds and 89.5 percent of their assists from the 2011-12 campaign. Toledo will also be integrating a talented freshman trio of C Nathan Boothe (Gurnee, IL), G Josh Lemons (Cincinnati, OH) and F Aubrey Williams (Bowie, MD) into their program.
"We're extremely excited about the direction we're heading," Kowalczyk said. "We have a great group of guys returning along with three newcomers who are tremendous additions for us."
Toledo opens Mid-American Conference play on the road at Kent State (Jan. 9) before hosting Ball Central Michigan (Jan. 12) in its MAC home opener. The Rockets, who will play five of their first eight conference contests on the road, will wrap up their season with three straight home games vs. Western Michigan (Feb. 27), Ball State (Mar. 2) and Northern Illinois (Mar. 5) and a road tilt at Eastern Michigan (Mar. 8 or 9).
"The MAC will be extremely strong again this year with several teams possessing veteran squads," Kowalczyk said. "Our goal is to compete for a league title, and that's the way it will always be for our program."