12 Teams/12 Days: Toledo Rockets

Updated 11/4/2013

 

 
 
2013-14 Toledo Women's Basketball Preview
Courtesy of Toledo Athletic Communications
TOLEDO, OH - The Toledo women’s basketball team will take on a new look in 2013-14. 
 
Gone are five members of the winningest senior class in school history, who helped the Rockets secure an impressive 107 victories, capturing a WNIT championship (2011), two Mid-American Conference regular-season titles (2010-11, 2012-13) and four-consecutive division crowns (2009-13), as well as advancing to the postseason each of the last four seasons.
 
UT also lost three additional players who transferred out the program. Despite all the turnover, the Rockets’ expectations remain high for the upcoming season.
 
“It would be an understatement to say we will miss last year’s senior class,” said sixth-year head coach Tricia Cullop, who ranks first in MAC history in conference win percentage (.813, 65-15) and second in overall win percentage (.740, 125-44). “I believe we have the talent to be a very dangerous team though, but only time will tell how fast we jell.”
 
Toledo’s new-look roster in 2013-14 will feature seven returning letterwinners, including two all-conference performers, and six newcomers. As far as numbers on the hardwood go, the Rockets welcome back 47.3 percent of their scoring, 44.1 percent of their rebounding, 49.3 percent of their assists and 59.3 percent of their steals in 2013-14.
 
“Our goal is to quickly mesh the incoming players with the veterans and get better every day,” Cullop said. “We graduated the winningest class in school history, but we still return a pair of all-league players, Andola (Dortch) and Inma (Zanoguera). When conference play starts, we want our team clicking on all cylinders ready to challenge for a MAC regular-season championship and postseason berth.”
 
The Rockets compiled a stellar 29-4 record in 2012-13, the best single-season mark in school annals. UT also captured its second MAC regular-season crown in the last three seasons with a 15-1 league ledger. Toledo is one of just 14 programs in the country to win at least 24 games each of the last four seasons.  
 
UT also made its fourth consecutive appearance and ninth overall in the WNIT in 2013. The Midnight Blue & Gold advanced to the ‘Sweet 16’ of the postseason tourney for a third-straight year with home victories against Atlantic 10 member Butler and Horizon League foe Youngstown State. Their season came to an end with a setback to Big Ten member Illinois.
 
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of last year’s team,” said Cullop, whose squad’s 29 wins tied for the most in school history and second most in the MAC record books. “In the future, we will continue to strive for the one goal that has eluded us. I want more than anything for our players to experience the thrill and excitement of an NCAA Tournament berth.”
 
As Cullop examines the breakdown of her new-look squad, she expects the veterans to play a critical part in their development, spearheaded by Dortch and Zanoguera.   
 
“Andola and Inma have logged the most minutes of any returnee, so they will be the obvious choices in terms of leadership, but I also see (junior) Stephanie Recker and (sophomore) Ana Capotosto stepping into more of a leadership role as well,” Cullop said. “Having players who have ‘been there before’ always pays dividends. Our veterans understand the preparation and teamwork that goes into winning a conference title and advancing in the WNIT, and our younger players chose Toledo because they want that expectation.”
 
With the ultra-athletic Dortch and Zanoguera guiding the ship for the new-look Rockets, fans can anticipate a more perimeter-oriented style of basketball in 2013-14, as nine of the 13 student-athletes will play in the backcourt.
 
“In the past we have been one of the bigger, stronger low-block teams in the league at both the center and power forward positions,” Cullop said. “This season, we’re going to be more versatile, playing more of a four-guard lineup. We haven’t had this offensive versatility since the 2011 WNIT Championship team. We also have good size on the perimeter. We may not be as big inside as in years past, but we may prove to be harder to guard. So, we aren’t necessarily trying to replace the exact positions from a year ago, but progress to a more versatile offensive style.”
 
The following is a closer look at the 2013-14 Toledo women’s basketball team by position:
 
Backcourt
Versatility will be the trademark of Toledo’s backcourt in 2013-14. Cullop will look to play as many as eight guards or wings a game and utilize a four-guard offense at times.
 
“I plan on playing a smaller, more versatile lineup in 2013-14,” Cullop said. “We won’t give up too much in height, as four of our guards could potentially play are above 5-foot-11. We will add more three-point threats and skilled ballhandlers. I believe it will be a tougher style for our opponents to guard and a fun style for our players to play.”
 
As one of three seniors on the team, Andola Dortch (Akron, OH) is the Rockets’ emotional leader and one of the most talented players in the league. A 5-foot-7 guard, Dortch is a tremendous defender, who also pushes the ball very well in transition and helps Toledo play at a high tempo. A 2012-13 first-team All-MAC selection, Dortch averaged 10.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a conference-best 2.7 steals in a team-high 30.8 minutes per game a season ago. The two-time reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year led the league in thefts, as well as ranking fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.5), eighth in helpers, 14th in three-point field goals made (1.2) and 15th in scoring and free throw percentage (69.4%, 77-of-111). 
 
Dortch enters her final season fourth in UT annals in career steals (217), ninth in assists (375) and 22nd in scoring (1,060). A candidate for MAC Player of the Year honors, Dortch also sits fifth in school history in minutes played (1,131, 2011-12), eighth in thefts (88, 2012-13), ninth in helpers (162, 2011-12) and free throws attempted (193, 2011-12) and 10th in free throws made (132, 2011-12) in the single-season record book. She has scored in double figures on 53 occasions in her career and collected at least three steals 36 times while donning the Midnight Blue & Gold.
 
“To earn MAC Defensive Player of the Year one season alone is a big honor, but to win it two-consecutive years shows how respected Andola is throughout our league,” Cullop said. “She sets the tone defensively for our team. She also does a great job running our break, commanding the offense and bringing leadership. She can score in a variety of ways, but I greatly appreciate her ability to score and earn trips to the charity stripe. Andola is very much a catalyst for our team on both ends of the floor.”
 
Complementing Dortch in the backcourt will be junior Inma Zanoguera (Llucmajor, Spain). The 2012-13 third-team All-MAC selection enjoyed a breakout season last year, tallying 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.4 blocks in 29.8 minutes in 32 starts. A 5-foot-10 wing, Zanoguera finished eighth in the MAC in overall field goal percentage (46.9%, 143-of-305), 11th in steals, 13th in assists, 15th in defensive caroms (4.0 rpg) and 20th in scoring and overall rebounding. She is capable of playing a number of positions and has scored in double figures on 22 occasions in her time with the Rockets.
 
Zanoguera played her best basketball at the end of last season, contributing a team-high 17.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg and a squad-best 3.0 spg in 37.0 mpg in the WNIT. She totaled a career-high 24 points and a contest-best three thefts against Youngstown State in the second round of the postseason tourney. 
 
“Inma emerged last year as one of the top players in the MAC,” Cullop said. “She is an extreme competitor and really thrives in clutch situations. Inma is capable of playing the shooting guard through power forward positions. Her three-point shooting really improved throughout the year which really enhanced her game. 
 
“Like Andola, she also takes great pride in her defensive game and took on very difficult assignments last year. It’s a shame the MAC doesn’t have an All-Defensive Team instead of just honoring one player. If we did, there’s no doubt in my mind that Inma would be on that list.”
 
Other key components for UT in the backcourt will be the trio of senior Janelle Reed-Lewis (Detroit, MI), junior Stephanie Recker (Pandora, OH) and sophomore Ana Capotosto (Saugatuck, MI). 
 
Reed-Lewis, a 5-foot-4 guard, possesses uncanny speed and ability to push the ball up the floor in transition. The three-year letterwinner contributed 3.3 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.7 steals in 12.5 minutes in 32 games in 2012-13.
 
Reed-Lewis showed glimpses of becoming a consistent scoring threat for Toledo a season ago, totaling a collegiate-best 15 points at Nevada in the championship game of the John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic. She also contributed 13 points, two assists and one steal in 20 minutes vs. Arkansas State in the season opener. 
 
“Janelle has been working hard in the off-season to develop her consistency,” Cullop said. “When she uses her quickness, she is tough to stop. Janelle has a quick first step and isn’t afraid of contact. She also has the ability to hawk the ball on defense. I hope to see Janelle embrace a larger role this season.”
 
Recker, a 6-foot-0 wing, averaged 1.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.3 steals in 7.5 minutes in 27 games in 2012-13. She has good size and length for a perimeter player and also has a nice shooting touch from three-point range. Recker registered a career-high nine points, four caroms and a collegiate-best three helpers in a season-high 17 minutes in her first collegiate start vs. Kent State. 
 
“Stephanie is a gym rat who has worked endless hours developing her footwork and shooting ability,” Cullop said. “Her hard work will certainly help her challenge for key minutes on the perimeter.”
 
Capotosto, a 5-foot-10 wing, tallied 1.9 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.2 steals in 5.5 minutes in 20 games a year ago. An aggressive driver who also possesses the ability to post up, she finished with a season-high 10 points in a season-best 18 minutes against the Golden Flashes.
 
“Ana is an aggressive driver who has developed her three-point shot,” Cullop said. “I love the fact she isn’t afraid of contact and is a physical player.”
 
Providing additional depth for the Rockets in the backcourt will be freshmen Lindsay Baker (Warsaw, IN), Olivia Braun (Racine, WI) and Elena de Alfredo (Madrid, Spain).
 
Baker, a 5-foot-11 guard, averaged 11.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a senior at Warsaw Community High School. For her efforts on the hardwood, she earned honorable mention all-state recognition according to the Associated Press and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA). Baker also helped lead the Tigers to a 24-2 record, capturing conference, sectional and regional championships.
 
“Lindsay is a guard who will be a strong three-point threat for us,” Cullop said. “She works hard and has a great basketball IQ.” 
 
Braun, a 6-foot-1 wing, poured in 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 3.3 blocks per game as a senior at St. Catherine’s High School. She shot 57 percent from the field, including 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from three-point land, and 70.1 percent from the charity stripe.  Braun was named WBCA Division 3 all-state and Associated Press third-team all-state, finishing first in the county in helpers, third in scoring and 10th in boards.
 
“Olivia is a long lanky wing with good speed,” Cullop said. “She’s a strong passer and good shooter.” 
 
de Alfredo, a 5-foot-8 guard, averaged 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game for the ASEFA Estudiantes Madrid Club Team in the 2012-13 Spanish Basketball Federation. She knocked down 43.3 percent (77-of-178) from the floor, including 41.8 percent (33-of-79) from beyond the arc, and 82.1 percent (32-of-39) from the free throw line in 28.9 minutes. de Alfredo led the squad in helpers, minutes played and free throw percentage, as well as ranking second in scoring.
 
de Alfredo also played a significant role on Spain’s U-20 National Team that captured its third-consecutive European Championships (Division A) earlier this summer. A teammate of current Rocket Inma Zanoguera on Spain’s championship squad, de Alfredo contributed 7.8 points, 2.3 caroms and 0.8 dimes in 19.4 minutes per game. She converted 31.3 percent (20-of-64) from the floor and a sparkling 95.8 percent (23-of-24) from the charity stripe, ranking 12th in free throws made (2.6). de Alfredo scored in double figures on three occasions in the nine contests, including a tourney-high 15 points against the Slovak Republic.
 
“Elena is a smart player with strong ballhandling and passing skills,” Cullop said. “She also possesses deep three-point range.”
 
Also joining the mix is junior Brenae Harris (Marion, OH). A 5-foot-10 guard, Harris transferred from the University of Michigan and must sit out the 2013-14 campaign per NCAA rules. She started six of 53 games in two seasons with the Wolverines, averaging 2.5 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.5 steals in 10.6 minutes. She shot 41.6 percent (52-of-125) from the field, including 25.8 percent (831) from three-point range,  and 71.4 percent (20-of-28) from the charity stripe, scoring in double figures on two occasions.
 
“I like the fact Brenae has already logged two years in the Big Ten Conference, so she brings a wealth of experience,” Cullop said. “She is capable of playing more than one of our perimeter positions. Brenae can drive, shoot the three and guard multiple positions with her length.”
 
 
Frontcourt       
The Rockets have some questions to answer in the frontcourt in 2013-14, as senior Brianna Jones (Toledo, OH) and junior Mariah Carson (Detroit, MI) are the only two returning letterwinners.
 
Jones’ and Carson’s status is uncertain at this time, though, as both have battled injuries over the last year.  
 
Jones, a 6-foot-2 center, averaged 4.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 13.2 minutes in 33 games off the bench a season ago. Possessing a soft touch around the basket, she led the Rockets in rebounding and rejections three times and contributed a career-high 11 points, a collegiate-best three thefts and two boards at Big East member Marquette. 
 
“Since we graduated three players who played her position, Brianna needs to play a big role for us this season,” Cullop said. “She will be a go-to post for us on the low-block, but she also possesses a soft shooting touch from 15 feet. I want Brianna to have an amazing senior year.”
 
Carson, a 6-foot-1 forward, tallied 1.4 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.2 steals in 4.7 minutes in 18 contests off the bench in 2012-13. She has a soft touch around the basket and is blessed with great timing for blocking shots. Carson totaled a career-best five points on two occasions a season ago against Northern Illinois and Nevada in the championship game of the John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic. 
 
“Mariah has the potential to battle for key minutes this season since we graduated three post players,” Cullop said. “She is an aggressive rebounder who finds ways to score.”
 
Also expected to be key factors in the frontcourt will be freshmen Janice Monakana (London, England) and Sophie Reecher (Byron, IL).
 
Monakana, a 6-foot-0 forward, contributed 8.4 points, 3.4 boards and 0.6 steals per contest for England’s U-18 National Team that competed at the 2013 European Championship (Division B) in Vinkovci, Croatia. Possessing the ability to drive to the basket as well as knock down the three-point shot, she connected 25.6 percent (10-of-39) from the field and 73.3 percent (22-of-30) from the charity stripe in 13.6 minutes in five games. Monakana ranked third on the team in scoring.
 
“Janice is a great athlete, and I look forward to utilizing her quickness for drives to the basket and defending multiple positions,” Cullop said. “She also knows how to score.”
 
Reecher, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 13.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a senior at Byron High School. She led team to a school-record 31 wins and an appearance in the state supersectionals, garnering Associated Press Class 2A first-team all-state recognition. 
 
“Sophie can score inside and out,” Cullop said. “She runs the floor well, has soft touch around the basket and is a good rebounder and shot blocker.” 
 
 
2012-13 Record 29-4, 15-1 MAC (1st/West/MAC)  
2013 Postseason MAC Tournament Semifinals/WNIT Third Round  
Starters Returning/Lost 2/3  
Letterwinners Returning/Lost 7/8  
Newcomers 6  
     
University Quick Facts    
Founded 1872  
Location Toledo, Ohio  
Enrollment 21,500  
Nickname Rockets  
Mascot Rocky and Rocksy the Rocket  
Colors Midnight Blue and Gold  
President Dr. Lloyd A. Jocobs  
Athletics Director Mike O’Brien  
Senior Woman Administrator Kelly Andrews  
Faculty Representative Dr. Celia Regimbal  
Conference Mid-American Conference/West  
Arena (Capacity) John F. Savage Arena (7,300)  
Press Row 419-530-2027  
Website www.utrockets.com  
     
Women’s Basketball Quick Facts    
Head Coach Tricia Cullop  
Alma Mater Purdue ‘93  
Record at Toledo 125-44 (Sixth Season)  
Career Record 248-154 (14th Season)  
MAC Record 65-15  
Associate Head Coach Vicki Hall  
Alma Mater Texas ‘93  
Assistant Coach Alex Stewart  
Alma Mater Georgia Tech ‘04  
Assistant Coach Rebekah Legan  
Alma Mater Evansville ‘08  
Director of Basketball Operations Katie Griggs  
Alma Mater Xavier ‘02  
     
Program History    
First Year of Women’s Basketball 1974-75  
All-Time Record 662-426   
Overall Record Since Joining MAC (Years) 622-345 (33rd Season)  
All-Time MAC Record 348-176  
NCAA Championship Appearances Seven (1991, 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 2001)  
NCAA Championship Record 3-7  
WNIT Appearances Nine (1989, 90, 94, 98, 2003, 10, 11, 12, 13)     
WNIT Record 19-8  
MAC Tournament Titles Seven (1991, 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 2001)  
MAC Regular Season Titles Nine (1991, 92, 95, 97, 99, 2001, 03, 11, 13)  
MAC Divisional Titles Eight (1998, 99, 2001, 03, 10, 11, 12, 13)  
MAC Players of the Year (Most Recent) Seven (Kim Knuth, 1999)  
MAC Freshmen of the Year (Most Recent) Four (Kim Knuth, 1996)  
MAC Coaches of Year (Most Recent) Nine (Tricia Cullop, 2013)  
Defensive Players of the Year (Most Recent) Two (Andola Dortch, 2013)  
Sixth-Player Award (Most Recent) None  
     
2013-2014 Schedule    
Sun., Nov. 3 Ashland (Exh.)  1:00 PM
Sat., Nov. 9 Drexel !  2:30 PM
Sun., Nov. 10 Mississippi Valley State/Villanova !  2:30 PM
Sun., Nov. 17 Purdue  2:00 PM
Wed., Nov. 20 at Missouri-Kansas City  8:00 PM
Fri., Nov. 29 vs. Cal State Fullerton @  3:00 PM
Sat., Nov. 30 at Saint Mary’s (CA) @  5:30 PM
Fri., Dec. 6 Detroit #  7:00 PM
Sat., Dec. 7 Valparaiso #  7:00 PM
Sun., Dec. 15 at St. Bonaventure  1:00 PM
Sun., Dec. 22 Dayton  2:00 PM
Mon., Dec. 30 at Evansville  3:00 PM 
Sat., Jan. 4 at Central Michigan *  2:00 PM
Thu., Jan. 9 Northern Illinois *  11:00 AM
Sun., Jan. 12 Miami *  2:00 PM
Wed., Jan. 15 at Buffalo *  7:00 PM
Sat., Jan. 18 at Western Michigan *  2:00 PM
Thu., Jan. 23 Ball State *  7:00 PM
Sun., Jan. 26 at Ohio *  2:00 PM
Thu., Jan. 30 Akron *  7:00 PM
Sun., Feb. 2 Bowling Green *  12:00 PM
Thu., Feb. 6 at Miami *  7:00 PM
Sun., Feb. 9 at Kent State *  2:00 PM
Sat., Feb. 15 Ohio *  2:00 PM
Wed., Feb. 19 at Eastern Michigan *  7:00 PM
Sun., Feb. 23 Western Michigan *  1:00 PM
Thu., Feb. 27 at Northern Illinois *  8:00 PM 
Sun., Mar. 2 Central Michigan *  2:00 PM
Wed., Mar. 5 Eastern Michigan *  7:00 PM
Sat., Mar. 8 at Ball State *  2:00 PM
Mon.., Mar. 10 MAC Tournament First Round $ TBA
Wed., Mar. 12  MAC Tournament Second Round %  TBA
Thurs., Mar. 13 MAC Tournament Third Round % TBA
Fri., Mar. 14 MAC Tournament Semilfinals % TBA
Sat., Mar. 15 MAC Championship% TBA
     
All Times EST and subject to change    
! Glass City Tournament    
@ SMC Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic    
# Toledo Invite    
* Denotes Mid-American Conference Game    
$ Hosted By Seeds 5, 6, 7, 8    
% at Cleveland, Ohio (Quicken Loans Arena)