Just about every successful basketball coach need not look beyond his own career to find a humbling losing streak that makes him appreciate winning all the more. The opposing coaches in tonight’s game in Allen Fieldhouse are no exception.
As most around here know, in his first season as a head coach, Bill Self’s Oral Roberts team lost its last 15 games and finished 5-22.
Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk, 47, was an assistant to Jim Boylan for two seasons at New Hampshire and witnessed roughly half of the school’s 32-game home-court losing streak, broken Feb. 11, 1991 with a victory against Holy Cross.
As a head coach, Kowalczyk inherited messes at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Toledo and turned both schools into winners.
At UWGB, Kowalczyk took over a team that had gone 9-21 the previous season and responded by taking the Phoenix to records of 9-19, 17-11, 17-11, 15-16, 18-15, 15-15, 22-11 and 22-13.
Toledo had so little talent in the program when Kowalczyk arrived for the 2010-11 season, that the Rockets had their second consecutive 4-28 record in his first season. Since then, the records have been 19-17, 15-13, 12-0, an impressive reversal.
The Rockets are tied with Oklahoma for ninth in the nation with 86.3 points per game and return 93 percent of those points next season. They play an exciting brand of basketball and their opponents tend to do the same. Stats analyst Ken Pomeroy tracks offensive efficiency with points scored per 100 possessions. He ranks Toledo the 12th most efficient offensive team in the country, two spots behind Kansas. Kenpom.com ranks KU the 14th most efficient defensive team and Toledo checks in at 238. Toledo opponents make 40.1 percent of their threes.
If Kowalczyk can guide Toledo to its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1980, look for the program builder to become a hot name in the coaching rumors, which every March result in mixed emotions for fans of mid-major schools having big seasons.