Toledo loses 40th straight road game
By Zach Davis
Special to FOX Sports Ohio
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Toledo extended the nation's longest road losing streak to 40 games on Wednesday. They fell 65-52 in Mount Pleasant to Central Michigan, the site of their last road victory. The Rockets last road win came against the Chippewas on March 9, 2008. The next largest road losing streak belongs to Chicago State at 27 games.
The streak has lasted through two coaches, including first year head coach Tod Kowalczyk (0-8) and former coach Gene Cross (0-32). Only one player on Toledo's roster, senior forward Justin Anyijong, was a part of the Rockets last road victory. In Anyijong's four seasons, the Rockets are 1-55 away from Savage Arena.
Although Toledo (3-13, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) has just three players that played in a game before this year, this season's team has lost all eight of their road games while posting a 3-5 record at home.
"As far as this team, we have to play tougher on the road," Kowalczyk said. "I think we have been keeping our routine as normal as we did at Wisconsin-Green Bay. We had good success on the road at Green Bay and we will have good success here. It's just a matter of good teams win on the road and we are not a good team right now. That's just what it is. It's got nothing to do with the road or home."
Following a one game suspension against Alabama for "missing curfew and violating a team rule", Toledo guards Malcolm Griffin, Reese Holliday and J.T. Thomas returned in a 71-48 loss to Eastern Michigan last Saturday. Holliday said after the loss that the three "didn't play with a chip on their shoulder" and guaranteed they would respond with "a great performance" against the Chippewas (4-11, 1-1 MAC).
Holliday backed it up with a team-high 14 points and six rebounds. Griffin, the Rockets leading scorer at 10 ppg, had just four points against CMU. Thomas had five points off the bench.
"I thought they responded and they had two good days of practice and they did some good things tonight," Kowalczyk said.
Over the last eight games, Holliday has averaged 12.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, compared to 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in the first five games of the season.
"Reese is our most consistent and toughest guy, our best defender and best rebounder," Kowalczyk said. "He's played very well."
Senior forward Anthony Wright scored in double-digits for the sixth time this season with 12 points off the bench and junior guard Jay Shunnar had seven.
Toledo struggled to contain freshman guard Trey Zeigler, who registered a career-high 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting. CMU senior forward Jalin Thomas had 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Rockets were outrebounded by Central Michigan 38-24 and apart from Holliday's six boards, the next highest total by a UT player was three. The Chippewas also had 12 offensive rebounds.
"Reese is certainly the guy that goes and gets it," Kowalczyk said. "We certainly need to rebound the ball better."
The Rockets led 21-18 midway through the first half before a 17-8 run gave Central Michigan a 36-28 lead at the break.
Toledo cut the lead to six at 45-39 but the Chippewas ran away with it after a 16-3 run and cruised to a 65-52 victory.
"I thought we competed, battled and got better in some areas," Kowalczyk said. "I thought we got better tonight. I thought we were bad against Eastern Michigan but I thought we were better tonight."
The Rockets will looj for that elusive first road victory on Saturday, Jan. 15 when they travel to Dekalb to face Northern Illinois (5-9, 1-1).