Toledo is More Than Just Its Upset Win Over Michigan
The Rockets look like a top mid-major program this season.
Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!
Haven’t subscribed to the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter yet?
Back on Dec. 8, Toledo defeated then-No. 14 Michigan 71-68 in what was a major upset. The Wolverines were a perfect 9-0 heading into that game, and the Rockets held them to their second-lowest scoring output of the season. And Toledo’s 71 points were the second-most scored against the Wolverines all year.
It was a surprising result—there’s really no debating that. But Toledo isn’t just a team that upset a ranked opponent; the Rockets are a team that deserves to be part of the national conversation. Led by one of the nation’s most exciting players in Quinesha Lockett, Toledo’s one of the most intriguing teams out there. Let’s talk about the Rockets.
An overview of Toledo’s season
The Rockets sit at 8-2 right now, which includes an ongoing five-game win streak. The team’s two losses were to Duke (58-41 back on Nov. 20) and Penn State (60-59 on Nov. 25).
The team has performed well on both ends of the floor, ranking in the top 25% of Division I teams in both points per game and in opponent points per game, which gives the team an average margin per game that ranks in the top 20% of all Division I teams. The team looks even better when looking at Her Hoop Stats Rating, our predictive metric of team strength that accounts for strength of schedule. The Rockets are 47th in Her Hoop Stats Rating, which equates to being in the top 15% of all teams.
A big part of the success has come from efficiency. Toledo plays at a fairly slow pace—70.0 possessions per 40 minutes, 246th-fastest in the country—but makes up for having fewer offensive possessions by making the most of the possessions they do have. The team’s 0.90 points per play rank 41st in the country.
That efficiency—combined with a 1.19 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is the 31st-best mark in the country—has the Rockets winning basketball games, and the team looks poised to make a major impact in conference play.
And a lot of this success is because of Quinesha Lockett.
Why you need to pay attention to Quinesha Lockett
The 5-foot-10 Lockett is in her fourth season with the Rockets. Last year, she was First-Team All-MAC and posted single-season numbers that ranked among the best in school history—fifth in points and made field goals.
Lockett’s scoring is actually down just a bit so far, from 17.9 points per game to 15.4 this year, but she’s also seen an increase in her efficiency, shooting 43.5% from the floor this year after shooting 40.3% last season. She’s also increased her assists per game from 2.8 to 4.3.
If you watch film of Lockett, you see a player who does a really good job creating with the ball in her hands, whether it be via a shot off-the-dribble or a drive to the bucket.
Per CBB Analytics, Lockett is in the top two percent of Division I players in shots taken at the rim per game at 4.6, and she adds another 1.9 field goal attempts per game in the non-rim part of the paint. Lockett’s ability to drive and make plays at the basket really stresses opposing defenses.
Lockett, an early favorite for MAC Player of the Year, has been the main spark for this Rockets team, but she hasn’t been the only reason for their success.
The non-Lockett players to watch
Let’s just quickly run through a list of what Lockett’s teammates are doing:
Sammi Mikonowicz is averaging 9.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. She is also shooting 40% from three.
Jessica Cook is shooting 53.6% from the floor.
Sophia Wiard is just behind Lockett in assists, as she averages 4.1 per game, along with 1.1 steals.
Nan Garcia and Jayda Jansen don’t play a ton of minutes, but both do a good job knocking down threes when they’re on the floor. Garcia shoots 42.9% from deep on 2.1 attempts per game, while Jansen is at 58.3% on 1.2 attempts per game.
Looking ahead to the MAC
There’s a good chance that the Battle of I-75 is also a battle for MAC women’s basketball supremacy this season. Bowling Green currently sits at 8-1 on the season, with the team’s only loss coming against Indiana. Northern Illinois and Ball State also have eight wins.
Still, Toledo should be considered the favorites heading into conference play, and not just because the team has the best player in the conference in Lockett.
The Rockets are tied with Northern Illinois for the second-best offensive rating in the conference, while the team is fourth in defensive rating. But we also have to remember that Toledo has played a tougher schedule than other MAC schools.
Toledo currently has the best Her Hoop Stats Rating in the MAC, with Bowling Green next on the list. The Rockets are getting it done on both ends of the floor, leading the conference in both offensive and defensive HHS Rating.
As for Bowling Green, which I mentioned earlier as a threat to Toledo, the Falcons have that one big loss to Indiana. However, with a healthy Lexi Fleming and a lot of good pieces around her, BG has run off a six-game winning streak. They’re definitely a team that can cause issues for Toledo, but the Rockets have been the better defensive team this year, and that defense looks to be improving as the season goes along. The Rockets have held four opponents in a row under 70 points, with two of those opponents scoring in the 40s. Toledo’s strong play on both ends makes them the MAC favorites as we approach the beginning of conference play in January.
Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
That wasn't an "upset," they, we are better.
i’m a michigan season-ticket holder, and i’m gonna co-sign - toledo is a tough, smart team. they earned that win by coming out and punching michigan early and controlling the game on both ends. they never, not once, seemed like they weren’t ready for the moment, never let michigan take the initiative for more than a possession or two. i wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see them in the sweet 16.