Ice coach looking forward to homecomingWritten by J. Patrick Eaken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo has one of the nation’s most historic and well-known minor league baseball teams — the Mud Hens. Toledo has always been known for being a top minor league hockey town. Now, Toledo has a professional basketball team — the Toledo Ice.
The expansion Ice will play home games Downtown at SeaGate Convention Centre in the revived American Basketball Association. The team’s owners are Nate Hopkins, Mike Perdue, Fatima Perrin and Chris Dotson; the Ice’s first head coach will be Melvin Newbern, a Scott graduate who continued his career at the University of Minnesota and then professionally with the Detroit Pistons.
“I can’t describe how truly wonderful it is to come back to my home and have my high-school coach at my side,” Newbern said at a news conference conducted Sept. 17 in the Scott Field House. The coach by his side was former Scott mentor Ben Williams.
“Coming back, being surrounded by friends and family, when I was approached, it was a no-brainer, and to be home and be embraced by friends and family and have the opportunity to do something I love — to coach this team. I’m ready to take any challenge that’s placed upon me,” Newbern said.
“This is a most special day for me, and Melvin has been basically an all-around person and became a great player,” Williams said. Williams, citing Melvin and brother Marcus, who also continued his career after playing high-school basketball in Toledo, credited Newbern family values as the reason for the two players’ continued success.
Dotson said he reflected Williams’ feelings about the Newbern family and Toledo basketball.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of great young men (in Toledo). Young, black men making it in a tough city, and Toledo is a tough city,” Dotson said. “I always said, if you can make it in Toledo, you can make it anyplace.”
The Ice begins training camp Oct. 1 at Tam-O-Shanter with about 25 to 30 roster candidates. Newbern plans to whittle that number to 12, including 10 roster players and two alternates, before the first game Nov. 4 with the Detroit Wheels. The first home game will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 against the Kentucky Colonels.
On the court, the ABA is a reflection of its former self, which merged with the NBA in the early 1970s. There are 50 franchises in the league, and at least 20 of them, including the Toledo Ice, are expansion franchises in 2005-06.
Newbern said he expects his team will play up-tempo
“It makes no sense to walk up and down the court. We’re going to push it and on defense, we’re going to pressure, we’re going to get out there and force turnovers and mistakes,” Newbern said.
Newbern is not the only local person on the coaching staff. Steve Corrgens, the conditioning coach and trainer, is a St. John’s Jesuit High School graduate. One of Newbern’s assistant coaches is Shawn Reed, who played high- school basketball in Toledo.
Newbern said most of the Ice’s recruits attempting to make the roster are two- or four-year college graduates, or others who may have previously played professionally overseas. Newbern said he will keep an open mind about the possibility of former NBA stars in retirement joining the Ice roster, and added he plans to attend NBA camps to scout players who are being cut from rosters.
Unlike the former ABA, which competed head-on with the NBA until the two leagues merged, the new ABA is partly financed by the NBA. The Ice will play 18 home games at SeaGate Centre in 2005-06, with the majority scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesdays or Saturdays, Dotson said.