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Howie: Tolo calls Lake Superior College a JUCO men’s basketball gold mine

Lake Superior College won the coaching lottery when it nabbed my longtime buddy Chuck Tolo to launch and serve as the head coach of its new Ice Hawks men’s basketball team for play starting next season.

Tolo had a strong run with the Duluth Denfeld and Duluth East boys basketball programs. He’s well-known and respected throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, which should give the Icehawks a strong start and an immediate boost in recruiting.

Tolo and Myhre held a meet-and-greet with LSC students, faculty and staff on campus last week, where I was able to interview both coaches. Below is my Q&A with Tolo:

Tolo, on his recruiting efforts: “We’re out recruiting as hard as we can, and not only in our area. We’re spending most of our time in Minnesota, and less time in Wisconsin. Our goal is to be very competitive at the outset. Of course, it would be nice to have a home facility, and we might be bouncing around to play games and practice initially. Once we get our own gym, I think you’ll see not only our men’s and women’s programs flourish, but you will see a lot of other programs be created.”

Tolo, on his roster goals: “I’ve watched a lot of JUCO ball in our area throughout the year, and I have a pretty good idea of what we’re up against. Our first focus was to recruit players already here on campus. There are some good players here, and we’re genuinely excited about this. We might go after Division I players who need assistance. But, quite frankly, though there’s a lot of excitement for our new program, it’s a bit difficult to get them up here because our program is still a mystery. Our strong and easy sell is our outstanding Lake Superior College and Duluth.”

Tolo, on the Lake Superior College student-athlete experience and upside for men’s basketball: “I’ve been in the other JUCOs around here, and Lake Superior College is better than all of them. We’re in Duluth, Minnesota, where I’ve spent my entire life. Lake Superior College is a great school for students who might want to get out of the big city, and for students who might want to get out of the rural areas and get into something bigger. We have a lot of students here. I know in my many years coaching at (Duluth) Denfeld and Duluth East, I had a lot of student-athletes who could have succeeded at Lake Superior College, which is tailor-made for JUCO basketball. It might take a while to build the foundation, but the opportunity for success here is very, very strong.”