I apoligize for this being a little late, but I have been busy the past few days. I figured readers might find these quotes interesting as the University of Akron prepares to meet Notre Dame in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Here are the quotes from the court after the University of Akron secured a 66-65 win over Kent State University in overtime in the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship Game this past Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland:
Zips sophomore center Zeke Marshall
On his ninth block of the game: “I think it was [Rodriquez] Sherman that was driving the ball. I knew we were winning by one point. Everyone was scrambling and doing whatever they were doing. I saw that ball go up. I had adrenaline rushing, I’m not even going to lie. I jumped and made sure I would get that ball. There was no way I was letting that ball go in.”
On winning the MAC Tournament title: “In high school, I always remember going to camps such as the LeBron James Skills Academy and I was the only one that had not won a state championship. Everyone had state championships. This win makes up for that.”
On his approach defensively during the final possession in overtime: “I was thinking I could not allow them to score. I focused, relaxed and just played.”
Zips senior forward Brett McKnight
On the UA/KSU rivalry: “Akron-Kent is always a big game. It is a rivalry and always competitive. It is always a hard fought game, and it is a basically possession type of game. It is a great rivalry.”
On the team's mental approach: “I always believe that we are going to win the game. We are a confident team.”
On the play of Zeke Marshall: “Zeke played his [butt] off. He played really hard and I am happy that he got a lot of blocks. It changed the game.”
On reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three years: “I think it is going to be another great experience. It is an amazing feeling.”
On making two free throws in overtime with 12.8 seconds to go after he air-balled a free throw with 1:44 remaining in the second half: “In my mind it was kind of hard to come back from that, but it was onto the next one. That is all I could do.”
Zips freshman guard Alex Abreu
On making the NCAA Tournament: “This is something that I can’t explain. This feeling is unbelievable. This is something I have never experience in my life. Every year, I want to do it again, again and again. My emotions are going crazy right now.”
On defeating rival KSU in the MAC Tournament final: “Everybody can say it doesn’t matter, but in the back of our heads we are happy that we beat them. They got the regular season title. They are a good team.”
Zips sophomore forward Quincy Diggs
On making the NCAA Tournament: “It feels good to celebrate with these guys after all the hard work we have put in. We pulled through and got the win.”
On defeating rival KSU in the MAC Tournament final: “When I first came here I didn’t know anything about Kent. They kept telling me they are our rivals over and over again. It feels good to beat them and get this big win.”
Zips junior forward Nikola Cvetinovic
On winning the MAC Tournament for the second time in three years: “This is a thrill God blessed us all the way to the end.”
On defeating rival KSU in the MAC Tournament final: “They won the small prize. We won the big prize. They are a great team and this was a great competition. In the end, we just grinded it out and got the win. It was a battle and these are two quality teams with high character. It was great to put on a show for these people.”
Zips senior guard Steve McNees
On reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years: “It's just an unbelievable feeling. Every game has been unbelievable. It comes down to toughness and making plays down the stretch. ”
On the final block of the game against KSU's Carlton Guyton during the closing seconds: “I was just trying not to foul him. I just wanted to get a hand in his face because he is such an unbelievable shooter. I was just able to tip it.”
UA coach Keith Dambrot from the postgame press conference:
On the play of Zeke Marshall: “I thought if we could keep the big fella in the game, we would have a chance. There is no doubt he made an impact.”
On his players after starting the season 12-10 overall and 3-5 in the MAC: “This team went through more struggles than any team we have had. There were times where we were awful.”
Final Akron stat leaders
Sophomore Zeke Marshall - nine points, 13 rebounds, nine blocks and two assists.
Senior Brett McKnight - 15 points and four rebounds.
Senior Steve McNees - 14 points, three assists, three rebounds and two blocks.
Senior Darryl Roberts - 10 points and three assists.
Junior Nikola Cvetinovic - four points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman Alex Abreu - nine points, three rebounds and two assists.
Final Kent State stat leaders
Junior Carlton Guyton - 14 points and five rebounds.
Sophomore Randal Holt - 14 points and three rebounds.
Junior Justin Greene - 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Senior Rodriquez Sherman - eight points and seven rebounds.
Junior Justin Manns - seven points and seven rebounds.
Junior Michael Porrini - six points, nine rebounds and three steals.