University of Akron Zips blog
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In case you're just joining us, here are Akron-related excerpts from my post during the Buffalo-Ball State game:
Akron's game will be on Time Warner channel 311.
Even though Buffalo has Ball State's fans outnumbered, the number of Bulls fans is modest. No matter who wins between Akron and Bowling Green, that team will have much more fan support.
Humpty Hitchens probably won't play tonight. He would have played more last night, but he tweaked his ankle after just four minutes on the floor. The team brought in an ankle specialist to work with Hitchens. His name is Dick Hartzell, and he is known for inventing Flex Band, which is a system of rubber bands for physical training.
After Buffalo's win, Bulls fans chanted, "Just like football." I always love that chant. I looked back at Akron's graduated tight end/longsnapper Brian Flaherty, who was shaking his head in the stands. Reggie Witherspoon's team is the second Buffalo squad to compete for a MAC Championship. Who would have thought that Buffalo would rise to the elite so surreptitiously? Flaherty, by the way, has been taking grad classes in business management and working out for Wednesday's Pro Day.
Akron starters: Nik Cvetinovic, Chris McKnight, Nate Linhart, Darryl Roberts and Steve McNees. BG's starters: Brian Moten, Darryl Clements, Joe Jakubowski, Nate Miller and Otis Polk.
I had to skip two classes tonight. Before you "tisk, tisk" me, I didn't miss a single class during my first year of law school.
Jeff Boals told me the difference between Akron's win at BG and BG's win at Akron. BG played a zone in the second game. You'll see that again tonight. The Zips' gameplan is to attack it through the post.
If you're wondering why every team doesn't play a zone, here are some drawbacks. It is harder to rebound. When you play man-to-man, boxing out almost comes naturally. In a zone, you have to find someone to put a body on. Another drawback is that the other team gets a lot of breathing room on 3-pointers. It is easy to find an open man behind the arc unless the defending team rotates with lightning speed.
Akron committed its second foul on a 3-point shot. It looks like Bowling Green discovered the usefulness of a convincing pump fake.
Chris McKnight has six rebounds in six minutes. Bowling Green, as a team, has seven.
Twice in the past minute, Akron has given Mike Bardo the ball in the corner. Isn't that like giving a machete to a toddler? Someone is going to get hurt.
I really like it when Akron gives Cvetinovic the ball while he's on the move. On the other hand, when he gets it 12 feet from the hoop in a stationary position, good things rarely happen.
Polk is a big, big man. He is not coordinated enough to be a great basketball player, but at 6-foot-9 and 285, he would make a phenomenal defensive lineman. He has another year of eligibility if he wants to lend a hand to new coach Dave Clawson.
Roberts made a deep jumper. One ref said his foot was on the line. The other said it was a 3. I thought he was on the line.
The Falcons are 3-of-14 from the field. Akron is outrebounding them 16-7.
Akron surprised Bowling Green with a full-court press after the media timeout. The Falcons turned it over. Chalk up that one to Keith Dambrot.
Brett McClanahan air-balled a 3. After a Linhart save, the refs stopped the game because one of them thought the shot clock should be reset.
That said, I think a lot of fans are too hard on referees. These guys work hard, just like the rest of us. The problem is, their slip-ups are televised. Even NBA refs catch a lot of flack. Bill Simmons, whom I think is a fantastic writer, believes that something is gravely wrong with the game because of poor refereeing. So if the NBA's referees stink, where is the MAC supposed to find the good ones? Are they in Europe? Australia?
Human error is a part of refereeing. The game moves very fast. There is a lot to watch. If you don't blow the whistle immediately, fans get even angrier. Fans should accept a bad call like they accept the ball bouncing one way or another off the rim. The ref wasn't sleeping or intentionally favoring one team (except Tim Donaghy); he just missed it. It's like when sometimes you forget to respond to an e-mail or leave the toilet seat up.
Bowling Green has missed a handful of point-blank shots. In a game of this importance, that must be very frustrating to the players.
Chris McKnight dunked off a nice Roberts pass to extend Akron's lead to 10 with a minute to play in the half. Roberts hit a 3 on the next possession. Before you get too excited, remember last night. A big lead in the first half means little in a tournament game.
At halftime, the music never started to let Akron's dance team begin its routine. Yesterday, the music cut off in mid-routine. Somebody's asleep at that switch.
Halftime stats of note: The Zips are outrebounding the Falcons, 25-12. McClanahan leads both teams with seven points. Chris McKnight has 10 rebounds. Roberts has three assists. Bowling Green is shooting 20 percent and 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. Akron is shooting 42 percent. The only thing keeping BG within a sneeze is Akron's eight turnovers, compared to the Falcons' four.
Akron's dance team got another shot. Maybe it's my imagination, but they looked fired up from getting dissed. They were good.
Akron started off the half missing two easy shots. Bowling Green led off with five straight points, including a deep Miller 3. Maybe one side of the floor has a friendlier rim.
Very few people attended the Kent State-Buffalo women's game today. It makes me wonder if conferences are bound by Title IX. I will research that issue later to see if it would be possible for the MAC to hold only a men's tournament in Cleveland. (When you're bored, take a look at my term paper from the fall that analyzes a nuance of the controversial law.)
Moten has not scored yet. I'm sure he will next possession, now that I posted it.
Linhart is playing in his 132nd game. The prior school record was Cedrick Middleton with 130. Chris McKnight is playing in his 100th game, so he might be the next to break the record.
Miller has hit three 3s this half. He has 15 points to lead both teams. Twelve have come in the second half.
McClanahan committed a benchable offense. In the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, he isolated and faded away for a long two. Why are we shooting so early in the clock? Why are we not running a play? Why is he fading away? These are questions I expect Dambrot asked him.
If you're looking for a March Madness pool, here is one that a lot of MAC fans will participate in.
Scott Thomas tied the game with a three-point play. Akron has been getting crap possessions. You had to assume this would catch up with them. Clements followed it with a 3-pointer that was reminiscent of Moten's 3 that finished the Zips at Rhodes Arena. This is the Falcons' first lead.
Akron is playing a 2-3 zone. That is the first time I remember seeing it this season. It's working on the first two possessions. There is usually an adjustment period when a team changes its defense, though.
The Zips went right back to man-to-man once Jakubowski returned to the game. Before that, Miller was running the point.
I have a statistics question. When you tip the ball out of a crowd to your teammate, who earns the rebound: the catcher or the tipper? The tipper did the work, but the catcher secured the ball. The same goes for steals when a player pokes the ball away. Does the poker or the chaser get the steal? I'm sure somebody knows.
McNees hit a critical 3 after an offensive rebound from a missed free throw. Akron is back up by six. Linhart scored on a floater to extend it to eight. If the Zips get two stops in a row, they are in control. Until then, they should not feel any sense of comfort.
McNees prevented a momentum swinger by blocking a Jakubowski 3-point attempt. The ball found Linhart who tossed it back in to Erik Marschall. Luckily for Akron, the ref blew Linhart for traveling. I had never seen a traveling call help a player before that.
I told the ABJ's Michael Beaven, "How ironic is it that Akron might play in the NCAA Tournament the year after all of those stars left?" He wisely analogized it to the football team winning the MAC the year after Charlie Frye left.
Miller banked home a 3 on the same backboard that Doug Penno exploited. Akron is up four with the ball. The Zips will shoot two free throws the rest of the game. Cvetinovic made two. Akron leads by six.
After some frantic BG dribbling, Moten clanked a 3-point attempt. Akron ball with the Zips still up six and 1:06 to play. BG fouled the guy they wanted to: Chris McKnight, who split the pair.
Miller hit a 3 in front of Chris McKnight. He has 25 points. McKnight should have known that Miller intended to shoot a 3. He has four fouls, though, which will make it hard for Louis Orr to keep him on the floor on defense.
It's midnight and we still don't have a winner.
Brett McKnight made two free throws. Miller drove and scored. BG fouled Linhart, who made both. The second free throw was his 1,000th career point. Clements missed a 3 and the ball squirted out of bounds. Akron ball. That should do it. Linhart added another two free throws to further protect the spread.
Dambrot is headed to his third-straight MAC Championship, despite being in a rebuilding year. What a job he has done! This team is 180 degrees better than the bumbling group that was a spin of the basketball away from losing to Walsh University in November.
Next up is Buffalo at 8 p.m. tomorrow. I will preview the game tomorrow morning.
Final score -- Bowling Green 55, Akron 63
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