Akron's starters: Zeke Marshall, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan, Darryl Roberts, and Steve McNees.
Marshall stamped home Akron's first field goal with a one-handed vicious slam. We have been hearing about these 20 points that Marshall supposedly tacked on. Does he look thicker? No. The legs are still Lincoln Log-thin. But he does have more definition in his arms.
McClanahan is starting in lieu of Brett McKnight, who was suspended. It might not seem like a big deal to him now (you know, only missing some practices), but let's be practical. Brett won't be a pro basketball player -- or at least not as his sole lifelong profession. At some point, he will apply for a job somewhere, they will Google his name, and it won't be hard to see that he has been suspended twice. Then he gets to explain that. Not fun.
The crowd is pretty good. In fact, there are more people here than some of the early season thrillers against the likes of North-Central Coast of Panama City State. This feels like a regular season game, except that the scoreboard reads "Home" and "Guest."
Alex Abreu checked into the game with his shaven head. His first shot was a 3 from the corner. An airball -- long.
Mike Bardo and Marshall are on the floor at the same time. I don't think you'll see that too commonly once the games count.
Abreu has come out aggressively. Man, he is short! He has that stocky DaJuan Wagner body. The second thing that stands out is that he looks very comfortable on the court. He calls for the ball, looks confident when he's got it, and has dived to the rim on a couple occasions.
Hello, Quincy Diggs. Shortly after checking in, the newbee made the play of the game. Leading the break, Diggs took the ball behind his back and spun it off the glass while falling off-balance. Marshall put the exclamation point on the matter by spiking another shot (his third) on the other end.
Seeing a player like Diggs in an Akron uniform is unusual. Akron finally has a tall swingman who wants to take guys off the dribble. I caught a small indication, however, that he needs some additional indoctrination into Keith Dambrot basketball: He passed up an opportunity to dive on the floor for a loose ball.
Wow. I just realized I had been blogging about this game for a half-hour on my Stow political blog, rather than the Zips blog. Sorry to the fine residents of Stow for any confusion that caused. The blogging software is identical, so it's an easy mistake to make.
You might say that two referees tonight have a conflict of interest. One is Mike Roberts, Darryl Roberts' uncle. Another is Scott Gooden, a former Zips guard from 1996-1998. Gooden holds a school record for best free throw percentage in a season (88.7 percent).
Dakotah Euton checked in. Apparently you pronounce it "OOO-tun." He spun a smooth reverse layup off the glass for his first points as a Zip.
John Carroll just pulled a hockey-style line change. Five guys in; five guys out. It looked comical.
Diggs' teammates are calling him "Q." The last "Q" in the MAC was Kent's Haminn Quaintance, a favorite among Zips fans.
A John Carroll player basically speared Diggs out of mid-air on a fast break. It was a nasty foul that merited the flagrant foul call. Diggs got up a shoved the John Carroll player, and that earned him a technical foul. I think most people would have done the same. Still, those hard fouls are very common in Akron-Kent games, so you have to train the players a technical foul simply isn't worth it.
McNees crossed over and the JC defender wound up on the seat of his pants. He swished a 3. And1 Mixtape-style.
Marshall has now drained three quick jump hooks from about eight feet.
My favorite blogger is Mark Titus, formerly an Ohio State bench warmer. He wrote this when the Buckeyes were playing a small school named after a guy who was dead a long time ago:
On Thursday night we finished the first week of our season by beating James Madison by 28 points. I personally thought that James should have brought at least four other teammates along with him, but he must have been confident that he could take our entire team on by himself. Seems like a lot to ask of a guy that’s been dead for over 150 years, but then again if he can father something as magnificent as the Constitution, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be able to hold his own against us. As it stands, I can just about guarantee that Madison now wishes that he focused his Federalist Paper No. 10 on how to contain The Villain in pick-and-roll situations instead of how to contain political factions, but that’s sort of stating the obvious.
Final score: Akron 111, John Carroll 48
"Now is the fun part. All of those miles (of training) are going to pay off."
"Especially for the young guys, this is a great opportunity for them. John Carroll gave us everything they had tonight."
The new players are "somewhere around 80 percent right now, but they're going to be ready."
"Free throws were a big emphasis this summer. Composure. Coach and I sit down and have a lot of talks about it. When you're an upperclassman, you need to go out there with composure and try to lead your team. I know my teammates need me."
"They just told me to keep crashing. I was doing well. I have big shoes to fill, and I do. Jimmy Conyers had 22 rebounds in one game."
New guys "will play a big role. Coach D prides himself on getting more than six guys ready. (After last year) we lost a lot, but we also gained a lot."
"I thought there were a couple chippy fouls. (The referees) cracked down on it."
"Us guards have been working at our shot a lot. It has shown. I hung in there and just let it fly. That's what shooters do."
"If you analyze John Carroll, they live and die off that pressure. They can turn people over. We did a good job against the press."
"We're big and strong, which presents problems for Division II, Division III-type teams."
"I thought it was a tough game, coming in. Their big kid, who is an All-American, was hurt. They don't have a lot of high, Division I-type players. Their point guard is the other one."
"Nik, Brett and Bardo have really played well this fall. It has been clear-cut which guys are going to play. Our fluidity with our old guys is better. We're a little further along."
"I think Alex and Quincy are big keys for us. We feel like Alex is going to be an 85 percent free throw shooter, and he didn't make any (tonight). He looks like he's slow as molasses, but he's getting by guys. We would like to take six, seven, eight pounds off him so he can defend. Quincy doesn't know very much as far as our system, but he's an explosive athlete. He gets his hands on a lot of balls. He just has to get used to me."
"Dakotah and Josh Egner are going to be good too. They just need to learn the playbook. If you're not going to be smart, you have to be a hard-playing moron."
"I was a little upset with (Alex, after the off-the-backboard stunt). Terry (Weigand) said to me, 'At least it was unselfish.'"
"I thought (Zeke) did some good things. We've gotta keep the ball inbounds on his blocks. He has a terrific jump hook. I think he's 100 percent better than he was last year. He's still not what he want, which is total domination. I think that's where he'll be next year. Last year, we force-fed his minutes. This year, we're going to force-feed his touches. Next year, we'll get a Chris Kaman-like guy we can play through -- and then hope he doesn't leave early (for the NBA). I'd like to get him to about 225 (pounds)."
"I think (Brett McKnight) is going to have a good year. He's just gotta abide by the rules. He's a great kid. He just has to do what we want. I think he'll play (against Millikin)."
"I think we're going to be good. I always think we're going to be good. We have a tough schedule. Our record might not be great, but we're capable of winning the league. We're a little light in the backcourt. If we can keep our core group, we can play with anyone in the league. We're just a little better camaraderie-wise."
"We're going to be as good as the big boy is. If he's good, it doesn't matter what anyone else does."
"I love LeBron. I don't care what anybody thinks. We have a great shoe deal because of LeBron. We get to recruit a lot of good players because of LeBron. Do I wish we would have stayed? Yes. But maybe we'll have more people in the seats because they won't be going up to Cleveland. I wouldn't be the coach here if it wasn't for him. I'm going to stay by my guy."