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I haven't heard many people speculate about where Akron would be if
Ronnie Steward would be healthy. Tonight, he would certainly be an asset. You could cut
Humpty Hitchens' minutes without feeling like it was killing you.
If you could combine
Steve Swiech with
Mike Bardo, you would have an All-MAC player. Unfortunately, Bardo looks like he's playing with mittens on offense. On defense, Swiech looks like he woke up and found himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Both have skills. Both have big-time deficiencies. Push them together and you have
Tyler Hansbrough. Well, that's an exaggeration.
During a commercial break, read this
recap of today's football practice. The story is very, very well done and answered all the questions I would have asked. Kudos. It looks like the defensive line and linebackers are playing well. The quarterbacks had good stats. The running backs were mostly hurt.
Deryn Bowser is making fewer mistakes, so that's nice, too, because he's a game-breaker when he concentrates.
A Miami cheerleader has a bag of ice against her jaw. I asked her what happened. Certainly, she caught an elbow, or something. Nope. Wisdom teeth removal.
The MAC publications cannot agree on
Antonio Ballard's year. The score sheet calls him a junior. The starting lineup sheet calls him a senior. Miami's media guide clears it up. Ballard is a sophomore.
Have you ever wondered who has the smartest athletes? The answer is Northern Illinois. The 380 Huskies athletes have an average GPA of 3.04, followed by Ball State (3.024), CMU (3.019) and WMU (3.016).
Carl Richburg broke the game's seal with a 3-pointer.
Hitchens looks fine. As you know, however, an ankle injury only takes a tweak to become excruciating.
Here is a story about the new Skyway restaurant, which is going in right next to the stadium.
A large number of AK-Rowdies showed up. I feel bad for the fans with seats behind them. Also, there is a suite of people behind them that is all-but worthless now.
Akron has missed its first nine shots. Thus, you have a 9-1 Miami lead. You know MAC basketball well enough not to get excited either way about that.
Brett McClanahan hit Akron's first field goal, a 3, with 14:24 left in the first half.
Bramos has nine points in the first nine minutes of the game, giving him 1,500 career points. Bramos is the sixth player to reach that milestone. The others are
Ron Harper, Wally Szczerbiak, Devin Davis, Damon Frierson and
Landon Hackim. You probably remember
Tim Pollitz; he finished with 1,411.
Steve McNees and
Darryl Roberts made back-to-back 3s to pull Akron within five. Bramos answered with his own 3. He has 12.
I like Miami freshman
Julian Mavunga. He didn't make the All-Freshman team because his stats are modest. He is tall, athletic and strong. I would take him in the MAC's Rule Five Draft.
Stop the presses. Roberts missed a foul shot.
Miami's band is very good.
Adam Fletcher, aka the Geico caveman, shouted "Ahh, damn!" after allowing Brett McKnight to grab an offensive rebound. It was hilarious!
Miami is doing a good job setting screens for Bramos and thus springing him free from
Nate Linhart's totalitarian control.
The ref called a late whistle on a
Nik Cvetinovic travel. He did travel, but the call was about a second late.
Akron has made its share of 3s. It's the twos that have been a conundrum. Akron is 2-for-14 on regular field goals.
The Zips almost converted the ultra-rare five-point play. Fletcher fouled Cvetinovic as a McNees 3 swished through the net. Cvetinovic missed the back end of the one-and-one. Akron got the rebound, but Roberts missed an open 3.
McNees drilled his fourth 3-pointer.
Nick Winbush answered with his own. Would it be overly cliche to say McNees is seeing red, as in RedHawks? (Of course, you remember McNees' coming-out party last year against Miami at Rhodes Arena where he scored 20 points and was 6-for-6 on 3s.)
Michael Reghi at the other end of press row, and I'm getting sad. I loved him doing Cavs games. Loved him.
Matt Goukas was gold, too. I like
Fred McLeod and
Austin Carr, but Reghi is my first love, and I will never love another voice quite like his. Strangely, though, Carr's uncreative catch phrases are starting to grow on me. (GET THAT WEAK STUFF OUTTA HERE!)
Halftime stats of note: The Zips went to the locker room on a 17-4 run. McNees and Bramos each have 14.
Chris McKnight has four rebounds. Both teams are taking care of the ball, with only 11 combined turnovers. Akron is shooting 33 percent but is 6-of-13 on 3s. Miami is shooting 40 percent and has made 5-of-11 3s. Bramos has two blocked shots. He sent a Bardo shot into the backcourt and screamed: "GET THAT WEAK STUFF OUT OF HERE!" Well, he didn't yell actually anything.
In regard to foul trouble:
Tyler Dierkers, Fletcher,
Rodney Haddix, Linhart, Brett McKnight and Jimmy Conyers each have two.
Hitchens only played four minutes in the first half. Wise move by the coaches, if you ask me. In fact, it has paid off with McNees getting more shots off.
Akron gets the ball to start halftime with a chance to take its first lead. Chris McKnight rebounded a Cvetinovic miss to achieve it.
Linhart made a 3 from the corner. On the next possession, he used his off arm as a wedge to pick up his third foul. Not good.
In my post below, I talked about clock woes. In last year's tournament, I had to wave the scorer's table down to notify them about the wrongly trickling ticker. It makes you lose faith in the process. Just a little.
Akron notched a very productive possession. The Zips drew two fouls. Cvetinovic got away with a blatant shove to allow Akron to grab an offensive rebound. Then Roberts swished a 3. The Zips are on a 10-3 run, spanning both halves. Akron leads by four.
I think Miami has a chance to be better next season.
Kenny Hayes will return as the MAC's best point guard. Winbush has potential to fill in partially for Bramos. Mavunga will be good. They might suffer if
Charlie Coles steps down, though. Buffalo returns its two best players. Akron returns everyone but Linhart (and adds
Zeke Marshall). Kent, Ohio and Bowling Green will rebuild.
The media timeout drained Akron's momentum.
Mercedes-Benz has a large advertisement under the big scoreboard. Not coincidentally, only the fans in expensive seats can see it.
Keith Dambrot rarely celebrates, but he pumped his fists after Cvetinovic made his third consecutive shot. A Chris McKnight fast break dunk extended the Zips' lead to six.
Michael Beaven is sitting next to me. We both agree that Akron needs to run the floor. Miami can't keep up, and if the Zips open up a large lead, the RedHawks aren't capable of getting back in it. The downside is that a high tempo forces you to play defense about 60 percent of the game when Miami is slugging it on the other end.
Bramos has made 10 free throws and 20 points. A side effect is that Chris McKnight and Linhart each have three fouls. The Zips have eight fouls this half. The most Bramos had ever scored against Akron was 15.
The Zips achieved a five-point swing when Bramos missed the front end of a one-and-one and Roberts made a 3 on the other end. Akron is up six again.
The refs called a lousy foul on Roberts because he did not move to allow
Antonio Ballard a clear path to an alleyoop pass. Ballard initiated the contact. Dambrot didn't like it, either.
McNees splashed a 3 from the corner to extend Akron's lead to 10 with six minutes left. The five-point swing possession is the key moment of the game, so far.
Linhart hit a 3 put Akron up 13. Bramos responded with a fall-away 3 of his own.
As you know, I'm no liberal. Political correctness mostly annoys me. Still, it surprises me to hear Miami's band members make the stereotype Native American sound. You know, the one with the hand flapping against the mouth. That's the only way I can think to describe it.
With just more than three minutes left and facing a nine-point deficit, Miami has to start scoring on each possession. Running the clock down to 10 seconds is not advised.
Linhart slapped the ball away from Fletcher, who was posting up. I thought probably the same thing Coles did: Why is Miami isolating for this guy?
Cvetinovic made a bone-head foul on Richburg during a loose ball, sending Miami's point guard to the line for two. He made both. Even if Miami made a field goal, it likely would have ran 20 seconds off the clock.
Despite that, Akron needs to make its free throws, not foul and avoid turnovers. McNees missed the front end, but Cvetinovic rebounded it for 25 seconds of ticking.
Richburg drove down the lane and plowed over Chris McKnight, whose head banged the hardwood. It was an offensive foul, which basically seals the game. Coles subbed in his rarely used senior
Isiah Carson as a sign the RedHawks' season is over.
Final score -- Miami 63, Akron 73