Akron's starters: Zeke Marshall, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan, Steve McNees and Darryl Roberts.
Millikin's point guard is wearing an extensive wrist guard. You would be safe calling it a cast. The fact that he's still the starter tells me he's the best player on the team. (Keeping with my long-standing policy, I don't use names of players on opposing non-Division I teams.)
Millikin has one of the shortest starting lineups I've ever seen. I don't doubt the average fivesome at the Rec Center has more inches.
Brett McKnight checked into the game. He's wearing a leg sleeve that extends down to his calf.
Millikin has not gotten much offensively. With their lack of size, I'm guessing it's a team that prefers to slash. There's a seven-footer wearing white that has plugged the lane so far.
A cheerleader fell to the floor while being lifted up by a male cheerleader. She got up and walked off the court OK, but you could tell she was in pain.
Millikin committed a lane violation when one player took a step inside the 3-point arch after the referee had already handed the ball to the shooter. It's a rule that not too many people know. I knew about it, but I don't know the rationale behind it.
This is a real game for Akron. So any freshman who plays tonight loses his redshirt. Alex Abreu's is gone, as he checked in at the 14 minute mark.
This game is over before it really started. Akron is up 19 with 12:11 left in the first half.
Abreu just stole the ball about three feet away from me along the side line. Right before he nabbed it, Abreu shouted "Oh, give me that!" It was pretty funny.
I'm happy with the size of this crowd. It's actually much larger because many people are waiting in the concession lines for their dollar hotdogs.
Akron beat Buffalo in soccer to advance to the MAC Championship at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The NCAA Selection Show is Monday at 4:30 p.m. You can watch with fellow fans at the Barley House.
That cheerleader who fell is back on the floor. It takes some serious guts to get back out there right after falling from eight feet in front of thousands of people. Kudos.
Since the coaching staff calls me "Coach Rasor," here is some advice from Coach Rasor: Use this game to develop a killer mentality. The new goal is to keep Millikin under 10 points this half. And 30 points for the entire game. In other words, be cold-hearted jerks. There is no room for compassion in this game. The only reason Millikin's player are still on the floor is to close your lead, so make your only objective to widen it.
Millikin's tallest player prefers to hang out on the perimeter, so it's giving Marshall some experience outside his comfort level. Marshall, by the way, is 5-for-5, including a deep bank shot (on which Zeke did not call "glass").
Akron is playing a GREAT defensive game. Millikin simply isn't getting opportunities. If the Zips can duplicate this regularly, watch out.
McClanahan hoisted a 3 from the corner with an unusual stroke that seemed to rely equally on both arms. It sailed over the rim for an airball.
Abreu got beat off the dribble by a not-too-athletic-looking Millikin guard. Keith Dambrot subbed him out at the next opportunity.
Blowout watch: Akron's up 37-7 with 5 minutes left in the first half.
Josh Egner's redshirt is on the bonfire.
Dambrot is following my philosophy. He is contesting inbounds passes after made shots (all with a 35-point lead). That's cold, but I love it.
McClanahan took another unusual-looking shot. It also missed badly.
The AK-Rowdies fooled a Millikin player into thinking the shot clock was going to expire. The poor kid heaved an off-balance shot that didn't come close to hitting the rim.
C.J. Oldham checked into the game. Nevermind what I've said about Marshall's legs; Oldham has the skinniest pegs I've ever seen.
McClanahan tossed up his third ugly shot. Sometimes I do something weird with my golf swing (like raising my hands at address) if I'm really having trouble with my hooks. Perhaps McClanahan is suffering from the basketball shanks.
Akron achieved the cartoonish goal I set 12 minutes ago. Millikin only scored nine points in the first half.
Halftime stats: Akron 49, Millikin 9. Marshall has 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. McClanahan has nine rebounds. Roberts and McNees have three assists apiece. Millikin has committed 17 turnovers (wow). The Zips are shooting 54.3 percent from the floor; Millikin is 17.4 percent.
Let's put this beatdown in context. Marshall alone has outscored Millikin by five. McClanahan has only three fewer rebounds than the entire Millikin squad. McNees and Roberts have three times more assists than Millikin's one. Millikin has four times more turnovers than it has field goals.
Cvetinovic got the ball stripped away and the refs called a foul. Cvetinovic took exception to the amount of contact, and he got up in the Millikin player's face. So much for that composure. A few plays later, Cvetinovic committed a technical foul. Unless the Millikin kid is talking smack against Serbia, I don't understand what's the big deal.
McClanahan shot another 3 and missed, but this time with a more normal form. A couple plays later he finally hit one.
Millikin has scored nine points in the first five minutes of the second half, already reaching the team's first-half output. In that span, Akron has scored 10 but let off the pedal defensively.
Millikin has shifted to a zone defense.
Marshall swished a 15-footer from the baseline. Normally, when the Zips make a shot, Dambrot just watches. This time, he applauded. It must be something the coaches want to see more of.
Forget what I said about that cheerleader. She went home after hitting her head and did not return to the game. She had ice on her head at halftime.
Mike Bardo is the Zips player I'd least like to fight. When he gets mad, it's unmistakable. It looks like he could go all Kermit Washington (explanation) on someone.
We haven't seen Dakotah Euton or Michael Green. If Euton's nickname is not "Big Country," then I'm all out of ideas.
McKnight tried to lead the fast break. It was not graceful. Dambrot let McKnight know he needs to "give it up" next time.
Zippy is attempting to start the wave in the bleachers.
McNees has not scored on two field goal attempts. He has been on the floor most of the game.
Abreu got burned off the dribble again by the same unathletic guard. Dambrot shouted across the floor, "Alex, you've gotta get down like this," while himself getting into the defensive position. Abreu was subbed out for Kyle Peterson.
On the fast break, Diggs zipped a perfect behind-the-back pass to Egner, who was coming from the baseline. Egner leaped too early (to avoid a Millikin defender) and consequently missed the dunk.
In other MAC-tion... Kent State and Miami escaped with narrow victories tonight. Eastern Michigan is getting a beating at Michigan State. Western Michigan nearly won at Xavier. Northwestern is playing at Northern Illinois. Kent State and Cleveland State are participating in a tournament at CSU, which will conclude Sunday with a matchup between the Vikings and Flashes.
I complained two weeks ago about the MAC media predicting Ohio and Kent State above Akron. Word is, these writers are so keyed in that Armon Bassett received three votes for Preseason All-MAC Team. This is amusing because Bassett is no longer enrolled at Ohio University.
Egner punctuated the victory with some thunderous dunks. The kid can soar.
Final stats of note: Game highs: Marshall, 17 points and four blocks. Abreu, eight assists. McClanahan, nine rebounds. Other stats: Diggs had eight points and eight rebounds. Roberts scored 14. Egner scored 15. Akron shot 51.6 percent compared to Millikin's 30.8 percent (which was much-improved since halftime). Millikin was only 4-of-14 from the foul line (28.6 percent).
Final score -- Akron 89, Millikin 41
"We played pretty well the first half. We didn't shoot it as well as we could have. We weren't really good the second half. It didn't matter at that point. You try to get them to play hard. It's hard to fool them. Obviously, we won at halftime, so what do you expect?"
"It's good for us, because I get to see guys like (Egner) who I normally don't see. It lets us build on Zeke's practice sessions. I didn't like him in the second half."
"I think the biggest thing that Zeke has this year is that, when I tell him something now, he totally buys into it. Part of it is we spent a lot of time together. You're going to see him hit that 15-foot jumper before it's over. I'm going to compare him to LeBron in this sense -- he's such an unselfish guy. When your potential best player is so unselfish, it's good for the team."
Said he gave all three freshmen forwards the option to redshirt. "Things may change, but for right now, (Euton and Green) are going to redshirt and (Egner and Abreu) are going to play. Josh really wanted to play. He's local and he thinks he's good. He's not very smart right now, but he's got loads of athleticism. He's going to be the next Romeo Travis. I believe that. He might play a lot (this season) before it's over."
"Steve McNees is totally unconcerned about how much he scores which shows maturity from a fifth-year senior. McClanahan showed how hard he can play. Roberts was more assertive than I've seen him offensively. At times, we played good defense. I thought we played reasonably well considering that Nikola was just fair. He needs to play with composure. Brett McKnight is about 50 percent of the way there physically."
"The one thing I realize about Zeke is that he's starting to realize what he has. God gave him a lot of gifts. It's hard to beat the big boys with 6-6 guys. The last time we were in the tournament, we were playing with a 6-foot guard and a 6-2 guard and the McKnights against Gonzaga. You can be in great position and it might not matter."
"It was a lot of fun. It's a great learning experience right now. The biggest thing is to get used to the speed we play at. Zeke, the Serb and Brett McKnight do a great job at pushing me to get ready."
"That's always fun (the dunks at the end). Alex reads the floor so well. I was trailing. He just saw me put my hand up. He does a really good job of seeing the floor. I think he could be a really good player here."
"Coming in, I knew, especially to start the season, it would be a battle to get minutes. I can't say I'm there. It's tough to get minutes until I learn how to defend. I hope I can contribute. What I don't know defensively I try to make up with athleticism."
"I definitely did (think about redshirting), but I thought there are things I can contribute to this team. I think we're going to be good, and I want to be a part of that."
"Our coaches emphasize defense. We got at it hard and we pressured as hard as we can."
On his bank shot: "I didn't call bank. The ball was slippery at the time."
"All I look for is the win. It doesn't matter whether I get zero or 20 (points)."
"I worked on every aspect of my game in the offseason. More defense, strength. I'm just getting a little more comfortable, knowing I have to score to win games. I realize I have to score more. As much as I don't want to, I have to."
"If I absolutely have to, I have to. I'm really unselfish. They say I'm too unselfish. That's who I am."
"I'm more comfortable. That's the biggest improvement. I'm not as jittery as I was last year."
Said he gained 15 pounds.
"If anyone sees a seven-footer when they drive, they're going to think about it."
"I take so much pride defensively. I didn't play well defensively (tonight)."
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