University of Akron Zips blog
Keep clicking "refresh" as the game goes along...
Darryl Roberts and Brett McKnight are eligible and will play tonight, according to GoZips.com. I'm not exactly sure, but I think I saw Ronnie Steward in athletic gear, too.
Conversely, the university confirmed what we already suspected. Steve Swiech and Eric Coblentz will redshirt.
True enough, both are suited up. The excitement for an unknown player takes me back to mid-'90s WCW when you never knew who would cross over from WWF. One day it's Bret "The Hitman" Hart; the next it's "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig (RIP). OK, I might be going a little to Bill Simmons-y with that analogy.
I'm sitting next to ESPN.com's Kyle Whelliston, who says A&T is a fast team. He is THE expert on mid-major hoops.
Attendance is sparce. I can count the AK-Rowdies on my hands and feet. The bleachers behind each basket might as well be bare.
Cedrick Middleton took a forearm to the face while going for a rebound. Aside from people on their cell phones, the place went silent. He got up and Steve McNees replaced him.
The Zips are having their way on the offensive boards. The Aggies' frontcourt has players who are 6-foot-6, 6-6 and 6-9.
Middleton returned, stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup.
Notwithstanding the first five minutes of this game, the Aggies are pretty good. They're picked second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference behind Hampton, the famed knocker-offers of Marcus Fizer's two-seeded Iowa State team. A&T has won at DePaul this season. Built on senior guards, A&T might even win a game in the NCAA Tournament if it gets there.
Roberts entered the game with 13 minutes to play. There seemed to be a little miscommunication in off-ball movement with McNees.
Jeremiah Wood got tagged in the face, too. He left a nice trail of blood on his way back to the bench. Brett McKnight took his place. Maybe we'll see if he's worth the hype. He drilled his first shot -- a 3-pointer at the top of the key.
Whelliston thinks the MAC is a one-bid league again. I would have been surprised to hear him say otherwise.
With a bunch of 3s, Akron went on a 16-4 run.
The Zips have very balanced scoring so far. Ten players have scored in the first 15 minutes of the game. Nick Dials leads the team with nine (all on 3-pointers).
Mike Bardo had a huge stuff to prevent an easy bucket. He is going to be a real asset if the Zips encounter a team that rests its offense on a post player (cough, OU). As I typed that, Bardo got lost on a backdoor cut, which led to an easy A&T bucket.
Wood is back in the game with what appears to be stitches over his left eye.
Roberts had a nifty dish to Wood for a dunk. On the other end, he got burned off the ball after going for a steal. That led to an easy layup. Roberts certainly errs on the side of aggression when he's playing defense. Two plays later, he knocked down an open 3-pointer.
These new guys are giving Keith Dambrot dozens of options for rotations. There should be no reason for any player to be tired.
Akron had the ball with 50 seconds left and refused to go two-for-one. One of my pet peeves is bad clock management. For a more robust analysis for the last possession of a half, read this blog post from earlier this year.
The most telling stat of the half: Rebounds - Akron 24, A&T 9.
A&T scored eight quick points to start the half. Six came from 3-pointers by Steven Rush. The Zips need to suffocate him on the perimeter. Dials is on him right now.
With Jimmy Conyers going to a T-shirt under his jersey, that makes two Zips with the Patrick Ewing look. The other is Chris McKnight.
Speaking of Conyers, he just won the DeSagana Diop Medal of Honor for committing three fouls within two minutes.
Nate Linhart is having another nice game with 10 points and four rebounds. I hope he realizes that good things will happen for him ONLY when he passes and crashes the boards. If he's taking a defender off the dribble, something has went gravely wrong.
The Zips' offense just went stale. Dambrot needs to execute the hockey line shift.
A&T has improved on the boards. I wouldn't be surprised to see them holding a rebounding advantage for the second half. In fact, they do (14 to 11). The Zips still have 18 second-chance points compared to four for the Aggies.
Brett McKnight knocked down another 3. That's six points in his debut.
If you haven't seen Roberts play, you might confuse him with Tim Carroll. They have similar looking numbers (12 and 15), facial features, height and they both wear high socks. They are both playing right now.
Dials led the Zips with 21 points. Wood had 15 rebounds. Middleton had four assists.
Final score -- Akron 88, North Carolina A&T 70
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