University of Akron Zips blog
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The ABJ's Tom Gaffney did an excellent job to preview the game. He says Akron is playing for a shot at the NIT. The Rams play superb perimeter defense. They are best in the nation at limiting opponents' 3-pointers.
The Zips are two-point favorites.
Former Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich ascended to coach Indiana after Kelvin Sampson resigned. It will be interesting to see if any players quit.
ESPN.com's Kyle Whelliston breaks down the game, saying this game is critical if the CAA is to have another two-bid season. He suggests the Zips are overmatched.
My prediction: VCU is a difficult matchup for Akron -- possibly the toughest of the year. The Zips have nothing to play for. The Rams do. It will take a huge boost from the home crowd to keep Akron in the game. If Eric Maynor plays well, the Zips will lose. Akron 65, VCU 71.
Gaffney said it appears like Jeremiah Wood isn't limping much. I will go on the record to say playing him today was a bad idea, unless he only sees a few minutes.
VCU ran its layup line right through Akron's cheerleaders before the Zips came out to the court. It seemed sort of disrespectful.
It's kinda neat to see daylight when you look out the doors at Rhodes Arena.
Zips starters: Nick Dials, Cedrick Middleton, Nate Linhart, Brett McKnight and Chris McKnight.
It took awhile, but the fans finally got to sit with a Linhart transition layup.
Wood entered the game to a nice ovation.
Akron went on an 8-0 run with the momentum from Wood's return. Wood scored four of them and had an assist on a Dials layup.
There's nothing to the rumor about Elton Alexander arguing/fighting with a Miami coach. The PD writer was going to meet up with the coach after the game, but there was no brawl planned. Maybe some coffee.
Maynor has been on the bench for awhile. I'm not sure why. He's definitely the Rams' best player.
Wood doesn't look as hoppy as usual. He's probably a little tenative because of the knee.
Alexander and Gaffney both disagree about the last-minute charge call at Miami. The refs had only made six foul calls all half, they reason. It would have to be a serious breach to change that in the final minute in Oxford. To me, a foul is a foul, regardless of how the rest of the game had been called. As much as refs like to "let them play," there has to be some reward for standing pat like Dials did.
Middleton has continued his strong play. He just drilled two 3-pointers.
Kent State is playing at top-25 St. Mary's today. A Flashes win, and their tournament hopes are pretty good if they win out and lose in the MAC Championship game. The MAC would benefit from a two-bid season. That said, I still hope St. Mary's curb stomps KSU.
Rams big man Larry Sanders has some serious athleticism. The freshman, who has several blocks today, is going to be very good.
I don't like how Keith Dambrot manages the end of halves. It seems like he rarely goes 2-for-1 when his team has the ball with about 50 seconds left. The counterargument is that it's best to get one good possession than two lousy ones, but it doesn't have to be that way.
A group of young girls danced to several songs, including "AK-Rowdy" by local rap group V.E.C. Yes, that's where the fan section's name derives.
Halftime leaders: Jamal Shuler with seven points, Wood with seven rebounds, Joey Rodriguez with three assists, and Sanders with six blocks.
Ronnie Steward is dressed and seems to be limping from his bum hip.
The Zips started tenatively in the second half, as well as the first. VCU went on a 6-0 run.
Some of us wondered why Akron was playing so poorly a couple weeks ago. A better question would have been: How could they hope to win without Wood and Middleton healthy? With both of them back, it's apparent they make a big difference on offense.
Wood needs to use the glass on his hook shots. It's a much higher percentage to use the window.
The fans are not pleased with the CAA refs. You might remember a similar occurrence from when Austin Peay came to Rhodes Arena with their conference's zebras. The fans booed them off the floor at halftime.
Middleton gave the Zips a brief lead with a 3, but Maynor responded with a three-point play. Since then, the Rams have controlled the game.
Akron is shooting 27 percent compared to VCU's 41 percent.
The Zips are fighting back with strangulating defense and motivated rebounding. Wood just converted a three-point play.
VCU is in the double-bonus and Shuler made a free throw to give the Rams a three point lead.
Wood had a shot blocked that would have chipped the lead to one. It sure looked like a goal tend to me.
Maynor missed two foul shots. Dials came down and fired up a desperation, "I want to be the hero" 3-pointer. It was a dumb shot that missed badly.
Rodriguez made two foul shots. Milum baseball passed the ball out of bounds. Game over.
The Zips now have a two-game home losing streak. This is the first time since 2000-01 that has happened at Rhodes Arena. It's not the worst thing in the world for Akron. The Zips have their best players playing well.
Final stats leaders: Shuler with 19 points, Wood with 12 rebounds and Rodriguez with five assists.
Final score -- Akron 52, VCU 57
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