Refresh your browser for updates...
Also log into
the chat at ZipsNation.org to keep up with real time commentary. Most fans will be at The Q so the chat probably won't be very robust.
Akron will go with the same starting lineup:
Nate Linhart, Nick Dials, Cedrick Middleton, Jeremiah Wood and
Chris McKnight. WMU is starting
Shawntes Gary and
The crowd seems to be predominantly Akron, but I'll have to wait for the action to find out for sure. The Rowdies are stashed up in the second deck. At least they can stand up there.
If I had to bet my life, I'd take Western Michigan. But I would never voluntarily bet a dollar either way.
Akron got off to an 10-2 start behind two 3's and two McKnight layups.
I won't keep updating the score and time. If you can't get in front of a television, radio or
ChannelSurfing.net, tough luck.
Akron is winning, but they aren't necessarily playing better. They are getting the bounces and making 3's.
Patrick McManamon asked me why
Steve McNees plays so much. As a columnist, McMananon didn't attend the early season games where McNees was a spark. At this point, that's the only answer I had for him.
Wood got a minute of rest, then came back in once
Keith Dambrot realized how lame the offense was without him.
The Zips can get revenge for their women's team, which
lost to Western Michigan in the first round on Sunday.
Brett McKnight is really picking up on Dambrot's system. Early in the year, he would make some shots, but look like he was on acid most of the game.
If college basketball had a hand-check rule, the Zips would be the best team in the league. The scrappy slaps tend to wear on Akron's guards and get them out of rhythm. On the other hand, the Zips' ball defense is mostly hands-off.
I ran into
Captain Kangaroo and
Dr. Z following yesterday's game at Panini's. They're good guys. If you ever see them, thank them for spending their time and money to assemble the MAC's best fan site.
Akron's offense is getting more easy baskets as the game goes on. That is without Wood on the floor.
I drove to the game with the Buchtelite's
Adam Ferrise. We devised a plan to sit behind
Michael Reghi to get some face time on TV. It didn't work out. Those prime locations were taken when we arrived.
Wood just crashed into the media table about four spots from me. He send some Coca-Cola flying but no harm done. I take it back. Wood has a gash on his right wrist. The refs haven't seen it yet, but Reitz has some of the blood on the back of his jersey.
Linhart has done a terrific job sticking in Kool's shirt. He has only been open on fast breaks and double screens.
Akron has danced around a 10-point lead, but hadn't broken the threshold until Middleton drilled a 3.
WMU has a decent turnout, considering Kalamazoo is
four hours away.
Akron has not shot a free throw yet. WMU has shot 10, make eight.
Halftime score: Akron 37, WMU 24.
Halftime stats of note: Akron is killing WMU on the boards: 16 to eight. The Zips have made 5-of-9 3-point attempts. WMU is 0-for-5. Dials has four assists. Chris McKnight has 12 points. Wood has five rebounds, three being offensive. WMU only has three assists as a team.
WMU accomplished one goal: to stay out of foul trouble. Reitz, in particular, is foul prone, but he does not have any. For the Zips, Wood,
Darryl Roberts and Brett McKnight have two. That gives Dambrot another reason to rest Wood.
Zippy is shooting around at halftime. He nearly took out McManamon's laptop with the carem off a brick. Pat's not here right now, so there's no reason to apprise him of the marsupial's malfeasance.
Contrary to popular belief,
Jimmy Conyers is alive. I'm watching him in the layup line. Dambrot told Ferrise that he's in the doghouse. I still hope Dambrot adopts my plan for him next year. Tell him that the offense runs through him for five minutes. No shot will be hoisted unless it's from Conyers' hands or Conyers would get the assist. He might be the least assertive player ever to have his talent level.
Back to the action:
Michael Redell started the half with a 3. Chris McKnight answered with a mid-range jumper.
Regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, here is some good news:
Tim Carroll is fine. He had chest pains, but the tests showed nothing. He is on the bench but not dressed. Now we have to pray for good news regarding Miami coach
Gary just air-balled a 3. He has been a non-factor tonight.
An Akron fan behind me keeps yelling, "Integrity of the game!" This is happening while only the cheerleaders are on the floor, mind you. I can only scratch my head.
The refs made two bogus calls in a row. Chris McKnight fell victim to an offensive foul that was really just a flop. Then his brother got called for three seconds just as Akron brought the ball across half court.
Linhart was involved in a scuffle with a WMU player. It was on the other side of the floor, so I didn't see who it was.
I have to give props to WMU's band for playing "Separate Ways" by Journey before the game. That was the first song I learned on the piano. They gave it a nice rendition.
Akron is getting good shots on every possession. Dambrot must be thrilled. They are up 14 with eight minutes to play.
Derek Fracalossi hurdled at least three rows in a failed attempt to save a pass.
It's probably time to start stalling the clock. Akron leads by 13 with 6:12 left and WMU just hit two 3's in a row.
Now the Zips lead by 15 with 4:59 left. As I wrote in the chat room, I wouldn't pull the starters (not including Wood) until it's "clearly over." To me, that means you'd bet you would bet your house on 1,000-to-1 odds.
Wood just air-balled a free throw. Yikes. The Zips are up 13 with 4:00 to play.
Now the fans behind me are rhetorically asking: Can you smell what the Zips are cookin'? I can appreciate that. Akron's up 11 with 3:41 to play. Reitz laid a hard foul on Brett McKnight, who split the pair.
McKnight made two more free throws to extend the lead to 14. Then he carried the ball on the next possession. Fourteen point lead with 2:20 to play.
McKnight fouled Gary as he made a shot. Three-point plays are inexcusable right now.
Middleton limped to and from the bench during the timeout. It's an 11-point lead and the Broncos are pressing full court. WMU fouled Brett McKnight again.
Bad news: Wood is at the line. Good news: The Zips are shooting two now that WMU has 10 fouls.
Kool made another 3. The Broncos fouled Roberts. Akron leads by eight with 1:12 left. WMU called ANOTHER timeout. I don't see why
Steve Hawkins is wasting all of them. They might be valuable if the Broncos get a little closer. Roberts made both.
Wood is inexplicably still on the court. He won't make many free throws. He's hurt. What the heck?
Zips are up eight with 42 seconds left. WMU fouled Dials, who made both. WMU fouled Brett McKnight after a missed 3 from WMU. He made both.
The Zips will head to the finals after playing two of their best games all year. I'll stick around for the Kent State-Miami game, which is set to start at 10:30.
Chris McKnight won Player of the Game with 16.
Final score -- Akron 73, WMU 62