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Dambrot shares LeBron's secret to success

By mrasor Published: May 28, 2009

Men's basketball
Sure, LeBron James is a physical freak, but since high school he has possessed the understanding of how to keep teammates happy, Keith Dambrot said on 89.7 WKSU this week.
"He's a freak mentally," said Dambrot, James' high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School.
When St. Vincent/St. Mary's played a bad team, James would not try to score 50, Dambrot explained. James would try to pass the ball around and develop his teammates' skills, because he knew that those teammates would be essential to winning championships.
It is no surprise that James is playing a phenomenal postseason. When the game matters, James is a sure bet to arrive to the arena with a special passion.
Now that the Cavaliers sit in a 3-1 hole, a lot of fans expect the worst. Considering that this is Cleveland, it's not a bad tactic. Set low expectations and eliminate chances of disappointment.
I really, truly believe Cleveland will win this series. The teams will play tonight in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have only lost three games at The Q all season. If the Cavaliers win, the momentum shifts slightly. And if Mo Williams or Delonte West start hitting shots, the momentum shifts dramatically.
Game Six would become the swing game. Win it, and the series comes back to Cleveland, where the Cavaliers would be favored to advance to the Finals.
I have seen the statistics; teams rarely come back from 3-1 deficits. Let me tell you something else. This isn't the usual team that is down 3-1. This is a team with two home games remaining. This is a team that has been torched by red-hot 3-point shooting, which is a fickle dagger. This is a team with NBA Finals experience. This is a team with the best player in the world.
Yes, it does require a three-game winning streak against the NBA's hottest team. But no step along the way is improbable. If you want to give up on the Cavs as a coping mechanism, I understand that. Disappointment is a bitter beverage. But if you're truthfully analyzing Cleveland's chances, you must hold hope.

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An announcement

By mrasor Published: May 26, 2009

Miscellaneous
I am circulating petitions to run for Stow City Council in the fall.
I have been pondering this decision for a long time. I really think my hometown needs a youthful approach to municipal government. At the same time, it would take a lot of hard work to do the job how I want to do it.
This week, I concluded that this is something I really want to do. Encouraging e-mails from blog readers have helped.
You can join my Facebook group to get updates on campaign developments or follow me on Twitter.

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Opponent outlook: Indiana

By mrasor Published: May 26, 2009

Football
Zips fans will anticipate the Indiana game as a potential landmark victory over a Big Ten team in InfoCision Stadium -- a victory that could pique the interest of lukewarm fans in Northeast Ohio.
No. It's not Ohio State. Or even Michigan State. But it's a midwestern BCS team with name recognition. A win likely will give Akron a winning record, which is rare in the nonconference portion of the schedule. Indiana suffered two defeats at the hands of MAC teams in 2008, so fans' optimism for this game is legitimate.
2008 recap: After starting the season 2-0, the Hoosiers underwent losing streaks of four and five games to finish 3-9. Sandwiched between the skids was the bright point of the season: a 22-19 upset over No. 22 Northwestern. Some other disappointing facts: The Hoosiers first two wins came over Division I-AA teams. Only one player earned All-Big Ten honors -- Jammie Kirlew, a coaches' pick at second-team defensive end. The defense had serious problems stopping the pass. The Hoosiers gave up almost a touchdown more per game than the second-worst Big Ten team. On Nov. 22, Purdue kindly asked Bill Lynch's boys to bite the curb. The Hoosiers obliged, losing 62-10 to end the season.
What they lost: Quarterback Kellen Lewis has another year of eligibility, but he won't play. Lynch kicked Lewis off the team for violating team rules. Lewis' big-play ability was one of Indiana's only weapons. Akron felt Lewis' impact in 2007, when the quarterback scored five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing), and Indiana won, 41-24. Indiana's offense also lost running back Marcus Thigpen, the Big Ten's 10th leading rusher, and receiver Ray Fisher, who caught the 10th most passes per game in the conference. Fisher is still on the team, but he will move to cornerback. Lynch also must replace kicker Austin Starr.
2009 outlook: The good news for Indiana fans is that 18 starters will return. Kirlew was second in the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks last season. He is one of two defensive ends who will anchor the experienced defense. Indiana's situation raises the age-old question, however: Is it really a good thing to have everyone back -- when "everyone" failed so miserably last season? ... With Lewis gone, the job belongs to Ben Chappell, who started three games in 2008, throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions. The entire offensive line returns, so it is likely Indiana will find a running back to replace Thigpen. But the Hoosiers have no chance to break .500 if they don't find some receivers.
How the Hoosiers will test the Zips: Kirlew will be matched up against Akron's only inexperienced lineman, left tackle Jake Anderson. If Kirlew is consistently meddling in Chris Jacquemain's affairs, the Hoosiers' mediocre defense will look stalwart. The Hoosiers offense will move the chains behind its experienced offensive line unless Jim Fleming stacks the box with an extra defensive back.
How the Zips will test the Hoosiers: Indiana struggled mightily to stop the pass in 2008. Its secondary doesn't look much better this season. The Zips' passing game is a strength, so with a few quick strikes, Akron could bury Indiana early. Without experience at receiver, Indiana probably won't challenge the Zips' thin secondary.
Way-too-early prediction: Akron will trade touchdowns for Indiana field goals. Eventually, the game gets out of reach for the Hoosiers. Akron 38, Indiana 20
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Also this... Here is a directory of head coaches using Twitter. In the MAC, Toledo and Eastern Michigan's coaches are using Twitter, apparently as a way to communicate with recruits and fans.

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Eighteen new scholarship offers

By mrasor Published: May 25, 2009

Football
Below are 18 scholarship offerees.
Many of these players are the best of the best. You might be thinking, Akron has no chance. That is true, at least during this part of their careers. As we have seen with DeVoe Torrence, Dale Martin and David Harvey (to name a few), committing to the big boys doesn't always work. Every year, a couple players boomerang back to recruiters they initially shunned.
Much of this information comes from ScoutingOhio.com, which is the best source for Ohio prospects and their highlight videos.

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Hits and misses on Akron-related eBay items

By mrasor Published: May 23, 2009

Miscellaneous
I am slowly becoming an eBay addict. I mean, items can be sooo cheap. And it buying with clicks can be sooo much quicker than driving to the store and looking through aisles.
In the past two weeks, I have bought five useful items for my iPod and cell phone -- all cheaper than $5 (and that includes the shipping). So let's take a look at how the eBay phenomenon translates to Akron merchandise.

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Coach Kest is tweeting

By mrasor Published: May 20, 2009

Women's basketball
Akron coach Jodi Kest has started tweeting regularly, providing updates on her day-to-day coaching activities. I find Twitter to be a smart way to increase fan interest.

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Akron extends five more scholarship offers

By mrasor Published: May 19, 2009

Opponent outlook: Morgan State

By mrasor Published: May 18, 2009

Football
Nowhere in the nation will you find a more highly anticipated game between a Division I-A and Division I-AA team.
On Sept. 12, Akron unlocks the turnstiles at InfoCision Stadium. The first opponent is Morgan State, a Division I-AA team from Baltimore.
The Bears are coming off a 6-6 season in which they boasted the best defense in Division I-AA. (I refuse to call it Football Championship Series, because it's misleading, cumbersome and nobody knows what you're referring to.) Anyhow, Morgan State held every 2008 opponent, including Rutgers, to fewer than 350 yards. The Bears ran the ball well, but only averaged 105 passing yards per game behind former Zip Carlton Jackson.
What they lost: Six Bears earned First-Team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors, including the MEAC's Defensive Player of the Year, Jarrell Guyton. Of those six players, Morgan State lost Guyton, an offensive lineman and a defensive back. The Bears also lost their place kicker, punter and two of the top three receivers.
2009 outlook: Morgan State returns two Preseason All-Americans in linebacker Justin Lawrence and offensive lineman Robert Norris. Lawrence logged 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2008. The Bears also retain their 1,000-yard running back Devan James and Jackson, who split snaps with two other quarterbacks last season. Another former Zip, Rodney Etienne, plays defensive back for Morgan State. He played in seven games last season and returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown.
How Morgan State will test the Zips: Morgan State is an above-average Division I-AA team. Understandably, Akron's emotions will be flying high with opening the new stadium. The Bears will get some first downs behind James. If the Bears add collect a few turnovers and steadily put up points, the Zips' emotions will go from "Let's pound these guys to open The Info" to "Holy crap. We might lose this game and taint a $60 million investment."
How Akron will test the Bears: The Zips know Jackson and his tendencies. They know each of his screen passes are a "pick six" waiting to happen. James is a good running back, but Akron should be able to hold him under 100 yards. (If not, then it's a gruesome harbinger of things to come.) Lawrence is a strong pass rusher, but the offensive line should be a fortress.
Way-too-early prediction: At best, it's a storybook opening for a beautiful new stadium. At worst, it's a grind-it-out win. Akron 33, Morgan State 6
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Men, women defend MAC track championships

By mrasor Published: May 18, 2009

Track
Last season, Akron's men won their first MAC Track and Field Championship in school history, while the women continued with their dominance in the conference with a third-straight title.
This weekend, Akron solidified itself as the conference's elite program. The men and women successfully defended their titles.
The men won by 19 points over Eastern Michigan. The women bested 2nd place Kent State by 40.5 points. Stevi Large (women's) and Daniel Kinsey (men's) won the MAC Outstanding Field Performance awards. Akron's Dennis Mitchell won the MAC Men's Coach of the Year and Women's Coach of the Year awards.
Multiple athletes will compete at the NCAA Regionals, which are held May 29-30 in Louisville, Ky.
Baseball
Akron finished its season with a 17-9 loss at Bowling Green.
The Zips (19-33, 12-15 MAC) failed to earn a berth in the eight-team MAC Tournament for the fourth-straight year.

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Greg Paulus will play quarterback at Syracuse

By mrasor Published: May 14, 2009

Football
One of Akron's opponents added a prominent name at quarterback.
Greg Paulus, who has played point guard at Duke for four years, will use his final semester of NCAA eligibility to play football at Syracuse, whom Akron will visit on Oct. 24.
As the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2004, Paulus heard from plenty of recruiters coming out of high school. He will compete for the job with last year's quarterback Cameron Dantley. Ironically, Dantley also has a basketball connection. His father Adrian Dantley is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Jason Taylor returns to Miami

By mrasor Published: May 13, 2009

Football
One of the University of Akron's most famous alumni passed up $7.4 million.
After being released by the Washington Redskins, Jason Taylor will return to the Miami Dolphins, where he feels more comfortable. Taylor refused to participate in offseason workouts with Washington, so the Redskins released him. He said, "My heart has always been in Miami," where he will earn $1.1 million, rather than $8.5 million.
Taylor joins fellow Akron alumnus Andy Alleman, who is an offensive lineman with the Dolphins.

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Opponent outlook: Penn State

By mrasor Published: May 13, 2009

Football
On Sept. 5, Akron will commence the most important season in the program's history against Penn State in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions finished the 2008 season ranked eighth in the national polls. USC gave them a 38-24 beating in the Rose Bowl. On the whole, it was a season of redemption for the Joe Paterno's team.
What they lost: The defense lost eight defensive players to the NFL, either through the draft or free agency. The most prominent, of course, is defensive end Aaron Maybin, who shot up draft boards and landed 11th overall to the Buffalo Bills. One of the most talented returners on defense is Navorro Bowman, but the first-team all-conference linebacker flunked a drug test, and Paterno is uncertain of his future. On offense, Penn State returns the Big Ten's best quarterback in Daryll Clark and the Second-Team All-Big Ten running back Evan Royster. That's the good news. The bad news is that Penn State lost the best trio of receivers the school has ever seen. Led by third-round pick Derrick Williams, the three receivers will each play on Sundays next season.
Spring season recap: PSU set a school record with 76,500 fans attending the Blue-White game. Despite losing three receivers, the Nittany Lions secondary got "torched" by the newcomers and Clark. Junior receiver Graham Zug, a former walk-on, earned an award for being the spring's most-improved offensive player.
How they will test the Zips: Akron's secondary is young, and Clark is a veteran quarterback. If PSU's receivers are actually as good as they looked in the spring game, it will be ugly. Akron's run defense should be much improved with a new 3-4 scheme and an stable of talented linemen, but it will get the strongest test of the year in Week One against Royster, an elusive back who averaged 95.1 yards per game last season.
How the Zips will test them: Akron's passing game should be a real strength. It should be able to put up points on the Nittany Lions' weak secondary. It will take a strong game from the running backs to sustain drives, however.
Way, way too early prediction: If the Zips running backs are healthy and charging, the game could be close. I wouldn't count on it, but I also don't see a complete blowout. Akron 24, Penn State 44
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Multiple new scholarship offers

By mrasor Published: May 10, 2009

Football
Starting Wednesday, I will break down one of Akron's 2009 opponents per week. In the meantime, I will keep you abreast of recruiting news. The Zips have offered scholarships to eight more high school juniors.

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Toledo's alleged point shavers lacked tact

By mrasor Published: May 9, 2009

Miscellaneous
Facts are beginning to seep from one of the century's biggest illegal gambling allegations.
Six former Toledo athletes are mentioned in the 20-count indictment against two Detroit businessmen. The facts range from scandalous to slightly funny.
For example, the indictment says that the defendants, Ghazi Manni and Mitchell Karam, tried to recruit an offensive lineman to shave points from the 2005 GMAC Bowl. The alleged scheme fell flat as Toledo won, 45-13. Can we say a few words about the merits of choosing a lineman for this task? Not a quarterback, running back, or kicker? You have to pick the one position with the least direct ability to influence the score.
In addition to allegedly performing with less vigor on the field or court, the players gave scouting reports to Manni and Karam about upcoming MAC opponents, according to the indictment. It's too bad Manni and Karam don't read "Rasor on the Zips." I don't even charge for my predictions. If you even casually follow the MAC, it's easy to be more accurate than Vegas' point spread.
Seriously, though, this is a huge problem for the University of Toledo. Even if some of these athletes were not involved as charged, it is a dark, permanent stain on that Rocket logo.

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Zips out of Adreian Payne sweepstakes

By mrasor Published: May 6, 2009

Men's basketball
Top-10 recruit Adreian Payne is no longer considering Akron, an inside source tells me. Payne's focus has narrowed to Ohio State, Michigan State and Kentucky.
Before assistant coach Jeff Boals left for Ohio State, it was Akron on the short list and Ohio State on the outside looking in. Those teams have switched places. Michigan State, a Final Four team, and Kentucky, with new coach John Calipari, have also surged ahead of some early favorites, such as Akron, Dayton and Xavier.
Keith Dambrot is focusing on filling his vacant assistant coaching job. Once he does, the focus will shift to recruiting for 2011, when the Zips will have four scholarships to give.

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Rivals no longer lists Akron as candidate for Payne

By mrasor Published: May 4, 2009

Men's basketball
A few weeks ago, Akron was among the finalists for Adreian Payne.
Now, with the departure of his recruiter, Rivals.com removed Akron from the list of suitors for the No. 10 player in the nation.
Zips assistant coach Jeff Boals had been recruiting Payne, a center from Dayton, but Boals took an assistant coaching job at Ohio State two weeks ago. Rivals.com must have heard something from Payne suggesting that the Zips are no longer a legitimate candidate.
For what it's worth, Payne struggled during the King James Shooting Stars Classic. That should have indicated to Payne that he needs to play at a non-BCS school to hone his skills as the No. 1 option, rather than attend a school at which he does not get as many touches. Apparently, that did not happen.
If Payne indeed has closed his consideration of Akron, then Akron's class of 2010 is likely complete. The team will have two available scholarships after next season when Chris McKnight and Jimmy Conyers have exhausted their eligibility. One of those scholarships is going to Dublin forward Michael Green.
The second scholarship is set to shift to Darryl Roberts for his senior season. Roberts was a walk-on player his first two seasons after academic issues forced him to join the team a season late.
If Roberts takes the scholarship, then the recruiting focus becomes even stronger for 2011, when Akron will need to fill a class of four incoming players. The 2011 graduates consist of Steve McNees, Mike Bardo, Brett McKnight and Roberts. The coaches have already offered several scholarships for 2011, including one to Traevon Jackson, son of former NBA player Jimmy Jackson. I will break down the 2011 targets later in the week.

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Zips blog takes third place

By mrasor Published: May 4, 2009

Miscellaneous
This blog finished third in a statewide competition for the best newspaper-affiliated blog.
The winner and runner-up came from the Columbus Dispatch, one following public affairs and one following the Columbus Bluejackets.
The judges said this about Rasor on the Zips:

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Four new recruiting targets

By mrasor Published: May 3, 2009

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