Akron will conclude its wild, four-games-in-eight-days streak when Central Michigan struts into town Saturday at noon.
I chose cheery and cheap Chips chunks for you to chew on...
1) Last year, Akron lost at Central Michigan. The reason was forward
Nate Minnoy. For you Kent State followers, Minnoy is a
Chris Singletary-type player who always seemed to get the dirty offensive rebound and putbacks. The good news is that Minnoy is gone. After some discipline issues, it appears he
transferred to Mountain State -- the second transfer of his career. (He originally signed with Purdue.) Also gone is
Giordan Watson, who tortured the rest of the MAC with his offense. The Zips, however, always seemed to contain Watson. In his senior season, he earned All-MAC First Team honors.
2) The most difficult rebuilding process, in my opinion, is when you are a mediocre team who loses a player around whom your team is built. However,
Ernie Zeigler is a good coach, and his team has managed to get better as this season has progressed. Filling Watson's scoring void has been pretty easy. In fact, Central Michigan has six players averaging double figures, which is a lot. Akron, by comparison, has two. The Chippewas are strong offensively in the post with two seniors,
Chris Kellerman and
Marcus Van, who combine for 27 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. Kellerman leads the team with 14.4 points per game. Van is the leading rebounder with 8.8 boards per game, which would tie him for the MAC lead with
Jerome Tillman if he played enough games. (More on that later.)
Robbie Harman leads the team with 3.3 assists per game.
3) Despite having six players with good stats, the Chips have not been at full strength too often this season. Those two big men have only played twice together this season. Kellerman has sat out since Dec. 6 because of a foot injury. Van missed the first six games of the season because of a suspension. It
sounds like another attitude problem. Guard
Jordan Bitzer (12.9 ppg) was academically ineligible until fall grades came out, so he missed the first eight games.
4) As I stated, the Chips' hopes have risen as they have improved during the MAC season. After beginning conference play with losses to the other directional Michigans, CMU has won three out of four, including a seven-point win over Ohio. In that game, CMU shot 57 percent from the field. Chips' swingman
Jacolby Hardiman scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
5) With all of these offensive playmakers, you are probably wondering how CMU is 6-12. Well, the concept of defense is somewhat foreign to Zeigler's squad. The Chippewas give up 70.8 points per game, most in the
MAC. Despite leading the conference in steals, the team allows opponents to shoot an average of 45 percent from the field. Like Akron, the Chippewas struggle on the boards.
I think the oddsmakers will give the Zips a nine-point cushion. Who do you think will win?
as MAC commissioner on June 30 after holding the job for 10 years.
Chryst did a lot to solidify the MAC's current place in FBS football and as a strong mid-major basketball league. He, like a lot of fans, might have sensed that the conference had become stagnant in the past few years and needed a fresh set of ideas.
As much as Zips fans (me included) complain about how being in the MAC hurts Akron in front of selection committees, we have to admit that it could be much worse. The MAC provides exciting, competitive basketball. The football league might be weak, but Akron has not done enough separation from the pack to merit leading that complaint.
The conference retained an Atlanta search firm to find Chryst's replacement. Here's an off-the-wall, crazy, never-will-happen idea: Offer it to avid sports fan
George W. Bush
Akron lost a three-star receiver when
He is one of those guys who chose Akron only because he did not have a bigger offer. If this is your first time following recruiting, don't be surprised. It happens almost every year.
Here are two new commitments...
cornerback, Fairborn, Ohio
Offers: Akron and Eastern Michigan
Mauro Monz recruited Houser, who, according to Rivals.com, has some work to do in the classroom. The site says Houser is the No. 9 cornerback from Ohio and gives him two stars.
receiver, Fullerton C.C. (Calif.)
Notes: Hurricane Katrina
displaced LaFrance during his final year of high school. He sat out a year and moved to California. He calls himself a physical receiver who loves contact. Rivals.com gives him three stars. He is another Monz recruit.