Akron will open conference play in Oxford against the RedHawks.
Five things to know about the "Sweaters"...
1) Millet Hall is one of four MAC East venues that are difficult to win in. The Zips pulled it off last year, despite Miami shooting 56 percent from the field compared to Akron's 47 percent.
Quade Milum's put-back dunk and
Cedrick Middleton's free throws iced a
56-52 win. Last season, the RedHawks were 9-3 at home and 4-11 on the road. Home-court advantage has shown to be important to Miami this season, too. The RedHawks are 3-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. Its schedule provides a good illustration of the value of home-court advantage. Miami beat Northwestern State by 28 at Millet Hall on Dec. 6. The two teams met on Dec. 30 at Northwestern State's gym and Miami only won by one point. That is a 27 point difference between home and away performance.
2) One of the biggest questions over the offseason was whether Miami coach
Charlie Coles would return for another year. Coles missed last postseason with health problems. Rumor was that Coles would hold the job until the season began, then hand it off to his top assistant
Jermaine Henderson. Thus, Coles could sandbag and determine the future of his program. Well, Coles is still his good, old, jovial self on the Miami sidelines. That is good news for reporters. If you've never heard Coles speak, believe me that his press conferences are more entertainment than one could wish for.
Charles Barkley has nothing on Coles.
3) Miami suffered a huge setback when one of its two best players, point guard
Kenny Hayes, suffered cartilage damage in his right wrist. Hayes appeared to be headed for an
Al Fisher-like season, shooting 53 percent on 3s and averaging 13.9 points and 3.8 assists. Now he's out for the season. Senior
Carl Richburg will try to step in at point. In his two starts, Richburg has only tallied a combined five points and one assist. However, Miami's bread and butter is not normally the point. Dating back to
Ira Newble and even
Ron Harper, the RedHawks have relied upon production from the 2 and 3 positions for sustenance. Swingman
Michael Bramos is third
in the MAC in scoring with 17.9 points per game. The Zips have usually found a way to contain Bramos, however. In the teams' two meetings last season, Bramos scored nine points each game. If Bramos is not scoring and Hayes is injured, then Miami has to find a way to milk that turnip for 50 points every night. Good luck.
4) As usual, Coles stacked his
schedule with some big boys. The RedHawks almost beat No. 4 UCLA, No. 20 Xavier and Dayton. They lost big to No. 6 Pitt (who is now No. 1) and West Virginia. These were all road games, too. As a result, Miami's
RPI is 11th in the nation, despite a 7-4 record and not really beating anyone good.
5) Another staple of Coles basketball is the low-scoring game. The RedHawks
score 62.9 points per game and allow 61.1. According to
the NCAA, Miami allows the 48th fewest points in the nation (Akron allows the 40th fewest). This matchup favors Akron because the Zips' half-court defense is the team's strength.
I realize Rhode Island recently discombobulated the Zips, but I think Akron will win. If Miami is laying a significant amount of points, I would even bet on Akron.
Vincent Dorsey wrote a
Nik Cvetinovic for GoZips.com. It is quite interesting to see how Cvetinovic grew up and what made him the charismatic player he is today.
Tom Gaffney wrote a fine
story recapping the season and discussing some issues relevant to the second half. He noted that
Ronnie Steward is behind schedule on his injured right leg. Also, coach
Keith Dambrot rightfully said that any team in the MAC East could win the division at this point.
Dana O'Neil wrote a fantastic
feature on Kent State's
Tyree Evans, who is saying all the right things and appears to be doing them, too, after the Flashes took a chance on the guard who was charged with statutory rape and possession of pot with intent to distribute. In my opinion, Evans is doing all he can, but he won't shed his reputation until he puts together a year of good behavior and swished jump shots. Look at what happened yesterday with
Pac Man Jones. The guy swears that he has turned a new leaf, then a reporter discovers that Jones tried to have a guy killed. I believe Evans is trying, but I won't be shocked if I hear he's not around come MAC Tournament time.
Some personal notes...
The Beacon Journal is nominating my blog for an Associated Press award. That has little to do with me and a lot to do with all of you readers. Keep this blog bookmarked, and tell your fellow alumni. Quite often, I get e-mails or talk to someone who did not know there was a huge following of Zips fans in cyberspace. I'm convinced that meeting and conversing is what breeds die-hard fans. So spread the word!
Grades came in on Tuesday. I was beyond satisfied. Once again, I appreciate the support from everybody. If only the job market for lawyers wasn't garbage...
Knute Larson, my pastor from The Chapel,
announced he is retiring in May. He deserves it. What an amazing career that has had a tremendous impact on the city of Akron!
The ZERO key on my laptop keeps falling off. My girlfriend thought she was clever by saying, "How will you ever tell people about Akron's score when you're blogging?" Funny.