Men's basketball Akron will play Ohio Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the road.
Five things to know about the Bobcats...
1) One of the MAC's more colorful coaches -- whether he meant to be or not -- is gone.
Tim O'Shea is coaching at Bryant University, a school competing in its first season at the Division I level. In a recent news
story, O'Shea talked about the improvements in his life since he departed: “You can quantify a pay cut, but I don’t know how you can quantify improvement in quality of life. I’m working at a great university, for a great president, with a great bunch of kids, and living in the best place in America." Tim, are you saying you didn't have that in Athens? It sounds like a parting shot to me.
2) The new guy is
John Groce, who
appears to be a very classy individual. He comes from Ohio State. The past nine years, he has followed
Thad Matta around the midwest from Xavier to Butler to Columbus. As associate coach and recruiting guru, he played a role in luring
Mike Conley and
Daequan Cook to the Buckeyes. Rivals.com and FoxSports.com called Groce one of America's top assistant coaches. Ohio is lucky to have him.
3) Perhaps Groce can talk some sense into his fanbase. Ohio University fans are some of the most ruthless people this side of Philadelphia. It translates to a loud Convocation Center and relentless O-Zone. It also translates to more ignorance and mean-spirited name calling than you'll see anywhere amongst MAC followers. I attest to that as a target of their rants. Don't get me wrong, I dislike Kent State. However, Flashes fans are informed and civilized. Bobcat fans act like rabid dogs who just had a slab of meat pulled from their jaws. For that reason, wins over OU provide an added pleasure.
4) Back to substance... The Bobcats front line features one of the most reliable scorers that the MAC has seen this decade.
Jerome Tillman appears to be the run-away MAC Player of the Year -- as long as Ohio keeps up its solid team play. He averages 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Only once this season has Tillman scored fewer than 16 points. In the
MAC, no one scores more points and only Ball State's
Anthony Newell pulls down more rebounds (9.4). He shoots 78 percent from the foul line, so you can't just hack him, either. Despite Tillman, Ohio is not a great rebounding team. ... Other players to watch: Six-foot-5 guard
Tommy Freeman is a good 3-point shooter. Senior point guard
Michael Allen has a great assist/turnover ratio of 2.3.
5) Having an outstanding post threat, good shooters and dependable point guard should mean the Bobcats will traverse deep into the MAC Tournament. They proved that by beating Kent State at home and Miami in Oxford. Defense, however, is a weakness. Only three MAC teams allow more points. Ohio is 9-7 (2-1 MAC) with an
RPI of 96 (Akron is 133).
For Akron to win, the Zips must keep Tillman off the boards and clamp down around the perimeter. It's a fact that Tillman will score a lot, but
Mike Bardo and
Chris McKnight can ensure he earns his points through the offense, rather than easy put-backs. The Zips will probably be six-point underdogs. The Convocation Center is a difficult venue, particularly for a young team. I would take Ohio, even with the points.
Football Akron added yet another wide receiver to the 2009 class.
After visiting campus, 6-foot-5
Jerrod Dillardchose Akron over an offer from Western Michigan, according to Scout.com.
Height, sure hands and jumping ability are his key assets, but most 6-5 football players weigh more than 175 pounds. That, along with the Zips' depth at receiver, indicates a redshirt year is in Dillard's immediate future. Akron now has at least six verbal commitments from receivers.
Also note that the team handed out its yearly