Akron will play a game on New Year's Eve.
Hopefully, the players don't have aspirations of having any fun. Keith Dambrot told the media he doesn't drink, smoke or chase women, so it might be a dry ringing in of 2009. The Zips do, however, get a cupcake.
Akron is recruiting a four-star defensive end who signed with Southern Cal in 2007.
Chris Henderson (also known as Troy Henderson) is now attending Milford Academy in New York. According to Rivals.com, only Pitt and Akron have offered a scholarship.
Henderson signed with USC as a 264-pound tight end/defensive end coming out of Vancouver College Prep. Akron, Kentucky and Washington State also pursued him in 2007. Since then, Henderson has packed on 45 pounds, and he appears to be solely a candidate on the defensive line.
Henderson graduated Canadian high school at age 17, a year earlier than the typical age in the United States. Academics appeared to be an issue back then, but Henderson was thrilled to be touring Hollywood with Pete Carroll and his new teammates in the "Trojan family." Apparently, it was a bigger problem than they thought.
Picture a four-man defensive front of Almondo Sewell, Ryan Bain, Henderson and Shawn Lemon. That is a phenomenal line, even for a high-level BCS team. Then consider the gobs of depth behind those four. My point is, it would be a fireable offense for J.D. Brookhart to maintain the 3-man defensive line with that kind of personnel.
Diamond Weaver will make headline writing at the Akron Beacon Journal a little easier.
Scout.com reports that the cornerback with an eccentric name and sub-4.4 speed verbally committed to Akron sometime after visiting campus on Dec. 5. Rivals.com gives Weaver three stars.
It appears to me that J.D. Brookhart is having another great year of recruiting. It makes me wonder how the rest of the MAC is faring.
Akron fell last night to VCU 73-69 mainly because of the Rams' star point guard Eric Maynor and his 30 points.
Keith Dambrot said it didn't matter whom he told to guard the future NBA draftee. Maynor blew through the Zips' defense regardless.
Although Akron lost by only four, the game wasn't that close. The Rams outrebounded the Zips, 34-27, and they shot 47 percent from the field.
Quarterback Patrick Nicely from Willoughby decommitted from Bowling Green and is taking a hard look at Akron.
Nicely is the No. 18 pro-style passer in the country, Rivals.com said. He will visit UA on Jan. 17. Ohio and Toledo are also options.
Keith Dambrot said his team will try to make tonight's game at VCU a low-scoring contest.
That is the Miami theory of playing teams with superior athleticism/talent. Don't let them find a rhythm and keep the scores low -- which means the gap will be smaller. Such a plan gives you a chance in the final few minutes if your team can make its shots.
As I thought, the odds are against the Zips, who are eight- to nine-point underdogs. I think that is an accurate prediction.
It appears that VCU will stream video of the game. Here is the schedule. If you click the picture of the TV near the Akron game, it might work.
As you can see, the verbal commitments are pouring in.
The newest is Sean Farr, a three-star receiver from Baltimore, who had offers from Maryland, Virginia and Eastern Michigan.
The guy is apparently a comedian, too. A fan on ZipsNation.org found this interview between Farr and a blogger. Check what Farr had to say about visiting EMU.
This class is quite heavy on wide receivers. These players will join the team next season, then sit for a year until they are needed to fill in for Jeremy Bruce, Dashan Miller, Deryn Bowser and Andre Jones.
For those of you who felt J.D. Brookhart did not know how to fix a problem, look at how he has bolstered the roster at receiver and defensive line.
Soccer America named Steve Zakuani its Player of the Year.
Everyone is still waiting to hear who won the Hermann Award, which is announced on Jan. 9. Zakuani is a finalist.
I sense some skepticism about my report of Zakuani's departure. I assure you, unless Zakuani changes his mind (and if he has hired an agent, it's too late), he is gone. I don't just make things up. The university will make an announcement soon to confirm it.
If you want some news that will brighten your day, maybe this will help. Word is, Caleb Porter is bringing in an phenomenal player from another country.
A source tells me that Akron might have pulled a coup on Toledo when a four-star safety decommitted and chose the Zips.
The player is Jermaine Robinson, the No. 14 prep school athlete in the nation. Coming out of a Pittsburgh high school last year, he verbally committed to West Virginia, then signed a letter of intent with Toledo before finally deciding to enroll at Milford Academy in New York. He is 6-foot-2 and runs a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash.
Robinson turned on West Virginia when Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan. According to Rivals.com, he currently is a soft verbal with Toledo. However, Rockets' coach Tom Amstutz has left, too. Presumably, that is why Robinson is changing his mind again.
As is typical with prep school players, there might be some clearinghouse issues. However, if Robinson indeed signs with Akron and qualifies, he could make an impact in 2009 and possibly begin to step into Bryan Williams' position.
I have never heard of a player setting a career high in points five games in a row, but Humpty Hitchens did it.
It is proof that a great scorer is blooming. The freshman dropped 23 points on North Carolina A&T last night during Akron's 78-61 win.
Tom Gaffney's story this morning described Hitchens' performance with a big "wow." If Hitchens can set another career record on Wednesday, Akron could beat 6-3 Virginia Commonwealth, which has a NBA draft prospect in point guard Eric Maynor.
I will have more on that game later.
The most talented player in school history never will step onto the pitch at Lee Jackson Field again.
Steve Zakuani's career at Akron is over, a source tells me. The nation's leading scorer will enter the Major League Soccer draft. Word of his departure began to circulate this morning.
Coaches feared that Zakuani would leave after last season, but he stayed. Coach Caleb Porter understands that Zakuani would choose to earn money during the prime of his career. That does not mean Porter is happy to lose the nation's top offensive weapon.
I am a little surprised that Zakuani is playing pro soccer in the United States, rather than his home country of England. However, Zakuani has a legitimate chance to be the No. 1 pick in the MLS draft. That would boost Porter's recruiting efforts.
The university rewarded coach Caleb Porter with a new contract after the Zips set a school record for goals-against average (0.45) and reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Since he took over, Porter has somehow improved on Ken Lolla's fantastic recruiting. Porter says he and his family like Akron, so hopefully the Zips hold onto him at least until the Indiana job opens.
Looking forward to next season, it will be a real magic act to get Steve Zakuani to turn down European professional soccer next season. If anyone can do it, it's Porter.
Akron will play North Carolina A&T 7 p.m. tomorrow at Rhodes Arena.
If you remember the Zips-Aggies game last season, A&T shot very well (52 percent) and still got blown out by 18 (88-70). That A&T team was full of seniors. In fact, none of the starting Aggies on Dec. 19, 2007 will be playing on Dec. 13, 2008.
It's difficult to gauge A&T this season. Most of its games have been against teams they should beat by 50 (i.e. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) or that should beat them by 50 (i.e. California).
Four Aggies average double figures in scoring. The team's biggest problems appear to be jump shooting and turnovers. They shoot 64 percent on free throws and 30 percent on 3s. The team's assist-to-turnover ratio is a staggeringly repulsive 1-to-1.4.
This should be a 15- to 20-point win for Akron. I won't be there for blogging purposes. The game follows my last exam. That means it's party time, not "watch Akron curb stomp some scrubs" time.
I was rooting for Ball State against Buffalo. You should have, too.
The game set a new record for ratings involving two MAC teams with almost 1.7 million viewers. On Nov. 19, Ball State and Central Michigan set an ESPN/ESPNU/ESPN2 record for a football game on a Tuesday or Wednesday with 1.6 million viewers.
It goes to show that a nationally prominent team is what gets the nation to care. While it primarily benefits Ball State, it also swings viewers to pay attention to Buffalo and CMU.
For that matter, here is the list of MAC teams playing in bowl games:
Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26 -- CMU vs. Florida Atlantic Independence Bowl, Dec. 28 -- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech Texas Bowl, Dec. 30 -- Western Michigan vs. Rice International Bowl, Jan. 3 -- Buffalo vs. Connecticut GMAC Bowl, Jan. 6 -- Ball State vs. Tulsa
Oh, and congratulations to Kiel Fleming for winning the weekly pick'em contest on Yahoo. He blew away a slew of people, including me, who tied for second. Your prize is a rusty steel chair for the purpose of parting an NCAA administrator's hair.
Akron will play a team on Saturday that, by all objective criteria, should be in the top 25.
Dayton will visit Rhodes Arena. It is another game that would have been crucial to an argument for an at-large bid in previous years. This season, however, it is merely another strong test for a young team.
Still, it will be valuable for Akron to play a skilled opponent at home before Kent State, Miami and the rest of the MAC powers enter Rhodes Arena.
The Flyers beat No. 15 Marquette on a neutral floor on Nov. 29. They did it by shooting 52.6 percent from the field and holding the Eagles to 39.3 percent. That is usually the mark of a fluke upset. Still, at 7-0, Dayton will be the best team to play in Akron this season.
Last season, the Flyers (then ranked No. 23) secured a double-overtime 83-81 victory in Dayton. The Zips' stingy defense and clutch shooting nearly earned the team its first win over at top 25 team, but not quite. Since then, Dayton has lost leading scorer Brian Roberts, who led the team with 18.4 points per game.
Without Roberts, 6-foot-8 forward Chris Wright has shouldered much of the scoring burden. St. Vincent/St. Mary's grad Marcus Johnson is a sweet shooter at the 2. New point guard London Warren has not scored even a third as much as Roberts, but he has been a great game manager and crafty defender.
Despite Warren's performance, Dayton's weakness might be taking care of the ball. The Flyers have averaged more turnovers than assists. Akron might be able to assert an advantage by pressing the ball and taking chances on defense. I would expect Dayton to be a six-point favorite, but I also think Akron will win.
Humpty Hitchens scored a career-high 15 points as Akron beat Niagara, 63-59.
The Eagles were an eight-point favorite. The Zips won mostly because of the defense they played on Niagara's UConn transfer Rob Garrison, who scored just two points. Nate Linhart had four steals.
I would have blogged during this game, but I was taking (supposedly) the hardest exam in law school: Wills, Trusts & Estates. Well, I'm alive. Anyhow, the Zips will play Dayton Saturday. I will break down the Flyers sometime soon.
Manny Nemer and the university settled their eminent domain dispute for $1.8 million, the ABJ reports.
That is $300,000 less than Manny's relative Joe Nemer received, but it's safe to say that Joe set the market with his surprise verdict.
The university is also barred from taking Manny's new property -- at the corner of Wheeler and Brown -- for 15 years. (Mark that down on your calendar, Ted Curtis: Dec. 2, 2023.)
Also this... Tom Gaffney rightly attacked the 3-3-5 defense. (I told you that the public outcry was swelling.)
Ronnie Steward will sit out with a leg injury until the MAC season starts, Keith Dambrot said.
That should increase the playing time for the other three main guards, as well as Eric Coblentz. It might even play a role in deciding whether to redshirt Brett McClanahan.
Jan. 10 against Miami is the goal for Steward's return. The redshirt freshman missed last season with a hip flexor.
2008 ended with three straight losses. If Akron won two, they would be going to a bowl (and maybe the MAC Championship). If the Zips won one, they would have hope.
Instead, the Zips hit the Triple Whammy.
As a Northeast Ohio fan, I make it a tradition to look forward to next season after the previous one inevitably crashes like a house of cards in a light breeze.