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Chauncey Gilliam starts tonight for Quincy Diggs and/or Brett McClanahan. Gilliam didn't play at all in the first half against Cleveland State, but for all intents and purposes, neither did McClanahan or Diggs. Brian Walsh gets another start, along with Alex Abreu, Zeke Marshall and Nik Cvetinovic.
Walsh drained the game's first shot, a 3, and got the first assist, an alley-oop to Marshall.
The rumors are swirling, and will continue to swirl at these home basketball games, about the next football coach. Tom Wistrcill has gone to radio silence.
The crowd is a little light tonight, but it could be because of the accident on I-77 South that is backing up traffic.
The basketball program will have a new TV show on SportsTime Ohio at 6 p.m. Mondays, beginning the day after Christmas.
Akron has played good rotational defense on the Lions, who have made only three of their first 14 field goal attempts.
Marshall has affected or blocked at least five shots in the first 10 minutes of the game. When will Pine Bluff figure this out.
For those of you who complained that Keith Dambrot's teams were not athletic enough, you got your way. In a two-play sequence, the Zips showed off top-tier athleticism. 1) Demetrius Treadwell caught the ball on the wing and sprinted to the rim, taking off from outside the paint and dunking with two hands. It was an NBA-caliber leap. My jaw dropped. 2) Quincy Diggs led the fast break, out-sprinting the Lions. He glided to the rim, under it, and finished a smooth reverse layup.
If Dambrot puts in Marshall, Treadwell, Diggs, Abreu and Gilliam at the same time, look out. The Zips will get up and down in a hurry. It's not your best defensive team, but they can put you in a 10-point hole in a blink.
UAPB's coach has an unusual scheduling strategy. If you remember, Akron played the Golden Lions two seasons ago, when UAPD started its season with 14 consecutive road games. To their credit, UAPD finished with an 18-16 record, won the SWAC, and ran into Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team has a more balanced schedule this season, albeit a difficult one. UAPD is 1-6, coming off a 13-point loss at No. 18 Michigan.
UAPB has implemented a half-court trap. Diggs just fell for it. The philosophy on traps and presses should be, "If they're giving it to you, don't take it."
I've been surprised by the lack of impact that Cvetinovic and McClanahan have had this season. Fortunately, this is not without precedent for a senior in this program. The bigger concern is whether this team plays too fast for the Serb, who thrives in the half-court offense.
A Pine Bluff guard was attempting to isolate on offense against Deji Ibitayo, who stayed with him, juke for juke in front of the Zips' bench. The Akron players were going wild, cheering the freshman on for his defense.
Walsh is going to need a good shampoo. A Golden Lion completely took the bait on Walsh's pump fake under the hoop. The Lion's shorts wound up on Walsh's head. That's the safest way to describe it. Tea, anyone?
On Akron's last possession of the half, Treadwell hit Marshall with a great pass, and Marshall converted a reverse dunk. While Treadwell was running back down the floor, Dambrot pumped his fists at Treadwell and yelled something encouraging. Treadwell responded by getting even more pumped up, and nearly popping the basketball when he pinned a shot against the backboard.
Marshall already has six blocks already, and it's only halftime. That is a record for an Akron player at Rhodes Arena. The overall record here is nine (Larry Sanders, VCU).
Halftime - Akron 34, AUPB 20
Other notable halftime stats: Marshall has 10 points. Abreu has five rebounds and two assists. Akron is shooting 59.1 percent. UAPB is 25.8 percent. The Golden Lions have turned it over 11 times; Akron, nine.
Gilliam is getting a lot of run tonight. And you can tell. He's gasping and is wearing a desperate look on his face.
Marshall is having another strong game. UAPB doesn't have a big man or a physical guy to keep Marshall out of the paint.
To steal a line from Michael Reghi, Diggs just "dropped out of the rafters" on a tip-dunk attempt. The guy was WAY up there. But he missed the dunk because he never got a good grasp on the ball.
Akron has slowly pulled away, with a 23-9 spread in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Marshall sat down at the 8:50 mark, with 21 points, six rebounds and seven blocks. He got a nice ovation. I think he's done for the night.
Congratulations, Lavoris Weathers. You will be the only Golden Lion I mention by name tonight. Why? You airballed a free throw. And your first name kinda sounds dirty.
It's 72-36 with seven minutes to go, and Akron is officially doubling UAPB.
But watch out, the Lions are on a 5-0 run, and they're pressing the Zips. It was enough to cause Dambrot to call timeout.
Michael Green entered the game with 5:30 to go. C.J. Oldham followed at 4:48. Green earned Dambrot's praise on an entry pass that led to an easy bucket for Gilliam.
The fivesome on the court for Akron (Josh Egner, Green, Oldham, Ibitayo and Gilliam) has played in a combined 25 career games (an estimate). It's going to be a long 4:30 to end the game.
Gilliam will more than double his previous career high (eight points). He's the leader of the pack in garbage time, and already has 17.
Strike that, Gilliam had 26 points once at Maryland-Baltimore County, where he transferred from.
The Zips' 12 blocks is a JAR record.
Kyle Peterson got some run in the final two minutes. He scored a layup in transition. He's the only current Zip that I've played against in pickup at the Rec.
I walked by Ibitayo in the hallway. Until then, I hadn't appreciated how tall he is. If he can get better against presses, he could be a good point guard.
Akron beat these guys worse than No. 18 Michigan did, for whatever that's worth.
Attendance was 2,073.
Final score - Akron 87, UAPB 64
Notable final stats: Akron shot 59.3 percent; UAPB, 33.3 percent. Marshall dropped 21 and six, and swatted seven shots. UAPB's point guard scored 23 points on 17 attempts. Akron dished 21 assists and committed 16 turnovers. UAPB had seven assists and 19 turnovers. UAPB outrebounded Akron, 36-31.
Akron plays Florida A&M Saturday at 4 p.m. -- another home game. The Rattlers have not beaten a Division I team this year.
ZEKE MARSHALL QUOTES
"I have took it upon myself to be a more efficient scorer. That's the next step in my game. I'm trying to get comfortable scoring."
"Those losses will do that to you [get you a sense of urgency]. It was time for us to play."
"I think [winning all four games] will give us momentum and confidence."
"I'm literally trying to force myself to take shots, rather than pass them up."
Treadwell "will be like Romeo Travis. He'll be able to help off the ball [on defense]."
"I am apparently really good with my hook shots. I'm trying to work on my left hand hook."
As to who gives him more trouble on offense: a tall skinny guy or a 6-6 "bowling ball" (my term, patent pending): "A bowling ball. Ultimately, my biggest weakness is to get position and not get pushed out."
KEITH DAMBROT QUOTES
"We got a lot of things to work on. We're messy with the ball. We got tired quick. The best thing about the game is that Zeke Marshall continues to improve defensively. He allows you to play through mistakes. He blocks everything. He continues to develop. I think he's about 65 percent of what he can be. The high-majors are surprised when they play against him. He may not have been strong when he got here, but he's a strong guy now."
"I thought Abreu stunk defensively. He's struggling to move really. I'm really disappointed we didn't get any pop out of McClanahan and Diggs [off the bench]. Right now, Brett's dead-faced, for whatever reason. Q isn't going to play against anyone who he doesn't think is a great team. That disappointed me, but it was good to see Chauncey put the ball in the basket."
"I haven't seen guys get tired so quickly. We're going to get in better shape over the next five or six games."
"We need to win and get our edge back. That's the biggest thing."
"The MAC schedule's kind of messy. We only play two home games in January. We play five out of our first seven games on the road. The two West teams we open with are at Ball State and at Central Michigan. We have to take care of business now. February it all turns our way. If you don't have to travel much in February, it helps you regroup. February's a tough month."
"We shared the ball. We finally got some assists."
"I think before it's over, we'll play a little bit bigger. That's stuck in my head. We'll play at least half the game with three big ones in there. I feel like we have good big people. It's hard to play them all unless we have three on the floor at once."
On UAPB's schedule and the Lions' coach: "He's making $750,000 for his school. They should bronze a statue of that guy."
When I asked about who the next football coach will be (with Tom Wistrcill in the room): "We'll get a good one." [Wistrcill was not amused]