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The Zips have returned from Vegas. The team got home on Christmas Eve. I'm still kicking myself for not using the tournament as an excuse to fly out there. I was so mad that I booked a trip for late February.
This is a rematch from last season when, if you remember, Humpty Hitchens nearly started a brawl, when he sprinted toward the Lions' bench after the game. He claimed afterward that he was only running over there to shake hands. It was a close game that the Zips won by three.
A-PB is 0-11, but the Lions have not played a single game at home yet. They have been outscored by an average of 24.4 points per game. They are getting killed on the boards, with a -10 average rebounding deficit.
Brian Walsh is no longer wearing the protective boot that was on his foot. The guard who transferred from Xavier is not eligible until next season.
APB is probably making a killing on all of these road games. It costs a home team anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000. Multiply that by 12 and you are easily funding your program. Plus, you can tell your recruits that they'll get a chance to travel the country the next four (or five) years and play in big-time gyms.
Akron's starters: Zeke Marshall, Alex Abreu, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan and Steve McNees.
Abreu has led to Akron's first five points. He tipped the ball away, starting a break. Then he hit a 3.
There are a lot of LeBron James fans left in Akron. But even those folks can't deny that His Highness is showing a level of egotism rarely seen. This quote is from his Twitter this evening: "Faith in your own powers and confidence in your individual methods are essential to success"
Abreu drove into the lane and tossed the ball in the air. It took a split-second for Marshall to realize "heck, that's for me!" He grabbed on the fly and dunked it with both hands. It was a pretty play. If Abreu and Marshall can get on the same page more often, it will be a huge boost. Abreu can penetrate, but he's too short to finish in traffic. The pass, or threat of a pass, could open things up for him a little.
APB guard Savalace Townsend went to the free throw line and took a loooong time to shoot his first. The ref started to count the seconds. If he takes 10 seconds, it's a delay of game and the player loses the free throw opportunity. I really want to see that called tonight. More than anything.
After a made Quincy Diggs shot, Cvetinovic tossed the ball to the referee standing on the sideline near the ABP bench. The ref stopped play and reminded Cvetinovic of the age-old rule that you aren't supposed to touch the ball after a made shot. It's a delay-of-game warning in the NBA.
On the same play, two Zips got banged up. Abreu got tangled up while playing defense on the ball. He went down, winced, and slowly got up, holding his hip. Diggs went to the bench, shaking his right wrist, which has been in a brace for the past couple weeks.
Townsend went to the line again. The ref only made it to a seven-count before the Lions guard hoisted the free throw.
Attendance is only so-so tonight, but I'll contend it's better than prior years during winter break against a nonconference foe. Usually, these games are barren, but there are a lot of folks in the bleachers. Heck, even Rob Ianello is here.
With a Townsend 3, APB cut Akron's lead to two. It was 12 at one point. The Lions have made 5-of-11 3-point attempts and all six free throw shots. APB has had too many uncontested 3 attempts.
As soon as I type that, Akron went on an 9-0 run to reopen a 11-point lead.
Play of the game: McNees threw the ball ahead to Cvetinovic, who spun around, got one hand on the overthrown ball and whipped it to McClanahan in the corner. As you probably assumed, McClanahan made the 3. Akron's lead is now 15.
Akron capped a high-scoring half with a McClanahan jumper from the elbow.
Halftime stats: It's 50-36. Akron shot 47.5 percent from the half. APB wasn't far behind with 41.4 percent. Akron's offense was very efficient, with 13 assists and four turnovers. Townsend has 12 points and seven rebounds. McClanahan has 15 points.
Keith Dambrot just belted out the following comment to Abreu during a time of relative silence in Rhodes Arena: "How many dumb mistakes are you gonna make?!?"
After a brutal 0-11 start to last season, APB went 14-4 in the SWAC and won the conference tournament. The Lions won the play-in game against Winthrop before taking a 73-44 beatdown by Duke, the eventual national champion.
Cvetinovic caught an elbow to the head. The refs are reviewing the video to determine whether the APB player deserves further punishment. The verdict was "no." Here is how the Washington Post breaks down the NCAA's new rule on elbow throwing:
If a ballhandler is swinging his elbows as part of a full-body movement and at the same speed as the rest of his body at the time of contact, an intentional foul is to be assessed, giving the opponent two free throws and possession of the ball.
The act draws a flagrant foul when the elbow swinging is judged by the official to be "excessive," or, as Adams described it, "in a violent manner much faster than the rest of your body, and in general has some intent to it, to harm or to hurt or to injure another player." A flagrant foul leads to the offender being ejected from the game, in addition to the opposing squad being awarded two free throws and possession of the ball.