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Today is a big game in regards to bragging rights at my law firm (Cavitch, Familo & Durkin). Many of my colleagues attended Cleveland State's Marshall School of Law.
Brian Walsh will make his first career start today, including his Xavier career. The Zips will start three guards, with Brett McClanahan and Alex Abreu being the others. It's McClanahan's 100th career game. The other Akron starters are Nik Cvetinovic and Zeke Marshall.
Cleveland State starters: Aaron Pogue, Trevor Harmon, Jeremy Montgomery, D'Aundray Brown, and Tim Kamczyc.
I'm being told a scout for the New Jersey Nets is here. It's likely for CSU's guard Brown.
Akron is making an effort to work the ball into Marshall on entry passes to the post. The Zips' center has Akron's first six points. Pogue, at 6-foot-9, is athletic and strong and making Marshall work for it.
Folks who work here were talking about today's attendance being good. The lower bowl is about 85 percent full, with the upper sections at around 35 percent capacity. When Kent State visited earlier this year, they were claiming it to be a sell-out.
Akron's point guard play has been awful so far, but the Zips also have received little contribution from McClanahan and Cvetinovic. You need seniors to provide a steadying contribution and leadership to prevent huge run-outs, like we saw at Middle Tennessee and West Virginia.
Demetrius Treadwell checked in. His first appearance since being suspended for an alleged bar fight. By the way, I've heard that the witness accounts from that night are not quite as the police report portrays it.
Treadwell soared high for a rebound and put-back. The Zips hold an early 13-7 lead. That's a 7-0 run.
Big Zeke has made all six free throw attempts so far.
The sell beer at the Wolstein Center. Isn't it time the UA Board of Trustees does the same at InfoCision Stadium? You will see an increase in student involvement. I promise.
The Zips have gone cold, and CSU recaptured the lead with a 16-4 run with 7 minutes left in the first half.
The CSU students started chanting for Treadwell to tuck in his jersey. He did.
When Treadwell is aggressive on offense, it’s a very good thing. Treadwell at the line, on the other hand, is a little scary. He fired a bottle rocket off the back iron on his first attempt.
McClanahan hit a 3 to give the Zips the lead with 5 minutes left in the half. I don’t remember seeing a McClanahan bucket yet this season.
Keith Dambrot is furious that the refs missed a reach-in foul. Abreu, the ball handler, was blown for a foul in diving to recover the loose ball.
On a fast break, Abreu dished a no-look pass to Treadwell who leaped from outside the circle and nearly converted a breath-taking dunk. Treadwell was fouled on the attempt and missed both free throws.
Halftime - Akron 30, Cleveland State 35
CSU finished the half with a 10-2 run.
The halftime show is mascots playing a pick-up game. A stray basketball just hit Elton Alexander, who was typing on his laptop at the time.
Notable halftime stats: Cleveland State is shooting 51.7 percent (Akron 45.5%). Harmon has 11 points. Marshall has 10. CSU has made 5-of-11 3-point attempts. The Zips are 1-for-3 on 3s. Akron is 9-for-12 on free throws, with the only three misses being from Treadwell. CSU has not gotten to the line. The Zips have four assists and nine turnovers. The Vikings have 10 assists and five turnovers.
The Internet connection keeps going out here, so bear with me if there are delays in my posts.
Akron has gotten good results when they stick to the gameplan and get Marshall a touch down low. But the Zips' discipline has lacked. A Brian Walsh drive into traffic is not going to score points. Marshall is even making his free throws.
Happy birthday to Romeo Travis.
George Thomas saved the day regarding Internet. He turned his 4G cell phone into a wireless hotspot and linked me up. This is his first Zips game on the new beat, by the way.
CSU is pulling away. The lead is now 13, after the Vikings forced a turnover in the backcourt and converted on that end.
Walsh is not having a good game. On offense, he is too eager to take the offense out of its gameplan to chuck up a 3. I see his role as being a player who plays the wing, shoots the open 3, and is capable of pump-fake dribble-drive. He's not a primary offensive weapon, at least not as a sophomore.
The less the ball goes inside to Marshall or Treadwell, the more you can consider this a loss. Akron has already dropped four out of its last five.
The discipline on offense continues to fall short. Cvetinovic just heaved a 3 from the top of the key. It hit back rim, but somehow still spun into the net.
Cleveland State got a gift when the refs blew the whistle, stopping a Zips fast break, because a CSU player hit the deck. After about 20 seconds, the Viking got up without help. He appears to be fine.
Starting Thursday, the Zips will play four home games within seven days. This will be the time to find an offensive rhythm and bring the team record over .500.
Treadwell played the passing lane and swiped a pass. If it was football, you'd call it a "pick six." Unfortunately for Treadwell, the transaction involved about six dribbles. Treadwell fumbled it a bit and mistimed his jump. The dunk attempt was bricked.
Still, Akron has chipped away at CSU's lead. It's a four-point game, down from the Vikings' peak 13-point advantage. Five minutes left.
One of my fellow classmates at Akron Law is sitting in the front row, under the Vikings basket, and he's really letting CSU players have it. I'm impressed. I would have to clear it with him to use his name on this blog.
Chauncey Gilliam splashed a 3 from the corner to bring Akron within two. A three-point play by Quincy Diggs made it a one-point game. Diggs has 11 points, all in the second half.
Gilliam gave Akron a lead with a transition layup, off a nice feed from Diggs. That's a 15-5 run for the Zips. Three minutes left.
Treadwell came up with another steal at the top of the key. Montgomery grabbed him before he could dunk it. Treadwell made one of two. Akron leads by two with 1:45 left.
Cleveland State is now in the one-and-one. Montgomery went to the line off an Abreu foul and made both to tie the game.
Diggs attempted a lazy entry pass to Marshall, which was tipped away to CSU. On the ensuing possession, Treadwell swatted a ball 30 feet out of bounds. Wow! They might need to re-inflate the basketball.
Upon inbounding the ball, the Zips played tight defense. Montgomery chucked a quick-release 3 that hit nothing but net. You can't defend that.
Fifteen seconds left. Akron's down three.
Akron had the worst possible player shoot the attempt for a tying 3-pointer. Treadwell's shot barely grazed the front of the rim. Exciting game. Cleveland State won it with a clutch 3.
Final -- Akron 66, Cleveland State 69
The Zips impressed their fans by fighting back like they did this afternoon. The fundamental flaws were still evident (lack of offensive discipline, allowing long runs), but fighting back is something we have not seen yet this season. It's a good way to head into the five-game home stand.
Notable final stats: CSU shot 45.6 percent (Akron 42.6%). Marshall had 16 points and eight rebounds. Treadwell scored a career-high 15. Diggs scored 11 and dished four assists. Akron's assist/turnover ratio was 11-to-15. CSU was 16-to-15. Harmon scored 16.
This is year two of a four-year commitment to play each other. Next year is at the JAR.
CSU coach Gary Waters
"I thought we played hard all the way to the end. We have two issues we have to correct. We turn the ball over entirely too many times. Two, we need to stop the constant fouling. When we finally get it, everybody has to watch out."
"My hat goes off to Akron. They went straight at us with the big guy. He ended up having a fabulous game. [Dambrot is] a very good coach, and he has very good players. I thought we let them back in the game. I don't think it had anything to do with them, literally. When you have a lead, you have to close them out. You can't relax."
"We wanted to make sure that the guards didn't get a shot off. We had the right guy take the shot [Treadwell]. At the timeout, I would have put four shooters on the floor [if I was Akron]."
"Remember, they had the whole week off before the game. We played two days ago. We had no time to prepare for them."
"The thing that I thought Keith did a great job in, was getting to his big guy."
"It was an OK defensive night, but I still let my man [Marshall] score too many points. He's a pretty good player, but I feel that I let him get a few easy ones early in the game."
"Compared to our other seven years here, we're just a little bit immature. A little unsettled. We've been fighting discipline, injuries. Until we get it right, we're not going to win those games."
"We had a good chance to win. We made some bad plays when it mattered. I give Abreu a lot of credit. He's playing on a torn meniscus. I give Diggs credit; he's playing off the bench and he doesn't care. I think we can be a good team."
"I thought Zeke was terrific. I thought Treadwell was terrific. I think we have what it takes to be a good team. We just don't have it yet. Zeke was incredible around the rim [on defense]."
"I love Nick Harney. He's going to be a good player for us. He made a mistake. He's going to pay for it. I believe Nick Harney's going to be a good person. It's our job to make him better people. I think he'll come back."
"I like Q out there because he can go one-on-one. But he has to be smart enough to make good decisions. We have to figure out who should be in at the end. The reason I played Tree, is it reminds me of when we had Wood and Rome, and he can go get one [tough rebound]."
"Tree is a perplexing individual. He's very bright. He really knows how to play. And he has a really good heart. And he has trouble with authority issues. But he's with the perfect guy because we can help him, and he can help us. He's as talented as Wood and Rome were. Can he get everything under control? I don't know yet, but I'm going to bet on him. I'm asking him to do things he's never been asked to do before. If he was a bad guy, I'd cut my loss. I think he's a good guy."
On the last possession: "I was going for a 3 all the way. Q took the ball out. Alex was open, and he didn't throw him the ball. ... We got a good look. You have a much better chance getting an open look, then a good shooter getting a contested one."
"Me and Gary are similar. We have the same coaching tree. We go back a long, long way. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gary. They can say what they want about him at Rutgers, but he's won more games than those other guys at Rutgers. We recruit against them a lot. He had his struggles two years ago, just like we have, and he's been good ever since."
"It's been McNees' team for the last three years. Abreu's the guy, but he kind of messed up, and now he's hurt. We're scrambling a little in that area [leadership]."
"We've shown we can play. We beat Mississippi State, which is a pretty good team. We need to clean ourselves up off the court so we don't have to get suspended."
"Cleveland State wins on toughness. They're just like [Waters] is. He worked like crazy to be a Division I coach. When he got there, he continued to fight like crazy. Usually they get in your shorts and they punk you. I don't think they punked us. We're built like them, and we don't let people punk us. I think that's what Tree gives you. He says, 'We're not going to get punked.'"
"Alex will have surgery in a couple weeks. We'll miss him for two games."
"It wasn't about me scoring, but it was about me trying to stop them from getting spurts."
On the week off: "We need to know what it takes to win. We lost a lot of veterans last year."
"To me, honestly, it feels like a rivalry."
"It definitely felt like a homecoming game. I was so proud to come home and play. Probably one of the biggest games of the season for me, personally. I could have played a lot better."
On the last shot: "I definitely was confident. Everything I do on the basketball court, I'm confident in. Unfortunately, it didn't go down."
"We had two players come off the bench (Gilliam and Diggs) that played hard and gave us energy. We always look to Q as arguably being our best player on the floor. That's the Q we look for."
"I think it was a very well-played game. We tried to keep them out of the spurts."
"I definitely learned my lesson. I'll never put myself in those situations ever again."
"We just didn't play good defense in the last minute and a half. We didn't play through the shot clock."