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This should be a busy afternoon on campus. The men's soccer team will play Hartwick for the MAC Championship at 4 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.
I wonder how old the childish "Peay" jokes have gotten for Governors' fans. I can only imagine how creative Ohio Valley Conference fans can get with insults. At Akron, we clutch to the mildly creative "Can't State" moniker. Austin Peay opponents have a bevy of ammunition. And the worst thing is, the most common chant in sports is unavailable to Peay fans ("Let's go Peay!").
I overheard that Tim Carroll will start today. Zeke Marshall comes off the bench. I think it's fair to make Marshall earn his spot among a few regular season games before anointing him a starter. Like in the exhibition game, I will document Marshall's notable plays in the ZEKE WATCH.
This is technically the first game of the Glenn Wilkes Classic, which will continue Nov. 20-22 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Governors are 0-1, having lost Friday at No. 11 Tennessee 83-54 on Friday. Austin Peay got beaten in just about every aspect of the game. The team's 6-foot-6 swingman Anthony Campbell scored 17 to lead both teams.
The team will be presented its 2009 MAC Championship rings today. I got a picture of Joe Dunn's. It's posted below. My cell phone picture doesn't do this justice. The ring is absolutely stunning. If society permitted women to propose to men, that would be the ring to do it with.
Dunn gave me a catch phrase for when Marshall enters the game: "Zeke and Destroy." I fully expect that to be on an AK-Rowdies sign by the next home game on Nov. 27.
I had awesome Cavs tickets last night. Sixth row behind the Jazz bench. After letting Carlos Boozer hear it and cheering for the good guys, I must be careful not to break the No. 1 rule on press row: No cheering.
At that game, I was surprised to see a rookie get the ball in crunch time for the Jazz. That was Eric Maynor, who played twice against Akron. He was good then. He's almost as good in the pros.
Akron starters: Brett McClanahan, Darryl Roberts, Nik Cvetinovic, Carroll and Chris McKnight.
The big question on everyone's mind: Is today the day Keith Dambrot takes off Marshall's redshirt. Just kidding. But seriously, the PD's Elton Alexander confirms that Marshall looked very bad in the first few weeks of practice. Much to the coaches' delight, Marshall found a comfort level and began to improve.
You might be hearing Alexander shout "Give me them quarters." This is because he won a 25-cent bet about when Marshall would enter the game. He came in at 17:25, which was close to Alexander's guess of 17:34. I said 15:00. Tom Gaffney said 16:30.
Austin Peay has gotten in the paint for four straight layups. That is the reason we saw Marshall so soon. Akron is trying to work the ball into him, but the Governors are double-teaming. Brett McKnight and Humpty Hitchens made back-to-back 3-pointers based on Austin Peay's interior pressure.
The AK-Rowdies are well-represented. Having them here is a big difference in atmosphere. Not many showed up for the exhibition game.
Marshall has been on the floor for three minutes without much of an impact. ... As I wrote that, Marshall score his first collegiate basket on a rebounded jumpshot. Big ovation from the fans.
Akron needs to settle down. Austin Peay is making the Zips look uncomfortable. The nervous jitters are tangible.
The Zips' defense is nothing more than a turnstile. The guards are getting beat off the dribble. The big men aren't in position to contest the shot. The Governors are carving a layup line right through Dambrot's proud defense.
I love how intense Cvetinovic is. After a Chris McKnight layup, he charged off the bench flexing his muscles and shouting in celebration. It's two points in the first half of the first game of the season, but the Serbian reacts like the Ultimate Warrior trying to rev up the crowd at WrestleMania.
Marshall swatted his first shot. It was a volleyball spike. He followed it up with a turn-around, fade-away six-footer. This kid is very skilled.
Akron has begun to pull away as the players worked up a sweat and some of the nerves wore off.
Hitchens found a cutting McClahanan, who lobbed an alley-oop attempt for Marshall, but the pass was a little off, so Marshall did not finish. It was a nifty play, but it requires good timing.
Hitchens ended the half with a 3. Score: Akron 44, Austin Peay 32.
I haven't really watched any of the last few minutes. I have been consumed with reading the blog of Mark Titus, a bench player at Ohio State, whose only goal in playing basketball is to register a "trillion." You might not understand a "trillion" unless you read box scores. It denotes that a player logs one minute, but compiles no other statistics. Nice stuff, Mark.
Akron just gave up five points in a three-second span. An Austin Peay player drove down Main Street for an easy layup. A Governor stole Akron's inbound pass and was fouled. He completed a three-point play.
Austin Peay only brought 10 players. It would be nice if some members of press row could be spread across their seats. We're packed in here like the old Rubber Bowl press box.
Marshall just attempted a 3-pointer. He air-balled it. I could feel the anger from Dambrot across the floor.
While I'm carrying on criticizing Marshall, I'll point out that he could be a much better rebounder if he moved his feet while the ball was in the air. Athleticism and size is a big part of rebounding, but the truly great rebounders are tenacious before the ball touches flesh. ... As I typed that, Marshall got great position on a tip-back.
Akron has its best lineup on the floor: Hitchens, Roberts, McKnight, McKnight and Marshall. They extended the lead back to 14 with 12:18 to play.
Hitchens threw an inbounds alley-oop to Marshall. No dunk, but the lay-in is just as effective.
Carroll started, but he has only played three minutes. What's the point? And how long does this continue? What other coach would play a guy exclusively for the first few minutes of a game and during garbage time?
Marshall grabbed his 12th rebound. This confirms my suspicion from the exhibition game -- that Marshall is the best player on the floor. He has a double-double in his first ever college game.
Austin Peay went on a 12-2 run because of Akron's sloppiness. The Zips will probably win this game, but there is a lot to work on. They have to find a way to get more points in the paint. Akron's lead is only two.
Marshall swatted a shot into the band.
Cvetinovic blew two free throws with the opportunity to extend the lead with 2:30 left. Austin Peay tied it on the next possession with an easy layup. Dambrot called time out.
Roberts drove and was fouled. He is a good guy to be shooting free throws, at least based on last season's performance. He missed one in the first half. He missed both just now. Akron got the rebound off the awful brick.
Brett McKnight missed a runner through the lane. After the rebound, his brother fouled Anthony Campbell, who went to the line and made both to give the Governors their first lead.
Brett McKnight weaseled into the paint and airballed a finger roll. After a foul, Austin Peay made both free throws to make it a two-possession game. Hitchens rattled out a 3-point attempt. Austin Peay got the rebound, and Duran Roberson made another free throw to ice the game.
Hitchens made a 3. There are 3.8 seconds left. Akron fouled Campbell, who split the pair. The Zips needed a 3-pointer in the last three seconds. Hitchens stumbled up the court and didn't get a shot off in time.
It was an ugly game. Akron deserved to lose. They didn't play very hard. It was sloppy. The coach was messing around with a ceremonial starting lineup.
Final stats of note: Akron made only 15 of 25 free-throw attempts. The Zips shot 30 percent from the field in the second half. Austin Peay won the points-in-the-paint statistic, 28-22.
Final score -- Akron 77, Austin Peay 80
Austin Peay head coach Dave Loos:
"Even though it's very early in the season, this is very significant for us. I have a lot of respect for Keith and this program. To win here is really big for us. Akron is going to win a lot of games and be a tournament team. We are very proud of this win. I'm proud of how our guys got down, way down, and fought back."
"We played a very good Tennessee team on Friday night. I think it probably did help to have played a game. I told our players when we left there that this team might not be as long as athletic, but they would be pretty close and pretty good. This game is funny because once the momentum is going, it's hard to turn it around. We were just about buried."
"He is going to be a handful. He is long. He is skilled. All that is missing is a little experience and body building. He is as-advertised. It would give Akron what most mid-majors are missing. There were times when I thought it was over-the-back, but it really wasn't. I was impressed."
"I was pleased with (our speed). When Channels gets the ball in his hands, he really pushes it."
Akron coach Keith Dambrot:
"When you're up 15 points with 7:36 to play, you should win the game. We can blame me, blame them. I thought today we did a very poor job of handling prosperity first and adversity second. We gave game after game after game away last year. I don't know why anyone would be surprised that we gave this one away."
"With 1:22 left, we shoot a reverse layup. We miss four free throws. We start the second half and show no toughness and let them back in the game."
"The big boy wasn't perfect but he was better than the older guys. He just needs to learn."
"We've had trouble all fall finding out who to play."
"If we give up 80, we're going to lose. We didn't have one guy who could guard anybody, except Zeke under the basket.
"That's probably one of the most disappointing games that I've had here. That is just absolutely ridiculous. You almost don't have to shoot a shot and you can win the game. You can hold it for 35 and take six 35-second violations. That's how pitiful it was."
"You try to build fanbase and you try to build excitement, and then you do that. We're not getting an at-large bid anyway. You have to win in March."
"This group is not tough. Until they get tough, they won't win. It's frightening. We didn't lose turning it over a lot. We gave up 40 percent from the field last year. We gave up 80 and I don't think they're great on offense. He's a good coach, but you can't lose that game."
"If you lose one like that, what do you do in the nip and tuck games? When the game's on the line, do you have enough toughness to win? Do you think Dru Joyce would let us lose that game? Or Cedrick Middleton?"
"We went through the same thing last year. When we give up 80, we'll lose. This group has to get with it. Part of it is figuring out who to play. You can't play as many as we did. I know the big boy has to play, even if he's not good. He doesn't know what he's doing yet, but he's going to do some good things."
"I didn't yell at them. I just said you have to play better. You can't go 0-4 at the line. You can't give up 3s late in the clock. You can't give up layups late in the clock. We didn't make one play when it mattered. We got the ball right in front of the rim."
"I didn't think we played great at the point. I didn't think we guarded. I think Humpty played hard. He was the best of the three."
On why Carroll started and played three minutes: "I didn't like the way we started so I didn't get back to him."
"I'm not scared of North Carolina State. We can play with anybody and we can lose to anybody."
"It's how they feel about themselves. We have to become more consistent than that. You saw very little enthusiasm."
"I think leadership is a lost art. It's time somebody steps up. It's hard to step up without knowing how much you'll play."
On Marshall: "By March, we'll be good because he'll know stuff. He'll be better than he is now. He's just playing on instincts now. Building for March, we might as well play him when it matters."
On the lack of post offense: "We just refused to throw it in. When we did, we didn't make the cuts we were supposed to."
"We're doing something wrong at the beginning of the year. We don't guard. For some reason, their mindset is offense early."
On Cvetinovic: "He has to play because he has good fire in his gut."
"We haven't practiced with the McKnights at the three spot. Brett McKnight has to play better. He's had a rough fall."
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