As you might expect for a Saturday afternoon game against a MEAC school, attendance is not great. There were more people here for the preseason game. Brett McKnight is back on the roster, and he led Akron out of the locker room. Let’s hope that this time he got the message.
Bethune-Cookman is led by 6-foot-3 guard C.J. Reed, the coach’s son who averages 36.9 minutes and 18.6 points per game. The most imposing specimen is 6-9, 320-pound center Albert Abrahams. He is a big man. The senior plays only 12.3 minutes per game, though.
The Zips play next on Tuesday in Las Vegas against UALR. I came SO close to heading out there. If it was for a weekend tournament, I’d be booked. Unfortunately, mid-week is not good with work being so busy. Akron also will play Stetson and Miami (Fla.) in the three-day span.
A 9-year-old sung the national anthem. She was better than any adult I’ve heard here, and that’s no insult to the adults. I mean, wow.
Akron’s starters: Zeke Marshall, Alex Abreu, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan and Steve McNees. Abreu has been starting since the road game at Detroit. This is his first home start.
B-C is a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla. Famous alumni include former Temple coach John Chaney.
Many of Abreu’s turnovers are related to an unfamiliarity with the offense and his teammates. Often, he has tried to lead a player with a pass, and the player didn’t see the pass coming.
B-C got off to a quick 9-4 lead. Akron has already committed three turnovers and is 1-for-4 from the field.
Marshall plays with great animalistic instincts on defense. On offense, he has developed a nice hook and can dunk with fury at times. But mostly, I see him as too mechanical on offense. He takes his hooks shots as if he’s doing a drill. Once he’s decided on a hook, he won’t improvise with a dunk if it’s available. If I’m the coach, I’d ask him to try to dunk the ball 10 times in a game.
Akron has turned it over five times in five minutes. Oops, make that six in six minutes. Oops, now it’s seven in seven minutes.
The internet is down on campus thanks to some digging near Memorial Hall, so I’m blogging into a Microsoft Word document. Not that you really care, but these updates weren’t posted contemporaneously with the game action. It does give me the chance to revise my opinions if it turns out I’m wrong. Sort of like President Obama with the Bush tax cuts.
I haven’t blogged anything in 10 minutes of gametime. The reason is, this game is awfully boring. B-C has maintained between a three- and seven-point lead.
I have a conspiracy theory: The university only chooses kids who have never touched a basketball to shoot for prizes during timeouts. I understand that strategy if you’re giving away a car (for insurance purposes), but not for a sandwich.
Akron is getting minimal first-half production from its guards: Abreu, McNees, Quincy Diggs and Darryl Roberts have combined for zero points.
B-C is running a seven-man rotation. I guess Akron can hope that the mighty Wildcats eventually tire.
The Teddy Bear toss happened at halftime. It’s a unique experience to have dozens of teddy bears sailing over your head. Joe Dunn got drilled by one of the stuffed animals.
This is off-topic, but Jose Canseco is such a trip on Twitter. Last month, he gave out his cell phone number and invited people to call him. Then he asked for other people’s numbers, so he could brighten their day. Now, he’s talking about how some guy hasn’t paid him, and how he wants to sue, and how he wants others to join his suit. I know a few California lawyers, but I wouldn’t wish that client on my worst enemy.
After the first half, Akron trailed 30-23. We did not see McKnight, but I assume the staleness of the offense would quicken his arrival.
The refs missed a blatant over-the-back on B-C. But that’s the least of Akron’s worries. B-C leads a listless Zips squad, 38-24, with 16:36 left.
The trainers are stretching out McKnight in the corner of the arena. Akron needs someone to take over on offense. This is hard to watch.
In the first half, the fans sitting behind me criticized my frantic reaction to the ball heading toward my laptop. Just now, another ball started my way, and I intentionally didn’t move. The referee prevented me from taking the leather in the face. I did it to prove an almost-costly point.
McKnight entered the game to a loud ovation with 15:53 left in the game. That was the loudest Akron’s fans have been all day. Can this be a spark?
Akron is 8-for-17 from the foul line. Five of those misses have been from Marshall (2-of-7).
In the first play since McKnight entered, Akron stole an inbounds pass, Roberts streaked to the rim with the ball and was fouled while laying it in.
B-C is playing at a snail’s pace. The Zips forced a shot-clock violation.
McKnight scored his first bucket in 36 days on a short shot that hung on the back of the rim for a long time. He followed it up on a similar shot out of the post on the next possession.
Folks are still talking about that national anthem singer. They should invite her back.
Akron is within six with the ball. B-C is employing a three-quarters court trap.
Marshall took a hook shot that was well off the mark. Before fans could even realize how badly the shot was off course, Marshall yelled, “It slipped!”
After Diggs missed an early season dunk for a lack of elevation, I have been skeptical of his athleticism. However, he just soared above the herd to clasp an offensive rebound.
Fans are beginning to become testy at the referees. Once you miss a blatant whistle like that over-the-back, it’s hard to win back the fans’ trust.
Abrahams (B-C’s Panzer tank) just entered the game. I’m excited to see him operate. Unfortunately, Marshall is off the floor. That would be a fascinating matchup. Currently, he’s guarding McKnight, which is a bad matchup for B-C.
Over the past five minutes, Akron has chipped away at B-C’s lead, which is now four. But the Zips have not quite made the game-changing shot or prevented B-C from scoring a bucket here or there.
Diggs drained a much-needed 3 to bring Akron back to within four with 1:44 to play. He is playing a little more aggressively than the last I saw him. Still, I’d like to see more shooting and less dribbling with his head down.
B-C broke Akron’s press and got an easy layup. Abreu responded with a 3. Akron is down three with 1:19 to go.
Akron forced a turnover when a B-C player stepped on the sideline to catch a pass.
McNees is having an awful game, 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-7 on 3s.
McClanahan tied the game by sinking a deep, high-arching 3. B-C called timeout with 40 seconds left. There are 24 seconds left on the shot clock and 30 on the game clock.
Regardless of the outcome today, Akron will have to play a lot better in MAC season. We are watching a middle-of-the-pack MAC team.
B-C held the ball until six seconds remained on the clock. Diggs played great defense on Reed, who misfired from 12 feet. Diggs soared high for the rebound but it got poked out. The jump ball went to the Zips.
Akron will get the chance to win with 3.3 seconds left. Unlike in the NBA after a timeout, a college team must go the full length of the floor.
Cvetinovic inbounded to Marshall, who handed it off to McNees. McNees could only get to half court before having to chuck it. The shot missed off the bottom left corner of the backboard. We’re going to overtime.
Marshall is worth an extra possession in overtime. He won’t lose many tips.
Marshall just got away with a misdemeanor. He slung a B-C player aside in grabbing an offensive rebound. Marshall converted a reverse layup to give Akron a three-point lead.
McNees picked a good time to defrost. He splashed a 3 from the corner, giving Akron a six-point lead with three minutes left.
McClanahan made a 3-pointer on the next possession, falling backward into the Zips’ bench. Akron leads by eight with 2:23 left.
Akron turned the ball over at the two-minute mark. Cvetinovic tried to drive through a triple-team trap. It didn’t end well for him. It earned a foot stomp from Dambrot. Reed made a short jumper on the other end for B-C to bring Akron’s lead down to five with 1:51 left.
It’s clear that the turning point tonight was McKnight’s entrance in the second half. The team and its fans looked hung over until then. McKnight gave the team a lift with his six points and two rebounds.
The game is now sealed, with McNees taking down a rebound, getting fouled and sinking two free throws. Akron is up nine with 30 seconds left.
Marshall punctuated the game with a reverse dunk after a breakaway pass.
Final score: Akron 77, Bethune-Cookman 66
Final stats of note: Cvetinovic led Akron with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four rebounds. The last Zips player to have back-to-back double-doubles was Jeremiah Wood in February 2007. Akron shot 46.9 percent, compared to 41.4 percent from B-C. Alexander Starling led B-C with 19 points. The Zips finished with only 11 turnovers, after committing nine in the first half.
I can’t stick around for quotes. We have a city council meeting scheduled for 5:15. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.