University of Akron Zips blog
Stats of note...
Reitz (19 points), Gary (14) and Kool (17) finished with respectable stats. No one else did anything.
Akron outrebounded WMU, 28-25.
The Zips' assist-to-turnover ratio was 14:10. WMU's was 8:14. There's your difference in the game.
Akron shot 58.7 percent tonight. That is among its highest percentage of the year.
Chris McKnight led all scorers with 16. Reitz led the game with nine rebounds. Dials had five assists.
"I thought we played really good defense in the first half."
"I'm especially pleased with our effort. At crunch time, we had two freshmen out there. We did a good job of exploiting their small four-man."
"One thing that will be overlooked is Nick Dials, who did not score many points, but he won the game for us by controlling the ball."
"We showed tremendous toughness for a bunch of young guys."
"That might be one of the best wins we've had there."
"We played very well as a team. We got the ball inside better than they did."
On Linhart: Because he's bigger, he gave them more trouble than they're used to."
"I'm really proud of this team. This team has been the biggest struggle for me. The adversity of playing without Wood made us play Brett McKnight and Chris McKnight. They have a lot of potential. They spread the floor because they're good shooters."
"I think focus is the biggest thing. We had trouble maintaining our discipline against Kent. We got pressured out of the gym. Against Miami, we'll be thinking about the other (game)."
On Middleton: "You're talking about a guy who had a really tough season. People forget he was our second leading scorer last season. Cedrick Middleton is absolutely the best kid I've ever coached. I decided to play Darryl Roberts a little more at the end because I felt it was the best thing to do."
"Do I have a preference (of who we play)? I'd love to see 16,000 in here. It would be good for the league. It would be good for Northeast Ohio."
"It's been a tough season. We've had injury problems. We have had some things that have happened to families on our ballclub that have been difficult."
"We matched their toughness. They beat us up physically and mentally last time we played them."`1
"We've been waiting for this moment. We're looking forward to the big game."
"The reffing was better (than last time). But anyway, they played physical. It was a war out there today. They played the same way, but we hit more shots and it was a neutral floor."
"Before today's game, I was just thinking we have one game left (to get to the finals). They had two first-team All-MAC versus zero first-team All-MAC."
"Definitely want to see Kent. That would be the best way to win it. We lost to them twice. That's our rival. If we have a chance to win the MAC Tournament and beat Kent in the MAC finals, that's enough for me."
"I think it's going to be crazy. I'll be looking forward to it. Everybody that wants to get in, will get in this time."
"When Wood went down, I felt I needed to step up."
On playing with his brother: "We've always been close. If he's having a good game, keep it up. Yesterday was him. Today was me."
WMU coach Steve Hawkins
"Akron just played a terrific basketball game. They shot the lights out. We showed a lot of fight in the second half, but they kept us at arm's distance and hit some big shots."
"We would be excited about anything in terms of postseason play. Our strength of schedule... We won 20 games and we only played four home games in the entire non-conference portion of the schedule. Three of those four were Davidson, Southern Illinois and Northwestern.
"I'm biased, but I really think this team deserves a spot in a postseason tournament."
"We need to have called when someone puts two hands in the middle of the back of Joe Reitz. The officiating was fair. I've always got to fight for the calls that I think we need. It was physical, but it was physical both ways."
"I thought he (Kool) played pretty well. The story had more to do with how well Akron shot the ball."
"In Kalamazoo, we disrupted their offense by pressuring the ball. At the time, they didn't do a lot of ball screen stuff to alleviate some of that pressure. That's made a world of difference for them."
"After they got to a 10-2 start, we played the game even. They kind of kept us at arm's distance by hitting some big shots. Their inside play and some of their mid-range game really helped them."
"They hurt us early on the offensive glass. If you're going to make a run on somebody, you have to string together two, three, four stops. Akron answered every little run that we made with a shot of their own."
"You just have to tip your hat to them. We tried to get a hand up, but they just made their shots."
"Every good team makes a run. That's what we were hoping for, but it didn't happen for us today.'
"He was a great leader. We just all looked up to him (Reitz)."
"In the second half, at times we played good defense but they made some shots."
"It was a very hard-fought game. The refs let us play some. It was a battle royale down there."
On ending his career: "You put your heart and soul into something for four years... to come up short of your goal of reaching the tournament. There was a lot of crying in the locker room." (Hawkins asked for the next question.)
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