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University of Akron Zips blog

The morning after

By mrasor Published: March 11, 2007

Men's basketball


They say there are four stages of grief.


I wonder if laughter is one of them.


I can't help but snickering when I think about how last night's game ended. Seriously. A missed foul shot with 6.6 seconds left turns into a banked 3 going the other way?


Wow.


I would like to feel bad for Zips fans, and I do, but I am just devastated for the players. Watching Cedrick Middleton break down into tears was a gut-wrenching sight. Seeing Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce embrace was difficult.


All that work in the offseason. All those tough road games. All for nothing.


All because of a banked 3.


Keith Dambrot said it best: "Life isn't always going to be fair."


I'm giving up the cause to get the game overturned. ESPN timed the play properly and showed Doug Penno released the ball with 0.1 seconds left. Of course, that could be inaccurate by a tenth of a second here or there, but you can't possibly demand that kind of perfection from a clock operator whom teams were complaining about all week anyhow.


I really, truly, absolutely believe Akron would do damage in the NCAA Tournament. Truth is, the Zips don't deserve it in terms of RPI, quality wins and strength of schedule. The only way the selection committee puts Akron on the bracket is out of sympathy.


Is Akron better than the seventh-best Big Ten or Big East team? I'm sure of it, but it's a moot point.


ESPN's bubble watch has this to say about the Zips: "Akron suffered heartbreak at the buzzer when Miami (OH) banked in a 3 to steal the MAC title. Can the Roos get an at-large? It doesn't look likely, but man, what a tough way to go out."


Tough indeed.


Joe Lunardi, the bracketologist, is saying Akron is one of the "next four out" of the tournament. Basically, that means he thinks five teams that won't get in have a better case than the Zips.


If there's any bright side to such a devastating loss, it's the publicity. Every sports site you look at is calling Penno's Prayer the best moment of Championship Week. At the very least, the selection committees (NIT and NCAA) will realize how friggin close the Zips were to dancing.


  • Tom Gaffney talks about how this game will live in infamy for Zips fans. I don't see how it's any less painful than Michael Jordan's shot over Craig Ehlo.

  • Terry Pluto gave his take on the game and made a small pitch for Akron getting an at-large bid.

  • The PD's Bill Livingston wrote about the heartbreak as well.

  • The PD's Elton Alexander points out how Akron missed three of six free throws down the stretch.

  • The NCAA Selection Show starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Correction: CBS will announce the brackets at 6. ESPN still has a show at 7.

  • The NIT show begins at 9 p.m. and will be on ESPN2.

  • For all those people who think Miami is good, Lunardi has the RedHawks as a 15 seed. That's pathetic for a once-solid mid-major conference.

Of course, the Zips are mostly to blame. Their play in the final 10 minutes was poor. Missing foul shots, as I wrote a few weeks ago, is a curse that can end any season in a heartbeat. In this case, a heartbeat lasted 6.6 seconds.


Once again, I feel awful for Middleton. If there's one guy on the team more humble, hard-working and kind than Ced, I've yet to meet him. It's like seeing the quiet, introverted kid get kicked in the gut and stomped in the face on the playground.


I remember reading a couple weeks ago how Middleton trained so hard in the offseason because he never wanted to feel how he did after Akron lost to Toledo in the 2006 MAC semifinals. The responsibility that fell on his shoulders I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, much less such a great person as Middleton.


I'll probably continue to post throughout the day. It's sort of therapeutic for me.

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