Anticipating a fierce snow storm, Ohio University arrived on campus this evening.
Don't send out your search parties for Bubba Walther. The Buchtelite just spoke to him. Read what he had to say.
- I spoke with assistant coach Jeff Boals, who helped me understand what the team has planned for OU tomorrow. Boals made it a point to call me "Coach Rasor" twice during our conversation. Perhaps some well-deserved tongue-in-cheekiness for your humble correspondent.
- I missed this in Sunday's paper, but the ABJ sent Terry Pluto to Toledo. He wrote an insightful column about the game. (By the way, sending a lead columnist on a college basketball road game is quite a commitment from sports editor Rich Desrosiers.)
- Akron dropped back to 10 in this week's Mid-Major Top 25. Somehow Toledo only has four votes. Kent State is 34th with 12 votes.
- The Zips still received seven votes in the AP Poll, good for 40th in the nation.
- Here is today's Rasor's Edge. I'll post it below. Warning: I'm angrier than I've been in a column for a long time.
I'm here to correct myself.
Almost two years ago, I wrote on this page that you should hate Akron's fiercest rival, Kent State.
You can still hate the Flashes, but I have a new target for your animosity: Ohio University - a school that makes Ron Artest seem like a classy aristocrat.
Located three hours away, the Bobcats don't quite meet the geography requirement for a rival. But who cares? They have the jerk factor under control.
Maybe you remember the Bubba Walther controversy - or "Bubba-gate" as Mid-American Conference basketball expert Ray Mernagh called it.
Ohio's assistant coach Brian Townsend, a former NFL linebacker, attempted a recruiting strategy perhaps never before seen in college athletics. He recruited Walther to transfer to OU while Walther still played for a division rival.
Walther, an all-MAC freshman, was jealous that newcomer Nick Dials was earning more playing time. (That's understandable, seeing how Dials does almost everything better than Bubba. Plus, he's not self-centered.)
Walther abandoned the Zips in December 2005 (after taking a free trip to Puerto Rico for a tournament first, of course).
In the end, Akron never complained to the NCAA. Coach Keith Dambrot instead chose to respect a conference rival despite nursing a swollen groin from the whole situation.
The transfer worked well for OU. Walther, once a spare part for Akron, is an important part to the Bobcats' offense this season. (Notice I said "offense." Walther never has shown any interest in playing defense.) The guard is averaging 13.1 points per game.
Bubba-gate is not the only entry in the Hate OU glossary.
Many Bobcats fans abide by their assistant coach's and shooting guard's insufferable moral standards.
After the Buchtelite broke the Bubba-gate story, fans didn't care too much about the truth. One after another ignored the facts, but made it clear they believe each Akron student is inferior and professor is second-rate.
You're probably wondering why they would commit the fallacy of making personal attacks. Most fans would stop to consider that perhaps some serious character problems exist within their basketball program.
Let me psychoanalyze OU's problem. Many fans suffer from severe little man's syndrome. Ohio State is nearby, and OU desperately wants attention akin to the Buckeyes.
When Ohio State University was founded in 1870, it overtook OU's status as the state legislature's darling institution. Ohio State began to receive the state funding that OU thought it deserved. The feud continued until 1998 when the schools dueled over the federal trademark of "Ohio."
But let's get back to basketball. Ohio University displays a compilation of every detestable attribute of MAC teams. The fans are as childish as Kent State's, as pompous as Miami's and as basketball illiterate as all the MAC West teams combined.
Juvenile antics have been the heirloom passing through generations of the OU community.
What does it matter to you? Last spring, it cost the Zips a basketball player.
Akron fans should be at their rowdiest tonight when the Bobcats, their shifty coaching staff and Benedict Bubba visit Rhodes Arena.
Sorry, Kent State. They are now the Zips' fiercest rival.
- Akron is a 10.5-point favorite tonight. The over-under is 142.5.
- Danny Sheridan says Akron will win by 8.5.
- Tom Gaffney's preview says Akron has a difficult schedule remaining, which probably assures Toledo of the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament.
As much as I despise OU's fans and their arrogance, I respect the potential of their basketball team. Sure, the Bobcats only play when they want to. But their offense has some potent weapons.
With their skilled post players, OU also matches up against the Zips better than most MAC teams. Tim O'Shea's zone defense confused Akron on Jan. 6.
All those factors will keep the game close. I just can't see OU winning in such a harsh environment.
Prediction: Akron 71, Ohio 63
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