Let's take a moment to revisit the Bubba Walther controversy.
An All-MAC Freshman, Walther found that his playing time would diminish last season with the transfer of Nick Dials from Ohio State.
Walther was far from a clubhouse favorite in Akron. In fact, it's fair to say he was downright hated. So it's reasonable he would want to transfer.
However, the method in which this occurred violated NCAA policy. Many people close to the situation have told me that Brian Townsend, an Ohio U assistant and Walther family friend, convinced the sophomore guard to come to Athens while he was still wearing a Zips jersey.
Only Townsend and Walther know the absolute truth. My hunch is that UA declined to harm intraconference relations by pressing an NCAA probe into the situation.
Coach Keith Dambrot was most upset that Walther traveled with the Zips to Puerto Rico, knowing full well that he would transfer once the plane touched down at Akron-Canton Airport.
Now that you have the background, you should know that Walther is becoming a vital part of Ohio's offense. After sitting out the first few games, Walther is expanding upon the scoring ability of which he showed glimpses in the Blue and Gold. He averages 14.9 points in 28.3 minutes per game. OU coach Tim O'Shea said you can't ask more from the 6-4 guard.
Still, he's only one of five offensive weapons for OU. The entire starting lineup averages more than 12 points per game. We all remember the stalwart Bobcats Leon Williams and Sonny Troutman. They are playing well as expected.
The most pleasant surprise has been sophomore forward Jerome Tillman, leading the team with 15 points per game, while also grabbing eight rebounds a night. Guard Whitney Davis rounds out the starting five. He contributes 12.5 points and 3.4 assists per game.
With all that offense in the starting lineup. Akron and Ohio both average 79.2 points per game. That means the OU bench is almost devoid of offense. Aside from junior guard Antonio Chatman -- who is off and on, but mostly off -- that's true. Get the Bobcats in foul trouble and their lack of depth will become clear.
Saturday's game will pit two of the nation's top 30 3-point shooting teams. Both Akron (No. 20) and Ohio (30) will have to play strong man defense on the perimeter. Akron has dealt effectively with offensively minded guards and swingmen. That's why I'm not worried about Troutman, Walther or Davis -- unless they catch fire from five feet behind the 3-point line. In fact, some feisty Nick Dials defense could swing the turnover battle in Akron's favor. Ohio's assist-to-turnover ratio is about 1:1, which is poor.
Williams and Tillman, however, are two of the MAC's best big men. Neutralizing them will take strong defensive performances from Quade Milum and Jeremiah Wood.
There are plenty of storylines to this contest between the MAC's best teams. It should be a close, emotional game. I'll have more on it tomorrow.
This just in: Hell froze over.
Tim Crouch, Akron's worst offensive lineman, is somehow attending the Las Vegas All-Star Classic. I guess he's a big guy, and maybe scouts think some coach will get to him.
Much more deserving was Andy Alleman, who is also attending the game. Alleman turned down an invitation to the Hula Bowl. Luke Getsy will play in the Inta Juice North South All-Star Classic.
- Akron alum Jason Taylor is the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Watching PTI the other day, they considered his candidacy for overall MVP. Taylor is also in the new Jackass movie, which is repulsively funny.
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