University of Akron Zips blog
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That snow seems to be blowing in your face no matter what direction your facing. I wonder if it will keep some people away from the game tonight. (Although the snow is intense, a lot of people are driving like octogenarians. It's snow, people, not lava.)
Winthrop has been in the NCAA Tournament four seasons in a row and eight of the last 10 years. Akron also has a recent history of success. Both teams would be making a significant achievement to maintain their levels of play.
The women's basketball team beat Michigan last night 58-49. Freshman Kyle Baumgartner dropped 14 points and 10 rebounds
Starting lineup: Steve McNees, Ronnie Steward, Nik Cvetinovic, Nate Linhart and Chris McKnight.
I'm a little surprised to see Cvetinovic in the lineup, but it might be because Winthrop doesn't have a post scoring threat. Cvetinovic made the first Akron bucket. (You pronounce it ce-TEN-oh-vich.)
Attendance is about what you'd expect for a nonconference game. The AK-Rowdies sections are basically full.
Jimmy Conyers on offense is analogous to Brad Pitt with a nervous twitch. He knows he can score (with women, or a basketball), but he's just too tentative to pull it off.
Finally, the coaches are pressing Winthrop with Steward and Humpty Hitchens. That is the only way you'll get the full value out of their smothering defense. Immediately, it made Winthrop more hesitant. It could turn out to be a game-changing decision.
Beating Winthrop would give Akron some credibility, even if the Eagles don't turn out to be very good this year. It's like taking home Ursula Andress.
Eric Coblentz drilled a 3 in the first minute of his career. He might see some time this year if the Zips' shooters stay cold.
More on Conyers... I virtually guarantee he will figure it out at some time this year. He will score 20 points in at least one game. Write it down and hold me to it.
Cvetinovic reminds me of Anderson Varejao, and not just because they're both foreign. Like Varejao, they both have frantic defensive methods and their offense is more effective than graceful. Cvetonovic has three rebounds and four points.
I was surprised to hear that Steward and Mike Bardo haven't scored all season. I suppose it has only been three halves of basketball. It indicates to me, however, that Steward is not offensive-minded.
I need to stop writing my Law Review paper but it's like crack. I can't quit, even during an entertaining basketball game.
Chris McKnight ended the half with a dunk on the secondary break. Cvetinovic bellowed a tribal roar as the team ran to the locker room. Fans are going to love this guy.
Some AK-Rowdies are holding up the Serbian flag. Awesome. Cvetinovic made a nice spin move in the post, went under the basket, and banked in a reverse layup.
Winthrop is still in this game only because of forward Cameron Stanley's shooting. He is 4-of-5 on 3-point attempts. McNees, meanwhile, is 0-for-4 from 3.
Winthrop is projected to be the fifth best team in the Big South Conference. The Big South is the 28th best league in the nation.
I wasn't at the game Saturday against Canisius. I've already gotten some grief about outsourcing my blog to Michael Beaven. All in good fun, of course.
Linhart drove baseline and made a teardrop fadeaway while being fouled. That gives Akron a 13-point lead with six minutes left. Any other year, and you could assume the fat lady sung. We shall see about this team's ability to close out games.
Steward chased a loose ball into the band on the baseline. He still has not scored this season, despite six field goal attempts tonight and seven on Saturday.
I just went through Akron's schedule and predicted 19 wins. I made a wager with a certain beat writer in which I earn a quarter for every win over 15. This writer asked me not to mention his name. He did not say I could not mention his publication. Ahh... I'll be kind, I suppose.
Darryl Roberts gets the play of the night. Winthrop's guard rolled the ball down the floor to save time. Roberts dove on the floor and grabbed it. The Zips had a 10-point lead at the point, when there were 41 seconds left. That play says a lot about Roberts. He has 17 points.
I'm sitting a couple seats down from the Buchtelite's Vincent Dorsey. He wrote a column about his experiences at the Rubber Bowl. They are definitely unique.
I think the notable performances tonight were Cvetinovic (who showed some skill), Coblentz (who showed he is serviceable) and Roberts (who did just about anything you could want out of a guard). I was also pleased to see Akron using the press. It needs to be a little stronger, but it will do for now.
Akron 72, Winthrop 58 -- FINAL SCORE
Akron outrebounded Winthrop 33-29, but the Eagles had struggled at rebounding, too.
Ten players scored for Akron. Bardo did finally get on the scoreboard with a free throw.
Roberts, aside from leading the team with 17 points, had three assists and no turnovers. He was 9-for-9 at the free-throw line.
Chris McKnight and Linhart tied for the team lead with seven assists.
Winthrop was 47 percent on 3-point attempts. Akron was 32 percent.
"I thought we hung in there defensively in the first half. I thought Coblentz picked us up. I thought we moved better in the second half."
"I thought we improved. We had to have played better than the other night. We showed some composure. I thought Linhart was really good. We put him on 11, and he slowed him down."
"The reason I like that is that it keep Bardo away from foul trouble. I want to get Andrew Parrish involved with this thing, but he's not ready yet. He's not ready emotionally for the grind of college basketball yet."
"From Walsh to here, we are much better defensively. I can't tell yet, because we'll see when teams start using some precise stuff against us."
"One-on-one to the ball, we were better. We came to the ball better."
"McNees is having a hard time. Steward is a good shooter, but he's locked."
"I like Humpty Hitchens. He got in a little foul trouble, but he did some good stuff. He's not making anything yet."
"We went in thinking we were going to press. The hard part is to be sound defensively with a new group. We'd like to extend and trap a little, but we're not ready yet."
"When that big guy comes next year (Zeke), we can go two-on-one (after a broken press). He's not the savior, but he's going to knock some shots."
"We've been a go-to guy team. This year, it might be a little more by committee."
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