The Zips finally played like basketball experts thought they could.
On offense, they penetrated, made 3-pointers, rebounded exceptionally well and, gasp, made 14 of 16 free throws. Akron also appeared determined to turn up the tempo on Bowling Green by using several fast breaks to extend its lead during the 83-62 win.
"Bowling Green is a similar defensive team to us," coach Keith Dambrot said in the post-game radio show. "If you don't drive them or take the ball into the post, they will bother you."
When the Falcons had the ball, Akron applied a pesky full-court press that helped to force 16 turnovers. Quade Milum and Romeo Travis combined for at least five blocks on the inside. The perimeter defense suffocated the nation's seventh-leading scorer, Martin Samarco, in the second half, where he was not a factor although still scoring a total of 20.
"Even when they (Milum and Travis) weren't knocking them, they were coming close to knocking them," Dambrot said. Milum "is an outstanding athlete and a high-character individual. He's such a good teammate. He's waited his turn. He doesn't complain."
Cedrick Middleton took over midway through the second half, fulfilling a preseason prophesy from Dambrot that he can be an impact player. He scored only 15, but 13 came in the second half. Nate Linhart filled the statbook, too.
Travis and Milum also played with exceptional energy, according to Steve French, whose broadcast suffered technical difficulties once the game was basically decided anyhow.
"It seemed like Quade was dunking everything that came off the rim. I thought Middleton was great," Dambrot said. "I think that's about as good as we've shared the ball all year."
Dambrot said perhaps the team will move more to a stationary offense (which worked so well today), rather than a motion game. They spread the floor and allowed Dru Joyce and Middleton to drive, while Nick Dials spots up and the post players crash the boards. I generally despise this offense, but it seems Akron has the personnel to make it work.
I'll have more on the game tomorrow.