Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Roo News 3/29/11


The team has now been through four practices, and play their Spring game on April 16th. According to head coach Rob Ianello, the coaching staff is being smart about how hard they work the limited number of both offensive and defensive linemen.

Men's Soccer:

Now 3-1 in their Spring exhibition schedule, the Zips took down Michigan and Oakland, both 1-0 victories. The goals were scored by Chad Barson and a new transfer from Loyola-Chicago, Kayvon Afsarifard. I am only slightly worried that the only goals came from defensive players, as teams are not nearly as aggressive in exhibition play.

The "new Zips", with 7 new starters, play a home exhibition against Maryland on Saturday at 2pm.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Roo News 3/17/11

Sorry for the delay, folks. Research project and blogging logistics...you know, the usual.

1) You've heard about it by now, but the Zips won the MAC Championship game and have advanced to the NCAA tournament, the only team from the MAC to do so. They've been seeded #15 and play the #2 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish tomorrow at 1:30pm on TBS. It's going to be a long shot, obviously, but as Kevin Garnett would say...

One of those moments that almost make you like the guy, until you remember he's a complete and total idiot on the basketball court.

2) It's amazing what a single 9-block game will do for a guy. Zeke Marshall went from being a completely overrated pickup for Akron, to a "major talent", who Akron "hit it big" with. Now, looking at this as a huge Akron fan, I'm kind of pumped; but from an unbiased perspective, I'm not so sure he's a major talent at this point. In two years, yes, and I absolutely can't wait to see it. But when a 7-footer averages just 3.9 rebounds a game....

3) Here's a neat read on the Zips men's soccer picks in the MLS SuperDraft. I was really surprised to see Ampaipatakwong go so low, but I really hope the system fits him at San Jose.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Title Can Describe That Game

Keith Dambrot and the Akron Zips deserve an accolade for yesterday's 82-75 double OT victory in the MAC Quarterfinals. Nothing was going the Zips' way.

Akron started the game with incredible defense, leading 26-10 halfway through. Miami shot a lousy 4-22 in the first half, setting a new MAC tournament record for fewest points scored in the first half. The Zips started the second half with the same intensity, quickly increasing the lead to 20 points. That was when the Redhawks began to pick it up, shooting 15-27 the rest of the game. With over 8 minutes left to play, Nikola Cvetinovic fouled out by lightly breathing on Julian Mavunga, the MAC's version of an NBA superstar. Zeke Marshall also had 4 fouls at this time.

Speaking of the Marshmallow, give him some serious credit for the way he played yesterday's game. Dambrot was forced to play him with Cvetinovic out so early on. He played with tremendous poise, avoiding the fifth foul until 1:20 remained on the clock.

Now before I get to the end of the game and the two overtimes, I need to point out exactly how bad MAC officials are. There were plenty of horrendous calls throughout the game, but the worst of those all went towards Miami and LeBron Mavunga. Or maybe Julian Wade. Amar'e Stoudevunga? (By the way, he shot 19 free throws in this game).

1) Mavunga, under the hoop, shouldered Mike Bardo so hard it dislodged him from his position. The result? Two free throws for Mavunga.

2) Brett McKnight, standing behind Mavunga as he shot a layup, reached up and pulled the ball out of his hands. The ball rolled back to him. The only way this could have happened is if McKnight had made contact with the top of the ball. Mavunga's hands, obviously, were on each side. The result? Two free throws for Mavunga.

3) In the second overtime, McKnight stole the ball from a Redhawk player underneath the Akron basket. He immediately went for the layup. Miami's Quinten Rollins slammed his arm down in the middle of McKnight's arms hard enough to send the 6'7" power forward careening to the ground, nearly head-first. The slap was nowhere close to the ball. Intentional foul, right? That's two free throws AND possession to Akron, right? Nope. That's a normal foul. That kind of stuff is normal. Happens every day.

Now that I've vented my frustration for basketball officiating as a whole...

After a back and forth first overtime, the Zips found themselves down 75-74 in the second with 3:21 to play. After Mavunga bricked two free throws, Alex Abreu was left wide open for a three, which he promptly drained. After two more Miami misses, and two more Miami missed free throws, Brett McClanahan sealed the deal with another 3-pointer, putting the Zips up 80-75 with :32 left.

McClanahan finished with a team-leading 20 points, a team-leading 9 rebounds, an assist and a steal. I am so glad we have this guy next year.

Brett McKnight also had an incredible game, with 16 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and 2 steals. He finished the double-overtime game with only 2 fouls. I am not glad we don't have this guy next year.

Cvetinovic ended with 10 points and 7 rebounds. I'd have loved to see his stats if he hadn't fouled out 18 minutes before the game's end.

The Zips play Western Michigan at 7pm tonight on STO. I'm a little worried about the fatigue level through the rest of this tournament, but the good news is Cvetinovic and Marshall are better-rested than the rest of the Zips, thanks to fouling out early.

Watch out, Western Michigan. Akron is a heckuva lot better than a 6 seed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MAC Quarterfinals

Alright, this is getting hectic. Here's a quick recap/preview of Tuesday's/today's MAC First Round/Quarterfinal game.

I said that the Zips would defeat Eastern Michigan if they had a passing game. The Zips had a passing game. They won. Alex Abreu led the team with 5 assists, and it was a very well-played team game all-around. Four Zips players were between the 10-13 point range. Zeke Marshall grabbed 9 rebounds to lead the team in that department, along with 3 blocks.

Also of note, the appearance of Steve McNees in Tuesday's game placed him at the top of the list in career games played, with 137 (he ties Chris McKnight).

With that win, the Zips advance to the quarterfinals, in a televised 2:30pm match with Miami (Ohio). Akron lost on Miami's home court earlier this season, but made up for it with a 17-point beatdown at the JAR just a couple of weeks ago.

The good news is, Keith Dambrot is a tournament master with the Zips. Not only are the Zips 3-0 in opening round games under Dambrot, but 13-5 overall. Their record in the MAC tournament without him under the helm? A measly 1-7. However, that tournament mastery seems to end with the title game, as the Zips have dropped 3 of 4 MAC championships.

Tune in to STO in just a couple of hours. Or set your DVR. It's gonna be a good one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The MAC Tournament Begins

Akron has grabbed the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, earning a home first round game against 9-21 Eastern Michigan. If the Zips win, they advance to the second round (hosted in Quicken Loans Arena) to play the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.

When these two teams met in the season, the Eagles took a 60-56 victory. Nik Cvetinovic grabbed a monstrous 16 rebounds, but the Zips were out-assisted 17-7 (very typical). If Akron can actually get a passing game going, this game will be a no-brainer.

The game is at 7pm, untelevised, so head out to the JAR for a good game.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thus The Winning Streak Ends

The men's basketball team did a marvelous job of stopping Nick Kellogg and Tommy Freeman from three-point range yesterday, holding them to 0-4 and 1-6, respectively. However, they forgot all about D.J. Cooper, who went off for 8-13 shooting (7-10 from beyond the arc) to lead the game with 25 points. Oh, and he also had 9 assists.

I guess I forgot the mention that the Zips lost 80-55 TO THE BOBCATS! What is it about these guys? They're 17-13 yet they've managed to steamroll us through both games this year, not to mention taking the MAC Championship out of our hands the previous season.

Alex Abreu led the Zips with 11 points off of 4-6 shooting (3-3 from 3-pt range). Unfortunately he forgot how to pass the ball...0 assists, 5 turnovers.

Brett McKnight followed with 10 points, from 4-9 shooting (2-6 from 3-pt range). No other Zips scored more than 8.

Zeke Marshall had a decent 8 points off of 3-5 shooting, and also sent 3 balls into the stands to set the school block record in a single season. Congratulations, Zeke. Now get some rebounds.

Speaking of which, Brett McKnight and Quincy Diggs led the team in rebounding yesterday with...3 rebounds each...and facepalms ensue. The team as a whole was outrebounded 40-21. That's just embarassing.

Just in case I haven't done a well-enough job of describing exactly how bad this game was, here's a line from GoZips.com recap:

The Zips would begin to crawl back into the game after trailing 54-24 with 15:38 to go. Akron used a 7-0 run over the next three-plus minutes to cut the OU advantage to 54-31 with 12:20 on the second-half clock. The Zips would not reduce the lead any further.

The next Zips game is Friday against Kent State. It will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 7pm. Tune in to watch KSUck.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Roo News, 3/1/11

1) The full football schedule has been released, although since the non-conference schedule was already out, there aren't any real surprises.

Sat, Sept. 3 @Ohio State
Sat, Sept. 10 Temple
Sat, Sept. 17 @Cincinnati
Sat, Sept. 24 VMI
Sat, Oct. 1 @Eastern Michigan
Sat, Oct. 8 FIU
Sat, Oct. 22 Ohio
Sat, Oct. 29 Central Michigan
Thu, Nov. 3 @Miami (Ohio) ESPNU
Sat, Nov. 12 Kent State
Sat, Nov. 19 @Buffalo
Fri, Nov. 25 @Western Michigan ESPNU

Other than the quick Thursday away game (after a home game just a few days before) the schedule looks great. The team will almost certainly start 0-3 (although it's always a close game with Cincinnati), but if Ianello can keep them focused after those three games, what should be easy wins against VMI, Eastern Michigan and FIU follow. A 3-3 Akron Zips team at that point is a very realistic possibility. After that it's a matter of taking control of the home games against Ohio, Central Michigan and Kent State. Three wins there (or during the three late away games) would make us bowl eligible for the first time since 2005.

Also, why is this the year that the only televised games are away games? For three years I've gotten into games for free for being a student, and almost all of the televised games have been home games. Now they switch? Criminal.

2) For the second time this season, Nikola Cvetinovic was named the MAC East Player of the Week. He's been marvelous lately, shooting 66.7% from the floor and an incredible (compared to the last two years) 88.2% from the free throw line (15-17).

3) Speaking of the men's basketball team, they take their 7-game win streak to Ohio today at 7pm. This is going to be a great game, so it's a real disappointment that it's not being televised. The Horizon League televises its games for free online. Hear that, MAC? Probably not.

The key to this game will lie in the matchup between Alex Abreu and Ohio's D.J. Cooper. These two are both flashy point guards, and last time Cooper completely outplayed Abreu, dishing out a ridiculous 15 assists.

As much trouble as the Bobcats generally give us, our three-point defense has improved tremendously from the last matchup, when Nick Kellogg and Tommy Freeman together shot 11-17 from beyond the arc.

4) The women's basketball team also has a big game, coming tomorrow at home against Kent State. Even though KSUcks, their women's basketball team currently stands at 19-8. Kara Murphy, the Zips' only senior, will be honored at halftime.