Ryan Molnar's Blog
Toledo has been on a run lately and they get arguably their toughest test this week as they travel to Athens, Ohio to meet up with the Ohio Bobcats. These two teams are seemingly going in different directions right now. Toledo is currently undefeated in MAC play and is looking like a lock to get the first round bye in the MAC tournament. Ohio plays well at home but is another team all together when it goes on the road. The good news for Ohio is this game is on the road.
First of all before getting any further it is important to look at two things. First of all, Toledo plays in the very watered down MAC West division. It isn’t hard to go undefeated when your opponents are the directional Michigan schools and Northern Illinois. However, Toledo has shown some strength when they went on the road and beat Buffalo in New York. They just got done taking care of Miami at home this weekend as well. Ohio has been playing very well so far this year at home and that’s what really makes this game so interesting.
The last chance for a possible at-large bid for any team not to win the MAC championship all but vanished Wednesday night when the Ohio Bobcats surrendered a 14 point, second-half lead to Marshall University. The Bobcats lost 70-60 and head into conference play at 9-4. The Bobcats had probably the best chance to get an at-large bid, should they play well in the conference portion of their schedule. Well they theorhetically could still end up with an at-large bid, the loss to Marshall sure didn’t help anything.
The Bobcats were on a roll of a 3-game win streak which included a neutral court win over Cincinnati last Saturday night.
The MAC had four teams in action yesterday and last night with all but one team winning. Kent State picked up a good win at home over Detroit. Marquette handed it to Eastern Michigan. Toledo took care of Middle Tennessee State in overtime, and Buffalo came away with an impressive win over Miami (FL).
Kent State had a balanced attack lead them to a 61-48 victory over the University of Detroit Mercy at the MAC Center yesterday afternoon. Kent State held Detroit to just 38 percent shooting and withstood a hot start from behind the 3-point line from the Titans. Detroit hit its first three triples, but then proceeded to only shoot three-of-16 the rest of the game. Freshmen guard Rodriguez Sherman led Kent State with 14 points in his first colleigate start. Due to many suspensions of players he was thrust into the lineup and did not commit one turnover in 31 minutes of play. Senior Armon Gates scored 12 points and brought down a career high 8 rebounds. He is known more for his 3 point shooting ability but in this game he was only able to make two three pointers. Kent State returns to action on Tuesday when they host Temple University.
The MAC had three teams in action and while they went 2-1 none of the two teams that won had very impressive wins. Toledo was in action against Iowa in the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam Tournament, Miami won big over Florida A&M, and Buffalo won a close one at home over Cleveland State. On to the recaps:
Toledo fought hard against Iowa but came up short 78-65 in the opening round of the Paradise Jam Tournament. The seniors held the Rocket’s in this game though. Senior guard Justin Ingram paced the Rockets with 22 points, 4 steals and 4 rebounds and was a point shy of his career scoring high. Senior forward Keonta Howell chipped in 16 points and six rebounds and senior forward Florentino Valencia scored 12 points and came down with a team high 8 rebounds. Freshmen forward Tyler Smith scored a game high 28 points for the Hawkeyes. The Rockets were able to shut down Iowa’s leading scorer, Adam Haluska, limiting him to only 10 points. However, that opened the door for Smith’s big night. Iowa also destroyed Toledo on the boards with a 51-30 rebounding edge. Toledo will face Middle Tennessee State tonight as the Blue Raiders dropped their game last night against 10th ranked Alabama.
With only one game last night it was all up to Bowling Green to help keep the MAC afloat as one of the premier conferences in the nation. They were unable to do this last night as they lost to previously winless Arkansas State. They didn’t help themselves by falling down by as many as 20 points. The one bright spot for the Falcons was that they were able to force 29 turnovers. Martin Samarco finished with a team high 16 points and seven rebounds. The Falcons return home to face Furman at 2 PM Sunday.
Three MAC games tonight as Toledo travels to Iowa, Miami hosts Florida A & M, and Buffalo hosts Cleveland State.
Once again there were only two MAC teams in action tonight but they both faired a little better than their counterparts did a night ago. Miami took on Kentucky in Rupp arena and was looking to get back on track after a tough home loss to Wright State to open the season. Northern Illinois was looking to open the season on a good note by opening at home against a Division-III team. On to the recaps.
Miami got out to a surprisingly good start against the 22nd ranked Wildcats, leading by as much as 10 in the first half. Kentucky pulled back with the RedHawks with a 22-3 run in the second half. Kentucky eventually won the game 57-46. The final score was not indicative of how close a game this really was. Miami stayed tough on the glass against a taller Kentucky squad as the Wildcats finished with only a 32-30 edge in rebounding. The RedHawks were paced by their big senior in the middle, Nathan Peavy. He finished with 17 points and six rebounds. The loss moves Miami’s record to 0-2 but they hope to change that to 1-2 when they take on Florida A & M on Friday at 8:30.
Last night there were only two games in the MAC as Akron was pitted against Gardner-Webb in the consolation game of the College Basketball Experience Classic and Western Michigan was on the road against Indiana State. Akron beat Gardner-Webb to start the season 1-1 while Western Michigan lost a tough one to the Sycamores. On to the recaps.
The story of the game in Akron’s big win over Gardner-Webb, 89-61, was the play of its two forwards, Romeo Travis and Jeremiah Woods. They combined for 15-of-23 shooting and 35 points as the Zips bounced back from a tough loss to Arkansas-Little Rock the night before. Wood also nabbed 12 boards on route to his seventh career double-double. The Zips also used defense to hold off the Bulldogs, as Gardner-Webb managed to shoot just 36 percent. Akron finished the night shooting 51% from the field. They will be back in action on Sunday for their home opener against Tiffin.
Last night was not a good chance for the MAC’s chances of having more than one team in the Big Dance come March. Every single MAC team in action lost last night along with the team that is supposed to carry the league, Akron. When your best team is losing to Arkansas Little-Rock with a chance to play Texas Tech on national television looming, you have the feeling that this could be a long year. Last night for some reason was upset special all around the country with Boston College losing to Vermont at home, Notre Dame losing to Butler at home and Indiana almost losing to Layfeytte in the preseason NIT. Akron shot 51 percent from the floor but could not get rebounds when it mattered the most. The Trojans outscored the Zips 21-11 on second-chance points and also outrebounded them 36-24. That just goes to show that you can’t just win games with talent, you have to actually go out there and perform and Akron didn’t do that last night. They’ll have another chance tonight to pick up what appears to be an easy W over Gardner-Webb at 7 PM tonight.
A night after getting blown out by Youngstown State, the Central Michigan Chippewas responded with a 71-58 win over Brown in the consolation game of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. It was also the first win for head coach Ernie Ziegler while at CMU. The previous day Brown had slowed the tempo and controlled possessions as they held Michigan State to only 45 points but still losing by 11. Ziegler wanted to push the tempo against Brown and got his first win.
CMU shot 50 percent from the floor, got 11 steals and 12 offensive rebounds. Sefton Barrett scored a game high 14 points. Giordan Watson came off the bench to score 13 points and add six assists. Eddie Spencer also added 12 points and 6 rebounds. CMU pushed the lead to as many as 21 points before Brown added a late rally to close the game to the final deficit of 13 points.
University of Akron head men's basketball coach Keith Dambrot announced on Thursday that Brett McKnight, Steve Sweich and Ronnie Steward have signed national letters of intent to play at the school starting in the 2007-08 season. All three are currently in their senior season of high school.
McKnight, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward from Lancaster, Ohio, attends Lancaster High. McKnight averaged 12 points and six rebounds in leading Lancaster HS to a 25-2 record last season. He has been named as the fourth-best wing/forward in the state by PrepSpotlight.
Steward, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound guard from Columbus, Ohio, attends Eastmoor Academy. He averaged 18 points and six assists last season, and is on pace to be the first player at Eastmoor to score 1,000 career points. Last season he earned honorable mention all-state recognition and is a two-time first-team all-city pick and was twice named to the second-team all-district squad. Steward is the No. 2-ranked point guard in the state according to PrepSpotlight.