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21 Apr 2013
Well, after the emotional roller-coaster that was, well really the entire Zips basketball season, but in particular the last 3-4 weeks of the season I felt like I needed a few weeks away from Zipsnation. It is tough as a fan not to become emotionally invested in your team at a very high level. After the extreme highs of the winning steak, the top-25 ranking and the conference title, and the lows of the Abreu suspension and the "what else could possibly go wrong" NCAA appearance it was time to take a break and re-charge.
I'm not going to go too much into what happened in the tournament here. That has already been hashed to death from what I can see, and I don't really have anything to add to the conversation. Instead I want my triumphant return to Zipsnation to take on a more positive tone.
First, a final note on the 2012-13 team. This is going to go down as a team I think a lot of us will remember for a lot of years. Partly for what they actually accomplished, and partly for what might have been. Make no mistake, this was a team that was very, very talented, but was never afforded the opportunity to fully live up to that potential due to circumstances outside of their control. Injuries happen. Illnesses happen. Suspensions happen. And on occasion all of those things happen in seemingly a matter of minutes in a way that can de-rail any program in the country. Despite all of it, the Zips still came home with another MAC title and have now securely established themselves as the top program in the MAC. I won't go too much into individual players other than to say that the 3 seniors will be sorely missed going forward. Each one of them represented themselves, the team and the University very well during their tenure with the Zips, and I only hope that the younger guys on the team learned some things about how to play and act as professionals on and off the court.
Now to the future. I feel like next years team is going to have an entirely different look. Primarily due to the absence of Zeke Marshall, but for other reasons as well. Zeke's absence will change a lot of things the Zips do, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Let's face it, there are few players out there that protect the front of the rim the way Zeke does. His presence changed the way the entire team was able to play for the better part of 4 years. Dambrot is going to have some adjustments to make with Forsythe and Johnson in the middle next year, but I trust he can adapt and move forward.
Beyond Zeke's absence the big story going into next year for me will be PG play. Betancourt showed some flashes of ability to be a starting PG at this level, but he has a long way to go, particularly as a scorer, before I will be completely comfortable with him running the show. I'm not as concerned about his conditioning, as I think a complete offseason knowing what he needs to do to get ready to play major minutes will help him. I'm mostly concerned about that shot, which has a long way to go before it can even be considered average at this level. On the flip side we have Nyles Evans coming in who is more of a score first PG by all accounts. That combination is going to have to make up for the absence of Alex Abreu (who I would guess has less than a 1% chance of re-joining the team). The real wild-card is the Quincy Diggs situation, but I have to be honest, I've never been a big fan of Diggs at PG. He can do it for maybe 5-10 minutes a night, but if we are relying on Q to come back and play major minutes at PG, particularly after a year away, I think we are in big trouble.
Speaking of Diggs, I do think his presence or absence next year is going to be significant for the Zips. Let's face it, we are a bit thin on the wings going into next year without Walsh and Gilliam. Right now we have Reggie McAdams and a whole bunch of question marks. You would hope that B.J. Gladden and Aaron Jackson can come in as freshmen and have the kind of impact that Reggie and Jake Kretzer had this season, but there are no guarantees of that. At this point I have to say that I hope (and believe) that the Deji Ibitayo experiment is over. He will make a nice D-II or D-III player for someone out there, but his length and athletic ability just can't overcome his lack of basketball skills and basketball IQ at this level. Blake Justice is a lost cause at this point as well. To have a veteran like Q come back, even if he needs a few weeks to blow off the rust, would really stabilize us on the wings.
More than anything next year I'm looking forward to the continued development of our star forwards from the Cleveland area. Particularly Tree. If this guy stays on track and stays humble and hungry there is no telling what he can accomplish. I truly believe that he could average 18 and 10 each night, even in Dambrot's system. He is just that special a player. Harney is even more intriguing. The biggest thing I want to see from him is consistency. He can be an absolute nightmare for opponents when he has his head in the game, but he has yet to demonstrate that he can do it night in and night out.
As far as the MAC goes next year, I really think the programs to watch (other than the Zips) will be Toledo and Can't. Toledo is finally going to be able to get out from under the APR violation penalties and compete for a conference title for the first time in a long time. They have a good coach, some nice veterans already in place, some high-level transfers and a good recruiting class coming in. Can't returns a lot of players from a team that arguably under-achieved last season, but still made it to the conference semis. I'm still not sold on Rob Senderoff as a coach for them, but if he can make some adjustments in year 3 they can be dangerous. Buffalo is the big wild-card to me, as they have arguably the best player in the MAC in Javon McCrea, but they will be under a new coaching staff. Sometimes a new coaching staff can light a spark under a veteran team like that, other times the veterans ignore him and the whole thing falls apart. I think OU will take a serious step backwards without Cooper, Offutt, Kelley and Marshmallow Fluff. They don't have anyone coming back on that roster who has looked like anything more than a nice role-player at this level.
Way too early predictions for 2013-14:
PG - Evans/Betancourt
SG - McAdams/Jackson
SF - Diggs/Kretzer
PF - Treadwell/Harney
C - Forsythe/Johnson
The largest playing time off the bench will go to Harney followed by Kretzer and Betancourt. Gladden will see spot time at SG/SF. Cheatham will redshirt as he continue to grow. Ibitayo will be on the roster but won't see much playing time. I still expect to see an announcement that Blake Justice is transferring sometime this offseason.
Regular Season Record: 24-6
MAC Tournament Prediction: #1 seed. Semifinals victory over Buffalo. Finals victory over Toledo.
NCAA Tournament Prediction: #13 seed, and, unfortunately, another first round exit (I just think we are going to be a little too young next year).
2 Mar 2013
Over on the Bobkitties board they are clinging to any type of hope they can. Many are expressly or impliedly stating that they will get us in Cleveland because it is difficult to beat a team three times in one season. So I decided to look into it.
In the past 5 years in the MAC (2006-2007 through 2011-2012) there have been 16 occasions when one team beat another twice during the regular season only to have them meet up again in the conference tournament. In those tournament games the winner of the previous two wins 75% of the time (12-4). Last year alone it happened 4 times with the winner of the previous two going 3-4. And these aren't just games where the tallest midget in the MAC West beats up on the shortest midget. These include at least a couple of conference finals matchups.
2011-12: Akron vs. Can't State - Akron 3-0
2011-12: Eastern Mich. vs. N. Illinois - EMU 2-1
2011-12: Ohio vs. Buffalo - Ohio 3-0
2011-12: Western Mich. vs. N. Illinois - WMU 3-0
2009-10: Akron vs. Ohio - Akron 2-1
2009-10: Can't State vs. Ohio - Can't 2-1
2008-09: Bowling Green vs. Ohio - BG 3-0
2008-09: Eastern Mich. vs. Central Mich. - EMU 2-1
2007-08: Central Mich. vs. N. Illinois - CMU 3-0
2007-08: Can't State vs. Akron - Can't 3-0
2007-08: Can't State vs. Miami - Can't 3-0
2007-08: Miami vs. Buffalo - Miami 3-0
2006-07: Akron vs. Can't State - Akron 3-0
2006-07: Eastern Mich. vs. Ball State - EMU 3-0
2006-07: Ohio vs. Bowling Green - Ohio 3-0
2006-07: Toledo vs. Eastern Mich. - Toledo 3-0
Hate to burst the bubble of some of them over in Bobcat land. But the facts don't exactly support the theory on this one.
16 Feb 2013
Tied up at 62 with under 5 to go. Who do you root for in this one? A Can't win gives us a 2 game cushion on OU presuming we can handle the Falcons tonight. On the other hand rooting for Can't makes me want to go shower with ammonia.
26 Jan 2013
I realize the title of this thread may get it removed, but those are the only two words I can use to describe what I witnessed from the Zips tonight. To come back from 20 down to 6 down in the first half only to go back down 15 in the second half, then go on an 18-0 run to bring home the W. That takes a heck of a lot of testicular fortitude right there. And what a night to do it on. Biggest non-Can't crowd at the JAR in the KD era. And man were they LOUD.
19 Jan 2013
The Zips are now 13-4, 4-0 in the MAC. We've now won 9 in a row, and haven't lost a game in over a month.
The Zips next three games are at Toledo, home for Buffalo and then back to NW Ohio for a matchup vs. Bowling Green. Of those squads Toledo is probably playing the best right now, but they are not very deep, and I expect the Zips to be able to take care of them. There is a strong possibility that we could go into the OU home game on February 2nd at 16-4, 7-0 in conference and riding a 12 game winning streak.
So here is the question, IF the Zips are able to take these next 3, do we start receiving a couple of top 25 votes? I would have to think so, particularly given that there aren't a whole lot of truly elite teams in the country this year. It would sure make for an interesting game on February 2nd if the Zips and Bobcats were both sitting at 7-0 in conference and receiving top 25 consideration.
18 Mar 2013 - 23:01
23 Feb 2013 - 22:24
26 Jan 2013 - 23:22
13 Jan 2013 - 18:06
18 Feb 2012 - 16:06
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