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  1. 15 likes
    I stopped down at the EJ Thomas meet-and-greet last night. The downside was it was poorly attended. The upside was being able to spend a good amount of time talking to Groce. The guy barely knows where the JAR's located, so it wasn't really the time nor the place to ask who'll be the starting point guard next season, or who's going to round-out his staff. The conversation was "casual." He was very gracious with us. After talking to our group for an extended time period, Larry Williams had to pull him away to speak to some of the other attendees. I think he would have talked to us all night if Williams wouldn't have interjected. He said his #1 priority was getting to know the existing players, and trying to "recruit" them to stay with the Program. The signing day is April 12th, but he's giving the kids some extra time recover from the coaching changeover and make a well-thought-out decision...to an extent. He mentioned "three weeks" as the max time before he needed an answer. Based upon the tone of our conversation regarding Antino, there's a chance he sticks around once the emotions subside. He met with the team yesterday, and is meeting again with them today. I asked if he had any idea regarding the players abilities, and said he'd watched the Zips final two games in the MAC tourney. I assured him that the sparse turnout at EJ wasn't indicative of the Zips basketball following, and that we'd had 7,000 Zips fans at The Q only a couple weeks ago. He didn't seem concerned, as he knew of our respectable game day crowds from his time at OU. It was more of an event to make the guy and his family feel welcome. I think once the dust settles, he'll prove to be an approachable guy, The next 2 weeks will be fun...certainly the most intriguing basketball recruiting period since Zeke's. And the coaching staff formation will be fun to keep tabs on as well. It was fun to catch up with a couple other ZipsNation members that I had't spoken to in a while. And the University put out a really nice spread of food. Although it was a cold, crappy Thursday night I had a good time, and left with the feeling that our Basketball Program is in better shape than it was had Keith Dambrot stuck around for another season.
  2. 13 likes
    George Thomas interviews Larry Williams, Jeff Boals, Anthony Stewart and Lamont Paris about UA opening. GT has kicked it up a notch!
  3. 10 likes
    GT doesn't like when EA writes a Zip article because now he'll have to put down the Wendy's Triple just to cut and paste something.
  4. 9 likes
    "We will immediately launch a national search for our new basketball coach, and we reaffirm our commitment to building our basketball program and all of Akron Athletics into a nationally recognized program across the board. In addition to finding a new coach, we are working to be in a position to upgrade the James A. Rhodes Arena" -- Larry Williams I'm staying optimistic that Larry and Matt will bring in a coach that reenergizes my enthusiasm for MAC basketball. I feel I've watched (listen and read) the same cycle for long enough, I'm ready to move forward. Start with a good hire, upgrade the JAR, and make the schedule better now that resume padding is finished. I'm sure there is somebody out there that can achieve the goal of winning an NCAA tournament game. Go Zips!!!!
  5. 8 likes
    Not painful to me whatsoever. It's exciting. We have a chance to go from Lolla to Porter. It doesn't get any better.
  6. 8 likes
    My long-winded thoughts regarding John Groce if he is our coach: There were two "high profile" names brought up on this thread in the early hours of our coaching search. Tom Crean and John Groce. The fact that we are coming away with one of them, to me, is a home run! We could have hired Anthony Stewart, Jamion Christian, or even the McDevitt guy Mes has been gushing over, but all of those guys have never been a head coach in the MAC and cannot be looked at as anything else other than high risk and high reward candidates. There is no guarantee they would have had any success here and they do not have names to generate buzz for instate players. I do not know all of the intricacies as to why Groce was fired at Illiniois. I did look at his record and he had one losing season, one season with 19 wins, and then had 20 or more wins in the other 3 seasons, including this season. I know how much this board likes our 20+ win season streak! The only difference is that Groce was doing this against the 1st or second best conference in the country in any given year. Now it isn't great, it just apparently wasn't up to a program like Illinois' standards, which is fine. It is certainly not bad I would argue his results were average to slightly above average for a P5 coach. What I do know is that there is quite a bit more politicking at large programs than there are at mid-majors. Some coaches can handle the change, others can't. Exhibit A - Charlie Strong. Charlie Strong was a failure at Texas even though he was a great coach at Louisville and put them on the map. Most probably thought it was a no-brainer that he would succeed at Texas, but the outside influences were apparently a change he had trouble managing. Does that make him a trash coach? Hell no. I would take him in a heartbeat over Bowden and most probably agree considering he was hired immediately at South Florida and I bet he does great things there. Speaking of Texas, our beloved Shaka Smart is down there for basketball and isn't doing too hot. As a matter of fact, he is coming off of a worse season than Groce ever had at Illinois. Now I will call bullshit to any of you and nothing you can say will make me think otherwise if Texas fired Shaka and you said you didn't want him here because he failed at Texas. I've seen Indiana fans want him on their staff. I've seen OU fans pissed about us probably getting him. They now think we will dominate the MAC for another decade. Do the fans on here who are unhappy think we know better than everyone else? Well you probably are smarter than the hillbillies down in Athens, but you all are going against the grain so much that it just looks questionable. I think the irrational dislike, whether some want to admit it or not, is because of the success he had at OU. Point out his regular season all you want. He still had a winning record (6-4) against the regular season king in Dambrot in his 4 years. Groce has great connections all throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Groce is a low risk and high reward hire. We know what he did at Ohio. Its hard for me to hold anything against whatever happens next season as the cupboard was already pretty bare and KD poaching players and other player leaving only makes it worse, but besides from that, AT WORST, I cannot see how we are just a step lower than KD's consistent regular season success. Meaning most seasons you get your 20+ wins, maybe a 19er here or there, but the upside is so much more. He has a history of NCAA tourney success while coaching in our conference and is the only coach to achieve that success in the past 15 years! Better yet, he has done it multiple times! The powerhouse he was on the verge of creating down in Athens before he bolted has been well noted on here. That can be us! What I additionally like is that he has already jumped to the big school and failed. 1) There is plenty for him to learn from that and make himself a better coach and person. 2) Him failing there will make him less likely to jump up again at first chance if given the opportunity. I'm sure he will want to make a calculated move up, if any, to best ensure success. 3) Him failing there will make bigger schools LESS likely to target him if he has similar success here as he had at OU. They have a sample size and it may make them hesitant to pull the trigger on him. All of this means more Groce for a longer period of time, which is a good thing if its all going good. A young up and comer like the names mentioned above could be here for only even a year or two and then gone and then we are back at this point. Now that wouldn't be a bad thing, but if I had to choose I would take the continuity over risking a new hire every few years. While I like the hire, I don't root for coaches, I don't root for players. I root for the name on the front of the jersey no matter who is playing or coaching. I hope you all do the same. Put your personal vendetta that exists because he owned our best coach in history aside. We were all concerned about being able to at minimum maintain the status quo and that is very reasonable with him, and his known upside is obviously a huge plus. Go Zips!! (hopefully this negotiations don't fall apart and I typed and thought of all of this for nothing).
  7. 7 likes
    "Like, look at their schedule in the last decade, do you really want to play teams like Coppin State and Adrian? Right?"
  8. 7 likes
  9. 7 likes
    Groce interviewed Sunday, Akron started preparing an offer Monday. Williams never seriously considered any of Dambrot's staff. Jamion Christian was the only other major candidate.
  10. 7 likes
    Thank you. Nothing irks me more than when these guys put "forever a zip" in their departing letters. No you aren't. You are a sellout to your teammates. Bye Felicia.
  11. 7 likes
    The reality is that no matter who was here and who will be here as the UA coach, somebody would/will b!+ch. That's the nature of sports. If the Zips win 100- 98, their defense needs work and the bad defensive coaching will eventually bite them in the ass. If they win games 40-30, the offense is struggling and the coach needs to pick up the tempo. If they win 26 games, they need to toughen up the schedule. If they win 15 or 16, they need to lighten up the schedule. No coach or scenario is going to make everyone happy. When this all calms down and we look back years down the line, I think we'll all see that the Dambrot era was a good one for the Zips. Perfect? No. Disappointing at times? Yes, but all in all, we'll recognize that KD was good for UA basketball.
  12. 6 likes
    Zips Intrasquad Scrimmage – April 15th, 2017 The Zips took the field at 9:00 am sharp for their final scrimmage prior to the April 22nd Spring Game. The day started with 15 minutes of stretching, followed by another fifteen-or-so minutes of group positional drills. While Warren Ball was fully dressed and participated in the pre-game, he was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons. Other notable scratches on the day included Kevin Gladney (concussion protocol – pending the outcome he still may participate on the 22nd), Austin Wolf (class), Oregon State transfer Deltron Sands (shoulder – he’s expected to be ok for the summer), Ulysses Gilbert and Anthony Young. Tommy Woodson was in attendance, but limited to catching some toss-backs during drills and offering some verbal encouragement from the sidelines. The scrimmage was offense/defense, and not split squad. Unlike a real game, there were very few breaks. Nick Johns began the first possession at QB. Overall, he shows a good pocket presence and a strong arm. Not cannon-strong, but solid enough to stretch the field. He has good footwork too. He proved to be a little more comfortable in the pocket today than Kato. He hit AJ Coney for a nicely-timed 10 yard TD pass in the slot, and had a few impressive drives too. A quick crossing route completion to Tre Chapman for about 20 yards was one of the nicer plays of the day. Johns and Nelson took the bulk of the snaps. Clayton Uecker also got several reps. Kato exhibited good speed and elusiveness when the pocket broke down. But the difficulties in blocking for him versus a seasoned pocket QB like Woodson were evident. One player was overheard saying: “It’s hard to block for him (Nelson) because you don’t know where the #%@ he’s gonna go!” On the day, Kato made some excellent plays, including hitting Kwad Smith in-stride for a 60+ yard TD. He also hit Coney in the slot for a nice TD, and even caught a TD pass from MTB while they were running the wildcat at the goal line. MTB was heavily involved in the offense from the H-back position. The offense ran several different plays with him in the wildcat as they worked on the goal line offense. He was also targeted on a couple pass plays down the middle. He seemed much more comfortable in the backfield, as is to be expected entering his 2nd year at the position. After the game he mentioned that he’d had hamstring issues last season, but he’s healthy now and ready to have a great 2017. Speaking of wildcat…you probably haven’t seen the last of Tre Chapman at QB…he hit Kato, who’d split out wide left, for a two yard TD pass near the end of the day. Regarding Clayton Uecker – he’s a tall QB that throws a decent ball. While there’s no doubt a solid #4 in this year’s 4-man QB derby, he acquitted himself well today. His highlight was a well-placed first half TD toss to Nate Stewart. On Nate Stewart – He’s a solid WR. Wolf and Coney will be our #1 & #2 guys this year, but Nate seems to me to be a quality #3, with a ton of upside. For a freshman, he’s tall and strong, and shows good hands. I like him a lot. Tre Chapman played the bulk of the day in the slot, but also saw some time on the outside. He’s obviously learning the position, but showed some flashes of being able to provide some big plays in 2017. He needs improve on using his body to get position. Veteran DB’s will give him trouble. His hands still look a little uneasy. But he gave 100% on every play, ran every route hard, and had a great attitude the entire scrimmage. There’s no doubt he’ll put in the work this summer and have a great fall. Especially when lined up in the slot. Coney made several nice catches. He’s seemed to get a notch better every year, and 2017 is no different. Fransohn Bickley is back. He climbed the ladder to make an impressive sideline catch in the first half…but then dropped a nice, would-be TD pass from Johns in the second half. He seemed happy to be back in Akron and also appears to be a favorite amongst his teammates. On the defensive side of the ball – Brock Boxen was back and playing without restrictions. That was a welcome sight. Newcomer Miami transfer James King showed some good wheels, picking up a botched Johns/Morgan exchange and taking it 30 yards for a TD. Denzel Butler, the walk on from WVA, showed some good cover skills. And Darrin Dailey looks to have one of the corner positions locked down. Coach Bowden said “Double D” consistently runs sub-4.4 40’s, and has had a strong spring. Newcomer TE Darryl Long didn’t get a lot of opportunities, but physically, he reminds me a lot of Jabari Arthur. He looks like a player. The running backs didn’t really distinguish themselves. Manny Morgan had the bulk of the carries. Looking at our 2017 RB “stable,” our top 3 expected players (Ball, Sands, and Edwards) didn’t suit up today. So there wasn’t much to glean. Chuck Turfe got a little time at RB. Speaking to Coach Bowden after the game, he mentioned that Alvin Davis was going to continue at the safety position. He said the safeties are “…the best we’ve ever had at Akron.” Jordan George will be moved to cornerback. Bowden mentioned Jamal Davis being a hybrid LB… “sort of like when Jason Taylor was here”…and will be used at LB, and also as a rush end. Brian Reinke is up to 6' 5", and 257 lbs. He's expected to have a breakout 2017 season on a defensive line that will need some incumbents to step up this year. Coach Bowden also mentioned there are no expected 5th year transfers on the horizon. "If a big D lineman falls onto our lap, we'll certainly take him. But we're not shopping for anyone." Lastly – Brian Bell is still expected to be back with the Zips in 2017. He was suspended from UA for one semester for disciplinary reasons, and is taking classes in Florida. He plans to return to UA in the summer.
  13. 6 likes
    Ya'll reasons for not wanting Groce are just weird.
  14. 6 likes
    If Gonzaga wins the National title will teams be more eager to schedule us since we played Villanova last year?
  15. 6 likes
    Groce is a serious candidate and is very interested in coming here.
  16. 5 likes
    Maybe it's just me, but since he's not the coach of the Zips, I don't give a rat's @$$ who Dambrot's recruiting.
  17. 5 likes
    Skip I don't think anyone wants to know what you are thinking
  18. 5 likes
    Rob is a great hire for Akron. He's a tireless recruiter who connects with players very well. The sky will be the limit for the Zips!
  19. 5 likes
    Do these people understand that KD is the one who left and that he was NOT fired?!!! What was the AD supposed to do?
  20. 5 likes
    Sorry, but I think this is rubbish. *Maybe* those names will matter the first time a hiring manager is hiring someone. After that, they'll quickly learn / understand the institution name on the sheepskin has diddly squat to do with the profitability, productivity, whatever of the division they've hired for. The characteristics of the individual whose name is on the sheepskin drive everything after the first interview. To say nothing that your 2 arguments are conflicting. Are people jumping on the Princeton grad because in 1996 at the Hoosier Dome, Pete Carrill's team ended Jim Harrick's UCLA team's hopes of defending its NCAA title? I can only speak from experience specific to the technical / engineering side of things, but I can promise you I only made what I call the "Case Mistake" one time. Sure, it might be more regional, but I'm certain that managers hiring engineers know the value of UA sheepskin and how much it can add to their organization. Their perception of UA isn't a static thing based on who was in the tournament when they were in college. It's a living evolving perception formed from the pure performance of the members of their organization. N.B.: I write this as someone who never took a class at UA and holds degrees from 2 schools who *are* on all the lists. Those of you carrying a UA degree have no reason to be self conscious about it. I promise you those of us that work with you don't give a squat about it. It's another example of NEOH defeatism. Own it, be proud of it. Go Zips!
  21. 5 likes
    My favorite tweet about all of this:
  22. 5 likes
  23. 5 likes
    We should know who our new coach is within 24-48 hours.
  24. 5 likes
    From what I've been told Williams is waiting for the outcome of the Boals Ability to Recruit Debate before he moves on. He is absolutely paralyzed until that piercing question is answered. As we all know he depends inordinately on ZNO and he wants the full debate completed before making a move. Unfortunately that will mean most of us will die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds rather than see it out. Bye cruel world.
  25. 5 likes
    It doesn't matter if you do know who the coach is. If you bail, your zip card is revoked.
  26. 5 likes
    Odd that the new 32 million dollar Stroh Center hasn't helped the attendance, talent or coaching?
  27. 5 likes
    Obviously Terry Pluto hasn't read ZN.o where several fans have stated they are bored with winning and are looking forward to our 15-17 win seasons ahead.
  28. 5 likes
    Where are all the brainiacs that wanted KD gone? Crickets.
  29. 5 likes
    A trusted source has told me that Jojo ran a 4.35 and a 4.21, jumped 34" and benched 225 sixteen times at the pro day. The numbers should be posted after all schools finish their pro days.
  30. 4 likes
    I find it interesting that the school KD left, the school that wanted KD, and the school that eventually ended up with KD are his three finalists.
  31. 4 likes
    He WAS MAC POY and that is fact so I don't know what you are disputing? If you want to argue Big Dog wouldn't have won MAC POY under a different coach, I'm not going to argue hypotheticals. It still doesn't change the fact he was a damn fine basketball player who could both score at a highly efficient level and had the court vision and basketball IQ to make the right passes. Losing him is a huge loss no matter how you try sugarcoating it.
  32. 4 likes
    I know the Oelschlagers already provide the top academic scholarship at Akron which is a full ride. It's great to see people complain that a generous family isn't donating their money where they want to see it.
  33. 4 likes
    Ask Jim and Vanita Oelschlager. They are the ones who ponied up the money.
  34. 4 likes
    Wesley Christians head coach Dave Meddings was an assistant at Huntington Prep under Rob. He's building a national powerhouse program there and that will be a great connection to have for Akron.
  35. 4 likes
    2017 Keith Clemons will visit Akron on Monday. Top available point guard averaged 16.9 ppg for Wesley Christian. @ZipsMBB @keithclemonss Coach Fulford paying dividends already. This kid is an underrated point guard who played at Wesley against top tier national school talent.
  36. 4 likes
    His day is tomorrow.
  37. 4 likes
  38. 4 likes
    I hope Coach Groce feels ZERO pressure to keep the 21-win streak going. I want our team to grow with a more challenging non-conference schedule.
  39. 4 likes
    Josh represented UA well one last time. He was just named to the All-MAC Academic team. The only Zip to receive the honor.
  40. 4 likes
    I love KD but we just took a step up. I'll forever be grateful for what KD did for us at Akron. We were a pretty lousy program when he took over. He elevated us to being a top-tier, nationally-recognized mid-major program & his success put us in a position to make a hire like this.
  41. 4 likes
    In all of the articles about Ball, we still know very little about him - what was his journey to UA like? What was experience like as he joined the team as a transfer? What was it like sitting out last year and watching things fall apart? What role has his family played in helping him navigate 6 years of a collegiate career? We know he came via OSU, but there is just no depth to anything GT writes.
  42. 4 likes
    To be honest, on the surface, this isn't appealing to me. However, if he can recruit like he has and connect with the community(aka HS coaches, etc.), then I see this as a win-win. It's a win for Groce, and a win for us. If Groce leaves, then that means we won an NCAA Tournament game or two, and our head coaching job will possibly be more enticing than it is right now.
  43. 4 likes
    Somebody that has more than one inbounds play in his repetoire of coaching skills!
  44. 4 likes
    I have never before considered posting on zipsnation, in fact I rarely ever visit the site (only occasionally to see what fans are complaining about). But after reading some of these conversations since the MAC tournament I finally had to register to make a post. I have plenty to say and doubt I can effectively communicate everything I would like to say, but I will give it a try: The first thing I can't believe I haven't seen is people wanting us to hire from within. Coach Dambrot just finished an unparalleled run of success all while pretty much keeping his staff in tact- so to me the obvious thing to do is promote one of his long time assistant coaches (Rick McFadden). Would this guarantee success? No, not necessarily, but it seems more likely to me that he would continue to be successful than someone else. For those of you who want "something new" I'm not sure why? I mean if it's a more exciting playing style that you are looking for, ok fine- Just look at some other programs in the league who play what you may think is "more exciting basketball" (Central, Toledo, or even BG who wants to play fast). Now look at their history of success, it doesn't look anything like what Coach Dambrot and his staff have done. If you are looking for something more, once again I understand. We all would like to win MORE MAC championships, and win in the NCAA tournament (Nobody wanted that more than Coach D). But please remember that we DID win more than anyone else in the conference- Just look at the last 9 years: 3 MAC Tournament Championships and 4 MAC Regular Season Championships. And as for more we were obviously a shot here or there from winning more Tournament Championships, which then gives you more opportunities in the Big Dance where it is all about matchups. As for the NCAA tournament our best chance was lost when our best team had just lost its starting point guard, and then Walsh and Forsythe got the flu the night before the game. Luck is a huge part of NCAA tournament runs (buzzer beaters, injuries, officiating, or matchups) as a fan all you can ask is to put yourself in position to win. And Coach Dambrot and his staff have done that better than anyone else, so why not keep the same old boring 20 wins, regular season championship, tournament finals and then roll the dice? The next thing that I see is complaining about the schedule, whether it be about the way Coach D scheduled, of the way you want the next coach to schedule. Once again, I understand- I would rather see a few more tough games and a few less Ark Pine Pluffs. But the reality is our schedule has provided opportunities against high major teams (all on the road) as well as quality mid major teams. If you want a tougher schedule it will mean going on the road and giving up home games- and I have recently seen some of you bring up Coles Miami teams and their scheduling. It is often mentioned how those tough games get you ready for tournament play, and one person said of those Miami teams "They were always prepared for tournament play, MAC or NCAA". Well guess what if you look at the previous paragraph our "soft schedule" that you complain about has gotten us prepared BETTER THAN ANYONE in the league for the MAC tournament. Now finally for those of you thinking that Akron is a good job- IT IS NOT. Now I am sure that we will be able to hire a good coach who has good experiences on their resume, but not because of anything about our program. Coaches will want this job because it offers them a chance to be a head coach, or because it offers a pay raise, but not because it offers more potential than other schools in the league (look at facilities, financial situations etc). Akron has won, not because we have more to offer, but because we had a better coach/coaching staff, so why not keep it going with someone who not only knows the blueprint, but has helped design and implement it?
  45. 4 likes
    Guys, I sure hope we aren't slipping into the idiotic mentality that is so prevalent in Cleveland. Akron is better than that. But when I see posts like this (and I've seen others), it reminds me of all the irrational people who were claiming that LeBron tanked in the playoffs for the Cavs about a decade ago because he already knew he was headed to Miami. I sure hope I don't see people yelling in the streets and burning Zips jerseys too. This is embarrassing.
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  47. 4 likes
    Screw dambrot. Why are so many people on here wishing him luck, etc??? He just gutted the program and is poaching all the recruits we had lined up. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did that, but that is because I actually love this university. Dambrot talked a lot of game, but as soon as the going got tough he took the paycheck and bailed.
  48. 4 likes
    The news of KD leaving stunned me, primarily because I had bought into the KD story: Akron boy, Akron mom, Akron grad, Akron success story. I wanted him to stay and be our coach for years. But after taking some time there are a few thoughts I want to share. KD's decision was emotional not logical. He was going to leave when he realized he had his best team and he couldn't get 'em to the NCAAT. So blame everyone but yourself. The irony is that the greatest single factor in getting this team to the NCAAT was KD himself. At the end of the season his team was not prepared. He did not coach what to do if Big Dog is shut down, or what to do if the 3's aren't going in, or how to stop a hot dribble penetrator like Walker, or how to switch to a zone, or how to play with discipline, or how to shoot FT's (a lacking hallmark of his teams) or how to make good decisions under pressure. All those things he controlled yet didn't coach them up. So who is the problem here? It wasn't a lack of talent, it was how he used it and therefore he controlled the team's destiny. A new venue won't change that. He could have had a better job than DU like Dayton, but he was emotional. He took the first train out. At Duquesne the job will be just as hard as at Akron and his chance for an NCAAT legacy is doubtful. That being said he had to leave because he lost the team and the lockerroom. These players stop playing for him. It was displayed in their lack of discipline, their fundamental errors of jumping up in the air and then deciding to pass, their lackadaisical turnovers, their on again off again defense. They were often out-hustled by lesser talent and KD was out-coached at the end of the season by Miami, BG, Kent, and UTA. When they won it was because they had more talent, not heart or effort. This episode proves to me that Akron is what it is... a mid-major in a lousy conference that will be a stepping stone program. That takes some of the romance and hope out of the story for me. I always wanted to believe that we could catch fire and grow to be a Gonzaga over time. Without fundamental change will never happen. The biggest change of all, to me, is getting the students to attend/pack the games. When that happens the games become an event, then publicity, fans, donors and facilities follow. Finally, as we look for a new coach let's cut the crap about us being so financially strapped. Wilson will balance the budget in two years. From there we can grow and not look back. Our credit rating will improve and programs will expand. Give him time. If you made it this far thanks for reading. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Still am and always will be a Zip.
  49. 4 likes
    I picture him watching Star Wars in a dark basement with OSU posters on the walls at the moment
  50. 4 likes
    I know we're all confident our esteemed ABJ beat writer is on this story like stink on a pig.