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clarkwgriswold

2018- 2019 Season Post-mortem

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Well, the season has come to an abrupt, yet expected end.  I am curious as to what ZipsNation thinks were the positives and negatives looking back on the season.  Seems like it was just yesterday that we were headed off to the JAR to face Cedarville, but here we are. I thought I;d throw this thread up on the board rather than have us all unload in a game thread.  As I look back-

 

Positives and highlights:

*  Defense, defense, defense.  This team played hard on defense all year.  They not only played good team defense but Jimond spent the year shutting down the opponent's leading scorer.

*  Tyler Cheese developed into a solid MAC player, especially on the offensive end.  He was the one person on the team aggressive with the ball in his hands.

*  The team was in a lot of games.  Even in most of the losses, they kept the games close.

*  Groce got the kids to buy into playing hard.  Effort was never an issue.

*  Strong performances against Nevada and Clemson; thrashing of PCCC; Bowling Green win, Miami tournament win.

 

Negatives and lowlights:

*  Inability to close tight games.

*  Woeful offense in all but a few games.

*  Iffy big man play, particularly on offense.

*  Bad 3 point shooting.

*  The Buffalo tournament loss; the loss at Miami; ugly collapse and loss at NIU; the Gueye- Kostelac incident, the OU loss. 

 

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1 hour ago, clarkwgriswold said:

Well, the season has come to an abrupt, yet expected end.  I am curious as to what ZipsNation thinks were the positives and negatives looking back on the season.  Seems like it was just yesterday that we were headed off to the JAR to face Cedarville, but here we are. I thought I;d throw this thread up on the board rather than have us all unload in a game thread.  As I look back-

 

Positives and highlights:

*  Defense, defense, defense.  This team played hard on defense all year.  They not only played good team defense but Jimond spent the year shutting down the opponent's leading scorer.

*  Tyler Cheese developed into a solid MAC player, especially on the offensive end.  He was the one person on the team aggressive with the ball in his hands.

*  The team was in a lot of games.  Even in most of the losses, they kept the games close.

*  Groce got the kids to buy into playing hard.  Effort was never an issue.

*  Strong performances against Nevada and Clemson; thrashing of PCCC; Bowling Green win, Miami tournament win.

 

Negatives and lowlights:

*  Inability to close tight games.

*  Woeful offense in all but a few games.

*  Iffy big man play, particularly on offense.

*  Bad 3 point shooting.

*  The Buffalo tournament loss; the loss at Miami; ugly collapse and loss at NIU; the Gueye- Kostelac incident, the OU loss. 

 

Great points, Clark.  Coming off our struggles from last year, I had higher hopes coming in.  Losing Hester and multiple centers probably helped to limit our steps forward.  We improved from last season, but maybe not quite as much as I hoped.  We were 8-10 and the 8th seed.  I wanted/hoped each of those would have been better.  That being said, it's too early to give up all hope.   Let's see what Groce does with another recruiting class.

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I'll just toss out that this was only year two of an almost total rebuild.  Groce inherited two players.  Two.  TWO!

(E-man doesn't count.  In fact, E-man counts as a -1.)

 

If Coach Sabo has our baseball team in the MAC quarterfinals in year two I'd call it unexpected and quite a success.

 

Frenchy has said he thinks this year's Buffalo squad is the best team he's ever seen in the MAC.  The other team he throws out there is the Elite Eight Kent State team.    So they kicked our butts today.  Good for them.  We're in Year Two of Operation: Build From Scratch.  They played to their potential & really locked down on D.  Hats off to them.

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Wonder how we'd be feeling if we came into tournament play 19-12/10-8 and lost to a team that was 13-18/6-12?

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Positives...

  • Legitimate growth from several players, including Cheese and Riak
  • Defense wins championships, and we were one of the best defensive teams in the country. I fully expect that to be our mantra moving forward, with the ultimate success coming once we improve offensively. 
  • Lots of close losses, which challenged us in a year we can afford to be challenged. Hopefully those close games plant the seed to flip those results going forward.
  • Effort. This team never gave up, and I hope that's also a staple going forward. 
  • Fundamentals. You can see them for the first time in a long, long while. Help defense, rotating, ball movement, crashing the boards (at times), movement off the ball, foul shots, etc. 
  • We stomped teams like OU, Kent, Miami, BG.
  • We learned the term "teamism". 
  • Everyone but Ivey returns next year. That's HUGE. 
  • We got back to The Q and got a bunch of "rookies" experience in that cavernous arena. 
  • We gave Buffalo 2 of the toughest games they had all season.
  • Close performances against Clemson, Illinois State, and Nevada. 
  • Winning record in year 2, despite a lot of roster turnover in the off-season. 

Negatives...

  • Shot-making.
  • Mental lapses at times, especially from our leaders like LCJ, Ivey, and Utomi. 
  • Making baskets. 
  • Scoring.
  • Putting the ball in the hoop.
  • Putting points on the board. 
  • Scoring more than the opponent. 
  • Shooting. 
  • Finishing buckets.

 

In my opinion, this season became the true foundation for the Akron program under Groce. I'm still wondering who he is expecting to leave based on us still offering scholarships for the 2019 class, but the bulk of this roster will be back, and I'm excited. X. Williams should be a huge addition, along with a few of the freshman and the JUCO guard coming in. Buffalo graduates the most successful class class in MAC regular season history, which includes Massinburg, Caruthers, Harris, Perkins, and McRae. The MAC will be ripe for the taking. Can't State is stuck with their average clown, OU will have a new coach, Miami has a bunch of question marks, BG might return back to earth, Balls graduates a lot, EMU graduates a lot. 

 

I don't understand the shockingly quick sky-is-falling mentality on this board. Dambrot left; he's now in the A10, losing in the first round over there. We haven't made the Tourney since 2013, and now have a coach with historic post-season success in the MAC. Have faith, and watch the details of the game. The foundation for success is there. 

 

Go Zips!

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Negatives

- All season the team seemed to fold under pressure. It was pretty apparent the majority of this roster has never experienced playing at the Q. They looked tight from the tip and never settled into the game. Hopefully they learn to play more loose next year

 

- Utomi, Ivey, LCJ all seemed to regress as shooters compared to their prior seasons. LCJ is some what understandable as he was previously playing weaker competition. Hopefully LCJ becomes better next year as he seemed to improve down the stretch. I'm hoping Utomi sliding back into the 3 spot will return him back to being the sharp shooter he was previously.

 

- The C position has been a complete disaster offensively. I'm actually not anti-Riak like some as I think he still provides a net positive when he's on the floor due to his defense. That being said, he needs to be able to catch a pass cleanly and be able to slam it home. Hopefully he sorts that out this offseason. I'd also like to see us add a big that can provide an offensive punch to help provide some versatility to our lineups.

 

Positives

- Next year should be a down year for the MAC

- Xeyrius Williams I think should be that stretch big that we were desparately missing this year

- The defense was phenominal this year. 

- I think Utomi & Cheese can become 1st or 2nd team All-MAC players next season.

Edited by kreed5120
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One thing I forgot was the lack of depth.  Our point guard really had no backup.  They were so thin that after playing strong defense for 35 minutes that I think they were simply gassed late in games.  Subtract Ivey, add Williams, Reece and a healthy Sayles and Toles and I think depth is no longer an issue. 

 

I'll start a 2019-2020 thread before long to address what to expect from next year in a separate discussion from our dissection of this season.

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Reading the above comments indicate to me that people on this board have done a great analysis of this program.   I agree with all of the comments thus far and will add a few of my own.  

 

Highlights.

The athleticism on this team. 

Watching Tyler Cheese take someone on one on one on a fast break and Euro stepping to the basket.

Watching any and all dunks by Ivey.

Watching this team shoot over 50% from beyond 3 against Miami and thinking what if they can do that against Buffalo.  Upset!!

Watching Ivey make his last 3 ball attempt at the JAR.

Watching Cheese miss a layup when the nearest defender was at half court.  (He got rebound and made 2nd layup)

Watching the opposing player get stuffed on a dunk by the rim and then seeing it on sports center over and over again.

Beating Kent big time at home.

Watching LCJ drive to the hoop and finish among the bigs.

 

Lowlights

Watching Riak rebound the ball 2 feet away from the basket and then look to throw the ball out to a shooter instead of going toward the basket.

After Riak passes on the 2 foot shot Riak then launches a 3 point shot.

Watching a pick and roll with our center  on almost every possession and never seeing it being executed for a basket.

Missing the front end of a one and one time after time.

Watching Groce bring in Walters today and have him play with Jackson.  Going small is one thing but that was crazy.

The small crowd against Miami on Monday.  Noticing how there is less and less interest in this team after KD left.  

Watching this team shoot the 3 ball.  Groce bragged how this team consisted of great 3 ball shooters.  WE were almost the worst in the nation at shooting the 3 ball.

Watching a close game on the road and know in the back of my mind we will find some way to blow it.   And being right!!  (Only time I hate being right)

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, kreed5120 said:

I'm actually not anti-Riak like some as I think he still provides a net positive when he's on the floor due to his defense.

I'm also team Riak and I actually think he showed more offensive potential than most of the pure fives we've had over the years.  

 

Besides the things already said:

 

Negatives:

-Shot selection.  I've never seen a Zip team pass up so many good looks. LCJ is especially guilty of this. They overthink things. 

-General quality of play consistency.  I'd say this is a continual problem for the Zips. but probably everybody feels their team is inconsistent. Inconsistencies are magnified when you watch all of a team's games.

 

Positives:

-Sticking with elite teams like Nevada and (today excepted obviously) Buffalo. Dambrot's teams could never really manage this. Yeah, we didn't finish them off, but keeping it close counts for something.

-A couple of wonderfully complete games. Against local and conference foes, whenever Dambrot's teams pulled out to a big lead, you just NEWWWWWWW they would give up a big run and make it close again. But that didn't happen against Youngstown State or the first round game against Miami.  We seem to have scratched the surface at least on the kind of mentality that can put teams away.

 

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Many good, rational thoughts, IMO so far. I took a peak and just realized we finished the season with only 8 scholarship players Utomi, Ivey, Cheese, Banks, Poke, LCJ, Riak, and Roscoe. Williams sitting out, Toles injured, Gueye a waste, Marc transferring, and Sayles injured.

 

I think if we're being fair, that isn't a lot to work with. Sure Groce is partly at fault. I saw the biggest need this year to be back up PG, consistent big man play, and a knock down 3 pt shooter. to create room for others. Do any of our newcomers give us that?  I still hold out faith that one of Poke/Sayles/Riak can be at least a solid, consistent 5. It seems like Reece and Xerious can contribute to the inside game as well based on highlights. Williams is also a 3pt threat. Him, Utomi, and LCJ collectively may be able to get the job done in that regard even if we don't have a Kretz or McAdams level shooter. I firmly believe LCJ and Utomi are better than what they shot this season.

 

I'm pretty high on Mikal Dawson and think Ali Ali is in line for a redshirt. I see the core of our team next year being LCJ, Utomi, Cheese, and Williams. LCJ flashed in the OOC and seemed to come along better towards the end of the season. He will always have to deal with his size, but he was also adjusting to "moving up" this year. If he can make smarter decisions and starts to shoot better, which i feel he can, I feel comfortable with him the next 2 seasons. Cheese is an off-ball guard, not a PG

 

2019-2020:

PG: LCJ/??

SG: Cheese/Banks/Roscoe/Toles

SF: Utomi/Dawson/Ali Ali (redshirt)

PF: Williams/Reece

C: Riak/Sayles/Poke

 

It seems clear to me where we can afford to lose someone and where we need to fill a hole. This season probably didn't meet a lot of our expectations. I still feel confident in Groce, but he needs able to get next year's squad to be MAC competitors, barring unforeseen circumstances. We need a true backup PG and i think we're on the right track.

 

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I'm not sure Banks is a fit going forward. 

 

I forgot about Hester. He was a PG too if I remember correctly. I knew losing Kostelac and Sayles hurt.. but if Groce was heading into the season thinking Hester would be a big contributor like I assumed, and at PG, that really hurts. Hopefully we can find a PG to help lessen the load on LCJ. 

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5 hours ago, LZIp said:

2019-2020:

PG: LCJ/??

SG: Cheese/Banks/Roscoe/Toles

SF: Utomi/Dawson/Ali Ali (redshirt)

PF: Williams/Reece

C: Riak/Sayles/Poke

 

As the roster and expected additions currently stand, I would move Cheese to the backup PG role. That isn't to say he won't start, but he proved serviceable this year in the role, and given an entire off-season to work on his craft could really take another big leap next year. Duvivier was a SG in the PG position. I would also slide Reece down to SF, and Sayles down to PF. That should help even the "depth chart" out a bit. I really like this roster on paper though. 

 

I don't have much experience with Toles' game, but how are his handles? Any way he can become the backup PG?

Edited by Let'sGoZips94

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16 hours ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

I don't have much experience with Toles' game, but how are his handles? Any way he can become the backup PG?

 

If his confidence is up I think he could run the point as well as Cheese.  But like Cheese, I don't envision him as a natural PG (at this level; he played both PG & 2 Guard in HS).

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When Akron announced the official signing of Mikal Dawson, Groce stated he is capable of playing all three guard spots. We shall see where he decides to play Dawson his first year. Groce likes to limit Freshman to one position since they already have a full plate.

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Since Groce is still floating offers we won't know the final 2019-2020 roster for a month or two. But going off of what we know today I am going to slot Dawson as the back-up point guard purely out of necessity (Cotton left a mess). When I watch Dawson's high school highlights I see strictly a shooting guard, but this years clips show me that he can handle the rock in traffic and on the move. I think his defense and decision making are works in progress. And time will tell if he is capable of running the show which will all play out in practice battles that we will not be privy to. Also, I initially thought Dawson was going to start packing on muscle like Duvivier and Utomi. But that has not been the case thus far. So that shoots down my power-guard theory. Though I still think he could very easily turn himself into a fullback at any point.

 

Speaking of the weight room. LCJ needs to live in there. Being short is no excuse for being weak. Life on the road in the MAC is not going to get any easier next year and he needs to be able to take a bump. Even 10 pounds added to his frame would go a long way. Just as long as he doesn't lose his quickness.

 

2019-2020:

PG: LCJ/Dawson/Cheese

SG: Cheese/Banks/Roscoe

SF: Utomi/Williams/Cheese/Toles

PF: Williams/Reece/Poke/Utomi/Sayles

C: Riak/Reece/Poke/Sayles

 

Reece is likely the first guy off the bench.

Biggest concerns: Roscoe's shooting was a huge disappointment and Sayles lack of reliability/consistency. And the center position in general.

Ali Ali (redshirt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Illini Zip

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Cheese is already the backup point and should remain so absent a dedicated point coming in.  From what little I have seen of Dawson, he doesn't appear to be a point.

 

I think when everyone is healthy Sayles is higher on the depth chart than E-man.  I love E-man's attitude and effort but his game has gone backwards.

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1 hour ago, clarkwgriswold said:

Cheese is already the backup point and should remain so absent a dedicated point coming in.  From what little I have seen of Dawson, he doesn't appear to be a point.

 

I think when everyone is healthy Sayles is higher on the depth chart than E-man.  I love E-man's attitude and effort but his game has gone backwards.

 

I hear you. Dawson screams shooting guard to me too, but he has more guard skills than I initially thought. And this wouldn't be the first time Groce turned his shooting guard into a lead guard. Now would he try to do that with a Freshman? Maybe not. But by dedicating Dawson as the back-up point guard you free up 6'-6" Cheese to put some time in at the three spot. That would give Groce more depth and maybe the ability to finally run wide-open with a small unit. We can only speculate so much at this point. Let's revisit on May 15th. :thumb:

 

Possible small/fast unit:

LCJ

Banks

Cheese

Reece

Williams

 

As for Sayles, what can anyone tell me about his second injury?

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On 3/14/2019 at 8:12 PM, Let'sGoZips94 said:

Positives...

  • Legitimate growth from several players, including Cheese and Riak
  • Defense wins championships, and we were one of the best defensive teams in the country. I fully expect that to be our mantra moving forward, with the ultimate success coming once we improve offensively. 
  • Lots of close losses, which challenged us in a year we can afford to be challenged. Hopefully those close games plant the seed to flip those results going forward.
  • Effort. This team never gave up, and I hope that's also a staple going forward. 
  • Fundamentals. You can see them for the first time in a long, long while. Help defense, rotating, ball movement, crashing the boards (at times), movement off the ball, foul shots, etc. 
  • We stomped teams like OU, Kent, Miami, BG.
  • We learned the term "teamism". 
  • Everyone but Ivey returns next year. That's HUGE. 
  • We got back to The Q and got a bunch of "rookies" experience in that cavernous arena. 
  • We gave Buffalo 2 of the toughest games they had all season.
  • Close performances against Clemson, Illinois State, and Nevada. 
  • Winning record in year 2, despite a lot of roster turnover in the off-season. 

Negatives...

  • Shot-making.
  • Mental lapses at times, especially from our leaders like LCJ, Ivey, and Utomi. 
  • Making baskets. 
  • Scoring.
  • Putting the ball in the hoop.
  • Putting points on the board. 
  • Scoring more than the opponent. 
  • Shooting. 
  • Finishing buckets.

 

In my opinion, this season became the true foundation for the Akron program under Groce. I'm still wondering who he is expecting to leave based on us still offering scholarships for the 2019 class, but the bulk of this roster will be back, and I'm excited. X. Williams should be a huge addition, along with a few of the freshman and the JUCO guard coming in. Buffalo graduates the most successful class class in MAC regular season history, which includes Massinburg, Caruthers, Harris, Perkins, and McRae. The MAC will be ripe for the taking. Can't State is stuck with their average clown, OU will have a new coach, Miami has a bunch of question marks, BG might return back to earth, Balls graduates a lot, EMU graduates a lot. 

 

I don't understand the shockingly quick sky-is-falling mentality on this board. Dambrot left; he's now in the A10, losing in the first round over there. We haven't made the Tourney since 2013, and now have a coach with historic post-season success in the MAC. Have faith, and watch the details of the game. The foundation for success is there. 

 

Go Zips!

 

Among your negatives, you forgot failure to "score the ball."  However failing to "score the ball" is not as bad as either "score the ref" or "score the cheerleader."

The former could result in a technical and the latter could result in jail time.

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1 hour ago, Illini Zip said:

 

 Let's revisit on May 15th. :thumb:

 

Okay, stupid question time.  What's on May 15th?

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