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Zips Basketball- Looking Back to 21-22/Looking Forward to 22-23


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8 minutes ago, Z.I.P. said:

My point was, TMK there's no rules violation in giving academic scholarships to athletes.  As I said our soccer team has starters who aren't on athletic scholarship.  Different sport, but could be same rules?  🤷‍♂️. Anyone? 

 

Are there more benefits that come with an athletic scholarship? 

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The comparisons between football/basketball and minor sports does not match well. I believe football, men’s basketball, volleyball, and women’s basketball have full ride scholarships and they can not give partial scholarships. Other sports, including soccer, almost never give full ride scholarships. Therefore, having good students who qualify for academic merit scholarships is a major tool to expand your aid to athletes . In the four sports that offer full rides, there is not the same incentive to offer academic aid- it does not expand your roster in the same way. Also academic aid most often does not include room/ board.

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Many of us are high on Tavari Johnson, and he had quite a mid-major offer list, and the staff was excited to land him.  But I'm always skeptical of the impact a true freshman point guard will make.  IIRC, I've only ever seen two true freshmen PG's come in and be game changers for the Zips, those being Jimmal Ball and Noah Robotham.  I hope Tavari becomes the 3rd, but, with the post season blossoming of Clarke, the outstanding play of X, as well as our two redshirt freshmen who are waiting in the wings, I wouldn't be surprised if Tavari redshirts next season.

 

Speaking of our two redshirt freshmen G's, I wish we had more of a scouting report on those two in order to anticipate what we can expect them to bring to the table.  They've had a year practicing with the program, a year to assimilate into the culture of the program and to understand what Groce expects/demands of players to earn PT.  They've seen the intensity and dedication Groce demands on the defensive end of the floor and have had a year of practice to understand the scheme, so I'm excited to see what these two bring and how they fit into the rotation.

 

And speaking of that defense, I think we're beginning to develop an identity and reputation as an outstanding defensive ball club.  Teams dread playing a team where they know they're going to be harassed all night and struggle to find easy, open looks.  From UNLV's "Ameoba D," and Arkansas' "40-minutes of Hell," to Huggy Bear's "Press Virginia," I've always loved aggressive defensive teams.  This postseason our guys totally bought into what Groce was selling on the defensive end and they saw what fruits that can bear.  Zip-Em'-Up Zefense!  We're going to be lock down next year!

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It is certainly going to be an interesting off-season.

 

Absent the staff bringing in a couple of shooters, I think we'll see more of X off of the ball next year with Clarke. Tribble, Tavari, etc. running the point.

 

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a starting five that does not include one or two of our late season starters.  I could see a scenario where someone like a Tribble or Dawson returns to the bench.  While it might seem like a step back for a player like that, those two have the right attitude to manage it and I think they could still play a lot of minutes and be effective and successful in that role.   Having that experience and spark off of the bench would be nice.  At this point we all know that Groce gets his best combinations on the floor, not his most individual talents.

 

I am going to distribute a sign up sheet for all of us to volunteer to rebound for Enrique's 1000 per day 10-15 foot jumpers.  If he can develop that shot it will open up his game and enable the Zips to more frequently get a second big on the floor.  

 

If there's an odd man out, I suspect it is Wynn.  I appreciate his late season contributions but I can't imagine he's content with his place in the rotation.  

 

As previously mentioned, I wish we knew more about the freshman red-shirts.  I liked what little I saw about Kalle.  Those we can't fit into the Enrique rebounding schedule will be assigned to spotting for Kalle in the weight room.

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1 hour ago, Blue & Gold said:

Many of us are high on Tavari Johnson, and he had quite a mid-major offer list, and the staff was excited to land him.  But I'm always skeptical of the impact a true freshman point guard will make.  IIRC, I've only ever seen two true freshmen PG's come in and be game changers for the Zips, those being Jimmal Ball and Noah Robotham.  I hope Tavari becomes the 3rd, but, with the post season blossoming of Clarke, the outstanding play of X, as well as our two redshirt freshmen who are waiting in the wings, I wouldn't be surprised if Tavari redshirts next season.

 

Speaking of our two redshirt freshmen G's, I wish we had more of a scouting report on those two in order to anticipate what we can expect them to bring to the table.  They've had a year practicing with the program, a year to assimilate into the culture of the program and to understand what Groce expects/demands of players to earn PT.  They've seen the intensity and dedication Groce demands on the defensive end of the floor and have had a year of practice to understand the scheme, so I'm excited to see what these two bring and how they fit into the rotation.

 

And speaking of that defense, I think we're beginning to develop an identity and reputation as an outstanding defensive ball club.  Teams dread playing a team where they know they're going to be harassed all night and struggle to find easy, open looks.  From UNLV's "Ameoba D," and Arkansas' "40-minutes of Hell," to Huggy Bear's "Press Virginia," I've always loved aggressive defensive teams.  This postseason our guys totally bought into what Groce was selling on the defensive end and they saw what fruits that can bear.  Zip-Em'-Up Zefense!  We're going to be lock down next year!

 

Who is a more highly touted recruit - Tavari or Prather? Is Prather more of that 3 & D guy we could use?

 

We really do need more of a scouting report on the redshirt guards. It seems like they fit more of the off-the-ball/shooting guard description with their high scoring high school careers, but that doesn't mean they aren't floor generals as well. 

 

Don't forget about VCU's HAVOC. We play a hybrid HAVOC/40 minutes of Hell style of defense. Akron's "Zefense" has a nice ring to it, and it really is becoming our identity. I have zero issue with that. 

 

44 minutes ago, clarkwgriswold said:

It is certainly going to be an interesting off-season.

 

Absent the staff bringing in a couple of shooters, I think we'll see more of X off of the ball next year with Clarke. Tribble, Tavari, etc. running the point.

 

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a starting five that does not include one or two of our late season starters.  I could see a scenario where someone like a Tribble or Dawson returns to the bench.  While it might seem like a step back for a player like that, those two have the right attitude to manage it and I think they could still play a lot of minutes and be effective and successful in that role.   Having that experience and spark off of the bench would be nice.  At this point we all know that Groce gets his best combinations on the floor, not his most individual talents.

 

I am going to distribute a sign up sheet for all of us to volunteer to rebound for Enrique's 1000 per day 10-15 foot jumpers.  If he can develop that shot it will open up his game and enable the Zips to more frequently get a second big on the floor.  

 

If there's an odd man out, I suspect it is Wynn.  I appreciate his late season contributions but I can't imagine he's content with his place in the rotation.  

 

As previously mentioned, I wish we knew more about the freshman red-shirts.  I liked what little I saw about Kalle.  Those we can't fit into the Enrique rebounding schedule will be assigned to spotting for Kalle in the weight room.

 

They moved X off the ball a couple times during the postseason, and it was Tribble or Clarke that handled the rock when that happened. What was interesting was Tribble, lacking the shooting threat, saw the defense back off and pack the paint a bit more in anticipation of a dribble drive. If he passed it to a shooting threat, the defense expanded back out. We need a shooting threat to handle PG duties if X is going to be off the ball. 

 

Wynn would have to sit out a year if he transferred, correct? I don't know if I see him doing that, but if he wants to extend his collegiate career he could. 

______________________________________________________________

 

We were 7.5 deep this year (Aziz being the .5 as he was either the 8th man or saw no playing time). Add Kalle, the two redshirt guards, and two incoming guards. That's 13 deep assuming Aziz plays more. Deep rotations are 10-11 MAX. That leaves 2-3 players as the odd ones out (redshirt, transfer, or simply limited playing time). This is a phenomenal problem to have. With the amount of energy we exert on defense, if you get a rotation of 10-11 guys to buy into the system on defense, you're going to have a revolving door to keep guys fresh. It's like hockey lines, with the best example being the Miracle on Ice team. What did they run, something like minute rotations or so, constantly changing lines to allow guys to give maximum effort during their turn, then hop off for a quick breather? It would obviously be longer rotations, but a similar concept. And with how deep we are at each position, we would seemingly not sacrifice much on either end of the floor talent/height/size wise. 

 

This was potentially Groce's best coaching job ever. We were vastly under-talented/lacked depth, yet he was able to get his 7-8 guys to buy completely into the system and out work every team over the past couple of weeks. The talent rose with the effort level, and next year, with even more talent and depth, we could be poised to be something extremely special. 

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7 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

 

Who is a more highly touted recruit - Tavari or Prather? Is Prather more of that 3 & D guy we could use?

 

Technically, Prather is more highly-touted as a 3-star recruit. Tavari is a 2-star.  For what that's worth. Idk.

But Prather is 6'5" and can shoot the ball, so yeah, he may be the 3 & D guy we could use.

9 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

Don't forget about VCU's HAVOC. We play a hybrid HAVOC/40 minutes of Hell style of defense. Akron's "Zefense" has a nice ring to it, and it really is becoming our identity. I have zero issue with that. 

Ah, yeah. HAVOC.  Love it! Forgot to mention them.  (Maybe I've suppressed the painful memory of HAVOC?) 

10 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

 

We were 7.5 deep this year (Aziz being the .5 as he was either the 8th man or saw no playing time). Add Kalle, the two redshirt guards, and two incoming guards. That's 13 deep assuming Aziz plays more. Deep rotations are 10-11 MAX. That leaves 2-3 players as the odd ones out (redshirt, transfer, or simply limited playing time).

Wouldn't it be great if we could run with two full rotations of 10?  We could leave it all on the floor. Z-fence!

And this is another reason why I think Tavari will be redshirted.  Besides, he looks like he could use a year in the weight room.  He's presently much more slight-of-build than either of our current redshirt guards.  

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13 minutes ago, Illini Zip said:

 

I love it!! The Rowdies need to hold up the Akron "Z" next to a section of white picket fence.

 

 

Congrats on the W last night...the former Zips assistant Lamont Paris just about took you all down. Appreciate your contributions to the board.

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Thank you. @LZIp

 

I'm not happy with Illinois lately, but that is a long boring story. Just as Groce does more with less than any coach I know, Underwood does less with more. Still my Big Ten team, but I spend more time over here these days. You are all my kind of people. Thanks for having me. Go Zips!!

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2 hours ago, Blue & Gold said:

Technically, Prather is more highly-touted as a 3-star recruit. Tavari is a 2-star.  For what that's worth. Idk.

But Prather is 6'5" and can shoot the ball, so yeah, he may be the 3 & D guy we could use.

Ah, yeah. HAVOC.  Love it! Forgot to mention them.  (Maybe I've suppressed the painful memory of HAVOC?) 

Wouldn't it be great if we could run with two full rotations of 10?  We could leave it all on the floor. Z-fence!

And this is another reason why I think Tavari will be redshirted.  Besides, he looks like he could use a year in the weight room.  He's presently much more slight-of-build than either of our current redshirt guards.  

@LoyalZIPmade the great point about how hard it is to repeat.  Groce and company know they can't put the same team on the floor next year and expect the same results.  And frankly, they shouldn't want the same results.  

 

I did a quick look at the Zips schedule and focused on their highest scoring games such as Marshall, BG, Toledo, Southern and Ball State (1).  In those 5 games Bryan Trimble was on.  Yes, there were a couple games post Trimble that were higher scoring but the Zips game plan against UCLA and going through the tournament was grind it out and keep it close.  Keeping those power 5 teams close is a risky business and UTC and Akron paid for it.  My gut, which has been spot on this year, was thinking that St. Mary's, who is used to playing Gonzaga, was going to run all over the Zips.

 

Zips need another shooting guard and a power forward to back up Freeman.  Havoc defense with transition offense and watch the JAR explode.

 

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I love the half court trap stuff we saw late in the season that drove Carry and Sears mad.  I think we'd see a lot more of it with a deeper squad.  

 

A lot of who sticks around will obviously depend on the post-season debriefing of the players.  The coaches may see something in Wynn leading them to believe he has a future role or they may coax him out the door.

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3 hours ago, Blue & Gold said:

Besides, he looks like he could use a year in the weight room.  He's presently much more slight-of-build than either of our current redshirt guards.  

 

I have to admit, this does concern me about Tavari. Tavari, Ali and Aziz have to eat nothing but pizza, pasta and protein shakes this Summer. That should do it. 

Edited by Illini Zip
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11 hours ago, Illini Zip said:

Thank you. @LZIp

 

I'm not happy with Illinois lately, but that is a long boring story. Just as Groce does more with less than any coach I know, Underwood does less with more. Still my Big Ten team, but I spend more time over here these days. You are all my kind of people. Thanks for having me. Go Zips!!

Illini Zip, glad to have you on board. Your posts are always informative and w/o the hype/trash we occasionally see. Keep calling this your new home. There is so much positive energy running thru Zip sports now. We have a bright future and we'd like to have you along for the ride. But I gotta ask, is calling us your kind of people a positive or a negative? Remember Groucho once said " I would never join a club that would have me as a member." 😂 

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14 hours ago, Blue & Gold said:

Many of us are high on Tavari Johnson, and he had quite a mid-major offer list, and the staff was excited to land him81But I'm always skeptical of the impact a true freshman point guard will make.  IIRC, I've only ever seen two true freshmen PG's come in and be game changers for the Zips, those being Jimmal Ball and Noah Robotham.  I hope Tavari becomes the 3rd, but, with the post season blossoming of Clarke, the outstanding \

 

 

Do not forget about Eric McLaughlin in 85/86.  He was very good and scored nearly 8 ppg teaming with Marcel Boyce and center and football player Russell Holmes who ruled the key at 6ft. 3in and nearly took down Michigan in the NCAA with the best basketball coach Akron had in Bob Huggins.  .  

However, the best guard was Joe Jaubick in 80/81.  He averaged 13 ppg as a frosh and went on to lead the nation in scoring as a senior at 30+ ppg.  

I played against both Eric and Joe in open gyms and they were so good.  Actually, I should say I was on the court and I played ole defense.  They went by me like the wind.  Joe and Eric are the best freshmen guards in Akron history.  

Go Zips!!!

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7 hours ago, bigjim said:

Do not forget about Eric McLaughlin in 85/86.  He was very good and scored nearly 8 ppg teaming with Marcel Boyce and center and football player Russell Holmes who ruled the key at 6ft. 3in and nearly took down Michigan in the NCAA with the best basketball coach Akron had in Bob Huggins.  .  

However, the best guard was Joe Jaubick in 80/81.  He averaged 13 ppg as a frosh and went on to lead the nation in scoring as a senior at 30+ ppg.  

I played against both Eric and Joe in open gyms and they were so good.  Actually, I should say I was on the court and I played ole defense.  They went by me like the wind.  Joe and Eric are the best freshmen guards in Akron history.  

Go Zips!!!

That's going back to before my time.  I wish I had been a Zips fan during the Huggins years, but I was too young and my dad never followed basketball.  

 

I also wish I could have seen Jacubick play; he's mentioned so often on the board.

 

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I would like to echo all of the positive sentiments regarding @Illini Zip and add the following.

 

I know Groce is what brought you to the board, and that speaks wonders to Groce's character and system. But you've really embraced Akron as a whole, and it's incredible to see. There's another P5 fan on the board that participates in Akron football discussions, but that P5 school is still his #1 and his participation isn't consistent. You're involved in nearly every single basketball thread, the construction of the program, scholarship chart, etc. I don't think you've made a negative contribution to the board. It's a pleasure to have you as part of ZipsNation - both the board and as a fan. 

 

By the way, after last night, I feel reaffirmed that next year's team will be something special. 

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13 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

I would like to echo all of the positive sentiments regarding @Illini Zip and add the following.

 

I know Groce is what brought you to the board, and that speaks wonders to Groce's character and system. But you've really embraced Akron as a whole, and it's incredible to see. There's another P5 fan on the board that participates in Akron football discussions, but that P5 school is still his #1 and his participation isn't consistent. You're involved in nearly every single basketball thread, the construction of the program, scholarship chart, etc. I don't think you've made a negative contribution to the board. It's a pleasure to have you as part of ZipsNation - both the board and as a fan. 

 

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13 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

By the way, after last night, I feel reaffirmed that next year's team will be something special. 

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Thanks guys. I do appreciate the kind words. Do you believe it has been 5 years already? It feels like yesterday that we were watching Duvivier, Ivey, Utomi, Cotton, Patton and JPoke. Groce recently brought up Lucas Smith. I remember joking at the time, somebody hurry back to the rec. center and see who else you can find. I didn't even know where Akron, Ohio was back then. Of course I had heard of it. Now I know Zippy is a girl. I recently read that your motto is "Blue Collar. Gold Standard.", which I really like. I also know that @NWAkron is deathly afraid of the T-shirt cannon. Groce just killed Buffalo. I know you play games in a J.A.R. and everyone hates the running track. I have learned so, so much already. Too much to itemize, but most importantly is that the future is indeed bright in Akron!!

 

It's 8:48 on Sunday morning and...

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1 hour ago, Illini Zip said:

Thanks guys. I do appreciate the kind words. Do you believe it has been 5 years already? It feels like yesterday that we were watching Duvivier, Ivey, Utomi, Cotton, Patton and JPoke. Groce recently brought up Lucas Smith. I remember joking at the time, somebody hurry back to the rec. center and see who else you can find. I didn't even know where Akron, Ohio was back then. Of course I had heard of it. Now I know Zippy is a girl. I recently read that your motto is "Blue Collar. Gold Standard.", which I really like. I also know that @NWAkron is deathly afraid of the T-shirt cannon. Groce just killed Buffalo. I know you play games in a J.A.R. and everyone hates the running track. I have learned so, so much already. Too much to itemize, but most importantly is that the future is indeed bright in Akron!!

 

It's 8:48 on Sunday morning and...

 

Can't State still sucks!

 

Couple more thoughts pertinent to the thread...

 

I've narrowed my wish list down to the 3 & D guy as previously mentioned by someone in this thread. We need a Banks type of player to complete this roster, assuming Kalle and the redshirt/incoming guards are able to contribute on both ends of the floor. Banks shot 41% from 3 and played some of the best defense we've ever seen.

 

I've seen some comments on this board that this team overachieved. I don't know if that's exactly the case. The 2019-20 team and the 2021-22 team are VERY similar when looking at depth/talent/statistics, and until a team achieves what that 2019-20 team did (tied school record 24 regular season wins), they will be the benchmark for comparisons. Castaneda had become very similar to Cheese by season's end, providing a deep/mid-range/dribble-drive scoring threat. Riak was more developed than Aziz, but similar game style. Freeman & X almost cancel each other out; similar scoring/rebound numbers, but X provided a deep shooting threat (although Freeman is borderline unstoppable down low). We had Ali & Tribble back then although they're much improved now. Dawson is similar to Banks - maybe slight edge to Banks on D, Dawson on O? Nobody on this team was LCJ, as LCJ was truly that special; his quickness, scoring ability from anywhere on the floor (one of the best at-the-the-rim finishing guards we've ever had), and leadership are unrivaled. That 2019-20 team wasn't deep, but they had a slight edge in scoring ability. 

 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO FG% FT% 3P%

76.0 38.3 13.1 5.2 3.0 12.9 44.0 77.0 35.7

71.2 35.0 11.9 5.8 3.3 11.5 46.2 68.7 35.7

 

Statistically, these teams borderline mirror each other. The biggest differences are PPG and FT%. The difference in PPG is essentially LCJ who averaged 19 ppg. The FT% was LCJ (87%), Cheese (82%), and X (91%).

 

I think our conglomerate of guards next year should be able to somewhat replicate what LCJ was able to do. Freeman/Aziz/Kalle take care of the front court like X and Riak did (especially if Freeman develops a mid range jump shot). Dawson is similar to Banks, but the issue is what's behind Dawson as that 3 & D guy. Tribble and Wynn can't shoot. I wonder if this is why Trimble was held onto for so long. He never committed to the defensive side of the ball, but was supposed to be a better scoring threat than he was. At the detriment of our regular season record, Groce gave him every opportunity to be a positive on at least one side of the floor; never materialized, and that's what led to our close losses. That was our hole on this team. 

 

I thought this team needed this stretch 4 or that take-over-the-game guard. After looking at these numbers, comparing rosters with the 19-20 team, and thinking about our system, I'll be writing Santa for a 3 & D guy. 6'5"-6'6" or so that can shoot and play lockdown defense. I think a stretch 4 would lack the quickness that a 3 & D guy typically possesses, but that is my second choice. 

 

Is Prather this guy? Does someone transfer out for us to bring in this guy? Not sure. But this is my final analysis until actual moves are made (if any). If no moves are made, I hope the incoming freshman and redshirt guys saw the secret ingredient to our success is 100% commitment on the defensive side of the ball. This team is poised to be the most decorated & accomplished in program history; everyone needs to be on board. 

 

Go Zips!

 

Edited by Let'sGoZips94
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29 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO FG% FT% 3P%

76.0 38.3 13.1 5.2 3.0 12.9 44.0 77.0 35.7

71.2 35.0 11.9 5.8 3.3 11.5 46.2 68.7 35.7

 

Statistically, these teams borderline mirror each other. The biggest differences are PPG and FT%. The difference in PPG is essentially LCJ who averaged 19 ppg. The FT% was LCJ (87%), Cheese (82%), and X (91%).

 

It surprises me how close these stat lines are to each other. This team is already closing in on the 2019-2020 gang which had such amazing team chemistry.

 

 

What I see so far In the highlights, but time will tell;

 

Prather Jr. is a strong bodied guard like Dawson. Will play the wing or 4 spot in a 4 guard line up.

Kobi Mitchell is a pure shooting guard, 2 guard like Banks. Not sure what he brings on Z-Fence yet. But he hits his 3 pointers.

According to Groce, Nate Johnson is a versatile guard who can play all 3 guard spots. He's a shorter Tyler Cheese in the making.

 

 

 

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