Commentary

“It wasn’t like they were playing the best of opponents, but the University of Akron men’s basketball did what a good team should do: take care of lesser opponents. The Zips did exactly that in an 81-60 romp over Central Michigan Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena to advance to the semifinals of the MAC tournament for the third time in as many years.”

It wasn’t like they were playing the best of opponents, but the University of Akron men’s basketball did what a good team should do: take care of lesser opponents.

The Zips did exactly that in an 81-60 romp over Central Michigan Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena to advance to the semifinals of the MAC tournament for the third time in as many years.

There were times that the Zips looked vulnerable. In the first half, after jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead, CMU exposed the Zips lack of defensive pressure by using sharp ball movement that resulted in a host of open jump shots.

The Chippewas scored their first 18 points on six 3-pointers and led the Zips by five points early in the game.

CMU’s outside shooting cooled off shortly and UA took over. The Zips made a 13-2 run at the end of the first half and an 11-2 in the second half.

After the Zips tied the game at 29 with 1:35 left in the half, UA took control and never looked back.

Other observations:

– Brett McKnight played an outstanding game off the bench. He scored a career-high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 13 minutes. He hit a three, had two nice drives and hit a pull-up jump shot. After the game, head coach Keith Dambrot said McKnight, the younger brother of starting forward Chris McKnight, will lead the Zips in scoring next year. McKnight’s contribution was big because the Zips don’t have a go-to scorer off the bench, and McKnight appeared very calm and confident in the first Mid-American Conference tournament game of his career.

– The player of the game was easily Nate Linhart. The lanky 6-foot-5 forward played one of the best all-around games of his career. He scored 16 points and shot an efficient 6-for-9 on field goals. More importantly, he locked up two-time All-MAC first teamer Giordan Watson, who was limited to 11 points on 3 for 11 shooting.


You have to feel for Watson. He’s had the best statistics of any guard in the MAC since Earl Boykins as far as points and assists goes. He is only about 5-6 but makes up for it with quickness and strength. After the game Watson was visibly distraught. I was sitting there thinking, ‘What do I do now? All I’ve done for the last four years is play basketball for Central Michigan. What am I going to do now?

– Western Michigan, the Zips opponent tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Broncos advanced by beating Eastern Michigan 70-61. WMU shot just 39 percent for the game including 28 percent in the second half. The Broncos’ tandem of First Team All-MAC players Joe Reitz and David Kool struggled in the win. They did combine to score 35 points, but did so on 6-of-19 shooting.

– Reitz, however, was in foul trouble and still managed 11 points and eight rebounds.