Poor showing against Kent will help in tournament

“I was ready to pronounce the University of Akron men’s basketball season dead multiple times during last Sunday’s game against Kent State. They were awful. They played sloppy, they hoisted too many long jump shots and sloppy possessions preceded and proceeded sloppy possessions.”

I was ready to pronounce the University of Akron men’s basketball season dead multiple times during last Sunday’s game against Kent State.

They were awful. They played sloppy, they hoisted too many long jump shots and sloppy possessions preceded and proceeded sloppy possessions.

I thought they would undoubtedly have one day in Cleveland for the Mid-American Conference tournament and return to Akron with their collective tails between their legs.

Even after the game I still believed they didn’t have a prayer in the postseason, not at the National Invitational Tournament and certainly not at the NCAA’s.

Especially since they lack a point guard and anything that resembles a low post scorer outside of Jeremiah Wood. They lack depth at every position except the small forward.

But the more I thought about the loss at Kent, however, the more impressive it actually was.

They played the worst 38-minute stretch in the last two years, possibly longer. They resembled a Division-II, or a mid-90s LA Clippers team.

But they lost by three points and tied the game with five ticks left on the clock.

And they did this against the undisputed best team in the MAC.

The MAC tournament, more so than just about any other conference in the country, boils down to little more than luck.

Every team, with a few exceptions, has about the same amount of talent. They all have seemingly unstoppable strengths and weaknesses so glaring they can be detected by the blind.

It doesn’t matter who won more games during the regular season. It’s who gets a couple breaks, a few cheap foul calls to go their way or a clock operator with narcolepsy.

But the Zips made their own breaks against the Golden Flashes. They should have been sulking with two minutes and seven seconds remaining in the game, down by 13 points.

They didn’t. They erased the deficit so quickly that if you sneezed, you might have missed it.

A lot of coaches say the key is to keep it close until the end and then make a run. The Zips couldn’t even keep it in conventional striking distance. And it didn’t matter.

They don’t have a point guard. They don’t have depth. They aren’t completely healthy.

But if they can do what they did against the best team in the conference, Central Michigan, the Zips opponent today at 2:30, shouldn’t be too scary.

Western Michigan, the Zips more than likely semifinal opponent, is very good. They have two All-Conference First Team selections in point guard David Kool and center Joe Reitz.

A worthy opponent, yes, but they don’t have the big game experience that Cedrick Middleton and All-MAC Honorable Mention Nick Dials and Nate Linhart and Wood have.

Very few teams do.

And that makes me think this season has not flat lined yet.