Road Trippin' With Reghi: Half Way Home! (Blog Post 2/1/12)
by SportsTime Ohio's/ESPN Cleveland's Michael Reghi
Very hard to believe we're hitting the mid-point of MAC play with action tonight and tomorrow. While Akron's Zips are no surprise atop the MAC East at 6-1, with Ohio, Buffalo, and Kent State within 2 games of the Zips, how about the job Rob Murphy has done in Ypsilanti, Mi. with his Eastern Michigan Eagles, at 5-2, and holding a game lead over both Ball State and Western Michigan in the West? The boys from Ypsi were expected to be bottom feeders in their division, and Murphy has done a superb job with his '2-3' zone affecting games, while winning with point totals from his offense in the 40's and 50's. You have to respect the resiliency of the Eagles, buying in to the defensive minded principles of the first year head coach.
So let's play two, as the baseball saying goes! Yep, MAC back-to-backs, Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Sportstime Ohio....and I love the cross over matchups! Classic case of two MAC heavyweights, Kent State and Akron, veteran laden with talent, and tournament hardened, expected to hold serve against two of the younger, 'trying to get where they are' programs in the league in Central Michigan and Toledo. Depicted by my shootaround conversation Tuesday with Ernie Ziegler, the Chips head coach, who rightly believes that teams loaded with juniors and seniors, who have been in their programs 4-5 years with a head coach have always held the upper hand, and historically have won and gone on to postseason play in the MAC. Ernie knows of what he speaks, and saw that play out in the Chips 74-64 loss last Saturday to Akron. 3 point game late, with Akron juniors and seniors, Qunicy Diggs, Nik Cvetinovic, and Zeke Marshall making key plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch, while his youngsters, and he starts 3 freshman and a sophomore most of the time, learning in a loss, how very difficult it is, and the effort and energy a young team must bring down the stretch to be able to best a veteran championship caliber squad like Akron. They'll try to apply those very lessons tonight against a Kent State squad that has rebounded from a 2-3 mark in MAC play, to boost of back-to-back wins over Northern Illinois and Toledo. With the Flashes 5 most difficult assignments left in MAC play all at home...Western Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo, Ohio and Akron...don't be at all surprised at the potential of the Flashes 'running the table', or close to it, from this point on. I mentioned to you all on the air while they were getting belted by both Ohio and Akron, they were going to be fine, and that they will. Can Trey Ziegler and Derek Jackson comnbine for enough offense to keep Central Michigan afloat? The Chips sophomores will need to bring plenty of firepower to the party tonight.
Same applies for Toledo's Rockets Wednesday night at Rhodes Arena in Akron. A very young, offensively gifted squad, that when making shots, can give teams trouble. Rian Pearson, who leads the league in points per in MAC play at 17.0, can go get it offensively. Can the Rockets find that second and third point producer to make Akron play Toledo honestly, and not load their aggressive man defense toward Pearson? Tough to do, and yet for the Rockets to pull the shocker they must. I like the strides head coach Tod Kowalczyk is making, and they too, beaten at home by Kent State last Saturday, have a chance to send some shock waves reverbarating through the MAC! No squad uses that home floor frezy, and feeds of 'big runs' like Akron can and does.
Ready to get started? My partner Steve Mix and I are prepped and ready to bring you the MAC action into your living rooms! Grab that popcorn, and don't forget your 'measuring sticks'...as in how Central Michigan and Toledo 'stack up' against two veteran league powers. See all of you Tuesday night, 7pm. on Sportstime Ohio. Enjoy everyone!