As I began to prepare to research Akron's opponent, the Florida A&M Rattlers of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, I thought about what I already knew about this university located in Tallahassee, Florida. I had recently heard about a terrible and deadly hazing incident that happened to a band member there and I also remembered that ESPN's College Gameday made an appearance on campus back in 2008, their first venture into the Division I-AA (or FCS, whatever it is now) world. That was pretty much it.
I found out that Florida A&M is one of 150 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States. Famous alumni include Baseball Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson, Fox NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver and NBA player Jerome James. Thank you, Wikipedia!
During pregame, I noticed a couple of odd things. First of all, the Zips were wearing grey jerseys. I hadn't seen those before, and they looked pretty cool. Secondly, Florida A&M's head coach was very tall, most likely taller than all of his players. Quick research on my phone revealed that Clemon Johnson was a former player for A&M. He came to his alma mater from a prior stint at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Smart move, in my opinion. Lastly, one of their players was named Yannick Crowder, who may have been named after 1983 French Open Champion (and father to Chicago Bull Joakim) Yannick Noah. I asked him during warm-ups if that was true, but I never received an answer; just a weird look.
This game turned out very similar to Akron's last game, against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Akron jumped out to a 9-2 advantage which eventually ballooned to a 48-19 halftime lead.
Never one to miss out on a good opportunity to put behinds in seats, The University of Akron marketing department welcomed in the Jammin' Jumpers (and their ticket- and concession-buying parents) for the halftime show. The group of 20 or so teenage girls were very skilled jump-ropers, and put on quite a show (not quite Red Panda-quality though).
The second half was painfully slow, as the Zips and Rattlers seemed to just want to end the whole thing. Bad fouls were committed, and Akron was in the bonus about midway through the half. These games are good for the deep bench guys, as the rotation players started being subbed out with five minutes left. Unfortunately, this leads to some bad basketball, and when both teams start doing this, it becomes painful. When the game finally went, well, final, the Zips walked off of the floor with a 91-69 victory.
Junior forward Quincy Diggs led all scorers with 16 points, and junior center Zeke Marshall had 13 points, nine boards and three blocks, moving him three blocks away from passing Central Michigan's Chris Kaman on the Mid-American Conference all-time blocks list. With a season and a half to go, Marshall should be the leader by the end of his career.
The most exciting play was from Diggs, who in the first half threw down a sweet #omgdunx off of a great pass from Demetrius Treadwell. That Belmont coach would not have been pleased.
I left James A. Rhodes Arena to find my car covered in snow and ice for the first time this year. Welcome to Northeast Ohio.
at AKRON 91, FLORIDA A&M 69 12/17/2011
FLORIDA A&M 2-9 (0-1) -- R. Lewis 5-15 0-0 11; Y. Crowder 3-9 5-6 11; J. Dean 2-4 3-7 7; A. Moore 6-13 0-0 12; M. Teal 2-2 4-4 8; D. Bullard 5-7 0-0 13; V. Rose 0-1 0-0 0; B. Hosley 1-8 0-0 2; J. Kennings 0-5 0-0 0; N. Drayton 1-2 2-2 4; T. Hagood 0-1 0-0 0; J. Neal 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 25-68 15-21 69. AKRON 5-5 (0-0) -- Z. Marshall 6-9 1-1 13; N. Cvetinovic 4-9 3-6 12; A. Abreu 3-4 2-2 8; B. Walsh 2-5 3-4 9; B. McClanahan 0-1 0-0 0; Q. Diggs 6-8 2-2 16; C. Gilliam 1-6 2-2 4; J. Egner 1-5 0-0 2; A. Ibitayo 2-5 6-8 11; D. Treadwell 4-7 3-5 11; M. Green 0-3 0-0 0; C. Oldham 1-2 0-0 2; K. Petersen 0-0 3-4 3. Totals 30-64 25-34 91.
Three-point goals: FAMU 4-14 (A. Moore 0-5; B. Hosley 0-3; R. Lewis 1-1; J. Kennings 0-1; D. Bullard 3-4), AKR 6-19 (C. Gilliam 0-2; B. Walsh 2-5; N. Cvetinovic 1-3; Q. Diggs 2-4; M. Green 0-2; A. Ibitayo 1-3); Rebounds: FAMU 33 (J. Dean 10), AKR 45 (N. Cvetinovic 10); Assists: FAMU 6 (J. Dean 2), AKR 18 (N. Cvetinovic 4); Total Fouls -- FAMU 24, AKR 17; Fouled Out: FAMU-V. Rose; AKR-None.