That's what time my Business Law class ended, and while I enjoy learning about leasehold agreements and evictions (who doesn't?), I was ready to get out of there. I went through the same process that typical 9-5ers do at 4:30 every day: constantly checking the clock. Everyone knows that feeling of being on the verge of leaving work or school. It's an odd feeling, where you can sense that you are near the end, but it's just not going as fast as you'd like. You'd check your watch one time, finish up some things, and then look again: only five minutes had gone by. 4:30 becomes 4:40, and the closer you get to that magic time of 5:00 p.m., the longer it seems to take. Frustrating is one word to describe it, and when a very dry professor makes a subject drier than it already is, it's agonizing.
I tried to find the right song to convey how I was feeling prior to the game on Wednesday night. Being a child of the 1990s, not too many songs came to mind while sitting in class that pertained to how I was feeling. A quick YouTube search brought me upon the angelic voice of one woman: Miss Carly Simon. Her song "Anticipation" drew me in, even though it was released in the early 1970s and was about a potential date with Cat Stevens. The chorus really got me:
Anticipation, anticipation It's making me wait It's keeping me waiting
The anticipation of the upcoming Akron-Toledo game was killing me. It wasn't a good match-up on paper: Akron was the leader in the clubhouse at 6-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while Toledo came in at just 2-5. But in a conference where any team can beat another on a given night, you can never let your guard up. Waiting in the classroom was keeping me from the place that I truly wanted to be: James A. Rhodes Arena.
Akron was coming off of a long month of January that comprised of six away games and just two home games. The Zips had probably spent more time on the bus then sitting in class, but their record showed that winning on the road was not a difficult proposition. They seemed to really come together as a team, and rallied around the concept of "roadkill" as guard Brian Walsh so eloquently called their win streak on Twitter.
Toledo, on the other hand, has been pretty average this season. Give them credit though: they had four wins last year and currently have 10. They had to rebuild through transfers after former coach Gene Cross left the program a mess. UT's team had a less-than-stellar Academic Progress Rate, and therefore had three scholarships taken away at the end of last year. Having only 10 scholarship players on the team is definitely tough, but there are no seniors and only two juniors. They are really building for 2012-2013, where they have a chance to be a surprise in the MAC West.
Sitting in traffic and listening to the pre-game show on the radio just made me want to be there more. I finally arrived right before tip, after briskly walking from the parking garage. When the game started, you could hardly tell that Akron had any sort of travel lag. They jumped out to a 31-17 lead midway through the first half, courtesy of some quality superhoops. Toledo closed a little, but the halftime margin ended up at nine with the Zips leading 43-34.
The second half proved to be a little different, as the Zips became very sloppy with the ball. Four turnovers and three missed foul shots allowed the Rockets to come back, closing the gap to 48-44. The game stayed close until around the mid-point of the second half, when UT's Rian Pearson threw down a nasty put-back slam but was called for a technical for slapping the glass afterward. This seemed to be the turning point of the game, as the Zips responded with a 9-0 run and never looked back. Toledo hung around but was put away when Akron coach Keith Dambrot called for a 2-3 zone in the closing minutes, which the Rockets were not expecting.
Pearson showed why he is the third leading scorer in the MAC this year, finishing with 29 points on 9-18 shooting and 12 boards. Eleven points came from the free-throw line, as he was a force inside and proved to be a match-up problem for the Zips. Akron's Zeke Marshall continued his stellar season with 14 points and 5 blocks.
Was it worth missing the entire pregame? I'm not sure. I just wish I could have been there a little earlier. My anticipation almost got the best of me.
at AKRON 86, TOLEDO 72 02/01/2012
TOLEDO 10-12 (2-6) -- K. Gabriel 4-12 8-9 16; D. Buckley 3-7 0-0 8; R. Pearson 9-18 11-12 29; C. Dennis 4-12 0-0 8; R. Holliday 2-4 2-2 6; M. Smith 4-6 1-1 9; J. Brown 6-12 0-1 12; D. Dear 0-0 0-0 0; R. Wonnell 0-0 0-0 0; A. Mathew 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 14-16 72. AKRON 15-7 (7-1) -- A. Abreu 5-9 2-2 14; Q. Diggs 4-5 5-6 16; N. Cvetinovic 4-6 2-4 10; Z. Marshall 6-9 2-5 14; B. Walsh 0-4 2-2 2; C. Gilliam 5-7 0-0 11; B. McClanahan 3-5 1-2 9; D. Treadwell 2-3 4-8 8; N. Harney 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-50 18-29 86.
Three-point goals: TOL 2-9 (D. Buckley 2-4; C. Dennis 0-3; J. Brown 0-2), AKR 8-19 (C. Gilliam 1-1; B. Walsh 0-3; B. McClanahan 2-4; N. Cvetinovic 0-2; Q. Diggs 3-3; A. Abreu 2-6); Rebounds: TOL 27 (R. Pearson 12), AKR 29 (N. Cvetinovic 10); Assists: TOL 8 (J. Brown 5), AKR 15 (A. Abreu 5); Total Fouls -- TOL 21, AKR 16; Fouled Out: TOL-M. Smith; AKR-None.