Big 3 is Big Success in Chicago

The first game of the 5th week of Big 3 action featured the Power against the Ball Hogs. This game would be neck and neck for one half but all Power in the second. A physical tone was set early and often, as Xavier Silas of the Ball Hogs and Deshawn Stevenson of the Power were chirping at each other for much of the first half. The Power would see themselves hold a 26-20 advantage at the end of the first, and it would only grow from there. Cuttino Mobley and Jerome Williams of the Power would continue to dominate in the second half. Mobley, showing off some excellent footwork in the post, torched the Ball Hogs for 12 second half points. He would finish with 21 points on 10-15 shooting. Williams also made his presence known, hawking down 8 rebounds and converting some easy second chance points. His efforts led to a 30-10 rebounding advantage in the game for the Power. Rasual Butler would carry the Ball Hogs throughout the contest but was not nearly efficient enough in the second half to keep them within striking distance. Butler would find his three-point range, nailing two late game triples. however, it would be a case of “too little, too late”. Deshawn Stevenson would ice the game with a triple from the top of the arc, giving the Power a 51-34 victory. The loss bumps the Ball Hogs to a measly 1-4 while the Power boast an impressive 4-1 records after the win.

The second game featured Trilogy, who came into week 5 as the only remaining unbeaten team in Big 3, and Tri State. Unfortunately for Tri State, the outcome would not change that fact. Rashad McCants and James White would be the high scoring men for Trilogy. McCants got to the cup with ease early in this one, scoring 5 out of his team’s first 7. He would finish with 27 points on 11-17 shooting with 8 rebounds. White was also incredibly efficient from the field, pouring in 16 points on 5-6 shooting. For Tri State, a failure to convert at the rim is what did them in. Mike James did his best to convert from the perimeter, putting in 22 points but on 8-19 shooting. No one else scored more than 6 on his team. The crowd really got into this one when Mike James and James White went chest to chest for a few minutes in the first half. In the end, cooler heads would prevail. Trilogy would put James into a series of pick and rolls, wearing him out and putting him in bad mismatches defensively. The dagger would come from none other than Mr. White, as Kenyon Martin, aka “K-Mart”, threw him a nice baseline alley-oop pass that White flushed home for the win. Trilogy remains unbeaten at 5-0 while Tri State drops to 1-4.

Up next would be 3 Headed Monsters against 3’s Company (these names just get more and more fun, don’t they?). Allen Iverson, coach of 3’s Company, would receive a monstrous ovation from the Big 3 crowd on hand at the UIC Pavilion. For 3 Headed Monsters, their name would fit them perfectly today as they were led by a 3-man effort in Kwame Brown, Rashard Lewis, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Brown would deliver a double-double for his team, putting in 11 points and snagging 12 boards. Lewis would also get hot from the field, scoring 16 while also nabbing his fair share of rebounds with 9. The star of the game would be Abdul-Rauf, as the shortest guy on the court would grab 8 rebounds and drop 19 points, including the game winning jumper to secure the win for his team. 3’s Company, who after only trailing by 3 at the half, were totally dominated in the second half as they would suffer a defeat of 51-32. Andre Owens was the high scoring man for 3’s Company as he put in 13 points in the losing effort, as his squad drops to 1-4. 3 Headed Monsters advanced to 4-1 with the win.

The last game of the evening was arguably the most exciting, despite the thinning crowd at this point in the day. This contest featured the Ghost Ballers and Killer 3’s. There was a lot of dribble drive action in this one as both teams were aggressive in their offensive strategies, getting to the line a combined 21 times during the game. Despite the previous 3 games being decided well before the final few possessions, this one went down to the wire. Down by 5 late in the game, Mike Bibby of the Ghost Ballers canned a 4-point shot to cut the deficit to 43-42. Killer 3’s would respond with a 3-point shot, but Ricky Davis of the Ghost Ballers would even things right back up with a monstrous slam and a beautiful up and under move, driving baseline on both occasions. Bibby would sink another free throw (worth 2 points in Big 3 play) to make it 48-46. Davis would once again find the bottom of the net, this time sealing the win on a mid-range jumper from the left wing giving the Ghost Ballers a 50-46 victory. Stephen Jackson played point guard most of the game (due to Chauncey Billups’ injury) and poured in 22 points. Reggie Evans also aided him despite the losing effort, achieving a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. Ivan Johnson of the Ghost Ballers played the role of stat-sheet-stuffer, scoring 20 points, nabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Ricky Davis and Mike Bibby scored 15 each. The Ghost Ballers advance to 3-2 on the year with the win while the loss drops Killer 3’s to 1-4. Afterwards, Ghost Ballers coach George Gervin was able to talk to the media a bit. He acknowledged how fun it is being able to coach guys that have been around the game their whole lives. “These guys all know how to play basketball, they already know”, said Gervin. “It’s 3 on 3 so there really are no plays, just 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 attacking situations, which makes it fun”.

All photo credits go to WZIP’s own Isaiah Houde.

 


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2017 NBA Draft Night Recap

It’s incredibly hard to pity Chicago Bulls fans. I mean, 10+ years of witnessing basketball greatness from MJ would leave any fan-base happy for a long, long time. However, the events that took place at last night’s 2017 NBA Draft may have earned the windy city some sympathy points.

Jimmy Butler, who had been the center of many trade rumors lately (many of which involved the Cavs and Kevin Love), was probably the best player to be acquired during draft night. The Bulls sent Butler and the 16th pick for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th pick. The Bulls would take Lauri Markkanen, the versatile big man out of Arizona that will add some much needed floor spacing for Chicago’s offense. The Wolves would take Creighton’s Justin Patton who will likely serve as a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns this upcoming season. While the Bulls got decent talent in return, their value does not even come close to matching that of what Butler brings to the floor each night, so the Wolves were a big winner on draft night.

Despite the big Jimmy Butler trade, draft night remained fairly “normal”. Markelle Fultz went first to the Sixers, bringing in a new era in which Philly natives simply must “Trust the Process”. Oh, it is worth mentioning that these young Sixers already have a bit of an edge to them.

Clearly Mr. Embiid would not mind seeing Lonzo on a poster sometime soon. Speaking of Lonzo, the Lakers would select him second, confirming what many followers of the Big Baller Brand knew all along. LA has been dying for someone to fill Kobe’s shoes and with D’Angelo Russell away in Brooklyn now, Lonzo will be captain of the Laker ship.

The Boston Celtics, with their GM Danny Ainge under a bit of scrutiny right now for just stockpiling future picks and not improving the team, scored a win on this year’s draft with Jayson Tatum at number 3. Ainge has expressed a lot of confidence in the kid and even stated he would have selected Tatum first overall if he had the chance. Tatum, being the offensive star that he is, relieves a lot of pressure that needs to be taken of Isaiah Thomas if the C’s hope to make a run at an Eastern Conference title and challenge the Cavs. While offensively gifted, Tatum’s defense and overall awareness need some work, although I don’t see that being a problem under coach Brad Stevens.

The Golden State Warriors also managed to enter the draft and angered much of the internet while doing so. The Warriors paid the Bulls (side note: ALWAYS negotiate with the Bulls on draft night. Always.) $3.5 million for their second round draft pick (number 38) which Golden State happily turned into Oregon’s Jordan Bell. Fans may remember him most from his two failed box outs at the end of last year’s Final Four game between Oregon and North Carolina, box outs that some fans argue cost the Ducks the game. Despite that hiccup, Bell had a tremendous collegiate career and adds yet another versatile big man for a Golden State team looking to solidify their center position going into next year.

The last team I’d like to mention here are the Sacramento Kings. Don’t worry Kings fans, you guys actually did ok! In fact, quite possibly more than ok. De’Aaron Fox gives them a long, athletic point guard that can certainly create for himself and others, and Fox has already stated he wants to be a “franchise changer” and get Sacramento back to the playoffs. The Kings also managed to scoop up Justin Jackson out of North Carolina with the 15th pick, which adds another long frame to the mix and gives them both scoring and defense on the wing. Their last splash in the first round came with Harry Giles out of Duke with the 20th pick. Giles has been plagued by injuries over the last 4 years, tearing both of his ACL’s. However, even in a role with limited minutes initially, his rim protecting ability and touch around the rim give Sacramento a much-needed presence down low after the departure of Demarcus Cousins last year.

While draft night always brings way-too-early predictions for the upcoming NBA campaign, it’s safe to say some teams are very satisfied with their draft night performance (Celtics, Sixers, Wolves…). For everyone else? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see if that first round draft pick is a boom…. Or bust.

John Groce Welcomed to UA, Excited to Continue Excellence with Basketball Program

Akron, Ohio – New University of Akron head coach John Groce certainly has big shoes to fill following Keith Dambrot’s departure from the program, and today’s press conference at the Starbuck’s Lounge in the Student Union showed Groce is ready for the challenge.

After leading his Ohio University Bobcats to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Groce went on to take over as head coach at Illinois for the next 5 seasons. After making the NCAA Tournament his first year there, Groce’s squads dealt with all sorts of injuries to key players, causing him to miss the big dance the next 4 years. Groce was let go by Illinois earlier this year following a loss to Michigan in the B10 Tournament.

Groce’s resume remains solid overall, however, posting a career coaching record of 180-131 with two MAC Tournament Championships and that Sweet 16 run mentioned earlier. Groce has also coached under current Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta at Butler, Xavier, and Ohio State. Groce will look to bring that experience from higher level play with him in his return to the MAC.

Groce seemed confident in his ability to continue the tradition of excellence and commitment to winning that comes with Akron Zips basketball. Sure, the whole “21 win” streak is nice to have, but at the end of the day it’s all about getting that MAC Championship and getting to the NCAA Tournament. Now, that’s not a knock on Dambrot whatsoever. Making it to 9 title games and winning 3 of them is pretty darn good. However, KD is gone now and the focus on winning must continue. Groce plans to “attack” this year offensively and really push the pace. His defense will remain your standard man-to-man package with some zone looks “sprinkled” in to quote Groce. The Zips have played at a slower pace the past few years with big man Isaiah Johnson being the focus of the offense, so it will be interesting to see if Akron can get out in transition more and run. This would help them take on those P5 (power 5) schools in the non-conference schedule. Speaking of non-conference scheduling, Groce plans to challenge the players a bit while also being very meticulous about who he schedules. Groce says he does not want the team in a big-time matchup coming straight off a mid-term or finals week or something of that nature.

Coach acknowledged the difficulties and transition that will come with recruiting players to come to Akron now. Groce says it’s “a challenging transition, but we’ll hit the ground running” in regards to getting those big-name recruits to continue to see Akron as a great future home.

Time will tell if John Groce can keep this program headed in the right direction. The Ohio-Akron rivalry is nothing to scoff at in the MAC, and Groce acknowledged this at the presser. He understands there’s maybe a few fans that still have some light distaste for him from his coaching days in Athens, but he seems confident he will be able to win everyone over and really get everyone on board for what he hopes to be a great stretch of Akron Zips basketball.

Check out the sound from today’s press conference out below!

 

Cavs finish Detroit with early fire

The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Detroit Pistons with a score of 128-96. LeBron James had an extremely effective night with a triple double of 16-12-11. Kyrie Irving razzled and dazzled in the first quarter with 15 points, and shooting perfect from deep. Iman Shumpert was very active tonight with 18 points on 8-11 shooting, and he had five rebounds to go along with it.

 

What a first quarter to remember, the Cavs shot 85 percent from the field and 100 percent from the three-point line. LeBron was halfway to a triple-double, and the Cavs scored 44 points with ease. Following that first quarter, the Cavs continued to shoot perfect from behind the arc and made ten straight three-pointers until they had a miss.

 

The Cavs ended the first half with 74 points, and shot an astonishing 69 percent from the field and 78 percent from deep. This was not the only thing that was impressive within this game, LeBron achieved his fifth triple-double in his last eight games. LeBron has at least a double-double in the last nine games now, and is cranking it up for playoff time.

 

The new players within the team are acclimating themselves with the team at a very high pace. Deron Williams ended up with 13 points on 6-6 shooting, and is getting more and more comfortable on the roster. Derrick Williams is continuing to be a hype man, but also bringing up the offense another notch. Last but not least, J.R Smith is officially back and looking great with 12 points on 4-5 shooting.

 

The Cavs are still 1st in the Eastern Conference and leading the Boston Celtics by two games, with a record of 44-22. The Cavs have the third best home record in the league, but the playoffs will be featuring a very scary team. Kevin Love was around for shoot around this morning, Larry Sanders just signed, and Kyle Korver will be back soon. The Golden State Warriors have something to worry about with this Cleveland Cavalier team.

 

The Cavs next game will be home against the Utah Jazz this Thursday, March 16th at 7 PM. For more information on the Cavaliers, make sure that you stay updated with our website, and we will continue to bring all of the Cavs stats and info that you need.


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Kent State Wins 2017 Mens MAC Championship


The Kent State Golden Flashes defeated the Akron Zips to win the MAC Men’s Basketball Championship, 70-65. Kent State led for most of the game, but Akron came within striking distance on multiple occasions.

The Flashes got out to a quick 9-3 lead thanks to a quick 5 points from Jaylin Walker (#23), and another 4 from Jimmy Hall (#35). Kent state got into early foul trouble, with 5 fouls overall just 9 minutes into the game. De La Rosa (#1) accounted for 2 of those fouls. Akron played from behind for most of the first half, and it wasn’t until 3:30 remaining that the Zips took the lead. Josh Williams hit a clutch 3 bringing the fans back into the game with a score of 23-21. Kent state quickly answered with back to back field goals to retake the lead. Both teams traded shots in the last minute of the first half, heading into the locker rooms with a score of 27-24 Kent state.

Both teams shot under 45% from the field during the 1st half. Kent State lead Akron in points in the paint and 2nd chance opportunities. Akron’s bench made an impact, scoring 8 of the Zips 24 points. Neither team had much luck from the 3 point line, with both teams combining for 2 3-pointers in 13 attempts. MAC Player of the Year Isaiah Johnson led the Zips in the 1st half with 10 points, while Jaylin Walker and Jimmy Hall lead the Golden Flashes with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Kent State came out hot in the 2nd half, taking a 36-28 lead. Less than 2 minutes later, Akron narrowed the lead to 34-36. Jaylin Walker responded with only the 3rd 3 pointer of the game, with Kent State leading 39-34. Akron finally tied up the game again with 11:15 remaining in the second half. For the next few minutes, the lead changed 3 times, with neither team ever more than 2 points ahead of the other. With 4:24 remaining, Kent State had an 8 point lead thanks to an 10-0 run. The Flashes held unto their lead despite the Zips best efforts, who could only get within 3. Kent State won a hard-fought victory, 70-65. Isaiah Johnson and Jimond Ivey both finished with 24 points for the Zips.

A huge part of Kent State’s upset victory can be attributed to their 63.9% field goal completion percentage in the second half. Jaylin Walker finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds, and was voted MAC Tournament MVP. Jimmy Hall finished with 18 points and led both teams with 10 rebounds. They will move onto the NCAA Tournament, and the bracket will be released tomorrow.

Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot gave Kent State credit for making so many big plays in the last 8 minutes, and congratulated Kent State Head Coach Rob Senderoff for turning their team into championship quality. Rob Senderoff accredited the win to their shooting percentage and also their low number of turnovers, only committing 6.

Here’s what Coach Dambrot had to say: