Sartaj Aujla, Benjamin Genet, and Terry Rabbitts discuss the upcoming Mid American Conference Tournament, and analyze the conference while looking at Akron’s chances in the tournament.
Sartaj Aujla, Benjamin Genet, and Terry Rabbitts discuss the upcoming Mid American Conference Tournament, and analyze the conference while looking at Akron’s chances in the tournament.
by Sartaj Aujla
The NFL Combine is underway, as many prospects have a chance to impress 32 teams.
One of those teams, the Cleveland Browns, are scouting players while the shadow of an impending decision on “Text-Gate” looms over the organization. With needs ranging from wide receiver to defensive tackle, the Browns have more homework on their hands.
A year ago they traded down and selected Cornerback Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State, then later on in the first round traded up to draft Quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M. Gilbert has been cited by his own teammates for maturity issues, meanwhile, Manziel faces the same critique and much more, as the Browns quarterback is currently in rehabilitation.
So, what should Cleveland do? Should they risk the future to trade up and draft another hopeful franchise quarterback? or should they stand pat and address other needs?
If the draft were today, here is what I potentially could see panning out in the first round, with analysis on each pick.
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||QB Jamies Winston, Florida State|
|The Buccaneers scored the top overall pick in the draft, and with Josh McCown leaving in free agency, and Head Coach Lovie Smith not giving Mike Glennon a glowing endorsement, its safe to assume Quarterback is atop their board. I’m giving the edge to Winston, as his on-field intangibles and football IQ are leaps and bounds over every other QB in the class. While his maturity will be in question, his talent is undeniable.|
|2||Tennessee Titans||DE Leonard Williams, USC|
|As of now, the Titans are faced with three options: Draft a quarterback, draft best player available, or trade down. It’s still very early, but I could easily see the Titans entertaining trade offers. Zach Mettenberger hasn’t necessarily shown enough to gain the organizations favor, but the Titans need help everywhere. Leonard Williams is the top player, and can certainly help a defense that ranked 22nd in Pass Defense and 26th in Rush Defense.|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa|
|The Jaguars were forced to start Blake Bortles after previously stating that he would not play at all this past season. Now, the Jaguars need to help Bortles, as he is still developing as a NFL Quarterback. Offensive line help is desperately needed, as the former UCF quarterback was sacked 55 times last season. Some may say Brandon Scherff is a reach here, but the payoff is worth it if you can protect your hopeful franchise quarterback for the long run and not hinder his development.|
|4||Oakland Raiders||WR Amari Cooper, Alabama|
|The Raiders are faced with many holes to address this offseason, both on offense and defense. While the Raiders would love to give Carr some help in protection, helping Carr and the offense in scoring is desperately needed. The Raiders finished 31st in the league in scoring… with 15.8 points per game. Amari Cooper can potentially fix that, as his play making ability could lift a flat Raiders offense.|
|5||Washington Redskins||DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska|
|The Redskins will potentially lose Brian Orakpo to free agency, and could use some rush Linebacker help. While offensive line is a need for the Redskins, the opportunity to add a talented player like Randy Gregory is too much to pass up, and at the same time fills a need for the Redskins.|
|6||New York Jets||QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon|
|New management generally means the search for a new face of the franchise. There is a chance that Mariota could fall to the Jets, and if the opportunity arises the new Jets brass could jump on the former Oregon Duck. Mariota might be a ways away from reaching his potential, as he needs to get experience in an NFL system, but he certainly has a higher ceiling than Geno Smith.|
|7||Chicago Bears||DE Shane Ray, Missouri|
|The Bears new 3-4 defense will require new pieces to make the system work. The Bears enter the draft looking for answers at almost every position on their defense. Kyle Fuller gives them versatility in the secondary, and while more secondary help would be helpful, the Bears may opt to draft best player available. Shane Ray fills a need, and gives them a young edge rusher they can rely on.|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||DE/OLB Dante Fowler Jr., Florida|
|The Falcons ranked dead last in total defense, a stat that spelled an end to their season early. Dante Fowler Jr. would provide help in pass defense, while potentially having the ability to stand and defend against short yardage plays. While a running back would be a popular pick to improve the overall offense, you can say that the Falcon’s defense was the reason they were out of the capturing the division all season long.|
|9||New York Giants||OT T.J Clemmings, Pittsburg|
|Almost the entire offensive line struggled to keep Eli Manning off the ground throughout the season. The Giants have talent at Wide Receiver, especially with Odell Beckham Jr., but it all comes down to making sure Eli Manning has time to distribute the ball.|
|10||St. Louis Rams||OT/G La’el Collins, LSU|
|The St. Louis offense is in dire need across the board. While it may be tempting to go with a wide receiver here, the St. Louis Rams must ensure that Sam Bradford gets protection. The team recently gave Bradford a vote of confidence for next season, now its time to get him some help on the offensive line.|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||WR DeVante Parker, Louisville|
|Teddy Bridgewater, the reigning Rookie of the Year, has given the Vikings a reason to hope that the organization has an answer at quarterback. The Vikings have holes in the defense, but getting a receiver to help with Bridgewater’s development is certainly a top priority, especially with Cordarelle Patterson not being the receiver the organization expected him to be. DeVante Parker would give him a receiver he is familiar with, and help him take the next step in his development.|
|12||Cleveland Browns||WR Kevin White, West Virginia|
|The Cleveland Browns are the most peculiar 7-9 team in the draft. Wide receiver is a position of great need, and the Browns passed on receivers in last years draft. Kevin White provides the Browns with a receiver who probably has the best focus and catching ability in the draft. Whomever is at quarterback will need a consistent receiver for the Browns.|
|13||New Orleans Saints||DE/OLB Alvin Dupree, Kentucky|
|The Saint defense took a major turn for the worse, ranking 31st overall. The Saints need help all over, and will opt to go best defensive player available. That would be Alvin Dupree, who has been rising boards with his notable speed off the line of scrimmage.|
|14||Miami Dolphins||SS Landon Collins, Alabama|
|Louis Delmas is a free agent this off season, and has been injured consistently. The Miami Dolphins secondary is in need for a major play maker, and Landon Collins offers that. A cornerback could be at play here, but it would seem like a reach unless the Dolphins trade down.|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||DE/OLB Vic Beasly, Clemson|
|The 49ers are in need to add more talent to their defensive line, as outside of Tank Carradine, there is not many players ready to step up. Vic Beasly will need to add some more power to his game, but the fundamentals are all there to give the 49ers a potential star edge rusher that they need.|
|16||Houston Texans||OT Andrus Peat, Stanford|
|All signs point to the Texans looking to either acquire a quarterback through free agency, or trying to stick with Ryan Mallet as their field general. The Texans need to shore up their offensive line, and Andrus Peat gives them a player with a great frame that can help give Mallet or any other possible quarterback time they need.|
|17||San Diego Chargers||DT Danny Shelton, Washington|
|The San Diego Chargers struggled greatly against the run, giving up 124.1 yards against opposing rushers. Danny Shelton monstrous presence and ability to overpower blockers will help stop any opposing running back trying to take it to the house.|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||WR Devin Smith, Ohio State|
|The telling stat this season? The Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers did not catch a single touchdown pass this past season. Dwayne Bowe has not returned to his previous form, and is now in risk of losing his spot as a viable option in the offense. Devin Smith gives two dimensions to the Chiefs: 1. He gives the team a play maker and 2. He provides the ability to stretch the field with his speed.|
|19||Cleveland Browns||OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.)|
|Its about time that the Browns look at an answer at Right Tackle, Mitchell Shwartz has struggled, and the loss of Alex Mack during the season furthered exposed the entire offensive line. Ereck Flowers adds an anchor to the right side of the line, and the Browns could afford to move Shwartz inside to gaurd, a position he did play at during his college years. Flowers could also provide an easy transition to taking over for Joe Thomas down the road.|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State|
|Ranking 31st in the league against the pass, the Eagles are in need for help in the secondary. Trae Waynes needs to add strength to his overall frame, but has great ability causing headaches for opposing receivers.|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||DT Malcolm Brown, Texas|
|Cincinnati’s defensive line has some talented prospects, however they are injury prone and depth is needed. Malcolm Brown provides some stability on the D-Line, and can not only just be insurance but can ease in to start on the defensive line sooner rather than later.|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||CB Marcus Peters, Washington|
|The intimidating Steeler defense is crumbling, especially against the pass, as they gave up an average 253.1 yards, sending them to being a 27th ranked passing defense. Marcus Peters is a tenacious defender, a trait that matches what the Steelers look for on defense.|
|23||Detroit Lions||OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M|
|The Lions were sniffing advancement in the playoffs, but fell short to the Dallas Cowboys. Detroit’s offense is already potent, and while a defensive selection might be tempting here, shoring up the offensive line is another priority, as Detroit may lose some players on the offensive line due to free agency.|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||OLB Shaq Thompson, UCLA|
|The Cardinals need two things: A pressure Linebacker, and a Safety. They can potentially get those two in one, as Shaq Thompson has been noted to be a linebacker with ability of a safety. His versatility and rush presence can certainly lift Arizona’s linebacking core.|
|25||Carolina Panthers||DE/OLB Eli Harold, Virginia|
|The Panthers will potentially be thin on their defensive line this season. Carolina will need to shore up on their line early in the draft, as there are many talented Defensive Lineman left on the board. Eli Harold helps them bring some versatility, as he can play at defensive end and potentially stand up and play outside linebacker.|
|26||Baltimore Ravens||CB P.J Williams, Florida State|
|Jimmy Smith came down with a season ending injury, and Ladarius Webb was inconsistent throughout the season. Baltimore has also struggled in the secondary ever since Ed Reed departed from the organization. P.J Williams provides depth to the struggling Raven’s secondary.|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||DE/DT Arik Armstead, Oregon|
|The Cowboys do not necessarily have a standout defensive player, and could potentially face a tough decision in trying to sign both DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant long term. For now, the Cowboys look to bolster their pass rush and ability to stop the run. Arik Armstead, a rising prospect, has great jack of all trades potential, but still needs time to fully reach his ceiling.|
|28||Denver Broncos||DT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma|
|Terrance Knighton could be on his way out in Denver, so a replacement will be needed. Jordan Phillips has the football IQ at the position to fill the void that could be left if Knighton and the Bronco’s can’t agree on a reunion.|
|29||Indianapolis Colts||RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin|
|Its very possible that no running backs in the draft will hear their name called on the first day. However, the Colts could very well be in a realistic position to draft one. The Trent Richardson experiment has crashed and burned, Ahmad Bradshaw is facing off the field issues, and Daniel Herron has not provided much to the run game. Adding Melvin Gordon would add a dynamic aspect to the Colts offense, as Gordon brings both speed and physical ability to relieve some stress off of Andrew Luck’s shoulders.|
|30||Green Bay Packers||ILB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State|
|The Packers are lacking a true inside linebacker, Benardrick McKinney gives the Packer an athletic linebacker that is only getting better year-to-year. His ability to burst through to a ball carrier is something the Packers have been lacking in their linebacking core, outside of Clay Matthews.|
|31||Seattle Seahawks||DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State|
|Brandon Mebane and and Kevin Williams are impending free agents, and their status on if they want to return to the team is unknown. The Seahawks would benefit long term drafting a defensive tackle here, as Mebane is 30, and Williams is 34. Even if at least one of them returns, it would be beneficial to draft a defensive tackle of the future.|
|32||New England Patriots||WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri|
|Bill Belichick has taken project and unconventional players before in the draft. Green-Beckham is the best receiver available, and if he did not have off the field issues plaguing him, he could have been a top 5 selection. The Patriots are now focused on two things: prolonging Tom Brady’s career with help, and setting up the future with Jimmy Garoppolo. Green-Beckham has immense game changing ability, and if he can eliminate his off the field issues, this could be a steal for the Patriots.|
Spencer, Cortez and Jonah break down the surprisingly active NBA trade deadline in a special edition of the SPT podcast.
Spencer Davies and Jonah Spoerndle discuss the Zips’ close loss to the Rockets at home, 68-66.
Listen to Zips freshman guard Antino Jackson’s press conference:
Listen to Zips head coach Keith Dambrot’s press conference:
by Spencer Davies
Pitchers and catchers reported to their respective spring training areas Wednesday, which means one thing: baseball season is creeping upon us.
That also, of course, means the Cleveland Indians are getting ready for their 2015 campaign.
The Tribe went 85-77 last year, missing out on a wildcard spot by just three games. The team had started out the year on a rough note and almost ended it on a high one, but a mid-September sweeping in Detroit by their rival Tigers crushed the Indians’ hopes of reaching the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
However with two straight winning season for the first time since 2000 and 2001 under skipper Terry Francona, Cleveland will look to make the third season the charm.
Besides the addition of All-Star power hitter Brandon Moss, the Tribe had a fairly quiet, albeit beneficial offseason.
General Manager Chris Antonetti added veteran Gavin Floyd, a 32-year-old inning eater that will most likely be part of the starting rotation.
He also brought in other possible back-end rotation starters with the signings of former Twin Anthony Swarzak and former Royal Bruce Chen.
The organization wasn’t all that involved in free agency, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a productive winter. The higher ups in the organization are banking on the farm system to prepare the developmental talent for the big leagues. In fact, six minor league talents were invited to spring training last month. This includes highly touted shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor, outfielder Tyler Naquin and James Ramsey, the center fielder acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Justin Masterson.
The Indians are also going to rely on some familiar faces to step it up after a disappointing 2014.
Both Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher are due for a bounce back season after the injury-plagued year they had. Kipnis was constantly bothered by his oblique and Swisher was dealing with knee issues, so a lengthy offseason will have proved to benefit them in getting healthy. As far as productivity goes, fully expect Kipnis to get back to his 2013 self with more power than he’s ever displayed. It’s going to be a year where he proves his worth.
Speaking of proving worth, to say Nick Swisher hasn’t lived up to his ridiculously lucrative contract is an understatement. Besides a decent turnaround in the hunt for the playoffs two seasons ago, he has had his issues at the plate. He hit a career low .208 in a career low 97 games played last year. What Nick Swisher will do this coming season is an unknown, but one has to think that he is determined to turn it around- not for the fans or media, but for himself.
And then, of course, there is the heart of this baseball team. Players like Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, MVP-candidate Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes and of course, the bullpen. The difference between a good team and a great team is consistency. If these players can produce like they did last year, or at least similarly, the Tribe could be a force to be reckoned with.
Offensive X-Factor(s): Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Bourn
Let me be the first to say that I thought Lonnie Chisenhall was another Matt Laporta, 4-A baseball player at the start of last season. Boy was I wrong. The third baseman came out on a tear in the first half of the season, hitting everything that crossed the plate with 87 hits and an incredible .915 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage for those who don’t know). However, Chisenhall came back down to earth in the second half of the year and struggled at the plate. 2014 first-half Chisenhall will most likely never happen again, but if he can get back on the right track that would be a tremendous help at the back-end of the lineup.
Michael Bourn is another player that needs to produce for the Indians. Last season, he showed signs of losing quickness and speed, as well as being injury-prone. Though he provided some decent contact hitting, Bourn stole a career-low 10 bases. Cleveland signed Bourn two years ago to be the spark plug, and if he isn’t stealing bases, he’s not doing what management brought him in to do. If he can truly get healthy and back to 100%, Bourn can still be a solid asset on this team.
Pitching X-Factor: Trevor Bauer
It seems that so far in his young career, Trevor Bauer has been either a major hit or a colossal miss. His most lethal weapon is his 12-6 curveball that leaves the opposition cross-eyed at the plate. But his most glaring issue is getting deep in to games, as well as having the mental toughness to face adversity. In 26 games started last year, Bauer only had 13 decisions with a 5-8 record. The 24-year-old’s flashes of brilliance should serve as a foreshadowing to what he can become on a consistent basis if Mickey Callaway can get to his head. And everyone knows what happens to pitchers when Mickey Callaway works with them (see Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Carrasco). If Bauer gets on the right track, the Tribe could have a dangerously underrated rotation.
Defensive X-Factor: The Entire Team
The fact that the Indians went 85-77 is a testament to how great of a manager Terry Francona is. Most teams that commit an MLB-worst 116 errors wouldn’t be caught even close to contending for a playoff spot. Cleveland was a mess of a team on defense last year, with most blunders coming at the worst possible times. Third base was literally a black hole with a team-worst 31 errors at the position (Chisenhall- 18 (also an individual team worst), Aviles- 7, Santana- 6). If the team wants to have any chance at competing for a World Series hunt this upcoming season, this has to change.
Overall, the Tribe is looking like a solid contender in the AL this season. I have them penciled in at 92-70.
But will it be enough firepower to compete with the defending AL Champion Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers? Only time will tell, and the journey begins on Wednesday.
We are a little over half way into the season in the NBA and we have already had our share of surprises and disappointments. One of those surprises this season are the Milwaukee Bucks. It has been a total team effort from the Bucks as no single player is averaging 7 rpg or 6 apg. Brandon Knight is their leading scorer with 17.8 ppg, but they have had great first halves from newcomers Jabari Parker and the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have already doubled their win total from last season and sit as the 6 seed in the East.
The Cavaliers have also climbed their way back into relevance after their season was pronounced over. They are winners of 14 of their past 16 games and have seemed to right the ship. The new additions are starting to gel as Timofey Mozgov is shoring up the desperately needed rim protection, while JR Smith is providing consistent scoring and Iman Shumpert is holding it down on the defensive end. It has yet to be seen if these Cavs can perform in a seven game series, but they do look like they are on their way to a high seed in the East.
You can check out the complete Power Rankings below and let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sounding off on Twitter @SportsPowerTalk
|1||Golden State Warriors|
|10||San Antonio Spurs|
|11||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|13||Los Angeles Clippers|
|16||New Orleans Pelicans|
|30||New York Knicks|
AKRON, Ohio- A 30-point effort from the bench and six three pointers in the second half was all the Akron Zips needed to defeat their arch rival Kent State Golden State Flashes, 61-52.
“First one to 60,” Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said with a smile, referring to the Wagon Wheel rivalry history.
The Zips started the game off sloppy, committing three turnovers in the first four minutes of the game. But after the rocky start, Akron took over down low, scoring 20 of its 30 total points in the paint in the first half.
“We’re big,” Dambrot said. “Pat Forsythe’s 6-11 and [Isaiah Johnson] is huge. I mean it’s hard to keep them from getting it and when they’re playing at a high level, it becomes difficult.”
The Golden Flashes (16-8) were only down 25-23 at halftime, but it was difficult for them because they had to pay attention to the Zips’ big men duo, which left Akron with some wide open looks on the perimeter in the second half.
“The hard part is we’re ninth or eighth in the country in three pointers made,” Dambrot said. “So do you come off of those three point shooters or do you stay at home? They chose to stay at home early and we didn’t make any, but we scored inside.
“And then we also got to the rim driving because they stayed at home,” Dambrot continued. “In the second half they came off a little bit and we threw back out. So when you play good team simple basketball, it’s a hard pick your poison, simple as that.”
With Kent State in the ball game down seven, Flashes center Khaliq Spicer flunked a dunk that turned into a Jake Kretzer transition three on the other end to ignite the JAR, giving Akron a much-needed momentum swing and a ten point lead with 8:56 left in the game. The Flashes wouldn’t get any closer than that for the remainder of the game.
“We were right there,” said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. “Khaliq [Spicer] tried to, I don’t know what he tried to do. He tried to rip the rim down or whatever he tried to do and it hit off the back iron. And then they ended up with a transition three. Big swing when the game’s tight the entire time.
“That certainly was the back breaker, but that’s not the total story of the game,” he continued. “They had eight steals, we had one. My senior guards had two assists and seven turnovers. We got to take care of the ball better.”
Pat Forsythe led the Zips in scoring with 12 points and tied Deji Ibitayo for a team-high five rebounds. The Brunswick native also had two blocks, a couple of assists and a steal. Ibitayo added in 11 points as well for Akron.
Without leading scorer and rebounder Justin Hall, Kent State needed someone to step up.
Senior guard Devareaux Manley led the Flashes in scoring with 20 points, but shot just 5-17 from the field. When asked about why he thought the game got away, Manley said he believed they got worn down.
“We just had to keep fighting,” he said. “We tried to throw punches and they threw punches right back at us, so I think we wilted. At the end of the day, they threw punches and we got knocked down. We didn’t throw them back when we needed to.
“I think it’s toughness,” he continued. “It’s something we didn’t have tonight.”
With the win, the Zips stayed atop the MAC East standings tied with Bowling Green. Each team is 8-3 in MAC play.
Akron (17-7) will travel to Eastern Michigan (15-9) to take on the Eagles on Saturday night.
by Jonah Spoerndle
The Akron Men’s Basketball team outlasted the Buffalo Bulls tonight in a thrilling affair 75-72. Noah Robotham was the player of the night for the Zips scoring 10 points while grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Jake Kretzer had one of his best nights of the season as he led the Zips in scoring with 13 points. Akron had 6 different players score at least 9 points.
Xavier Ford broke out for a double double for the Bulls leading their scoring with 22 points and getting 10 rebounds. Buffalo’s big man Justin Moss had 21 points and 6 rebounds in the loss.
The Bulls had the scoring edge inside as they scored 42 points in the paint compared to just 26 points for Akron. However, the Zips had a huge advantage in bench points outscoring Buffalo 30-2.
The first half began with both teams trading baskets until Akron went on a 16-4 run that gave them a 20-11 lead at the 12:14 mark. Buffalo responded with a run of their own and lead the Zips 31-26 with 6:53 left in the first half. Akron fought back and by halftime they were only down 43-41.
Both Moss and Ford were firing on all cylinders as they combined for 31 points and 10 rebounds at the break.
The second half started out very similar to the first half as the teams were trading runs for the opening 9 minutes. The Zips were then able to make a solid run as Kretzer hit some big shots putting Akron up 65-58 with 10:08 to play in the game. The Bulls were able to get within 3 points of the Zips twice the rest of the game, but were never able to pull ahead.
With the win Akron remains in a tie for first place in the MAC east division with Kent St and Bowling Green at 7-3 in MAC play. The Zips will play host to the Golden Flashes on Tuesday at the JAR at 7:00pm. Buffalo will face off against Toledo on Tuesday.
Spin, Ben and Cortez discuss all the happenings in the sports world on February 8th’s SPT show.
Akron Zips basketball talk
Cleveland Cavaliers/Indiana Pacers breakdown and Kevin Love
Atlanta Hawks debate between Spin and Ben
Cleveland Indians/Spring Training talk
By Sartaj Aujla
It’s never too early for a mock draft, right?
As the 2014 NFL season nears its ending, 30 teams have officially turned to free agency and the 2015 draft in hopes to build upon another chase for the Lombardi Trophy.
Questions arise everywhere in this year’s draft. However, the true million-dollar question is this: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? Tampa Bay is on the clock, so that question is currently going around the building as we speak.
While we still have the senior bowl, the combine, pro days, and individual team workouts to go, if the draft were today, here is a mock of what could transpire on the first day of the 2015 NFL Draft: