There are some games that you just know coming into it that one team really has no chance. A chance of an upset is present, but a feeling of supreme confidence emanates from the better team. Sure, talent is something nice to have. But teams just don't win on talent alone. When a special coach unites a team and pushes them towards a common goal, nothing can get in their way. That's what happened on Wednesday night in Akron.
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This night wasn't about a game, the players, coaches, or anything else surrounding a sphere shaped orange ball. It was all purple, in support of Akron's Director of Basketball Operations Dan Peters. The Zips scheduled a "Purple Out" which is the official color of the support group for those with pancreatic cancer.
Coach Peters looks good in purple. #ZipsGameday #4PetesSake pic.twitter.com/ZqJddmmJXx— Akron Zips M Bball (@ZipsMBB) January 30, 2014
Akron wasn't the only school to get in on the great cause. Most of the MAC teams wore patches this week and coaches wore lapel pins, including Thad Matta and Sean Miller.
@coachjwhit and Cardinals staff also all wearing some form of purple in support of Dan Peters and his battle with cancer. #4PetesSake— BallStateMBB (@BallStateMBB) January 30, 2014
Small schools in Ohio like Bluffton scheduled their own "Purple Out" games as well:
The men's & women's teams of BU & DC share their purple pride with Coach Peters & the entire AU family. #4PetesSake pic.twitter.com/blqzp8yGWG— BlufftonUMbk (@BlufftonUMbk) January 30, 2014
The great thing about us is we get behind those who are fighting long odds. I'm sure people in Bluffton, Ohio don't know that much about Dan Peters. But that didn't matter. Both teams showed support for the fight against pancreatic cancer, because the disease touches so many people in our immediate families and our group of friends.
It also says what type of guy Dan Peters really is. To get this much support is overwhelming I'm sure, but when you've had the long career that Peters has had it's refreshing to see so many of his colleagues in coaching and his former schools support him in this way. Although he might not have much time left, Peters knows how many people truly do care about him and want him to get better.
Now about the game itself. It really wasn't much of a contest with Akron going on a 29-6 run in the first half after Ball State jumped out to a 12-6 lead. Turnovers hampered the Cardinals as they had nine in the first half, three alone coming from Majok Majok. It says a lot when a team has more turnovers than field goals made (seven).
Things got a little uncomfortable in the second half when Ball State closed the halftime deficit to seven at 37-30. Keith Dambrot called a time out to get his team refocused and whatever he said must have worked. The Zips went on a 29-8 run over the next ten minutes or so to put the game away.
Majok led the Cardinals in scoring with fifteen. He only had three rebounds though, which ties for his career low at Ball State. Zavier Turner had nine on three three's but the rest of the team didn't do anything.
Demetrius Treadwell led the way for the Zips, putting in fifteen points and six rebounds. Nick Harney played well also, scoring fourteen on 6-8 shooting. Perhaps the most impressive was freshman Kwan Cheatham, Jr., who notched a career high fourteen points and four boards off the bench. This was an important game for Cheatham's development, as the Zips may need him down the road with their limited front court depth.
ESPN's stats had the Zips as 12-12 at the free throw line, which could be one of the most unbelievable stats ever. For a team so bad at free throws to go perfect at the line in downright odd. Nevertheless, Akron still had ten turnovers which brings a sense of normality to this game.
Ball State falls to 1-6 in the league but hosts Northern Illinois on Saturday in what will likely be one of their few opportunities for a win for the rest of the year. Akron travels to Kent State on Saturday, and if the Zips think this will be a cakewalk they need to think twice. Records in rivalry games don't mean a thing, and it's sure to be a nailbiter in Kent on Saturday night.