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The Game and More Sparkles in Cleveland
CLEVELAND-- The setting was perfect. A good crowd turned out. The evening had two great teams and the NCAA bid on the line. The 2012 Mid-American Conference championship at the Quicken Loans Arena Tournament with Akron and Ohio was featuring shooting sensations Alex Abreu of the Zips and D. J. Cooper of the Bobcats.
Nothing disappointed. The arena had a buzz. The colorful and energetic pep bands from both schools were on the main floor and were ‘the sizzle with the steak’.
The game was telecast to a national audience on ESPN2 and the voice of the MAC, Michael Reghi, called the action on WKNR-ESPN Radio.
There was plenty of energy and attractions to go along with the game. The MAC hosted a ‘Fan-Fest’ at the Tower City Mall. The pep-bands, cheerleaders and team mascots entertained. It is amazing how popular the mascots are with children. It seems every child wants to reach into the pouch of the Zips ‘Roo’ mascot. It is a phenomenal attraction.
The restaurants and taverns in downtown Cleveland were filled before the game including the fringe area of downtown. Sokolowski’s University Inn, Fahrenheit in the trendy Tremont area, the Clevelander Sports Bar and Grill along with the Barley House overflowed with supporters.
Sportsman and Polonia ambassador Mike Sokolowski said, “Look at this crowd before the game, can’t talk now, we have to feed them and get them off to the ‘Q’.” The line was long but moved fast in the unique cafeteria style sports tavern.
Executive Chef Rocco Whelan had no time to talk at Fahrenheit’s either. He said, “We will be filled before and after the game.”
The main attraction on the court did not disappoint as Ohio beat a strong Akron team 64-63. As the saying goes, the game was a ‘barn-burner’. Cooper sparkled for the Bobcats. The Chicago native finished his remarkable weekend and a team-leading 23 points in the championship game. He was the tourney MVP. He dialed in early and often as he netted eight of Ohio’s first 12 points in the first six minutes of the game.
Reggie Keely got the last rebound for Ohio. An intentional foul sent Keely to the line. He sank his foul shots. Those turned out to be winning points and the difference that finished off the Zips. Both teams left it all out on the floor. Both teams showcased how competitive the MAC is in men’s basketball.
Ohio University is headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. They will begin play on Friday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bobcats are the No. 13 seed in the Midwest Region and they open with No. 4 Michigan.
2012 MAC All-Tournament Team
By Raymond Rolak