Bethune-Cookman

Hannah Plybon emerges from small town to captain of University of Akron women’s hoops team

(The following story is an alternate version of what will appear in the Jan. 9, 2014 edition of OrrViews in Orrville, Ohio)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It didn’t take long for Hannah Plybon to showcase the kind of impact she could have at the highest level of college basketball.

Hannah Plybon (left) earned as spot on the All-MAC Freshman Team a year ago.

Hannah Plybon (left) earned as spot on the All-MAC Freshman Team a year ago.

On the heels of successful runs in three different sports during her senior year at Orrville High School in Ohio, Plybon made an immediate impression on coaches and teammates upon her arrival at the University of Akron.

Plybon worked her way into the starting lineup as a freshman before her rookie season ever got underway, on a team featuring six seniors that had returned from a 23-win campaign.

Plybon has since blossomed into a leader at Akron, on a squad that opened the 2014-15 season by winning its first 10 games.

She’s now less than a year removed from being named to the All-MAC Freshman Team after starting 32 of 33 games for the Lady Zips, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament and won the Mid-American Conference for the first time in school history.

Not bad for someone hailing from small-town America, where the pride of being hometown to former college coach Bobby Knight and a jelly manufacturer is offset by two decades worth of factories closing shop and families relocating elsewhere.

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Carnahan Coverage: Justin McBride tallies career-high in points & rebounds in UCF win

Justin McBride broke out in a big way for the UCF Knights on Sunday in Orlando during a 75-67 win over undersized Bethune-Cookman.

The sophomore center came off the bench seven minutes into the game and had his way in the low post before going on to finish with a career-high 31 points and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes of work.

“My teammates really made an effort to throw me the ball,” McBride said. “They just found me and I started scoring a little bit, and the basket got bigger and bigger.”

( – Click here to read J.C.’s recap of UCF vs. Bethune-Cookman for the Orlando Sentinel – )

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George O’Leary and UCF Still Having Trouble Filling Out Schedules

UCF football’s announcement last week that they’d agreed to a home-and-home series with Stanford of the Pac-12 drew modest interest from college football fans. UCF coach George O’Leary didn’t appear to be too excited about it either at his weekly press conference earlier this week at Bright House Networks Stadium.

O’Leary was asked Monday if the new agreement, which sends UCF to California in 2015 and Stanford to Florida in 2019, might mean the Knights have plans to expand recruiting coverage to the West coast.

“No. I don’t see us recruiting more on the West,” he said with a tone that matched his disinterest in the topic. “It’s obviously a great opponent, [but] I’d much rather see us get opportunities to play teams that have some relative to recruiting for us. There’s a lot of teams from the Midwest, to the East, to the South that would be great opponents.”

But O’Leary’s never been blind to the fact that mid-major’s such as UCF are in no position to avoid these types of match-ups, even if they do make for a grueling road trip for both players and fan base.

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