Written by: Sartaj Aujla
After coming close to the Mid-American Conference title last season, Akron’s men’s basketball team looks ready to start a new season with high expectations as they travel to Conway, S.C. to take on Coastal Carolina this Friday.
The Zips will go into the game with an undefeated record in exhibition play, having beaten Tiffin 111-72 and Malone 106-67.
The match-up will be the first for Akron and Coastal Carolina.
Head coach Keith Dambrot stressed that the key to opening the season will come down to defense. Dambrot feels that the team needs to maintain a strong defensive mentality in order to take the next step.
The Zips finished last season with an overall record of 22-12, 13-3 MAC. Akron reached the championship game in the MAC tournament but lost to Ohio in a 64-63 heartbreaker at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The Zips bring a roster this year with both new and veteran players. Center Zeke Marshall and guard Brian Walsh are expected to start the season strong. Forward Nick Harney had a huge game against Malone last Saturday, where he scored a game-high 22 points. Harney hopes to transfer his great performance to the game this Friday. New transfer center Pat Forsyth is also expected to contribute right out of the gate.
The Zips, however, might not have veteran guard Alex Abreu on the court. Abreu injured his ankle before the start of the season. His status for the game has not been confirmed.
The Chanticleers finished their last season with an overall record of 19-12. They went 12-6 against Big South Conference opponents, but were unable to start a tournament run and lost in the first round.
Regardless, the Zips know that they should not take the Chanticleers lightly. They have gone to three straight postseasons, which shows that they are a serious contending team.
The Chanticleers’ roster is filled with both veteran and new players. But the main match-up will be against guards Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood, both of whom are predicted to be all-conference.
In order for the Zips to win, they will need to start off fast and keep the tempo going. Akron must also contain Chants guards Raffa and Greenwood, who can be dangerous if given the chance.
Akron is also bringing to the game one of the best benches they feel they have had in years; their bench scored 76 points of Akron’s 106 against Malone last Friday. If the Zips’ bench can outscore the Chanticleers’ bench, and contain the opposing team’s guards with a strong defense, the game will go in Akron’s favor.
The Zips will hope to leave South Carolina with a win and return home with momentum to start off strong when they open play in the James A. Rhodes Arena.
Akron will take on Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C. at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 9.