#ThinkBigger

Matthew Balsinger

On Saturday, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal published a rather forceful article to describe the possible impact of Alex Abreu’s actions on the Zips’ remarkable season.

Ridenour is a respected voice on the Zips; however, I do not believe it is beneficial for this publication to focus on the unfortunate actions of one player, but to rather focus on the impact we should not allow that unfortunate event to have.

I don’t think the marketing for the athletic department could have predicted at the beginning of the season how meaningful the phrase “Think Bigger” could become for this team. Yes, it is one of those cheesy catchphrases that many people often ignore, but it is one that holds a lot of meaning right now.

As fans and as a team, there are a few things that we’re going to have to accept. Alex Abreu is gone for the rest of the year and might be gone for good. I’m not going to discuss him as a person because I don’t know him. Losing him on the court will impact the Zips‘ basketball team, but it doesn’t have to be in a major way.

This basketball team is so much “Bigger” than any one player, any one game or any one particular situation. It takes a team to build a tremendous season such as the one we’ve had this year, and you cannot allow that success to be destroyed by an unfortunate action of one player.

Change is inevitable, and often comes at inopportune moments. It is growth, however, that is optional.

No one can be prepared for the changes that happen, but it is our reaction to the changes that define who we are.
Keith Dambrot defined the Zips earlier this year as having no stars. The benefit of having no individual stars on whom the team over-relies on is that any player can step-up on any night and be the leading man.

It was Demetrius Treadwell and Jake Kretzer who stepped up against Ohio University in Athens, and Zeke Marshall and Chauncey Gilliam who stepped up to overcome Kent at Kent. It was the entire team who stepped up to overcome a 20-point deficit to beat Buffalo earlier this season.

There’s a good reason why Akron was in the running for a top 25 ranking, as well as achieving a 19-game winning streak this season. It’s because this team is more than just one player: It is a team of players.

Ohio University lives or dies by the play of D.J. Cooper. The Zips have not lived or died by the play of Alex Abreu this season, and they cannot allow the team to live or die by him now.

This team still has all the pieces it needs to shock the world; they just need to find the right mixture of players and to find the confidence needed to win big.

Akron has been compared to No. 1 Gonzaga in both ability and talent. The biggest disadvantage that the Zips have is confidence. The nation at-large as well as the NCAA committee is no friend of Akron, often looking for reasons to not talk about the Zips. This is where confidence can often affect a team. No one believes that Akron stands a chance to make a run for the NCAA tournament, but the fact is that we do. And we must find a way to maintain our calm and our confidence.

We will get through this situation, and we will be “Bigger” than anyone ever thought we could be.