Marshall makes big impact in Zips exhibition win against Mount Union

“Freshman Zeke Marshall collected 14 points, eight blocked shots and six rebounds, propelling the University of Akron’s men’s basketball team to an 88-38 win over Mount Union. Marshall logged 14 minutes coming off the bench and made his presence known as he was 5-6 in field goals and 4-6 from the charity stripe.”

Freshman Zeke Marshall collected 14 points, eight blocked shots and six rebounds, propelling the University of Akron’s men’s basketball team to an 88-38 win over Mount Union.

Marshall logged 14 minutes coming off the bench and made his presence known as he was 5-6 in field goals and 4-6 from the charity stripe.

That guy is the best talent that I’ve had since LeBron, Dambrot said. You can’t really tell sometimes in practice because it’s such a grind physically, but he had good presence, he was very calm.

He’s playing right now just basically on instincts. That was a very good performance by him. I don’t care who he was playing against.

I told our guys that I’m judging him every day on performance. Before this season is over, he’s going to be one of our best players.

With Zeke in the game, Akron will show a different game plan than in times past.

I told our guys, when he’s in the game, you have to play a tad bit differently, Dambrot said. If you can sniff them around you, let them go, because he’s going to block it.

We have to use his ability to receive the ball to our advantage. Our best players are our fours and fives. You have to figure out how to get all four of them out there. That might mean Brett McKnight and Chris McKnight at the three spot.

The starting five for the Zips has not yet been set, but Dambrot would like to have a set lineup soon.

Nobody has grabbed a spot except Chris McKnight and Nikola. But Zeke is close, Dambrot said. I’ve played young kids. I played LeBron when he was a freshman.

Do we have a chance to be very good? Zeke gives us the ability to play with the big boys. As great as (Jeremiah) Wood and Rome(o) (Travis) were, we had to play a perfect game against the big boys because we were small. With him, we can get beat off the dribble and he’ll knock one. We can use him to beat the press.

Some players may be surprised to see Marshall starting so soon, but it is all in good reason.

This team went to the NCAA Tournament and this guy comes in and gets all the publicity, Dambrot said. Now all the writers want to talk to this guy. It’s hard on the guys. They have to realize that if you win the big prize, everybody gets theirs.

Although Marshall’s performance was more than expected, he was not a one man show on the night.

Senior Chris McKnight also tallied for 13 of the Zips, going 6-10 from inside the arc.

It seemed as though Mount Union could not guard the perimeter as the Zips tallied for eight first half three pointers. They would finish the game 9-17.

The performance by the Zips was better than exhibitions in the past.

Last year Akron barely beat Walsh in an exhibition that ended on a last second shot to put the team up 83-81.

That’s a difficult game to judge, Dambrot said. Physically, we’re so much bigger and stronger. The past two days, we’ve shown more fight than the previous preseasons. I thought we played relatively unselfishly.

Akron will begin the regular season as they take on a tough Austin Peay team Sunday at 2 p.m. at Rhodes Arena.

The Zips last played Austin Peay two years ago and came away with a 64-55 win.

It is yet to be seen how seven foot Zeke Marshall will do against tough opponents, but after Sunday’s game, we may have a better idea.