The Zips men’s basketball team took to the floor at James A. Rhodes Arena earlier this month in preparation for the 2015-16 season.
Hopes are high around campus for a team that returns four starters and 10 letter winners from last season’s squad that posted 21-plus wins for the 10th consecutive season, joining the likes of Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, and Ohio State.
Senior center Pat Forsythe returns for the Zips, bringing his average of 10 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game to help shore up the middle. Senior wingman Reggie McAdams, who added 7.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game last year, joins Forsythe; guard Noah Robotham returns for his sophomore campaign after averaging 9.9 points and 3.3 assists last season.
Last season, Akron made its 10th-straight MAC Tournament Semifinal appearance, tying Miami of Ohio (1992-2001) for the longest streak in league tournament history since 1980.
This season marks the 12th season for head coach Keith Dambrot, who won 252 games in his first 11 campaigns.
“We have a lot of young guys we have to work with to become great. We have to learn to integrate our youth with our experience,” Dambrot said after a practice in the first week. “But we have a lot of work to do to become a championship team. We have to push ourselves to play at a high level.”
The Zips will take on Malone University at the JAR in an exhibition game that tips off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5.
The season-opener is a neutral game—held at Kent State University—against Cleveland State University in the Coaches vs. Cancer game on Saturday, Nov. 14. The hope opener is slated for Monday, Nov. 16 against Hiram College.
After posting the Zips’ third consecutive 20-win campaign a year ago with a 22-9 record, including a 12-6 mark in the Mid-American Conference, The University of Akron women’s basketball team looks to continue its success this season.
Under the guidance of 10th-year head coach Jodi Kest, Akron returns three starters and nearly 60 percent of its scoring output and just under 67 percent of its rebounding efforts from a year ago.
Two big keys to the Zips’ success this season will be senior Anita Brown and junior Hannah Plybon. Brown earned second-team All-MAC honors last season after her 18.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, while Plybon, who connected on a school-record 97 three pointers a year ago on her way to recording 13.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, was tabbed as a third-team All-MAC selection.
Seniors Megan Barilla and DiAndra Gibson finish out the senior class looking to lead Akron’s fortunes this season.
Barilla appeared in all 31 games last year and ranked second on the team in assists (108) and fourth in steals (29), posting a team- and conference-best 2.8 assist/turnover ratio.
Gibson moved into the starting line-up as a junior and started 30 of the Zips’ 31 games, registering 5.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
“We are expecting a lot of Megan [Barilla)], Anita [Brown] and Di [Gibson], they are going to have to help the young kids out,” head coach Jodi Kest said, who is entering her tenth year. “This being their fourth year, I expect them to communicate with the young kids on what is expected from this program.”
Akron plays its only exhibition contest on Nov. 8, when it hosts Clarion at 2 p.m. at James A. Rhodes Arena.
The Zips open the 2015-16 campaign at Florida Atlantic on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla.
The home schedule begins on Nov. 20 against Winthrop in the opening round of the Akron Classic Tournament at 10:30 a.m.