“It is no secret that the University of Akron’s men’s basketball team has been playing well as of late. The Zips (19-7 9-3 MAC) won four straight games and are in a two-way tie with rival Kent State for sole possession of first place in the MAC East Division.””
It is no secret that the University of Akron’s men’s basketball team has been playing well as of late.
The Zips (19-7 9-3 MAC) won four straight games and are in a two-way tie with rival Kent State for sole possession of first place in the MAC East Division.
Obviously, we’ve been fortunate having played some close games, which we’ve won, and I think that’s what you have to do in this league, UA head coach Keith Dambrot said. A lot of the games are coming down to the final two minutes. Our guys have responded when it matters and I give them credit for that.
The last three victories for Akron have been won by no more than five points. Two of those games have even gone into overtime (At Ball State Feb. 6 and home against Ohio Feb. 14).
[After the Zips play Miami tonight score update]
In my six years, I’m not sure how many games we’ve won at Miami, but I do know we play competitively there every year, Dambrot said. So I don’t think about it being tough because all the arenas we play in are tough, like at Buffalo, Central Michigan or Kent State. Any of those places are hard to win at on the road.
What makes Miami a little bit different is it’s kind of like a theater environment, the seats are real far back and it’s just a little bit different.
Following the [win or loss] over Miami, Akron will have four regular season matches including an out of conference ESPNU BracketBuster against Virginia Commonwealth on Feb. 20.
However, the most important game for the Zips in the finale of the regular season will be the March 5 game against rival Kent State.
Since Kent State is in a two-way tie with Akron for first place, seedings in the MAC tournament may be decided in that final game.
First and foremost it’s a terrific rivalry, Dambrot said. I haven’t been involved in anything better than that and Kent has been such a tremendous program over the last 10 to 12 years. We’re just fortunate to have our program rise to a level to be competitive with them.
They’re a terrific conference team and always tough to compete against. It’s going to be a tremendous game and it’s been a game that has mattered every year. (Head coach) Geno Ford has done an unbelievable job of keeping that program and its tradition going and getting his team to play better than anybody in the league, so far.
We’re just looking forward to playing, it’ll be a fun game and hopefully both of our teams can continue to play well until that point, so that it really matters.
Coach Dambrot has a simple outlook on the way he wants his team to perform throughout the rest of the regular season.
I think our main point of emphasis with our guys is that we need to sell out and put extra time in, play great defense and really focus on not resting on any possessions, Dambrot said. We’ve done a good job, but we can play better and most importantly have fun.
I think that’s the key thing because there’s always a serious responsibility on a team that’s in first place or right around there, but the biggest thing is you don’t want to forget the ride. You want to have fun with those games and do the very best you can and if the process is right you’re going to win most of them, and let the chips fall where they may.
A surprise for the team has been its ability to play well on the road.
We’re a pretty loose bunch, I think it’s been easier playing on the road with these guys and harder at home, for whatever reason, but when you have high expectations like we do, our fans do and everyone does around the program, the worst thing you can do is worry about it, Dambrot said. The best thing you can do is compete every day and have fun.
With four regular season games to go, the Zips will need to win as many as possible to obtain a high seed going into the MAC tournament.