“Nate Linhart can’t wait. Not just for the University of Akron men’s basketball team’s opening game in the Mid-American Conference tournament today at Quicken Loans Arena against Central Michigan at 2 p.m. He’s excited about the path the Zips will have to travel in order to duplicate its unprecedented run to the MAC finals last year, which also started with a quarterfinal match up against CMU.””
Nate Linhart can’t wait.
Not just for the University of Akron men’s basketball team’s opening game in the Mid-American Conference tournament today at Quicken Loans Arena against Central Michigan at 2 p.m.
He’s excited about the path the Zips will have to travel in order to duplicate its unprecedented run to the MAC finals last year, which also started with a quarterfinal match up against CMU.
But one thing is certain: it isn’t last year.
For starters, the Zips lost to CMU already this season, whereas last season they had beaten every team they faced at least once during the regular season.
This year, they lost to the Chippewas, as well as their possible semifinal opponent Western Michigan, the No. 2 seed in the tourney.
We’re actually looking forward to it, Linhart said. We want to play those teams that beat us to see where we’re at. Those were disappointing losses for us. We have Wood back, healthy now and want to gauge where we are at.
The differences between this season and last don’t end with their seemingly more difficult road to through the tourney.
The Zips’ depth has been an issue. They have two players that average more than 10 points while the bench has contributed 15 points total per contest.
We’re a little limited in certain areas, Dambrot said. We have good frontcourt depth, maybe not inside-scoring depth, but we can defend with our front court.
Despite a 14-15 record, the Chippewas have Dambrot worried. He said his team has played particularly poor against mid-level teams, such as CMU, which boasts two-time All-MAC First Team selection Giordan Watson.
I think we’ve had more trouble with average teams than any of our past teams, but we’ve played on the road against good teams than any of our past teams, Dambrot said. The only answer is we don’t play as good defense as we have in the past.
Dabrot said that the Chippewas have one of the most talented teams in the conference, but don’t play as a unit.
Dambrot doesn’t like how they match up with the Zips. He said UA has struggled with teams who play physical defense and the Chippewas have recorded the second most fouls in the country this season.
We’ve had better luck this year with teams that play more of a finesse style, Dambrot said. They aren’t necessarily better than the team’s we’ve beat, but it’s harder for us for whatever reason.
If the Zips do get by CMU, their next opponent will most likely be Western Michigan, who beat the Zips by 20 points earlier in the season. That game, however, Jeremiah Wood, an All-MAC second team selection this season, left the game at halftime because of a torn lateral meniscus.
Dambrot, however, remains focused on Central Michigan.
We have to get by day one, he said. If we do that we’ll be alright. I worry about day one. Day one is hard, especially coming off the emotional game against Kent State. We played decent day one against Central last year. But we were a pretty experienced team last year. People think we’re experienced but at one point against Kent, we had four freshmen on the floor. Those are the things that catch up with us sometimes.