“While most University of Akron students will soon be heading home for winter break, class will remain in session for UA’s young men’s basketball team. The Zips will play six nonconference games and its first Mid-Conference game between now and the end of the holiday.””
While most University of Akron students will soon be heading home for winter break, class will remain in session for UA’s young men’s basketball team.
The Zips will play six nonconference games and its first Mid-Conference game between now and the end of the holiday.
The first test for the Zips will come Saturday against arguably the toughest opponent on the team’s schedule when the Dayton Flyers come to Rhodes Arena. The Atlantic 10 school has stared the season 7-0.
The Zips will then take exam week off before hosting North Carolina A&T on Dec. 13. The team will then travel to play the Virginia Commonwealth Rams out of the Colonial Athletic Conference on Dec. 17.
VCU enters play tonight against Western Michigan with a 3-3 record. The Rams are led in scoring by senior guard Eric Maynor’s 24.5 points per game.
The Zips will play their final home game of the break against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Dec. 28 before playing three consecutive road games. The stretch begins Dec. 31 at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and concludes with the start of conference play at Millet Hall with a game against the Miami RedHawks.
MU entered its game at Temple on Wednesday at 3-3. The RedHawks, who were picked to finish second in the MAC East by the MAC News Media Association, is being led in scoring by seniors Kenny Hayes (16.6) and Michael Bramos (14.2).Learning on the fly
In the early part of the season, many of UA’s nine first-year players are logging important minutes and learning first-hand about college basketball.
Freshman guard Anthony Humpty Hitchens came into the game Wednesday night at Niagara starting the previous three contests and coming off of career-nights in scoring. Hitchens scored 10 points in the team’s loss against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 29 and topped that with 12 points the following night in UA’s win over Farleigh Dickenson.
Freshman forward Nikola Cvetinovic came in averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds while appearing in all six of the Zips’ games.
Freshman guard Ronnie Steward started at point guard for the first three games and appeared in the team’s first six games, but is expected to be out of action for about four weeks due to compartment syndrome in his right leg.
Despite the team’s early season success, one of the team’s weaknesses throughout the first month of play has been its lack of rebounding. The Zips were outrebounded by an average of three rebounds a game going into play Wednesday night.
Fifth-year head coach Keith Dambrot knows that trend cannot continue if his team wants to win its marquee nonconference games and complete for a MAC Championship.
We’ve got to get tougher, Dambrot said in his post-game radio interview on 1350 WARF after UA’s loss to Eastern Kentucky. We can’t have a guy play 29 minutes in a game and get two rebounds. Our bigger people have to do better.
Despite the team’s glaring weakness and overall inexperience, Dambrot’s confident the Zips will improve in all phases as the season continues.
We still have issues, we’re not where we been in the past, but I think this team’s going to continue to get better, he said in his post-game radio interview the following night. We just have to keep being patient and teach them.