Younger McKnight controls paint

“If there’s one thing sophomore forward Brett McKnight can count on in his time at the University of Akron, it’s being compared to his brother. Chris McKnight, a junior forward on the Zips, played in nine more games and scored 120 more points than his bigger braided brother in the 2007/2008 season.”

If there’s one thing sophomore forward Brett McKnight can count on in his time at the University of Akron, it’s being compared to his brother.

Chris McKnight, a junior forward on the Zips, played in nine more games and scored 120 more points than his bigger braided brother in the 2007/2008 season.

Head Coach Keith Dambrot even joked after Saturday’s game that Chris was the better-looking of the siblings.

Can Brett get some respect?

Well, when he scores a career-high 29 points and sets the Rhodes Arena crowd on fire with a dramatic slam dunk in a close victory over archrival Kent State University, yes, he can.

The Zips, one of the youngest teams in the nation, have struggled to find themselves offensively this season. On Saturday afternoon, though, McKnight solved a very important part of the puzzle: the post game.

At the end of the first period, he had scored 15 points in only 8 minutes.

I think the guy figured out he’s not a 3-point shooter, remarked Dambrot after the game. He’s a box player.

The Zips did not control the paint by any account, but Brett McKnight’s newfound presence underneath the basket forced the Flashes to respect the inside game, providing shots for the Zips’ talented outside shooters.

Though UA’s offense sputtered throughout much of the second period, Kent State barely managed to take the lead before another Zips run sealed the victory.

At the end of the run, McKnight took advantage of a fast break opportunity and slammed a definitive dunk to a roaring crowd.

After that dunk I knew the game was over in my head. The atmosphere of the crowd and being on the court was amazing, McKnight recalled.

McKnight even sank both of his 3-point attempts.

A big man who can shoot from beyond the arc is a rare and valuable commodity, but sometimes complicates things for the team.

Dambrot, who found it hard to believe that this was McKnight’s first game with two 3-pointers, reiterated his faith in McKnight’s outside shot, but made sure to point out that McKnight is will forever be a post player.

The guy’s figured out he’s not a three-point shooter. He’s a box player. Dambrot also admitted that McKnight remains one of the best shooters we have.

The key for McKnight will be asserting his presence on the block for the majority of his playing time, then sprinkling a few long-range shots to keep the defense honest.

This year, McKnight has been struggling with his outside shot. Last year, he shot 38 percent from beyond the arc, but his percentage this season has dwindled to the mid-twenties.

After the game, Dambrot complemented both McKnight brothers on their work ethic and determination – things Dambrot says they learned from their parents.

Although every Kent State game is important to UA’s basketball players, being swept by the Golden Flashes in three games last season, including the 74-55 MAC Tournament loss, probably added some special motivation to the drastically rebuilt ’08/’09 squad.

It’s really personal versus each team, but just a little extra for Kent, explained Zips guard Darryl Roberts on Thursday. They beat us in our place last year, so we owe them.

The neighboring rivals will meet again at Kent State on March 8 to end the regular season.


” #1.1360627:1113468437.jpg:IMG_3642new.jpg:Brett McKnight slams home a fast-break dunk during a Zips 10-0 run in second period of Saturday’s game against Kent State at Rhodes Arena.:Alyssa Cushman / The Buchtelite”