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48 hours until the rivalry game

By mrasor Published: January 21, 2010

Men's basketball
The Zips will tip off against hated rival Kent State in just under 48 hours.
Last night, coach Keith Dambrot had something interesting to say about Kent State:

"They remind me of the old OU teams with Jeremy Fears and that. When they want to play, they're great. When they don't want to play, they're just OK. Sometimes Kent doesn't feel like playing."

This is bulletin-board material. I almost guarantee this quote is somewhere in Geno Ford's locker room. The cliche goes, you don't ever want to give your opponent any. So that leaves three options:
1) Dambrot slipped up and didn't mean to say it, because he knows it will help motivate Kent.
Is it likely? Maybe. On one hand, Dambrot is very candid. As a journalist and fan, I love it. He doesn't lie. He doesn't say things just for the effect they'll have on the listener. He's a straight-shooter. On the other hand, Dambrot repeated this more than once. The atmosphere was calm, so it didn't seem to be an unthought-out emotional response. Verdict: No. He meant to say it.
2) He meant to say it, and he doesn't care about its effect.
The coach is not a cowboy. Generally, he is very diplomatic toward future opponents. Even against the worst of foes, he has nothing but praise. Why, then, do we get an insult here? There must be a reason. Verdict: No. This was a calculated statement with a purpose.
3) He meant to say it, and he thinks its effect will help Akron.
This is my conclusion, after ruling out the previous possibilities. I think the coach knew he would say these things to the media, and that he believed the effect on the listening Kent players would help his team. I don't know why. I just got that feeling. Generally, the coach is praising of the upcoming opponent, even when the upcoming opponent doesn't deserve it. Kent, on the other hand, just basted Buffalo, who just basted Akron. Then Dambrot, without much prompting, levels the Flashes with a haymaker challenging their work ethic. Verdict: Yes. I think Dambrot wants Kent to hear it.
The question is, why? Well, first, it's a rivalry game. This is the type of game where Kent should already be motivated to play its best. So, the coach doesn't have to worry about that. But maybe, just maybe, Dambrot questioned Kent's work ethic because he feels the Flashes can't control their emotions. We remember Chris Singletary's punch at Nate Linhart last year.
This whole discussion is probably much ado about nothing, but when I heard Dambrot talking about Kent like that, my radar went off that something wasn't quite normal.
Note: Pick the game winner here.
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