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Buchtelite MAC preview

By mrasor Published: March 7, 2007

Men's basketball

The Buchtelite's Adam Ferrise previewed Akron's matchup tomorrow with Central Michigan.

Keith Dambrot didn't remember much about the Chippewas when Ferrise talked to him yesterday. I hope he spends all night watching tape.

  • Ferrise also found out why Nick Dials is on such a hot streak. The Zips guard said he wasn't comfortable in the offense early in the year. Dambrot complimented Dials' recent use of his pull-up jumper.

  • Ferrise also broke down each MAC team remaining in the tournament. (Ferrise is a workhorse, if you can't tell. Welcome to life at a college newspaper without a journalism school.)

  • Cedrick Middleton won the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year Award. Romeo Travis (first team) and Dru Joyce (second team) are All-MAC performers.

  • The ABJ's Tom Gaffney previewed the game by talking about Akron's three goals for this season: set a new school record for wins (check), win the MAC East (check) and win the MAC Tournament (incomplete).

  • My column is a series of short letters to Zips players, telling them what they must do this weekend. I'll post it below...

Dear Dru Joyce,
Stay out of foul trouble and make your free throws. Outside of those two flaws, you are the perfect point guard. On defense, do whatever you can to stay in front of Kent State's Omni Smith. When he penetrates past you, Akron's big men will get in foul trouble. Let's see all those agility drills pay off.

Nick Dials,
Keep playing scrappy defense, sticking your hand where the ballhandler doesn't want it. Although nobody is saying it, you were the reason Akron beat Kent State on Sunday. You can be that X-factor again on Friday.

Romeo Travis,
You have disappeared from the offense during long stretches this season. It's not all your fault, but you need to clamor for the ball on every possession. When you get a touch, Akron scores more often than not.

Jeremiah Wood,
I want to see your motor running at full throttle. You recently remembered how to use that big body to your advantage on the boards. Now just watch some tape of the Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao. Your stamina is higher than it's ever been. Use it.

Cedrick Middleton,
Remind your teammates they need to run the floor at times. You are the best guard in the conference in transition. So scream "outlet" and get some easy buckets.

Quade Milum,
Your game starts on defense. When you are blocking shots, it seems to propel your offense. Of course, you're pretty skinny. So play in front of post players and deny them the ball. It's the best way to keep Toledo's Florentino Valencia from scoring 17 or 18, like he did in the Zips' last two losses to the Rockets.

Jimmy Conyers,
Rebound. Rebound. Rebound. Opposing guards aren't programmed to box out, so crash the offensive boards and use your athleticism to get Akron second chances.

Nate Linhart,
Your broken finger hurts, but the most effective parts of your game are defense and rebounding anyhow. Take pride in that.

Steve McNees and Chris McKnight,
As freshmen, you won't have big roles this weekend (especially McNees, who is redshirting). Just pay close attention to Joyce and Travis. These are really good college basketball players who do the small things right. Next year, the coaching staff might put you in their situations.

Keith Dambrot,
You are the MAC's best coach. There's really nothing I can tell you except to keep stressing defense. Don't be afraid to use traps and presses, especially against Kent State's inexperienced guards. Most of all, tell your players to have fun. They deserve a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and if it's meant to be, they'll get it.

Addendum: Akron mayor Don Plusquellic,
Schedule a parade in April to celebrate the MAC Champion Zips, the best basketball team your city has seen in 20 years.

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