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Five things you should know about Western Michigan

By mrasor Published: February 6, 2009

Men's basketball
Akron will continue its march through the MAC West on Sunday at 2 p.m. when Western Michigan comes to Rhodes Arena.

    Here is a bunch of Broncos bits...
    1) The Broncos are 7-14 with an RPI of 254. They have wins at Southland Conference leader Sam Houston State and over each MAC West team except Ball State, whom they played in Muncie, Ind. WMU has not beaten a MAC East team in three tries (Buffalo, Kent State and Bowling Green).
    2) Akron traveled to Western Michigan last season and lost badly, 86-66. Eventually, the Zips dispatched WMU in the MAC Tournament semifinals, 73-62, thanks to 16 points from Chris McKnight. The difference between this year's 7-14 team and last year's 20-12 team is Joe Reitz, an All-MAC power forward who eventually signed with the Baltimore Ravens as a tackle. Reitz averaged 15 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season for the Broncos. Replacing him has not gone smoothly.
    3) The Broncos still have one of the MAC's most talented players in off-guard David Kool, who was Mr. Basketball in Michigan before suffering a torn ACL that scared off recruiters. Kool is third in the MAC in scoring with 16.6 points per game. He is second in free throw percentage (behind Darryl Roberts) at 87 percent, 11th in steals, fourth in 3-pointers made and 15th in defensive rebounds. He plays a lot of minutes and puts up great stats for Steve Hawkins.
    4) Shawntes Gary is another player to watch. He is listed as a guard, but he plays like a forward. Leading the team with 6.0 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-2 Gary enjoys crashing the boards. He is an athletic player who plays tight defense. He's one of the MAC's most underrated players, in my opinion. Gary is second on the Broncos with 10.7 points per game. Surrounding Gary and Kool are some role players. Freshman LaMarcus Lowe leads the conference with 1.83 blocks per game, even though he only plays 11.5 minutes per game. Senior point guard Michael Redell is one of the MAC's most efficient passers. Derek Drews, a 6-5 forward, is a good 3-point shooter.
    5) Losing Reitz, however, has had a serious impact on the Broncos' offense. They are ninth in the MAC in scoring. Their 39 percent of field goal attempts is the league's worst. Rather than pumping the ball into the post, WMU has chucked more 3s this season. That would be fine, except that the Broncos shoot only 31 percent from behind the arc, which is 10th in the MAC.

The Broncos are certainly one of the better MAC West teams. Mostly, it is because they play a little more defense than their colleagues. The Zips should be around 12-point favorites for tomorrow's game. It would be higher, but I have a feeling the Zips are in line for a letdown somewhere in the near future.
[poll id="10"]
Two redshirt sophomores have plans to leave the team before next season.
Blake Smith and Gary Pride are unsatisfied and are considering transferring, a source tells me.
Smith, a defensive lineman, is not certain that he will get playing time. Pride, the speedster utility man, is generally unhappy at Akron.
    Other notes:
    As J.D. Brookhart indicated Wednesday, the coaches are looking at a new defensive scheme. They are examining the 3-4 defense by watching tape of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
    The team still needs another non-conference opponent for 2009. The more time that passes, the more likely it is that you will see a Division I-AA team come to InfoCision Stadium. How great would it be to get Youngstown State on the schedule for that one?
    Update: Defensive lineman Will Clarke decommitted from Pitt and is now choosing between Akron and West Virginia. He chose Pitt initially because of their 3-4 defense, which Akron is now considering itself.
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