A young Akron team might have finally got the hint tonight: They have to be tough to win.
The Zips traveled to an experienced Bowling Green team's gym and won, 62-52. Akron's team defense was nearly faultless. Aside from some penetration issues in the first half, the individual defense was air-tight, as well. Bowling Green shot only 28 percent from the field.
The Zips also benefited from offensive toughness I have never seen before from Chris McKnight. On a few possessions, he became a bull with the ball. Rather than settling for a mid-range fadeaway, he used his power and footwork until the rim was within sneezing distance. Humpty Hitchens led the team with 15 points.
I was surprised to see Brett McClanahan enter the game and melt his redshirt. Knowing Keith Dambrot, this move was just as much about motivating his team as it was adding a shooter to the floor. Whether it was complacency or a string of bad shooting nights for Steve McNees and Darryl Roberts, I don't know. But neither has made much of an impact in the last month. If McClanahan plays, one of them will not. Hopefully they got that message.
It would be premature to say Akron is any better than tonight than Tuesday against Buffalo, but this win might be a turning point in terms of confidence.
Next up is a trip to Athens on Tuesday. The Bobcats have played well this season. I will preview the game on Monday.