I hope Keith Dambrot's Zips didn't get too accustomed to playing battle-tested defensively minded teams with the win against Miami.
Bowling Green, Sunday's opponent, is the exact opposite.
They have challenged some of the nation's most pathetic teams and come out with a 10-5 record (8-5 if you only count Division I schools).
Say all you want about Akron's schedule that includes Winston-Salem State, Gardner Webb and St. Francis (Pa.). Bowling Green's strength of schedule (No. 300) is still worse than the Zips' (294).
That's not to say the Falcons couldn't hang with better competition. They have some talent, such as senior Martin Samarco, a Second-Team All-MAC guard last season. He is only the third player in conference history to drain 100 3-pointers in a season. He shot a startling 45.7 percent from behind the arc.
Samarco's percentage is down 11 percent to 34.7 this season. That could be the result of teams zeroing in on him behind the perimeter. On the other hand, Samarco is helping his team more through passing. He has already surpassed his assist total from last season. The 6-foot-2 native of Ypsilanti is still putting up 21.9 points per game. He dropped 43 in a win over Buffalo Sunday.
BG is more than Samarco. He's just the player most likely to be the focus of Akron's defense. Here are some other key players...
- Ryne Hamblet, a junior college transfer, is playing sound basketball in his first year as a Division I point guard. The 6-5 Chicago native averages 9.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 turnovers. Watch out for his 3-ball, which he has made 42.6 percent of the time this season.
- Samarco plays 35 minutes a night at shooting guard.
- Nate Miller, a sophomore transfer from UNC-Wilmington, is already playing well for Dan Dakich at small forward. He is second on the team in scoring with 11.6 points a game. He also contributes 6.9 rebounds.
- Matt Lefeld, a center, is the other senior on BG. His playing time has fallen with his field goal percentage this season. The 6-11, 260 pounder is on the floor only 16.5 minutes per game, compared to 22 minutes last year. He doesn't usually start, but I'm always interested in how players who make the cover of the media guide fall out of a coach's favor.
As a team, Bowling Green has a serious deficiency in rebounding. Their margin of rebounding is only -3.7, but consider the creampuffs the Falcons have challenged. With their decent size, the Falcons certainly should win every rebounding battle over inferior teams.
Akron should be able to plow over Bowling Green with relative ease. The only way that doesn't happen is if Samarco scores more than 30, but the Zips defense would never allow that.
I'll have more tomorrow.
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