At this point after five days of hearing what the keys to the Akron Zips-VCU Rams game are, they’ve become cliché.
Coach Keith Dambrot laid them out the other day when he said that his team has to take care of the ball and rebound.
Here are three observations regarding the 9:45 tipoff between the Zips and the Rams.
- Yes the Zips have to take care of the ball, especially considering the fact that the Rams force close to 20 turnovers a game. UA is about even with suspended point guard Alex Abreu running the show (11.6) and with Carmelo Betancourt (11.3). In short: it’s negligible at best the difference. What is different is the backup point guard in Nick Harney. The Rams are proud of the pressure they put on opponents, but at 6-foot-7, Harney should be able to get the ball around VCU’s shorter guards.
- That size advantage comes into play in another significant way: the glass. That is where the Zips excel. That is where they live and where they must continue to live. They enjoy a statistical advantage of better than three boards over VCU, but ultimately it comes down to how they play:
We’re kind of a small team compared to others. We really practice a lot on rebounding there’s a real emphasis on that. With their size advantage, we still have other ways to take it away from them. With our speed, we can use our speed, against their size and I think that will be enough to get it done, said forward Treveon Graham.
- The other way to use that size? Offensively, by feeding the Zips big men, senior center Zeke Marshall and junior forward Demetrius Treadwell as much as possible for easy looks around the rim and when they’re there, the Zips need to finish at the rim.
We have to go inside. That’s our game. It’s simplified now with Alex gone. That’s our game. Pound it. Pound it. Pound it. - UA Coach Keith Dambrot
Wildcard: The Zips outside shooting which has been up and down all season. With all the talk of size and pressure, they could prove to be the big determinant here.
Key players: Marshall and Treadwell
Notes: UA’s No. 12 seed is the highest by a MAC team since Kent State’s No. 9 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament…The 12-5 matchup has seen its fair share of upsets. The No. 12 seed has won 38 of 112 matchups, roughly one out of every three times the two seeds have played… Should Akron win, it would be their first against VCU…A win would be Akron’s first in the NCAA Tournament in four tries as a Division I team.
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