The fact that his team maintained a double-digit lead for a majority of its game Thursday night mattered little to University of Akron basketball coach Keith Dambrot.
Dambrot coached the Zips with the usual intensity and passion one would expect from a leader hungry to see his players continue to improve individually and collectively.
Texas Southern University offered little resistance on the court in an 83-68 UA victory before a crowd of 2,503 at James A. Rhodes Arena, yet Dambrot marched the sidelines in constant motion, shouting instructions.
Senior Zeke Marshall and juniors Demetrius Treadwell and Alex Abreu were three players who listened to their coach to lead the Zips (7-4) over the Tigers (1-12).
Dambrot wasn’t all business the entire night though, as evidenced by the big smile he wore when talking to his players in a post-game huddle.
“He wants to get his players better,” Marshall said. “He is a perfectionist. He always strives for perfection and always strives to push people to reach their potential. I honestly appreciate that out of Coach.”
Marshall led the Zips with 21 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. He made 6-of-9 field goals and 9-of-11 free throws.
Treadwell posted his first collegiate double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, converting 8-of-11 field goals and 2-of-4 free throws.
Abreu chipped in 14 points and four assists.
“We are doing some good things,” Dambrot said. “I told our guys that is the best we have played on the low block in the last two or three games since we had [former Zips standouts] Romeo [Travis] and [Jeremiah] Wood. You can see Tree [Treadwell] getting really good down there. It seemed like he was always in a hurry last year, like a bull in a china shop. He is getting better on the low block.
“Zeke is getting [on the] low block and getting really down far, and then you add in [freshman] Pat Forsythe and [junior] Nick Harney in the low block, too.”
Tigers senior guard Omar Strong scored a game-high 33 points. Strong made 12-of-25 field goals, including 7-of-18 3-pointers, and converted 2-of-2 free throws.
He was the only consistent scoring threat the Tigers had as the Zips relied on their height advantage with the 7-foot Marshall, 6-7 Treadwell, 6-8 Harney and 6-11 Forsythe.
“We came in with a concerted effort to get the ball inside,” Treadwell said. “We went to the glass pretty hard, and Zeke cleaned up pretty well inside.”
The Zips never trailed in dismantling the Tigers, who have lost 10 games in a row. UA scored the first 11 points of the game and led 43-23 at halftime.
“As a team I think we did really well in the first half,” Marshall said. “I just think we need to stay at it in the second half.
“The first half is basically how we aim to play every half. I think we have to be more consistent, but overall I thought we had a great game.”
The Zips’ advantage dropped below 20 points a few times, which prompted Dambrot to stomp his feet on the court or clap his hands to encourage his players to play harder.
“He is just never satisfied,” Treadwell said. “He is a perfectionist.”
Harney finished with seven points for UA. Forsythe and sophomore Deji Ibitayo each scored six points. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt and seniors Brian Walsh and Chauncey Gilliam combined to score 11 points.
Dambrot will seek his 300th collegiate win when UA hosts Princeton at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.