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Zips hoops: Three observations for UA-NDSU game

By George Thomas Published: February 22, 2013

Yours truly will continue arguing up until game time that this is a risky game for the Akron Zips (21-4) given their season thus far.  A 17-game winning streak?  Nice.  But anyone who’s honest can say that at times it’s been ugly.  Tonight’s game against the North Dakota State Bison (20-7) is a chance for them to accomplish something only they can – make an impression on national television in prime time.  That simple.  How do they do it?

  • Whoever  starts in place of Brian Walsh, who twisted his right ankle during practice Wednesday, has to step up.  Walsh averages eight usually important points per game and many a three have come at a critical moment.  Most important is that they be able to open up the floor and both Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell become scoring options inside.
  • The Zips have to dictate the pace of the game.  The Bison lost their leading scorer Tyler Braun and since then, according to reports, they’ve been forced to play a slower, more deliberate half-court game and focus on defense.  The Zips have struggled in such games against MAC opponents. Point guard Alex Abreu has never been more important.
  • They need to get off to a fast start.  Deji Ibitayo said it best after practice Thursday.  It’s about those first three minutes.  That’s where the Zips set the tone and keep the tone.

Key matchup:  Zeke Marshall against Marshall Bjorklund.  In that half-court game, the Bison will likely look to the inside for shots on a more consistent basis.  Marshall needs to be on his game defensively to nullify him.  With Braun out, statistically, he’s the Bison’s second leading scorer.  Taking him out of the game would leave them with not a lot of options.

Key stat:  The Zips are 3-2 at home in Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters games and they are 9-4 in non-conference games this season.


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