Being one of two teams that has beat the Akron Zips in conference play, UA hoopsters have every reason to be leary of the Kent State Golden Flashes this evening.
That's not the only reason, however. Right now, in this moment in time, Kent State is the hottest team in the MAC, finally finding a rhythm at exactly the right time of the season - near the end. They are dangerous.
Here is what the Zips must do to beat them:
Forget the past. No one could really blame the Zips for last week's loss to Kent State. They had their world rocked and lost their floor general, point guard Alex Abreu and didn't really have any time to prepare to play Kent without him. It's a week later, Carmelo Betancourt should be better acclimated to what coach Keith Dambrot wants him to do. There were signs in the second half last week that he and the team were more comfortable in the second half.
Betancourt needs to manage and play defense. Nothing more. Yes, hitting open shots is an obvious thing he needs to do, but beyond that he should be looking to distribute and play defense.
Pound the ball inside. Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell. Tree and Zeke. Get them the ball near the hoop and let them go to work and when that doesn't work, the shooters must hit shots. That's a moral imperative.
Bonus: Chris Evans can't beat them by himself. Pay attention to the rest of the Golden Flashes.
Of note (from the Zips athletic department): Akron will play in its eighth-straight Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal contest tonight, its second-straight as the No. 1 overall seed.
The Zips will be making their 16th appearance in the MAC Tournament, posting a 18-13 record in 31 games.
Akron is 17-6 in the MAC Tournament under head coach Keith Dambrot, including a 6-1 record in the semifinal round.