It certainly wasn’t fun for forwards Demetrius Treadwell and Nick Harney to sit out the first three games of the season when there was plenty on the line for the University of Akron.
Now, however, the Zips are focused on getting back into a rhythm with their teammates after the Puerto Rico Tip Off. Although the two got a chance to play in that tournament’s final two games, they were still somewhat out of sorts. It’s all coming back, despite the fact that the team will play its first game since Puerto Rico on Sunday against Middle Tennessee State.
“Absolutely, I think we have a feel for where we’re at now,” Harney said after practice Friday morning. “We got a good win against Penn State and UNC Asheville who’s also a good team, so I think we know where we are as a team now.”
Treadwell certainly understands what his role was and is. He plays with emotion and ferocity when on the court, and when it’s in full effect, it pumps up a team.
“There’s a lot of toughness out there on the floor, and I felt like that was missing in the games I wasn’t there,” he said.
Zips coach Keith Dambrot agreed.
“Tree gives you that toughness level around the rim defensively, rebounding,” he said.
With Harney, that ability to slash and drive to the basket suffered during the three games they sat out — not to mention the rust that accumulated. But the greatest toll might have come psychologically for the two.
“I was devastated. We had Oklahoma State, which you know everybody marked down on their calendar as a big game. We got to play some of the better players in the Big 12,” he said. “You want to see where you get to match up against some of these people going to the NBA. So I was really devastated. It was worse watching my team not win those two close games and losing in overtime.”
Harney said the effect of missing time lingers still.
“It set me back a lot. It set me back a lot of minutes,” he said. “I had to miss two weeks of practice before the season started, so that set me back too. I’m playing catch up.”
But with the lull between games, the thing that comes to their minds most is what could have been. The Zips are 3-2. The two losses — Coastal Carolina and Oklahoma State — went to overtime, and they didn’t play.
“I think we would be undefeated,” Treadwell said.
But they aren’t, and they know that the only way to go is forward.
“I’m staying on the court. I’m not going to do anything to take myself off the court,” Harney said. “Hopefully everything goes good with the front office and nothing like that happens again. I’m just happy to be back.”
With the arrival and performance of freshmen Reggie McAdams and Jake Kretzer and transfer center Pat Forsythe, sophomore forward Josh Egner, a Massillon native, might be looking to leave the Zips program.
“He’s looking around at this point, but I don’t think anything has been decided,” Dambrot said.
Checking Egner’s stat line, he’s the only player on the roster to not see any action.
“He’s asked not to play because he’s looking to transfer so he’s made that decision. I try to help the kids when I can,” Dambrot said.
Still that doesn’t mean that Dambrot is entirely OK with the situation. He praises the fact that Egner is still practicing and has a good attitude, but the coach himself, who is also the father of a collegiate athlete, has issues.
“I feel bad. I understand,” he said. “Kids want to play, and when you don’t play as much as you want to play, that’s what happens generally.”
Egner was unavailable for comment.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.