The nine-game, 19-day stretch of the season is almost over for the University of Akron men’s basketball team.
UA coach Keith Dambrot and his players have four wins and three losses during the first seven games, and are hoping to snag two wins in games eight and nine at home against Coppin State at 6 tonight and Marshall at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The two-game homestand at Rhodes Arena comes following a three-game trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, and one game in Columbia, S.C., between Dec. 22 and Saturday.
UA (6-5) enters its game against Coppin State (4-8) with a three-game losing streak. The Zips opened the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with an 83-71 win over Oregon State with President Barack Obama in attendance, but then lost to nationally ranked Iowa State (83-60) and unranked South Carolina (69-59). Another loss at South Carolina (78-45) on Saturday followed on the way back to Akron.
“We are a little tired,” Dambrot said Monday. “I think the problem we have had is we have had practice and then not played, or we have played and not practiced. Once we get back to normalcy we will be fine.
“It has been hard mentally. We made the one trip to California [and played St. Mary’s Nov. 12], came back immediately and went to Tennessee [and played Middle Tennessee on Nov. 16]. Then we don’t play for a while [Nov. 27 against Malone and Dec. 7 at Cleveland State]. If it doesn’t kill us, it will make us stronger. We just have to get through it. We have played some pretty good teams during this stretch.”
UA started the season with a win against visiting Coastal Carolina and losses to St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee. Then forwards Demetrius Treadwell, Quincy Diggs and Nick Harney led the Zips on a five-game winning streak.
“We have shown in stretches we can play, but we have been inconsistent, too,” Dambrot said. “We need to be smarter and more consistent. We played really well during that five-game stretch against Cleveland State [73-61], Bethune-Cookman [84-56], Oral Roberts [74-64], Detroit [79-60] and Oregon State, and then we kind of died on the vine in the second half during the past three games against Iowa State and South Carolina.
“We played good during stretches in the first half of those three games, but we just need to be more consistent and handle adversity better. We need to make corrections. We need more time in the gym, and what I mean by that is more practice time.”
Treadwell averages 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Diggs is averaging 12.3 points and Harney is at 7.6 points. Nyles Evans, Jake Kretzer, Reggie McAdams, Pat Forsythe, Deji Ibitayo and Isaiah Johnson are averaging between 4.7 and 7.2 points per game.
Dambrot said this was his third to trip to Hawaii. There was some time for rest and relaxation with his wife, Donna, and children, UA senior Alysse and UA freshman Robby, but business was his first priority.
“It was better for the players and the families then it was for the coaches,” Dambrot said. “We were basically working. We ate good. I walked around with family . . . but it could have been Alaska for all I care. The first game was good and the president was there, which was a unique experience. The guys enjoyed it. For a lot of the guys, this was their first time there and they had fun on the trip.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.