At first glance, Miami University would appear to be the perfect remedy for a University of Akron basketball team coming off one of their worst efforts of the season, a drubbing at the hands of Ohio University.
That’s until looking back and realizing the RedHawks (10-15, 6-8) were no pushover for the Zips (17-10, 9-5) when they played at Rhodes Arena on Jan. 15, a date that seems like an eternity ago given the Zips’ current situation of being down three players.
Reggie McAdams, Jake Kretzer and Nick Harney didn’t practice again Tuesday, so it’s a reasonable assumption that none will play against Miami today.
It’s unlike coach Keith Dambrot to tip his hand to any opponent, but Harney’s suspension has been called indefinite since its announcement.
McAdams has suffered through a little more than a week of his bout with mononucleosis. Concussed a week ago, Kretzer would seem the only logical choice to return. However, he also suffered a concussion one other time, so the Zips will be cautious with him.
Here’s the reality, however. They are going to need someone who can shoot from outside, and Kretzer’s return would bolster a UA offense that has performed inconsistently in two of its past four games, shooting less than 35 percent in them.
Kretzer had just freed himself from a shooting funk when he got hammered against the Bulls last Wednesday. His shooting gives the Zips not only another scoring option but also eventually takes some pressure off the frontcourt — especially forward Demetrius Treadwell. But it might even be more important to the confidence of UA’s two young centers, sophomore Pat Forsythe and freshman Isaiah Johnson.
Johnson has started the past four games, averaging 3.3 points in them. Forsythe, coming off the bench, has put in 4.3 per game in the same span.
They, along with freshman Kwan Cheatham, are going to have to step up if the Zips are to beat the RedHawks.
The mantra for Dambrot, since the misfortune that has befallen the team, is that he’s playing a lot of young guys, and that fact alone has shown up more on defense than offense.
The numbers in the past four games tend to back up his argument. The Zips gave up 68.3 points per contest in that span. Slightly more than half of those points — 36 — on average came from the interior.
With their coach already having used the word “quit” to describe their most recent effort, how they respond is of the utmost importance.
The RedHawks weren’t a pushover in the first game between the teams, hanging with the Zips in the first half before UA finally took control late. And it’s best to remember, that effort came when UA was at full strength.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. 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.