There are plenty of reasons why the University of Akron men’s basketball team might believe it can walk into Central Michigan’s McGuirk Arena and waltz out with a victory.
The Chippewas, coach Keith Dambrot’s former team, haven’t exactly been lighting things up lately, running their current losing streak to four games, the first time that has happened to them this season. The most recent loss came at the hands of Bowling Green as the Chippewas could only put two players in double figures, even though the team has six players who do so on a normal basis.
During the current losing streak, the Chippewas are averaging just 59.4 points, anemic by any standard, but especially so in the Mid-American Conference’s grind-it-out style of hoops.
The problem? Beyond those six players, scoring drops off considerably. It’s clear that not everyone can possess depth like the Zips (13-7, 5-1 MAC).
By the same token, however, any team on a four-game losing streak is going to be hungry and, therefore, dangerous. With the fact that the Chippewas (7-12, 2-4) have played a majority of their games on the road — 11 to be exact — they could be more of a threat.
“They play pretty good there. We’ve played a bunch of close games in their building,” Dambrot said. “They’re going to play really hard and we’re going to have a bull’s-eye on our back.”
If that isn’t enough, the Chippewas will have another motivation.
“They’re probably going to use the fact that I coached there and we have a good team [for motivation],” Dambrot said. “The first time I went as an assistant it was kind of weird. Now when I go back, it’s not too bad. I’m so used to it. There are still a lot of people there I know and like.”
This could very well be a trap game for the Zips.
“I think they’re all trap games, but our guys know what’s at stake,” Dambrot said. “We have to win this game. If we win this game, we put ourselves in a pretty good position.”
Right now they’re the masters of their domain in the MAC’s East Division, owning a one-game lead over Ohio and Buffalo.
“I just worry about our emotional psyche. That’s going to be the key for us,” he said.
UA owns a 26-13 lead in the series, which began during the 1938-39 season. The Zips have won four consecutive and 11 of the past 12 meetings. … UA is 9-8 in Mount Pleasant, winning 56-52 in its last trip to Mount Pleasant (Feb. 9, 2010). … The Zips won last year’s meeting 63-43 at Rhodes Arena (Jan. 30, 2011). … UA is 63-33 against the West since divisional play began during the 1997-98 season (33-12 under Dambrot). … Both basketball teams hit the road this weekend as the women’s team takes on Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti at 2 p.m. Saturday.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://zips.ohio.com. Follow the Zips on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.