Gettin Ready for the Zips

For today’s preview of Friday’s game, the Zoo blog will be moving in a different direction. Akron student Mike Reynolds and Akron alum/Akron Beacon Journal writer Michael Beaven were extremely helpful in answering some questions I had for them about the Akron program and what Pitt should expect to see on Friday night. I’d like to say a huge thanks to these guys for helping me out, and as you’ll see their answers were great and thorough, and if you see either of them at the game on Friday (I know Mike said he’ll be there), please don’t boo them TOO loudly.

Oakland Zoo: Who are the star players on the Akron Zips?

Mike Reynolds: Naming our “star players” is kind of tough. We graduated our top 3 scorers and have 9 freshman on the team and only 2 seniors. If I had to pick two or three “stars” though I would choose Nate Linhart as our biggest returning player. He is a terrific defender and a guy who can hurt you from outside or on the boards. 

Michael Beaven: Nate Linhart is a quality defender and a pretty good player on offense. Chris McKnight is their best presence in the post on offense and defense and he also has a pretty good jumper. Brett McKnight is probably their best pure scorer on offense, but his defense needs improvement. Daryll Roberts is a quality guard that can create offense off the dribble and he is also a pesky defender. Roberts also has a pretty good jumper.

OZ: What is Akron’s biggest strength as a team?

MR: Our biggest strength would probably be our defense. Though we aren’t necessarily tall but we are able to handle the inside fairly well. Also, we are big on running the floor and will usually score a lot of points off turnovers on the break. 

MB:The Zips biggest strength appears to be that they have a lot of “depth” at guard and forward. The problem is this “depth” is unproven at the collegiate level. Several of the guys were really good players on successful high school teams and appear to have a lot of potential.

OZ: What’s the scoop on Akron’s coach, Keith Dambrot?
MB: This is his fifth season as UA’s head coach and he was an assistant coach the previous three seasons. He graduated from UA and Akron Firestone High School. He was also the head coach at Tiffin, Ashland and Central Michigan for two years at each college. He coached at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School for three seasons where he won two state titles. He coached LeBron James during his freshman and sophomore seasons at St. V-M.

MR: He has a 92-38 record coming into his 5th season as our coach. He is 53-5 at home in his career at Akron. He is very defensive minded. Also, he is a hometown guy–he attended Firestone High School in Akron and graduated from The University of Akron in ’82 (he played baseball at UA).

OZ: Give me a great reason why Akron could win this game.
MR: The Zips can defend with most anyone in the country and this is straight from the defense first philosophy of Coach Dambrot. They can really create turnovers. Also, The Zips under Dambrot always seem to play tough against tough teams. They can usually hang with anyone.

MB: UA can win this game if they get really hot from behind the 3-point line. They have some capable shooters (McNees, Roberts, Linhart, B. McKnight), but they haven’t shot the 3-ball very well as of yet. Steward and Hitchens have been streaky from long distance so far.

OZ: Give me a reason why Akron will lose this game.
MR: Akron is in a rebuilding year and the young team will struggle in a big-time atmosphere like Petersen Events Center. The Panthers will have 2 games under their belt and be rolling into their 3rd straight home game with lots of momentum.

MB: Lack of experience. UA has had five players (Romeo Travis, Dru Joyce III, Jeremiah Wood, Cedrick Middleton and Nick Dials) graduate from the program after each scored over 1,000 career points.

As you can see, this guys were extremely helpful, and I’d like to once again thank Mike and Michael (no, I didn’t do that on purpose) for helping us out here at the Oakland Zoo.


6 Responses to “Gettin Ready for the Zips”

  1. Dave Says:

    These previews and recaps and previews and recaps are nauseating. Try to possibly be creative. maybe..

  2. Merlin Says:

    What sort of creativity do you suggest, Dave?

  3. Dave Says:

    Anything you want. Just create your own style. Rehashing info thats all around the local news papers for the most part makes it less interesting to read

  4. Dave Says:

    Find info on our players/coaches that will make good stories and then go for it. Probably much better than a recap or preview. Theres tons of stories out there to do. An article on Ryan Tiesi and how he got to where he is now might be a good place to begin. Just some helpful advice i hope.

  5. Merlin Says:

    So this sort of interview wasn’t creative enough for you?

  6. DPJ Says:

    Someone asked if that was me posting tonight. Just so you know, it was not DPJ.I very much liked Elmore’s article.

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