Men's Basketball, Ohio Battle for MAC Title Tonight on ESPN2
No. 2 Ohio (24-8) vs. No. 1 Akron (25-6)
Saturday, March 16, 2013 • 6:30 p.m. ET
Quicken Loans Arena (20,562)
Television: ESPN2. Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and Stephen Bardo (analyst).
Available at GoZips.com – webcast and live statistics free of charge.
Radio: SportsRadio 1350 AM (WARF) in Akron (flagship), for free at SportsRadio1350.com and on iHeartRadio. Steve French (play-by-play) and Joe Dunn (analyst) will have the call beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Akron Coach Keith Dambrot
Is in his ninth season at Akron, posting a 209-93 (.692) mark. Dambrot is 317-163 (.660) in 15 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He is 14-10 all-time against Ohio, with a 12-8 mark at Akron.
News, Notes and Storylines
• Akron will play in its seventh-straight Mid-American Conference Tournament Title Game tonight, its second-straight as the No. 1 overall seed.
• This is the Zips' 16th appearance in the MAC Tournament, posting a 19-13 record in 32 games.
• Akron is 18-6 in the MAC Tournament under head coach Keith Dambrot, including a 2-4 record in the championship round.
• In the MAC Tournament, Akron is 4-6 in the opening round (3-0 under Dambrot), 0-0 in the second round, 6-2 in the Quarterfinals (6-1 under Dambrot), 7-1 in the Semifinals (all under Dambrot) and 2-4 in the Title game (all under Dambrot).
• Akron is 17-7 when playing in Cleveland under coach Dambrot, including a 16-6 record at Quicken Loans Arena.
• UA's 14 conference wins this season tied the 2005-06 squad for the most in school history.
• Akron is just third team in the last 30 years and the 12th team in 65 years of MAC basketball to win back-to-back regular season crowns.
• The Zips have won 12 of their last 14 MAC Tournament contests.
• This senior class is the fourth-straight senior class to appear in the MAC Title Game in each of their four years at Akron.
• Against Kent State on March 8, senior center Zeke Marshall broke the MAC's single-season blocked shots record and now has 116 on the season. He passed Ohio's Patrick Flomo's mark of 105 swats in 2000-01.
With Akron's 72-58 win over Miami (Ohio) on March 5, the Zips reached rare status in the Mid-American Conference. The Zips became just the third team in the last 30 years to win back-to-back regular season crowns (Ball State 1989-90; Kent State 2010-11) and just the second since the league went to divisional play in 1997-98 (Kent State, 2010-11). In all, 12 programs have repeated as regular season champions in the MAC's 65 years of basketball.
History of the No. 1 Seed
In the 34-year history of the MAC Tournament, the No. 1 seed has seen a lot of success. Since 1980, the top overall seed has won 17-of-33 MAC Tournaments. The last No. 1 seed to win came in 2008 (Kent State).
The No. 1 seed has made the MAC Championship game in 24-of-34 tournaments, including each of the past three seasons. The last time the top overall seed did not play in the title game came in 2010 (No. 3 Akron and No. 9 Ohio).
Marshall Repeats as MAC Defensive POY
For the first time in 11 years, the Mid-American Conference has a repeat king of defense as Zeke Marshall as named the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year, the league office announced on March 12.
Marshall is just the second repeat winner in the award's 17-year history, joining Kent State's Demetric Shaw (2001-02). An Akron player has now won the award in four of the last five years, including Marshall in 2012, Jimmy Conyers in 2010 and Nate Linhart in 2009.
In games through March 11, Marshall is fifth in the nation in blocked shots (3.63 bpg) and has been one of the most efficient rim protectors in the nation, blocking 1.40 shots per foul committed (sixth nationally). Marshall is blocking 11.15 percent of all opponents' shots while on the floor, the third-highest mark nationally.
Dambrot Named MAC Coach of the Year
For the first time in his nine years at Akron, head coach Keith Dambrot was named MAC Coach of the Year, the league office announced on March 12.
Dambrot received 24 of 27 votes to earn his first MAC Coach of the Year honors. He is the second Zips' leader to earn the distinction, joining former head coach Dan Hipsher (1998).
Included in this season's list of achievements were the Zips' first national ranking, Dambrot's 200th win at Akron and 300th win overall, four All-MAC selections, five MAC Player of the Week winners and the league's second two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the award's 17-year history.
Senior center Zeke Marshall and junior forward Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell headlined four Akron Zips on this year's Mid-American Conference all-conference teams, the league office announced on March 11.
Marshall earned First-Team All-MAC honors while Treadwell was named Second-Team All-MAC. Joining Marshall and Treadwell were Alex Abreu (Honorable Mention All-MAC) and Jake Kretzer (All-Freshman). The four selectees join the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the most players named All-MAC in program history.
MAC Semifinals Recap
Behind Zeke Marshall's 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots, top-seeded Akron defeated fourth-seeded Kent State on Friday night in the semifinal round of the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
Marshall shot 7-of-11 from the field, including making his only attempt from behind the 3-point arc. He also went 3-for-6 from the foul line. Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds and four assists for UA, while Nick Harney scored 11 points on the strength of a 4-for-4 showing from the floor. Harney also had four assists as the Zips had 16 dishes on 22 made field goals.
Randal Holt led Kent State with 19 points and was the Flashes' only double-digit scorer.
Extending MAC Tournament History
Akron will be making their seventh-consecutive MAC Title Game appearance. The Zips, who are now two-up on Miami (Ohio)'s run of five-straight title game appearances (1997-2001). The Zips' run is the second-longest active streak in the nation (Gonzaga, 16).
Last Time in the MAC Title Game
Alex Abreu scored a career-high 19 points and Akron nearly got the game-tying basket in the final seconds, but the Zips would fall 64-63 to Ohio MAC Tournament Championship game on March 10, 2012, at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Zips nearly rallied from eight points down in the final minutes. Akron thought it may have tied it at 64 with 3.1 seconds left on a tipped free throw. But the officials reviewed the videotape at the scorer's table and determined the free throw had dropped in without being touched by anyone.
Ohio's D.J. Cooper was fouled with 2 seconds left, missing the first free throw, and then intentionally missing the second.
Along with his career high point total, Abreu led Akron with seven assists and earned MAC all-tournament team honors. Quincy Diggs had 12 points and Brian Walsh added 10 for the Zips.
Akron vs. Ohio
Ohio leads the overall series 35-33, with the Zips winning the regular-season series 2-0, including a 86-72 win in Akron on Feb. 2 and an 88-81 overtime win in Athens on Feb. 27. UA is 0-3 against the Bobcats in the MAC Tournament, with the last two meetings coming on Championship Saturday.
MAC Championship Game Doubleheader
Saturday will mark the ninth time in MAC Tournament history (since 1982) that both the men's and women's programs at an individual school will play for the MAC Title in the same season. The last time a school had both teams play for a title in the same season was in 2006 (Kent State). Only once has the school swept both the men's and women's titles (Kent State, 2002) and never has a school been shut out (men 5, women 2, both 1).
Owning the Block
In ten-career MAC Tournament games, senior center Zeke Marshall has owned the paint, blocking 38 shots (3.8 bpg). In fact, he owns the MAC Tournament records for blocked shots in game (9, vs. Kent State, 3/12/11) and for a single tournament (17, 2011). His seven blocked shots against Kent State on Friday night are tied for second-most in a MAC Tournament game.
Success in League Play
UA has seen a ton of success in league play since the start of the 2004-05 season. Akron is 107-41 overall (.723), including a 64-10 mark in MAC play at home (.865). The Zips' 107 wins are the most in the MAC during that stretch.
Best MAC Start
• Akron's 13-0 start to Mid-American Conference play was the best start under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot and was the best start in 21 seasons for Akron in the league.
• The Zips snapped Miami (Ohio)'s 55-year record for the best start to MAC play. The RedHawks finished the 1957-58 season with a perfect 12-0 mark.
How Hard is it to Win 20 Games?
• The Akron Zips are the only team in the MAC to have won 20-plus games in each of the last eight seasons. In fact, only 15 teams have reached 20 wins in each of the last eight seasons (Akron, Butler, BYU, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, North Carolina, Ohio State, San Diego State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Utah State).
• Taking things one step further, the Zips are one of only six programs with at least 22-plus wins in each of the last eight season (Akron, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh).
• On the coaching side of 20-win seasons, head coach Keith Dambrot is currently tied for 13th place among active coaches with current 20-plus game winning streaks (8) and tied for the 10th-longest streak at the same program. Only two coaches [Mark Few, Gonzaga (14); Stew Morrill, Utah State (14)] have posted longer runs of 20-win seasons solely at mid-major programs.
A Look at the Polls
• Three opponents appeared in the March 11 edition of the USA TODAY Coaches poll while two opponents were listed in the AP poll. Oklahoma State (15/14) and Creighton (24/23) were ranked in both polls while Middle Tennessee (5) received votes in the coaches poll.
• Akron is ranked 14th in the March 11 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll. Seven UA opponents appeared in the poll, including No. 4 Creighton, No. 6 Middle Tennessee, No. 16 Ohio and No. 24 Detroit. North Dakota State (16), Western Michigan (7) and Princeton (3) received votes.
The Zips appeared in both polls for five-straight weeks, the longest run in program history. On Feb. 25, Akron moved into the USA TODAY Coaches Poll Top-25 for the first time in program history, entering the poll at No. 24. The Zips also received a program-best 43 points in the AP poll that week, falling 11 points shy of the top-25.
Lights, Camera, Action
The Zips will appear on television a minimum of 18 times this season, including a TV game in tonight's MAC Tournament Title Game. Akron has gone 12-5 so far, defeating Kent State 62-59 on SportsTime Ohio in its last TV appearance (March 15).
• Entering tonight's game, the Zips check in at No. 58 in the Ken Pom RPI rankings (games through March 14).
• In other RPI rankings, the Zips are 51st (Real Time RPI), 51st (ESPN RPI), 52nd (ESPN BPI), 53rd (NCAA) and 53rd (RPIRatings.com).
• So far, Akron has played three teams inside the top 40 of the RPI (Ken Pom; on gameday), including Creighton (No. 15), Oklahoma State (No. 24) and Middle Tennessee (No. 38), in addition to five top-100 opponent in North Dakota State (No. 58), Ohio (No. 70 & No. 72) and Princeton (No. 91). OU enters the game No. 76.
Senior center Zeke Marshall is on pace to do something only three other players have done in the last 30 years. At his current pace of 13.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 3.7 bpg, plus shooting 65.8 percent, Marshall would join Bo Outlaw (Houston, 1992-93), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown, 1983-84) and Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston, 1983-84) as the only players to average at least 12.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 bpg and shoot 65 percent or better in a single season (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Research).
Inside the Scoring Numbers
The Zips have been one of the top defensive squads in the league over the last nine seasons. In 302 games under head coach Keith Dambrot, the Zips have held 220 opponents to 70 points or less, going 180-40 (.818). Akron has held 172 of those foes to 65 points or less, going 152-20 (.884). The Zips are 29-53 (.354) when allowing more than 70 points.
And Then There Were Seven
In 2004, college basketball saw 34 programs hire new head coaches, including ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot. Of those 34 coaches to take over new programs that year, only seven remain at the same program.
Compared to those coaches, Dambrot ranks second in wins and is one of two coaches in that group to lead his program to eight-straight 22-plus win seasons, including 2012-13 (Thad Matta, Ohio State).
Of the coaches not at the program they were hired at in 2004, only Lon Kruger (UNLV, 2004-11) won more than 150 games (161-71).
Lou Henson Award Finalist
Senior center Zeke Marshall was named one of 25 finalists for the Lou Henson award, presented to the nation's top mid-major player by CollegeInsider.com. Marshall is the first player from Akron to be named a finalist for the award, which is named after former Illinois and New Mexico State head coach Lou Henson.
Phelan & Durham Awards Finalist
Head coach Keith Dambrot was named one of 20 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year and one of 21 finalists for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year awards, both presented by CollegeInsider.com.
Double the Performance
After posting just one double-double in his first 45 games as a Zip, junior forward Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell has caught fire and posted double-doubles in seven of the last 15 games. His strong play coincides with the start of league play, in which he is averaging 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Kretzer Did What?
• In Akron's 88-81 overtime win at Ohio on Feb. 27, freshman wing Jake Kretzer became the first Zip in over five seasons to go perfect from behind the 3-point arc on a minimum of five attempts (5-of-5). The last UA player to do so was Steve McNees, who went 6-of-6 against Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 5, 2008.
• Just how good was the performance? According to ESPN Stats & Research, Kretzer is the first bench player in over 15 years in the MAC to post a perfect shooting night from the field (6-of-6) that included five or more 3-pointers.
Torching the Net
It's no coincidence that senior center Zeke Marshall is torching the nets while the Zips have been winning 21 of their last 23 games. During this run, he is shooting 67.0 percent from the floor (122-of-182). Only 43 of his 122 makes have come via the dunk. Just to show how consistent he has been, he has shot under 55 percent just four times.
Just How Young Are They?
• Akron entered the season as the ninth-youngest teams in the nation, with 16 players having a total of 15 seasons of collegiate experience (0.94 years/letters won per player). In fact, 12 of 16 players had one year or less in the experience column prior to 2012-13.
• Last season, the Zips had 15 players with a total of 19 seasons of collegiate experience, the 20th-youngest team in Division I basketball (1.27 years/letters won per player. Akron is one of just four teams to appear on this list in each of the past two seasons (Navy, Illinois State and Wright State).
Defense is Our Business
Akron's defense has been one of the best in the nation so far this season. In games through March 14, the Zips are tied for ninth in 2-point field goal defense (42.0), 13th in blocked shots per game (5.7), tied for 33rd in field goal percentage defense (39.3) and tied for 29th in points per possession allowed (0.91). The Zips have held 20 opponents to 65 points or less (20-0).
1,000 Point Club
Senior center Zeke Marshall one of 40 players in school history to score 1,000 career points and just the 22nd player to score 1,200 points as a Zip. He needs 15 points to pass Fritz Nagy (1943-47) for 17th place on the scoring list.
18. 1,244 - Zeke Marshall (2010-Present)
17. 1,258 - Fritz Nagy (1943-47)
16. 1,283 - Jami Bosley (1998-2000)
15. 1,319 - Jim Fenton (1951-54)
Watching the Akron Record Book
• Senior center Zeke Marshall is looking to add to his list of school records. With 116 blocked shots, he broke his own school record for swats in a single season against Ohio on Feb. 27 (95). He is the first UA player to crack the century mark for blocked shots in a season.
• For the third-straight season, the career games played school record could be equalled or eclipsed. Senior center Zeke Marshall has appeared in 136 games over the last three-plus seasons. The Zips would need to appear in six postseason games to tie and seven to break the school record of 141, set by Steve McNees (2008-11) and Nikola Cvetinovic (2009-12).
• Akron's 25 wins this season are second-most in program history. The Zips would need to win one more game to tie and two to break the school record of 26 wins (1971-72, 2006-07).
• The Zips have blocked a program-best 180 shots this season, surpassing the program mark of 141 in a season posted by the 2006-07 and 2011-12 squads.
• After breaking the freshman and sophomore season assists records, junior guard Alex Abreu is setting his sights on moving up the career list. Against Ohio on Feb. 2, he became just the third player in UA history to record 400 career assists (450). He is currently third on the all-time UA list, trailing Eric McLaughlin (476, 1985-89) for second place.
• With three assists at Buffalo on March 2, Abreu broke Dru Joyce's single-season assists mark of 165 dimes (2005-06) with his 166th assist and now has 173 on the season.
Looking at the MAC Record Book
• With four blocked shots against Kent State on Jan. 19, senior center Zeke Marshall became the Mid-American Conference's all-time blocked shots leader and now has 362 career swats. He passed Ball State's Lonnie Jones (301, BSU, 1998-02).
• The career mark was not the only MAC record Zeke Marshall was chasing. He become the second player in MAC history to crack the century mark for blocked shots (Patrick Flomo, Ohio, 105, 2000-01). Marshall, with 116 swats on the season, broke the single-season mark against Kent State on March 8.
• Compared to other coaches all-time in the MAC, head coach Keith Dambrot is fourth in overall wins (229), fourth in league history with a .643 win percentage while coaching in the league (229-127 overall; 209-93 Akron, 20-34 CMU), fifth in league games winning percentage (.643, 117-65) and seventh in conference wins (117).
On a Roll
• Akron had two winning streaks that ranked in the top-15 nationally this season. The Zips' 19-game winning streak earlier this season is the longest overall streak in the nation this season, while UA's 15-straight victories at home as tied for 11th before the Kent State loss on March 8.
• Looking at the MAC records, Akron's 13-game league winning streak earlier this season was the second-longest in a single season while UA's 14-game winning streak over multiple seasons (2012-13) was tied for third all-time.
• During its run of 21 wins in the last 23 games, the Zips have been dominating in almost every statistical category.
• Akron is averaging 71.6 points/game during the stretch while out-scoring opponents by 11.4 points/game (60.2). UA is shooting 45.4 percent while holding the opposition to just 38.2 percent from the floor.
• UA is averaging 38.9 rebounds/game – including an impressive 13.4 offensive boards/game – and holds a +7.7 rebounding advantage while dishing out 15.5 assists and recording 7.0 steals.
• A key part to the stretch has been the play of the Akron front line. Zeke Marshall (13.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell (11.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Nick Harney (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) have accounted for 49.4 percent of UA's points and 51.1 percent of the Zips' rebounds.
Who to Guard Tonight?
One aspect of the Zips' lineup that makes it so hard to defend is the ability for any player to lead the squad in scoring. Last season, eight different players led Akron in scoring, with only two players holding top scoring honors in back-to-back games. So far this season, eight players have had a least a share of the top-scoring performance, with Zeke Marshall as the only player to lead the Zips in more than back-to-back games, currently riding a streak of four-straight games atop the scoring column.
How Many Double-Doubles?
• In Akron's 91-63 win over Coppin State on Jan. 2, three Zips' players recorded double-doubles in the same game for the first time in the program's Division I era (since 1980-81). Zeke Marshall (13 points, 12 rebounds), Nick Harney (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Jake Kretzer (14 points, 12 rebounds) helped make history and record just the fourth such instance of three double-doubles in the same game this season (LIU Brooklyn, Dec. 1, 2012; Iowa State, Nov. 9, 2012; Jacksonville, Jan. 10, 2013).
• Additionally, Akron is one of six schools with five players with at least one double-double [Baylor, Hampton, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Youngstown State].
Solid Bench Play
• The Akron bench has been the catalyst for success under ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot and this year is no different.
• The Zips' bench holds a +6.7 scoring advantage (23.0-16.3), out-scoring opponents in six of the past 12 games. The Akron reserves are shooting 40.8 percent from the floor compared to 35.3 percent by the opponent reserves.
A Winning Standard
Since taking over the program before the 2004-05 season, ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot has created a winning mentality in the program that has not been seen in 112 seasons of basketball. Of the seven senior classes to win 90 or more games, six have come under Dambrot. Zeke Marshall, the lone member of the senior class that has been with Akron for his entire career, earned his 94th win against Kent State on March 15.
• Class of 2010 (2007-10) – 97 wins
• Class of 2009 (2006-09) – 96 wins
• Class of 2013 (2010-13) – 94 wins
• Class of 2011 (2008-11) – 94 wins
• Class of 2012 (2009-12) – 92 wins
• Class of 2008 (2005-08) – 92 wins
• Class of 1966 (1963-66) – 91 wins
Cleaning the Offensive Glass
On four occasions this season, the Zips posted 20-plus offensive boards in a game, including 24 vs. Kent State on March 8. It was also the second time this season Akron had more offensive boards (24) than defensive boards (20) in a game since a 26/25 performance at Kent State on Jan. 19 of this year. UA's 26 offensive boards at Kent State are the most since the Zips grabbed 26 vs. Toledo on March 10, 2009, also a game with more rebounds on offense than defense (26/22).
Welcome to the Block Party
• One area the Akron defense has been stout is in the shot blocking category. The Zips lead the Mid-American Conference and are 13th in the nation in blocked shots per game (5.7) in games through March 14.
• Senior center Zeke Marshall continues to be one of the premier shot blockers in the nation. In games through March 14, Marshall is fourth in the nation in blocked shots per game (3.63), has blocked more shots (109) than 191 DI teams and is averaging more swats per game (3.63) than 197 DI squads.
• Redshirt freshman Pat Forsythe is emerging into a solid shot blocker in his first season with Akron. He is second on the team and 13th in the MAC with 0.86 blocked shot per game.
• Combined, Marshall and Forsythe have more blocked shots per game (4.46) than nine of 12 MAC programs and 281 DI teams (out of 347). The two alone would be tied for 65th in the nation in blocked shots per game.
The Century Club
Junior guard Alex Abreu has appeared in 96 games in two-plus seasons for the Zips. Barring injury, Abreu and the Zips need to play in three postseason games for him to reach the century mark this season, joining senior center Zeke Marshall.
Let's Go Streaking
• Akron has enjoyed eight-straight 20-win seasons (23-10 in 2005-06; 26-7 in 2006-07; 24-11 in 2007-08; 23-13 in 2008-09; 24-11 in 2009-10; 23-13 in 2010-11; 22-12 in 2011-12; 25-6 in 2012-13). It is the longest streak of 20-win seasons in school history. The Zips have won at least 19 games in each of head coach Keith Dambrot's first nine seasons (19-10 in '04-05).
• UA has advanced to the postseason in five-straight and six of the last seven years, participating in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2011, the National Invitation Tournament in 2006, 2008 and 2012, and the CBI in 2010.
• The Zips have appeared in the MAC tournament championship game seven-straight times, with those being the only six appearances in their 20 years in the league. The run is also the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Gonzaga (16).
• Akron has hit at least one 3-point bucket in 408-consecutive games, 302-straight under head coach Keith Dambrot. The last time the Zips missed from long range was Dec. 27, 2000, against Purdue at Rhodes Arena (0-for-10). The UA opponents' streak of 3-point buckets is at 60 games. Akron has shut out opponents from behind the arc seven times under Dambrot.