The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team traveled to Akron, Ohio, earlier this season to take on a then Mid-American Conference East-division leader University of Akron and won, 62-59.
“We have had success (against Akron),” coach Charles Ramsey said in a teleconference on Monday.
“There’s a certain confidence level we’re going into this ball game with that we haven’t had before.”
The Eagles will now see the same Akron team in the MAC tournament in Cleveland, Ohio today at 2:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.
“Number one, they’re a very quality, well-coached ball club,” Ramsey said. “What concerns us the most is the multitude in their arsenal.”
The Zips feature only one player averaging 10 or more points a game (Brett McKnight, 10.3), but have six players excluding McKnight who average seven or more points a game.
“They have a variety of ways that they can score,” Ramsey said. “So, defensively you have to be extremely solid, because they have seven, eight guys that can score in double figures. That’s odd in this day and age.”
But has the team changed since its victory?
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re somewhat the same, yet we’re somewhat different. You can’t stay stagnant. You have to put in some wrinkles because the league is so well scouted and well coached and teams do a great job of adjusting. I think we’ll look back on that game but there’ll be some different wrinkles.”
Akron coach Keith Dambrot remembers the loss well.
“They came in our building and beat us,” he said in a teleconference Monday. “They’re very physical. They have three really, really good players and a bunch of good role players. It’s going to be a challenge physically for us.
Added Dambrot: “They’re a good team. You could see them getting better as the season went. We’ve got our hands full and we know it, but by the same token we know we’re capable of winning, too. We’ve just got to play our game.”
Dambrot mentioned having a game plan, but also that his team must shoot better than the last match up which saw Akron 35 percent (17-of-49) from the floor.
“Well, we didn’t shoot well,” he said. “So, that’s the first thing. You can game plan all you want, but if you miss open shots you’re not going to win.
Still relying on the ‘Big Three’
The Eagles looked to Brandon Bowdry, Carlos Medlock and Justin Dobbins this season to lead them to success, and this late in the season little has changed.
“They’ve gotten us to this point and we’re not going to change our game plan in that sense,” Ramsey said. “Your better, bigger players have to step up and perform at this time of the year. I don’t think that’s a secret for any of the teams in the tournament.”
Bowdry and Medlock made the All-MAC second team and each ended the season
averaging 16.1 points.
Bowdry also led the MAC in rebounding (9.8). Dobbins was an honorable mention All-MAC selection and led the conference in field goal percentage (62 percent).
MAC Tournament good for recruiting
One added bonus to the team traveling to Ohio is the exposure the program will receive, which will help with the recruiting process.
Dobbins (6-foot-8, 245 pounds) and freshman Jameel Harris (6-foot-8, 200 pounds) are some of the largest members of the team and just so happen to be Ohio natives.
“It’s huge,” Ramsey said. “That area has been good for us when you look at our post players. And so, for whatever reason Ohio has had a great abundance of big kids, where in Michigan we have not had kids of that stature. Fortunately, we’ve been able to come in and get some quality young men and student athletes that really help our program.”