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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 11th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Akron Zips

Overall Rank: #62

Conference Rank: #1 MAC

 

2005-06: 23-10, 14-4, 2nd (t) East

2005-06 postseason: NIT

 

Akron fell short last year of making their first trip to the NCAAs since 1986.  Coach Keith Dambrot will give it another shot this season and has a squad that has the talent to work its way to the top of a tough MAC East division. 

 

Who’s Out: The frontcourt lost much of its size and experience with the graduations of Matt Futch and Rob Preston.  Futch started 23 contests during his senior campaign, averaging 4.8 points and 3.6 boards.  Preston added 8.0 points and 3.9 rebounds off the bench.  Athletic forward Darryl Peterson was relegated to the bench during much of his senior season and averaged 7.1 points.  Seldom used Chad Mraz will not be returning to Akron this season.  Adam ‘Bubba’ Walther saw action in eight games last year before opting to transfer to inner-state conference rival Ohio. 

 

Who’s In: Jimmy Conyers missed out on his freshman season in order to concentrate on his academics.  The 6-5 wing has plenty of athleticism and should be starting right away.  Point guards Jeremy Sallee and Steve McNees will add some depth on the perimeter.  When healthy, Jeremiah Wood is a double-double waiting to happen.  The 6-6 forward missed all of last season recovering from an ACL injury.  He has only played in ten games over the last two years and if he is anywhere near his form prior to that, Wood’s return will be a major boost for the Zips.   Small forward Chris McKnight earned all-state accolades while at Lancaster High School in Ohio and should contribute off the bench as a freshman.  Big man Mike Bardo is the only player over 6-7 on the roster.  It would be very helpful if the 6-10 center could at least provide a few quality minutes to give Akron a true post presence.

 

Who to Watch: Nick Dials averaged 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists during his first full season with the Zips after transferring in from Ohio State.  Dru Joyce will join Dials in the backcourt and provide another long range threat.  Joyce, who averaged an amazingly balanced 10.0 points and 5.0 assists per contest as a junior, has developed into a great floor leader and should become a more well-known commodity in the MAC as a senior.  Cedrick Middleton saw most of his action off the bench last year and that will probably be the case this year as well.  The 6-0 junior averaged 8.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists last year.

 

Final Projection: Romeo Travis, a 6-7 forward, led the squad last year with 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds en route to first-team All-MAC honors.  The frontline won’t have as many problems as its short stature would indicate, especially in a guard oriented league like the MAC.  Travis and Wood are great rebounders and fit well into the up-tempo offense and the tough defensive style that Coach Dambrot likes to employ.  The MAC, especially the East division, will be tough, but the Zips have the tools to reach the NCAAs this year.  Of course, they did last year too but ran out of gas in the MAC Tournament. 

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Dru Joyce, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game

Nick Dials, Junior, Guard, 10.2 points per game

Jimmy Conyers, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season

Jeremiah Wood, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

Romeo Travis, Senior, Forward, 13.8 points per game

63 Vanderbilt » Complete List » 63 Vanderbilt

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