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The View From Pluto: Akron Shoots 'From Another Zip Code' To The Top Of The MAC

Isaiah Johnson
GoZips.com
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The University of Akron men’s basketball team is dominating the Mid-American Conference this season and last night notched their 29the straight win at home.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the Zips, led by veteran coach Keith Dambrot, have changed their approach this season. 

The University of Akron has won 20-plus games for 12 seasons in a row, one of just a handful of Division I schools to accomplish that, according to Pluto.

But this season, something is different.

“Be ready to watch a lot of jump shots and a lot of 3-point shooting, more than we’ve ever seen before,” Pluto says.

The long shot
Pluto says Dambrot, in his 13th season at Akron, is adapting to a new style of the game centered on the 3-point shot.

“This is the product of 20-some years of kids shooting behind that 3-point line. Right now, the 3-point shooting in the pros and colleges is better than it’s ever been,” Pluto says.

Pluto says the 3-point shot goes back to a league called the ABL in the early ‘60’s. Then it became prominent in the ABA in the middle ‘60’s to the middle ‘70’s. The NBA eventually adopted it and then it really took off when high schools and colleges starting using it. 

“Dambrot, who’s normally a defensive coach, has just got these kids just firing up these shots. The Zips shooting from a different zip code,” Pluto says.

Pluto says Akron is in the top 10 in making 3-point shots per game among the more than 300 teams playing Division I basketball.

Big Dogs
Pluto says part of the reason Akron is so good is “two guys who don’t take many 3-point shots” -- Kwan Cheatham and Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson. “They’re both 6’10”, Johnson is 285 lbs.”

Pluto says both of them had the chance to go play for a bigger school, but decided to stay at Akron.

“College basketball has a rule that if you graduate early but still have a year of eligibility left, you can transfer for another school and not have to sit out.

For example, Cleveland State had a player named Trey Lewis. He graduated early and had one year left to play. CSU assumed he was going to be back for his senior year and take some grad courses. He transferred to Louisville.

"What coaches whisper about and don’t talk about is that  a lot these bigger schools are very aware of these guys in mid-major levels and have another year to go and could transfer without penalty. They are subtly recruited.”

Pluto says Cheatham and Johnson were comfortable with the program and what they’re doing. “And had they left, we’re not having this discussion about winning streaks and being first place in the MAC.”

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