Alex Abreu (Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Marlowe Alter: It’s a crushing loss for the Zips, who were the clear favorite before Abreu’s arrest and subsequent suspension.
Abreu was the floor general, playing with great patience and pace, while always looking comfortable and in control. He hurt Ohio in the teams’ two meetings this season, averaging 18.5 points, nine assists and 4.5 rebounds. Akron head coach Keith Dambrot summed up Abreu’s impact perfectly in late February saying, “When he’s good, we’re good. And when he’s not, we’re not.”
Now Akron must rely on the inexperienced freshman Carmelo Betancourt. The Zips were only able to play one game with its new starting point guard, who averaged just 10 minutes per game this season, contributing 1.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.7 turnovers. They will have had a full week to prepare for their semifinal matchup.
Alex Hider: For the team as a whole, Abreu’s suspension is a serious problem for Akron. The Zips will lose their leading assist man and third-leading scorer. In the only game since Abreu’s arrest, Akron dropped a winnable home game to archrival Kent State, a team that the Zips could see again in the semifinals.
In two games against Ohio, Abreu totaled 37 points and 18 rebounds in close games. While the strength of Akron is in its frontcourt, the Zips will miss their offensive leader.
Danny Medlock: It seems hypocritical to call Abreu cerebral in light of his arrest, but he is truly one of the smartest players in the MAC and is an extension of Dambrot when he is on the court. The Zips rely completely upon the 21-year-old guard to initiate their half-court offense and to lead this team. Abreu’s toughness, as well as vocality, are what has come to be expected from Akron.
However, Akron lost to Buffalo by 14 with Abreu in the lineup. The idea that Akron was unbeatable with Abreu in the lineup is simply not true. Can Akron still be Kent State or Ohio without Abreu? Certainly, but it is going to be much easier for their opponents to dictate the tempo of the game than if he was on the court.
Bez Saciri: I believe Abreu’s absence will have a large effect on the co-conference champions. Not only does he do a nice job of finding big men Demetrius Treadwell and Zeke Marshall, but he can also shoot from distance.
Anytime a team loses their floor general, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Backup point guard Carmelo Betancourt will need to play sound basketball, and players like Nick Harney and Brian Walsh need to step up.
Chris Manning: I think this loss could be crippling to the Zips. He was their floor leader and his arrest is only going to cause a distraction as it sorts itself out in the public eye. The Zips first game will be in the conference semifinal, it will be tough to be fully adapted without another game to feel the process out.
Playing in a conference where D.J. Cooper’s the point for their chief rival doesn’t exactly help, either. Ultimately, Abreu being out will cost Akron the tournament.