by Ryan Isley
When you think about the Akron Zips, you probably think Zeke Marshall – and that is expected. But with this year’s version of the Zips, you better start thinking about Demetrius Treadwell.
If you don’t believe me, just ask head coach Keith Dambrot.
“Treadwell is our best player when you really look at it,” Dambrot said Tuesday night following Akron’s 86-68 win over Central Michigan. “Last year he backed up Zeke quite a bit. Now he is playing against smaller people and he is strong as an ox.”
The forward from Euclid entered the game as the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game and their leading rebounder, grabbing an average of 7.8 boards per contest. On a night when Akron extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 14, Treadwell scored 12 points on 6-for- 8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in his 22 minutes of work. He may have had an even better game but picked up his second personal foul and then a technical foul – which counted as his third personal – with 4:45 to play in the first half. Dambrot kept him on the bench for the next 8:40.
It was a tough first half for the six-foot-seven junior, as he scored just two points on 1-for-3 shooting before taking a seat after the technical foul. The second half was a different story. When he returned to the game, he was as big of a reason as any that the Zips were able to rally from behind against the Chippewas. In his 10 minutes in the second half, Treadwell scored 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and had three rebounds.
“When he got back in the game you could see a huge difference,” Dambrot said. “I just rolled the dice and said ‘the hell with it I am gonna play him’ because I figured if I sat him much longer he wasn’t gonna be worth a darn really because he was sitting there the whole game.”
While Akron had a size advantage in the game (Central Michigan’s tallest player was six-foot-eight) the seven-foot Marshall scored just nine points on 3-for-7 from the floor and had six rebounds but never seemed to really be in the game, something that didn’t get lost on his head coach.
“That was one of Zeke’s worst games of year as far as I was concerned,” Dambrot said.
On a night where Marshall just could not find a rhythm, it was his partner in the front court who stepped up. As the Zips were barely hanging on to a one-point lead with 2:39 to go, Treadwell scored six of the game’s next eight points – and all six of Akron’s – to give the Zips a 61-56 lead as the game neared the final minute. They never looked back after that and ended the game on a 13-2 run.
“He is a big key guy for us now,” Dambrot said. “That is our new Romeo Travis, Jeremiah Wood. We gotta have him now. We don’t have anything that equals him at this point. He is or physical presence. He keeps the gnats off of Zeke.”
Treadwell has nine games left in the regular season to swat away those gnats and make a name for himself. As the season comes to close in the next few weeks and the Zips head toward trying to get to their seventh MAC championship game in a row, Marshall may get the headlines, but Treadwell just might be the player to watch.
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