With a 24-5 record (14-1 MAC) on the season the Akron Zips are one of the mid-major programs that many believe capable of not only getting to the NCAA tournament but also winning once in the field of 68.
Those prospects likely change depending on the status of junior point guard Alex Abreu, who was suspended indefinitely on Thursday following an arrest on charges of marijuana trafficking.
The Akron athletic department released the following statement regarding Abreu’s suspension:
Junior point guard Alex Abreu has been suspended from The University of Akron men’s basketball team indefinitely pending the outcome of a police investigation.
The University is aware of the situation and is currently gathering more information. Inquiries regarding the investigation should be directed to the Akron Police Department.
How long will Abreu be out? Will he return at all this season? Those are questions that won’t be answered until the legal system runs its course in all likelihood, but what isn’t in doubt is how important Abreu is to the Akron attack.
Abreu averages 10.3 points and 6.0 assists per game for Akron, which won 19 straight games before losing 81-67 at Buffalo last Saturday. In addition to his leadership at the point Abreu is also Akron’s best three-point shooter, hitting 39.4% of his shots from beyond the arc.
The question for the Zips now is who runs the show for Keith Dambrot’s team in Abreu’s absence. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt has been Abreu’s backup so he likely becomes the starter, and sophomore Deji Ibitayo will see an increase in minutes as well.
With front court players such as Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell, Akron’s got more than enough depth to give opponents fits in the NCAA tournament should they qualify but they don’t enjoy that luxury at the point.
Abreu isn’t on NBA Draft boards like Marshall, but there’s no overstating his importance to Akron. Without him the other teams in the Mid-American Conference, most notably Ohio, may sense an opening heading into next week’s conference tournament.