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Akron University men's basketball: Zips coach appreciates what luxury bench players bring to his team – Sports – Akron Beacon Journal


Akron University's male basketball coach John Groce has a bench that makes you want.

Generally speaking, he can press a zip of his bench over his shoulder and be assured that they will give the team quality minutes when they are on the job. ground.

Sometimes they dazzled – like guard Greg Tribble who did the ESPN SportsCenter for one of his dunks last week – but more importantly, they manage, with big men Camron Reece, who plays with a rock-sized chip on his shoulder, and Jaden Sayles, the latest of former coach Keith Dambrot's recruits who provided a timely score when needed.

For Sayles, it came with the Zips on the road in Kalamazoo, Michigan, against Western Michigan and UA who struggled to win a late game. Sayles came off the bench to deliver nine points of difference dramatically, providing a much-needed boost in a 71-67 victory.

In the last games, reserves were necessary and different players mobilized to fill a void. He came more recently against Ohio after point guard Loren Cristian Jackson fouled with nearly nine minutes left. Jackson had only 13 points when he was sent off the bench for the rest of the game, but Tribble and Reece combined to score 12.

"You really have to be selfless. You have to sacrifice yourself. You have to be ready to go when asked," Groce said after training on Monday. "It's not" I was called by the coach and now I'm going to prepare. "It's too late. You have to be ready when you are called. I think most of the time all year, these guys have done it."

It is this global attitude that has kept the ego under control. With many teams, including UA teams, bickering over playing time and recognition was not uncommon. There seems to be little associated with these players and the team as a whole.

"Because at the end of the day, everyone wants to win. It doesn't matter who scores, who is the winning player of the week," said Tribble. "We are all happy for each other and whoever gets that, it is a team award … When it is our name that is called, we try to do what we can . "

Reece agrees.

"It's all about buying. We want to win, that's all," he said.

Sayles is perhaps the most striking example. Dambrot's last remaining recruit stayed when he probably could have had an opportunity elsewhere. Throughout the second half of the season, his reliable play was rewarded with more playing time.

"I just stayed ready because I knew that at one point my name could be called as the coach said," he said. "So, I just stayed ready and whenever they needed me, I came in and played games."

What they contribute doesn't necessarily appear in the score at the end of the game in the offensive stats either. In fact, the opposite may be true. For a man, the Zips first focus on defense. Sand and grime are not the glamorous part of basketball.

"These are just guys playing outside, because it's not about us, it's about the team," he said. "We know it and we go out and make the games that our team needs from us. We can go out there and make selfish games. In the end, that's not it."

"It's the will to do the dirty work. We feed each other," said Reese. "If the guys don't get a shot, we're going to make sure we do the right thing to put them in the position to make them shoot. We're all on the win."

All of this makes Groce's job a lot easier.

"Just a few guys have played, stepped up and helped us win games in those 18 games and I feel really comfortable," he said. "We have a rotation of 10 men. I can put any of these guys. They know their role and will add value and play the way we need them to contribute. C & # 39 is a great, great luxury as a coach to have that kind of depth. "

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. To learn more about zips, go to Follow him on Twitter at

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