Men's Basketball Concludes Road Trip at Akron on Thursday

Men's Basketball Concludes Road Trip at Akron on Thursday

Thurs., Nov 17 – 7 p.m. – Akron, Ohio — Rhodes Arena (5,500)
American (0-2) at Akron (0-1)
All-Time Record: Akron leads 4-1
Last Meeting: Akron 105, American 66 - Feb. 5, 1966
Stream: Zips All-Access 

American Game Notes
Akron Game Notes

WASHINGTON — The American University men's basketball team will conclude its three-game road trip on Thursday against Akron. This is the longest span of games away from Bender Arena for the Eagles, who will make their season debut on Tuesday against Wagner. 

News, Notes, and Storylines


• This is the fifth all-time meeting, but first in Akron's Division I era. The last time these two met was on Feb. 5, 1966, a 105-66 victory from the Zips. 


•  Thursday will be the 100th career game coach by Mike Brennan who is looking for his 50th career win.


•  On Monday, the Eagles fell to Texas A&M, 76-53. Delante Jones added 18 points and Sa'eed Nelson had 12. The rookie point guard has scored in double figures in his first two collegiate games. 


• Nelson has only turned the ball over two times in 33 minutes at the point. He had five assists in the loss to Texas A&M. 


• Patriot League coaches and sports information directors have picked American to finish fifth in the Patriot League. This was the same spot AU was selected last season before finishing the season tied for fourth place. 


• American and Akron have one common opponent this season in Youngstown State, who defeated the Zips in their season opener, 90-82. 


Charlie Jones has recorded six rebounds in both games this season as the 'sixth-man' for the Eagles. The 6'4" forward is one of the toughest defenders in the Patriot League and will out battle any player on the glass. 


Mark Gasperini and Sa'eed Nelson had terrific debuts for the Eagles on Friday. Gasperini led the Eagles with 14 points and Nelson had 12. Gasperini added three rebounds and two assists. Nelson had three steals, two rebounds and did not commit a turnover. The last time a freshman started for the Eagles was 11/11/11 when John Schoof made his debut against Richmond. 


• Sophomore Delante Jones was the only underclassman selected to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team. Jones, selected as the 2015-16 Patriot League Men's Basketball Rookie of the Year, is the top returning scorer, scoring 12.0 points per game as a rookie. A pure shooter, Jones shot 43 percent from the field and connected on 39 attempts from the outside. Jones worked on his ball-handling skills over the summer to try and lessen his turnovers after having the most giveaways last season with 79. The Chantilly, Virginia, native came on down the stretch by scoring in double figures in 13 of his final 14 games, and his performance had a great impact for his team as American won nine of its final 12 Patriot League games to finish at .500 in League action after an 0-6 start. Jones placed eighth in scoring (14.2 ppg) during Patriot League action and in the top 20 for the season at 12.0 ppg, leading all freshmen in both categories. He scored 18 points or more eight times during the season, with seven of those coming in Patriot League games. He became American's third Patriot League Rookie of the Year recipient, and first in a decade since Derrick Mercer won the honor in 2006. Jones will be asked to carry the load this season with the graduation of Jesse Reed after four years of service to the Eagles.


• Thrown into the starting lineup after the first six games, sophomore James Washington ran the point for the Eagles and shined late in the season. He is the second top returning scorer after netting 6.4 points per game in his rookie campaign. Washington had 33 assists and 23 steals. The California native will be asked to continue running the point but could be moved over to the shooting guard spot later in the season. 


• Junior transfer Matt Cimino has been cleared to play this season after moving over from George Washington. Cimino played three games last season for the Colonials before injuring his foot during practice.  He is the fourth transfer player to play for head coach Mike Brennan at American. In his first seasons, Brennan had Pee Wee Gardner from Stephen F. Austin. Last season, the Eagles welcomed Leon Tolksdorf from UConn and Paris Maragkos from GW. 


• 2016 graduates Jesse Reed and Paris Maragkos have signed professional contracts for the 16-17 season. On Oct. 24, Reed signed in Luxembourg with Residence Walferdange. He is one of three American-born players on the squad. Although he played one season with American, Maragkos obtained his degree at American before signing a four-year deal with Greek club Olympiacos. Maragkos joins a roster filled with professional players from all over the world, including Erick Green (Virginia Tech / Reno (NBA D-League)), Nikola Milutinov (San Antonio Spurs), Kostas Papanikolaou (NY Knicks/Denver Nuggets) and former Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry.


Laurynas Motuzis will have to sit out the 16-17 season after transferring from Saint Xavier University (NAIA). Motuzis is a sharp-shooting specialist who shot 41 percent from the field and 38 percent from the outside. He was born in Lithuania. 


•  A three-point shooter and tough defender, Jalen Rhea made his first start as a junior and finished with 4.3 points per game. Rhea hit the game-winning three at Youngstown State, playing in front of his friends and family in his native Ohio. Rhea had a pair of games last season where he buried everything he touched from the outside. On the road against Navy, Rhea shot 5-of-8 from the outside for 15 points. He broke a bit of a drought from the outside, as he shot 2-of-22 in the previous seven matches. Rhea led the eagles with 15 points in their 69-64 upset over Boston U. in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. 


•  American has nine underclassmen on the roster this season.  The Eagles relied heavily on all four rookies with two (Jones and Washington) in the starting lineup and Andrija Matic and Lonnie Rivera used off the bench. All four are expected to make serious contributions once again. Freshmen Sa'eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini will make immediate impacts this season at point guard and center.