Canisius (2-3) at Akron (5-1)
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 • 2:00 p.m. ET
Rhodes Arena (5,500)
Live Statistics and Video Stream: Available at GoZips.com free of charge.
Radio: Akron-IMG Sports Network – SportsRadio 1350 AM (WARF) in Akron (flagship), and for free at SportsRadio1350.com and iHeartRadio. Bill Morgan (play-by-play) (1:45 p.m. ET airtime).
Akron Coach Jodi Kest (Slippery Rock, 1984): Kest is in her seventh season at Akron, posting a 79-111 (.414) mark. She is 305-264 (.536) in 20+ seasons as a collegiate head coach. Kest was named the 2010 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, and has guided the Zips to Cleveland for the conference tournament for the past three consecutive seasons.
Canisius Coach Terry Zeh (St. Bonaventure, 1990): Zeh is in his ninth season as head coach after spending seven seasons as an assistant on the men's staff. He holds a 129-122 record at the helm of the program and was named 2009 MAAC Coach of the Year.
The Series: Akron is 1-2 in the all time series against Canisius. The two teams have not faced since the 1989-90 season, when Canisius came away with an 88-66 victory at Rhodes Arena.
Akron Opens December Slate at Home
The Zips return to Rhodes Arena after being on the road for the last two weeks to host Canisius at 2 p.m. Saturday.
• Akron closed out its longest non-conference road swing of the season with a dominating win at Saint Peter's Monday, 103-57.
• Five Zips finished the night in double figure scoring as UA shot 50 percent or better from the field for the second consecutive game. Akron was led by Rachel Tecca with 20 points, marking her fourth 20-point game already this season.
• The victory marked the first 100-point win for Akron since December 18, 2010, when the Zips defeated Ursuline 102-45 at Rhodes Arena. The 46-point advantage was also the largest margin of victory for UA over a Division I opponent in the history of the program.
• UA is off to its best start (5-1) since the 1995-96 season. That year the Zips got off to a red-hot 9-1 start, but finished the season .500 at 13-13 (7-11 MAC).
• Junior guard Hanna Luburgh was named the MAC East Player of the Week Monday for her breakout performance in Akron's road win at Providence and over the course of the last three games. She currently ranks third in the league in scoring with 18.3 ppg.
• Akron comes home Saturday for the first time in two weeks after playing four of its first six games away from Rhodes Arena. The Zips have not had a road-heavy early schedule like this since 2009-10 when they played five of their first six games away from home.
• A win over Canisius Saturday would give head coach Jodi Kest the most wins of any Akron women's basketball coach in the history of the program.
• Akron's 2012-13 schedule features contests with nine different opponents that played in postseason tournaments last year.
A Look at Canisius
The Golden Griffins hold a 2-3 record in the earlygoing, winning their season-opener against Buffalo 73-57, and most recently taking down Binghamton on the road 61-48.
Canisius was picked to finish fourth in the MAAC Preseason Poll after posting a 12-18 overall record in 2011-12 and a 6-12 conference mark (eighth place finish).
So far this year Canisius is leading its conference in assists (16.4 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (1.1). The Griffs also average 6.6 3-pointers per game. Jamie Ruttle is the only Canisius player averaging double-figure scoring with 12.2 points. Ashley Wilkes is the Griffs' leading rebounder with 7.4 per game.
Last Time Against Canisius
The Zips have not faced Canisius since January 27, 1990. The Golden Griffins won that contest at Rhodes Arena, 88-66.
Akron at Saint Peter's Recap
The Zips sailed to a 103-57 victory at Saint Peter's Monday night.
Sina King notched her fourth double-double of the season by halftime. She finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds, just two short of her career-high. Rachel Tecca joined King with a double-double of her own, posting 20 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week Hanna Luburgh used four 3-pointers and 14 first half points to pace Akron early, helping the Zips create a comfortable cushion before halftime. Taylor Ruper also picked up three treys in the first period, ending with 14 points.
Carly Young stepped up to lead in the second half, netting nine of her season-high 11 points to pave the way for the 30 overall points Akron received from its bench.
Zips' point guard Kacie Cassell recorded her fifth-straight game with at least five assists.
Saturday's game will be the Zips' first contest at Rhodes Arena in over two weeks. The team spent the month of November in four different states outside of Ohio, playing four out of its first six contests away from home. Akron has not played an early road-heavy schedule like this since the 2009-10 season when it played five of its first six games on the road.
Building A Legacy
Akron's big win at Saint Peter's Monday night tied head coach Jodi Kest with former UA coach John Street for the most wins as a head coach in the history of Akron women's basketball. Street coached the Zips from 1982-89 and was the only male coach to ever lead the program. Now in her seventh season, Kest continues to develop the program that posted the greatest single-season win total in the history of the program in 2009-10.
Luburgh Named MAC East Player of the Week
The Mid-American Conference office announced Hanna Luburgh as the Player of the Week for the East Division last week.
Akron only played a single game during the holiday week, but it was a big one. The Zips rallied to take down Big East foe Providence on the road, 81-79. Luburgh nearly had her second straight career-high scoring night, leading both teams with 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
The junior scored 10 of her points in the midst of a 20-6 Akron run late in the first half, helping the Zips erase a 14-point deficit to tie the game at halftime. Luburgh single-handedly drained half of Akron's 10 3-pointers, and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line. She was also the team's second leading rebounder with seven.
Luburgh currently ranks third in the MAC in scoring, averaging 18.3 ppg. Her career-high 30 points at St. Franics (Pa.) is the highest single-game points total for any MAC player so far this season.
Two in a Row
This is the second consecutive week that a Zip has earned MAC East Player of the Week status, as Rachel Tecca grabbed the title two weeks ago. The last time Akron had back-to-back conference Players of the Week was in 2007-08 when Sarah Tokodi received the nod two weeks in a row.
Leading the Country
Rachel Tecca is not playing 40 minutes a game - she averages about half of that at 22.1 - but if she was, according to national statistics she would lead the country in scoring by a considerable margin. Based on her scoring average and minutes played this season, Tecca ranks first among all Division I players posting 36.99 points per 40 minutes. The next closest stat in the category is Cal's Gennifer Brandon at 26.55.
Junior Sina King is making her case for the MAC's most consistent player in the early part of the season. She has scored in double figures in all six games, en route to posting four double-doubles. The forward is the only player in the league who is currently averaging a double-double, with 14.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Akron's lethal junior trio of Rachel Tecca, Hanna Luburgh and Sina King have taken the MAC by storm early this season. The three starters are ranked one through three among all juniors in the conference in scoring.
Cassell Dishes Her Way Into the Books
Akron point guard Kacie Cassell is No. 8 and counting on Akron's all time list for career assists with 256. She recorded a career-high 10 assists Nov. 18 at St. Francis (Pa.), surpassing current UA assistant coach Ayla Guzzardo in the record books. Cassell has dished out five or more assists in each of the last five games, and ranks seventh in the country in assists per game according the the most recent statistics summary published by the NCAA.
Tecca Reaches 1,000
With two free throws at the 13:27 mark against Tennessee Tech, Rachel Tecca picked up points 999 and 1,000 of her career, becoming the first player to reach the milestone since Kara Murphy in 2008-09.
More of Tecca's Records
Rachel Tecca broke into the program's top-10 all time for career rebounds with 13 caroms at Saint Peter's. She has 54 rebounds on the year and 612 for her career six games into her redshirt junior season. Tecca already holds the record for the third most rebounds in a season in program history, when she pulled down 288 in 2010-11.
Akron is off to its best start since the 1995-96 season with a 5-1 record. The Zips were 3-0 for the first time since their inaugural season in 1974-75. Akron has scored over 70 points in each of their first six contests, and maintain a +23.3 scoring margin over their opponents (a stat that ranks first in the conference and 34th in the country), while shooting .445 from the field as a team.
Ruper From Downtown
After becoming Akron's all-time leader in 3-pointers made at the end of last season, this year Taylor Ruper will see how far she can go in distancing herself at the top of the record books. Ruper has netted 11 three's so far this season, bringing her career total to 195. She is currently No. 14 all time in the MAC record books for career 3-point field goals made.
Zips Sign Four for 2013-14
Jodi Kest recently announced the signing of four standout student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for Akron beginning in 2013-14:
• Keanna Gary (Fort Wayne, Ind.) - Gary, a 6-1 forward, has built a strong career at the high school and AAU levels over the past three years. Last year as a junior, Gary averaged 11.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, in addition to 2.2 blocks. She received Honorable Mention All-State accolades from Hoosier Basketball Magazine, and was a 2012 IBCA All-State and All-Northeast Indiana First Team selection. Gary has also led her AAU team to the state championship title for the past three consecutive years.
• Hannah Plybon (Orrville, Ohio) - Plybon, a 5-9 guard out of nearby Orrville High School, comes to Akron as an ESPN 86 Grade, three-star recruit, the 107th best guard in the nation. In 2011-12, she averaged 20.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and three assists per game. Plybon has received all-state recognition for the last three years, including being named to the All-Ohio First Team as a sophomore and junior. The two-time Northeast Inland District Player of the Year currently ranks second in school history with 1,380 career points and one season left to play.
• Alex Ricketts (Mercer, Pa.) - Ricketts, a 5-11 shooting guard, has been named Offensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons after posting averages of 13.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. She is a three-time First Team All-Region honoree and earned the title of 2011 Miss Basketball Player of the Year.
• Hannah Scipio (Westerville, Ohio) - Scipio, a 5-4 point guard from the Columbus area, was named one of the Top-10 players in District 10, in addition to earning Special Mention All-Ohio recognition and a spot on the All-OCC Capital Division First Team. Scipio averaged 14.1 points, 5.7 assists and 4.2 steals per game her junior season.
For the second consecutive season, the Zips were picked third in the MAC East Division behind Miami (Ohio) and last year's regular season champion, Bowling Green. Last season, Akron finished third in the East and sixth in the conference overall with a 7-9 record. Sina King earned All-MAC Second Team honors and Taylor Ruper received Honorable Mention.
Also for the second straight year, Rachel Tecca was one of five players in each division selected to the Preseason All-MAC team. An AllMAC selection in each of her two full seasons at Akron, Tecca was averaging 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2011-12 before her season was cut short due to injury.
Kest Reaches 300 Wins
Head Coach Jodi Kest picked up win No. 300 of her 20 year career as a collegiate head coach when the Zips defeated Buffalo for the third time last season in the opening round of the MAC Tournament. She now needs just one more victory to become the winningest coach in Akron women's basketball history.
Bridging the Gap
Akron fields a unique roster this year with six experienced upperclassmen and pool of six newcomers that includes five freshmen. Coach Kest has maintained that the team will only be as good as the freshmen are able to play, as a big key to the Zips' success this year will be finding a balance between the abilities of the returners and newcomers.
Tecca and the 2013 WNBA Mock Draft
Rachel Tecca was projected to be selected 27th overall in the 2013 WNBA Mock Draft recently released by DraftSite.com. Tecca was anticipated to be taken with the third pick in the third round by the Tulsa Shock. She was one of just two MAC players to be included in the mock draft, along with Miami (Ohio) guard Courtney Osborn who was slated to be selected right before Tecca with the 26th overall pick. In addition to Tecca, the Shock was predicted to take Delaware's Elena Delle Donne as well as Brittany Chambers out of Kansas State.
The 2011-12 team was the most prolific scoring team in Akron women's basketball history, amassing 2,361 total points and averaging 73.8 per game. The season marked the first time in 13 years that the Zips averaged over 70 points per game.
Zips Go Costal
The University of Akron women's basketball team started 2012-13 off with a foreign tour to Costa Rica. The team spent eight days touring the country and participating in teambuilding activities like ziplining and white water rafting. They also hosted a youth basketball clinic and played two games against the Costa Rican national team. The NCAA allows a program to participate in an international trip once every four years should they choose to do so, and grants the team an additional 10 offseason practice days in preparation.
Akron finished last season at or near the top of several big statistical categories in the Mid-American Conference. The Zips' 73.8 points per game ranked first in scoring offense among all MAC teams. UA also led the league in 3-pointers made (7.0) and assists (15.3). The team was second in the conference in free throw percentage (.740), field goal percentage (.421) and 3-point percentage (.344). Individually, Taylor Ruper finished second in 3-pointers made, averaging 2.8, and Sina King was 10th in scoring with 12.4 points per game.