CLEVELAND - Akron starting point guard Alex Abreu was suspended indefinitely following a drug trafficking arrest Thursday.
With top seed Akron's first MAC Tournament game in the semifinals a week away, the loss of Abreu could have major ramifications.
Here are some of Abreu's statistics and how he stacks up to the competition:
- Has played in all 29 of Akron's games this season, averaging 10.3 points, 6 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game
- His 6 assists per game are second in the conference behind Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper. His 2.0 assist/turnover ratio is good for fourth best in the conference
- Shoots 39.4 percent from beyond the arc, making him the conference's sixth-best three-point shooter
- Akron's best free throw shooter and the fifth best in the MAC at 81 percent
- Averaged 18.5 points and 9 assists in two wins this season against MAC contender Ohio, seeded second in the tournament
Breaking it down, you can see why Abreu's absence could mean trouble for the Zips.
The regular season MAC champions lose a point guard who ranks in the top 10 in the conference in key statistical categories. Abreu is the glue to Akron's success, a strong distributor who doesn't turn the ball over often and can knock down threes.
Abreu's replacement is freshman Carmelo Betancourt. It's too early to measure just what the drop-off will be based on Betancourt's limited playing time.
What we do know – Betancourt is an inexperienced freshman replacing a junior leader in the team's biggest games of the season.
Betancourt has only averaged 9 minutes a game. His biggest game of the season came back in November when he shot 71 percent from the field and scored 10 points in 14 minutes against Penn State. The freshman played his most minutes in the next game, turning the ball over five times in 17 minutes vs. a strong Creighton team.
Now, he will be thrust into big minutes against the league's best and the possibility of a matchup with the Bobcats' record-setting Cooper to help Akron get to the dance.
Without Abreu, the Zips will rely more on their two bigs Demetrius Treadwell and Zeke Marshall, the team's leading scorers and rebounders. But you wonder how their numbers will be affected without their star facilitator.
A plus is that the Zips do have good depth, five players besides Abreu averaging 6 or more points per game. Junior Brian Walsh could become a key in providing backcourt stability in Abreu's absence.
it will be a large void to fill though. In last year's MAC Tournament, Abreu averaged 16.5 points and 5.5 assists in two games, Akron falling just short to Ohio in the championship game.
The Zips will get a chance to experiment with Betancourt and different rotations Friday night against Kent State in a game that has no bearing on their final standing.
The MAC Tournament begins Monday with first round games at campus sites. It moves to Cleveland and Quicken Loans Arena beginning with Wednesday's second round games.