12 Teams/12 Days: Akron Zips

Updated 11/5/2013



2013-14 Akron Zips Women's Basketball Preview
Courtesy of Akron Athletic Communications
AKRON, Ohio – After turning in an unprecedented season of “firsts” last year, the University of Akron women’s basketball team starts the 2013-14 campaign with a little different outlook than in years past.
The Zips now know what it’s like to be at the top, and they intend on staying there.
As the defending Mid-American Conference East Division champion, UA returns three starters and nine letterwinners from the team that also advanced to the postseason WNIT for just the second time in the program’s 39-year history. 
“Last year was a special season for us, and I am very proud of how far our program has come and what we were able to accomplish,” said eighth-year head coach Jodi Kest. “This year, our goal is to take every day and every practice and use it to get better. I think we have the right pieces in place to achieve continued success.”
Akron will rely on the experience and leadership of its core group of seniors who are just eight victories away from becoming the winningest class in school history. 
Reigning MAC Player of the Year Rachel Tecca is back for her fifth and final season in an Akron uniform after setting the school’ssingle-season scoring record a year ago. She is joined by All-MAC selectionHanna Luburgh, who has established herself as one of the most feared shooting guards by opponents across the league. Luburgh was named to the All-MAC Tournament Team in 2013 after averaging 24.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in the conference tournament.
Point guard Kacie Cassell is back to run the offense that ranked seventh in the country in scoring 2012-13 at 75.4 points per game. Cassell led the conference and the nation in assists and also posted the best assist/turnover ratio in the league as a junior. 
The Zips will feel the loss of forward Sina King, who will miss the 2013-14 season due to medical reasons. King started all 33 games last season, averaging 15.0 points and 8.7 rebounds. Carly Young will step into the starting role, but King’s absence is expected to be filled by committee.
Sophomores DiAndra Gibson and Katie Nunan saw limited time as freshmen but have improved their strength and ability to compete around the rim. Senior Cari Guyton will also serve as a go-to option for the Zips in the frontcourt.
UA lost its best 3-point shooter to graduation in Taylor Ruper, but Kest is confident in the development of her younger guards. Freshman Hannah Plybon from Orrville, Ohio, comes to Akron as the 2013 Division III High School Player of the Year in the state of Ohio and will be called upon to make an immediate impact. Sophomore Anita Brown gained valuable experience as the first guard off the bench during her rookie season, and has already shown great strides in her game during the preseason.
Guards Megan Barilla, Hannah Scipio and Alex Ricketts will provide added depth to Akron’s bench, a benefit the Zips were not always able to utilize last season. Forwards Sophia Simone and Therany Dunnigan will challenge the post players, although Dunnigan will sit out the year after transferring from NC State.
The Zips’ 2013-14 schedule features eight opponents that saw postseason action last year, including three NCAA Tournament teams. Highlights of UA’s non-conference slate include a trip to California for a Thanksgiving tournament hosted by defending Big West Conference champion Cal Poly, as well as road clashes with Dayton and Cincinnati.
Akron will begin its defense of its East Division title on Jan. 4 when it plays host to Ball State in its MAC opener. The Zips will betelevised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel three times during the regular season – Jan. 9 at home versus Central Michigan, Feb. 15 at Ball State, and March 5 at Buffalo. All three games are rematches from the 2013 MAC Tournament.
2012-13 Record 23-10, 12-4 MAC (1st/East)  
2013 Postseason MAC Tournament Runner-Up/WNIT First Round  
Starters Returning/Lost 4/1  
Letterwinners Returning/Lost 10/3  
Newcomers 5  
University Quick Facts    
Founded 1870  
Location Akron, Ohio  
Enrollment 29,699  
Nickname Zips  
Mascot Zippy the Kangaroo  
Colors Blue and Gold  
President Dr. Luis M. Proenza  
Athletics Director Tom Wistrcill  
Senior Woman Administrator Mary Lu Gribschaw  
Faculty Representative Dr. Deborah Owens  
Conference Mid-American Conference/East  
Arena (Capacity) James A Rhodes Arena (5,500)  
Press Row 330-972-7080  
Website www.gozips.com  
Women’s Basketball Quick Facts    
Head Coach Jodi Kest  
Alma Mater Slippery Rock ‘84  
Record at Akron 97-120 (Seventh Season)  
Career Record 323-273 (20th Season)  
MAC Record 47-65  
Associate Head Coach Melissa Jackson  
Alma Mater Richmond ‘04  
Assistant Coach Glenn Box  
Alma Mater Southeast Missouri State ‘98  
Assistant Coach Ayla Guzzardo  
Alma Mater Akron ‘10  
Director of Basketball Operations Candace Smith  
Alma Mater Central Michigan ‘08  
Graduate Manager Preston Reid  
Alma Mater Ball State ‘11  
Graduate Manager/Video Coordinator Eric Besserman  
Alma Mater Akron ‘12  
Program History    
First Year of Women’s Basketball (D1) 1974-75 (1983-84)  
All-Time Record (D1) 370-680 (281-569)   
Overall Record Since Joining MAC (Years) 196-407 (22nd Season)  
All-Time MAC Record 105-255  
NCAA Championship Appearances None  
NCAA Championship Record None  
WNIT Appearances Two (1999, 2013)  
WNIT Record 0-2  
MAC Tournament Titles None  
MAC Regular Season Titles None  
MAC Divisional Titles One (2013)  
MAC Players of the Year (Most Recent) One (Rachel Tecca, 2013)  
MAC Freshmen of the Year (Most Recent) None  
MAC Coaches of Year (Most Recent) One (Jodi Kest, 2010)  
Defensive Players of the Year (Most Recent) None  
Sixth-Player Award (Most Recent) Two (Jasmine Mushington, 2011)  
2013-2014 Schedule    
Sat., Nov. 2 LAKE ERIE (Exh.) 12:00 PM
Tue., Nov. 12 TENNESSEE TECH 10:30 AM
Fri., Nov. 15 at Dayton 7:00 PM
Sun., Nov. 17 at Wright State 2:00 PM
Fri., Nov. 22 at Canisius 7:00 PM
Fri., Nov. 29 at Cal Poly ! 10:00 PM
Sat., Nov. 30 vs. UC Davis ! 8:00 PM
Sat., Dec. 7 GEORGE MASON 2:00 PM
Tue., Dec. 17 at Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Sun., Dec. 29 YOUNGSTOWN STATE 2:00 PM
Sat., Jan. 4 BALL STATE * 2:00 PM
Thu., Jan. 9 CENTRAL MICHIGAN * 7:00 PM
Sun., Jan 12 at Bowling Green * 2:00 PM
Wed., Jan. 15 at Miami * 7:00 PM
Sat., Jan. 18 KENT STATE * TBA
Thu., Jan. 23 OHIO * 7:00 PM
Sun., Jan. 26 at Eastern Michigan * 2:00 PM
Thu., Jan. 30 at Toledo * 7:00 PM
Sun., Feb. 2 BUFFALO * 2:00 PM
Wed., Feb. 5 at Northern Illinois * 8:00 PM
Sat., Feb. 8 WESTERN MICHIGAN * 2:00 PM
Sat., Feb. 15 at Ball State * 12:00 PM
Wed., Feb. 19 NORTHERN ILLINOIS * 7:00 PM
Sat., Feb. 22 at Ohio * 2:00 PM
Wed., Feb. 26 MIAMI * 7:00 PM
Sun., Mar. 2 at Kent State * 2:00 PM
Wed., Mar. 5 at Buffalo * 7:00 PM
Sat., Mar. 8 BOWLING GREEN * 2:00 PM
Mon., Mar. 10 MAC Tournament First Round $ TBA
Wed., Mar. 12  MAC Tournament Second Round %  TBA
Thurs., Mar. 13 MAC Tournament Third Round % TBA
Fri., Mar. 14 MAC Tournament Semilfinals % TBA
Sat., Mar. 15 MAC Championship % TBA
All Times EST and subject to change    
! Cal Poly Classic (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)    
* Denotes Mid-American Conference Game    
$ Hosted By Seeds 5 - 8 (Campus Sites)    
% at Cleveland, Ohio (Quicken Loans Arena)