Akron-VCU matchup pits coaches who are friends

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
  
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Akron coach Keith Dambrot says he loves VCU's Shaka Smart like a brother. He still wants to beat his former assistant.
  
Dambrot believes an upset is possible if the 12th-seeded Zips can slow down the fifth-seeded Rams on Thursday.
  
Smart has installed a high-tempo defense and offense that has served his program well. The style of play helped VCU reach the Final Four in 2011 and make a third straight trip this year to the NCAA tournament.
  
The Rams have their highest seeding since being a No. 2 in 1985. Back then, Smart was 7 and Dambrot was a 26-year-old coach at Tiffin University.
  
Dambrot became relatively famous for coaching LeBron James in high school and later introduced Smart to the future superstar.

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