Kent State Basketball Preview: #104
Overall Rank: #104
Conference Rank: #3 Mid-American Conference
2008-09: 19-15, 10-6
2008-09 postseason: CIT
Coach: Geno Ford (19-15 at Kent State, 70-47 overall)
Kent State performed pretty well last year all things considered. Coach Geno Ford took over for Jim Christian who bolted for TCU and was left with the high expectations that have come to be expected at Kent State. Under the circumstances, the Golden Flashes did pretty well and at least reached the postseason, even it was the CIT. The expectations are still high, but the team has some big holes to fill now that Al Fisher, Jordan Mincy and Julian Sullinger are gone.
Key Losses: G Al Fisher, G Jordan Mincy, F Julian Sullinger
It is in the frontcourt where most of the help is needed and KSU got it with the addition of junior college transfers Justin Manns and Greg Avila. Manns, a 6-11 center, is still pretty raw, but is bursting with potential. Avila plays much bigger than his 6-6 frame would indicate and he is full of athleticism. Those two will bolster a frontcourt that is in need of some athleticism and quality depth. Incoming freshman point guard Randal Holt and junior college transfer Ian Pinckney could find their way into the regular rotation.
Yet, the starting jobs on the perimeter are already spoken for. Chris Singletary will be the go-to-scorer after averaging 12.1 points per game last year. Singletary does most of his damage by getting to the basket, or the free-throw line, but if he can hit the three-pointer a little more consistently, he could score 20 points per game. In the meantime, the outside shooting will be left to Tyree Evans. The 6-3 senior only started eight games last year, but he was third on the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game. Evans connected on 2.5 three-pointers per game last year and without Fisher on the floor, he will have to keep the long balls flying. Mike McKee will play an important role on this team as a defensive specialist and a sharp shooter off the bench.
Anthony Simpson and Brandon Parks are not the most dominating frontcourt in the conference, but they are experienced players who can help this team win games. Simpson is a dynamic athlete who can score inside and out. Simpson is also the best rebounder on the team and the senior should emerge as the leader of the frontcourt. Parks has the size to clog the paint, but he is not much of a scorer or shot blocker. He started 19 games last year and should keep his starting job for now, but he must hold off the newcomers. Justin Greene, Frank Henry-Ala and Alex Grimsley did not play very often last year, but one or more of them need to step up and play a bigger role off the bench.
Who to Watch:
Rodriguez Sherman missed all of last season with a knee injury. He is a superb defender and an improving offensive player. Two years ago he only tallied 5.3 points per game, but he can do more than that this year. Now he will be asked to run the point, so his scoring is far less important than his ability to dictate tempo and develop into a leader on the floor.
The Golden Flashes have all the tools necessary to win what should be another average and up for grabs season in the Mid-American Conference. If Sherman can keep the team under control, Kent State has plenty of firepower in the backcourt to win games. The difference this year is the potential of the frontcourt. If the new junior college transfers can immediately provide some quality minutes, the Flashes will be back in the postseason.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Rodriguez Sherman, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Tyree Evans, Senior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Chris Singletary, Senior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Anthony Simpson, Senior, Forward, 6.8 points per game
Brandon Parks, Senior, Center, 5.9 points per game