Sports with Shook: Your guide to KSU men's basketball
- Written by Nick Shook
- Hits: 365
The leaves have fallen, the Halloween celebrations have passed and the calendar has turned to November, which means it’s time for college basketball.
While Kent State basks in the euphoria of the football team’s 8-1 record, the basketball Flashes open the 2012-13 season at 7 p.m. Friday in the M.A.C. Center versus Drexel.
The Flashes have just one returning starter in guard Randal Holt, and last season’s sixth man, Chris Evans. Seven new faces will put on Kent State uniforms for a regular season game for the first time Friday when Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff leads his team onto the court.
Here are five points to help fans get familiar with the 2012-13 Kent State basketball team.
1. Fresh Flashes
Bryson Pope, a 6-foot-7-inch guard, transferred to Kent State after two seasons at Tulsa and, due to NCAA transfer rules, was forced to sit out the 2011-12 season. Pope did get to practice with the team last season and is acclimated with the system.
Junior forward Melvin Tabb transferred after one season at Midland College in Texas. Tabb was ranked as the No. 74 prospect coming out of high school and played at Wake Forest during his freshman season of 2010-11, but his guilty plea to theft charges resulted in his removal from the team. All charges were dismissed after he completed a diversion program, and he has been quoted as saying, “It was a lesson learned.” Standing at 6-foot-9, Tabb brings much-needed size to the Flashes’ front court and will likely see an adequate amount of playing time.
Chris Ortiz is the freshman most likely to have the biggest effect on the team this season. The 6-foot-8 forward has a sense of body control and athleticism about him that gives him a higher ceiling than most incoming freshmen. Ortiz scored two points and grabbed six rebounds in the Flashes’ exhibition victory against Rochester, but look for him to improve as the season continues.
The 5-foot-11 Kellon Thomas wowed the crowd in the dunk contest at Kent State’s preseason showcase with a two-handed, 360-degree slam. Basketball is much more than dunks, but this guard’s athleticism should give him an advantage.
2. Carrying the load
Evans was best known in 2011-12 for his acrobatic dunks and his role as the team’s best option off the bench. His role this season will be much different.
Evans will have to shoulder much of the weight offensively for Kent State. With Holt’s status still in question for the first few games of the season, this will be especially true. Evans scored 24 points in the exhibition win against Rochester and was clearly the Flashes’ best scoring option.
“He’s going to have to carry a lot,” Senderoff said. “Right now, Chris Evans has proven to some degree that he can score in a lot of different ways. I have some other guys that I think are capable of doing more. You’ll add Randal into the equation, which obviously Randal has proven he can score a little bit.”
Holt underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during the offseason and just returned to practice last week.
3. MACC Advantage (schedule break down)
The Flashes have a favorable schedule for their young roster early in the season, with the first five games all at home — but the level of opponent is not a walk in the park.
Drexel finished 2011-12 with a 29-7 record, a Colonial Athletic Association regular season title and two wins in the National Invitational Tournament before falling to Massachusetts in the semifinals. Drexel returns four of five starters from last season, and presents a major challenge to Kent State.
“We’ve got a lot to do to fix because Drexel is enormous,” Senderoff said. “The most physical team we’ll play all year is Drexel.”
4. Running the point
Pope is also one of three players who will be expected, at least at the start of the season, to run the offense at the point guard position. At 6-foot-7, Pope doesn’t look the part of a traditional point guard, which could give him an advantage on the court and could also make him a versatile member of the roster.
He looked a little unsure during the Flashes’ 77-71 exhibition victory against Rochester, but that could easily be attributed to nerves, seeing as it was his first game action in more than a year.
“[Pope] hasn’t played in over a year,” Senderoff said, “ … so maybe that has something to do with it, maybe I’m trying to have him do too much. I’m sure there’s a combination of things … I have confidence in Bryson and I just have higher expectations than how he played [Sunday] for sure.”
5. Conference outlook
The young Flashes will face staunch, experienced MAC East division opponents in Ohio and Akron. Ohio was selected by the conference’s coaches as the team to beat in the MAC this season, and in the first edition of Bracketology by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the Bobcats are the lone conference representative in the NCAA Tournament.
Conference rivalries highlight week 11 of college football
- Written by Chris Ginley
- Hits: 229
After last Saturday’s dramatic, come-from-behind victory over LSU, Alabama head coach Nick Saban immediately directed his players to start preparing for another challenge in SEC-newcomer Texas A&M.
This game will be the Aggies first visit to Tuscaloosa as a member of the SEC. The Aggies bring a high-flying offense, which is averaging 44.7 points per game, and freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel has thrown for 2,527 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns while rushing for 922 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Alabama will be led by quarterback AJ McCarron, who has thrown for 1,849 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. McCarron will look to continue his streak of nine games without throwing an interception.
The Aggie defense, who is averaging 21.0 points allowed per game, will have a tough time defending the Alabama rushing attack, which features two tough, hard-nosed running backs in T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy.
Yeldon has rushed for 725 yards and seven touchdowns while Lacy has rushed for 679 yards and eight touchdowns. This will be Alabama’s last true test of the season, as their next two opponents (Western Carolina and Auburn) have a combined record of 3-16.
My Prediction: Alabama clinches the SEC West Division title with a 28-14 win.
Beavers square-off against the Cardinal in PAC-12 clash
Oregon State will face Stanford Saturday, in a game that has PAC-12 Championship implications.
Both of these teams still have to face Oregon and the winner of this game will be Oregon’s biggest threat in their run to the National Championship. Oregon State and Stanford both feature quarterbacks that weren’t supposed to start in an important game this late in the season.
Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz is coming off a game where he was 14 for 33 in passing attempts, throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against Arizona State.
Stanford will counter with Kevin Hogan, who came on in relief of quarterback Josh Nunes during last Saturday’s 48-0 win over Colorado. Hogan was 18 for 23 in passing attempts, throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns versus the Buffaloes to earn his first start this Saturday.
Can Cody Vaz lead the Oregon State offense against a Stanford team that is undefeated at home this season?
My Prediction: Stanford defends their home turf and wins a close game 27-21.
Tigers look to bounce back against Bulldogs
While the LSU Tigers failed to get revenge for their 21-0 loss in last January’s BCS National Championship, they better get over the loss quickly, as they have another big test this week in the #21 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
LSU will be led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is coming off his best performance of the season against Alabama. Mettenberger has thrown for 1,717 passing yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Mississippi State will have the upper hand in the passing game, as they will counter with quarterback Tyler Russell, who has thrown for 1954 passing yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.
The LSU secondary will also have to keep an eye on Chad Bumphis, who leads the Mississippi State receiving corps with 536 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
LSU’s strong rushing game, led by running backs Jeremy Hill, who has 429 rushing yards and six touchdowns and Kenny Hilliard, who has 420 rushing yards and six touchdowns, will help Mettenberger carry the load for the Tiger offense.
Can the LSU Tigers get back on track after last week’s heartbreaking loss to Alabama? It will be a stretch for Mississippi State to beat LSU, considering the Tigers have not lost back-to-back home games since 2001.
My Prediction: LSU wins 27-14.
Nix earns Defensive Player of the Week
- Written by Tim Dorst
- Hits: 190
For the second week in a row, a Kent State football player has earned Mid-American Conference recognition for a strong defensive performance.
Junior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix was named MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week Monday after his performance in Kent State’s 35-24 win against Akron Saturday.
Nix recorded a career-high nine tackles and forced a fumble in the Flashes’ victory against the rival Zips. The forced fumble was recovered by the Flashes and led to a Kent State touchdown.
This season, Nix is fifth on the team in total tackles with 38 and leads all Flashes defenders in sacks with 4.5. Nix is the second Kent State player to earn the award, as senior linebacker Luke Batton was recognized for his 13-tackle performance in the Flashes’ win against Rutgers on Oct. 28.
Nix was awarded MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors after the 2010 season; he was the only freshman ever to win the award.
Former president of Penn State arraigned
- Written by Mark Scolforo
- Hits: 676
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was arraigned and released on bail at a brief court appearance Wednesday on charges he lied about and concealed child sex abuse allegations involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Spanier, accompanied by his wife, signed paperwork after his bail was set at $125,000, but he was not required to post any of that amount. He was ordered to forfeit his passport and be fingerprinted. He didn't enter a plea.
Afterward, defense attorney Elizabeth Ainslie told reporters her client is "not guilty, absolutely" and disputed prosecutors' claims Spanier conspired with university athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. She said Spanier, who testified before a grand jury in the matter, has not been given the opportunity to present his side of the story.
"This wasn't a conspiracy of silence," she said, echoing the charge made last week by state Attorney General Linda Kelly. "That is ridiculous."
Spanier, 64, was charged last week with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy for his actions in response to complaints about Sandusky showering with children. Spanier has claimed he is being framed for political purposes.
He served as Penn State's president for 16 years but was forced out a year ago after Sandusky was charged along with Curley and Schultz, who were two of Spanier's top underlings. Spanier is on paid leave as a member of the faculty.
Along with the charges against Spanier, prosecutors added counts against Curley and Schultz. They were arraigned Thursday. District judge William Wenner told Spanier and his lawyers the Nov. 16 preliminary hearing date would likely be delayed a month or two.
Curley, the athletic director on leave until the final year of his contract expires, and Schultz, now retired, await trial in January on charges of failure to report suspected abuse and perjury. Like Spanier, they deny the allegations.
The new charges came almost exactly a year after details of the case against Sandusky sent a maelstrom through State College, toppling longtime head coach Joe Paterno and eventually leading to severe NCAA sanctions against the football team.
Sandusky, 68, vigorously contested the charges but was convicted in June of 45 counts of abuse of boys, including violent sexual attacks inside campus facilities. He was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison.
A grand jury report alleged Spanier testified falsely that he did not know of a 1998 complaint against Sandusky, made by a mother and investigated by university police.
It also claimed Spanier lied about a 2001 instance of abuse witnessed by a graduate assistant, when he testified that Curley and Schultz described it only as horseplay. Email traffic among the men, jurors wrote, "make clear they are discussing an event that involves the abuse of a child."
The grand jury report described how he addressed the growing scandal last year with the board of trustees, and how he put out statements supportive of Curley and Schultz after their arrest. The report said investigators were immediately able to get important records from the university after Spanier was replaced as president.
Spanier's lawyers put out a statement law week that accused Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the investigation began, of orchestrating the charges to divert attention from questions about why it took three years to bring charges against Sandusky. They said there was no factual basis for the Spanier charges and said the grand jury report was "a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man."
Wrestling finishes 2nd at Buffalo Invitational
- Written by Tim Dorst
- Hits: 451
The Kent State wrestling team’s season began on a promising note Sunday at the 2012 Buffalo Brawl Invitational tournament in Buffalo, N.Y.
Seniors Dustin Kilgore and Casey Newburg won individual championships, and the Flashes finished second in the team rankings with a total score of 111 points.
Six teams participated in the tournament including No. 5 Ohio State, No. 22 Edinboro, and Mid-American Conference rival and host school Buffalo. Head coach Jim Andrassy said he felt the Flashes competed well with the number of young wrestlers they have on the squad.
“A few of our young guys did pretty well,” Andrassy said. “I’d like to see a little more urgency in their matches and see them get more experience, but we got off to a good start today.”
No. 17 Kent State saw the return of Kilgore, who spent last season training with the U.S. Olympic wrestling team and competing in international tournaments. Kilgore, the No. 1-ranked grappler in the nation at the 197-pound weight class, earned a pin fall and a 10-4 decision on his way to an individual title.
Andrassy said having Kilgore back in the lineup would stabilize that weight class and help other wrestlers on the team.
“It definitely helps with the team’s consistency,” Andrassy said. “It’ll also help our younger guys when they see how he prepares for matches, how he competes and how he puts pressure on opponents.”
In his last season with the Flashes in 2011, Kilgore went 35-3 and won a national championship at 197 pounds.
Newburg earned an individual title at 184, starting the day with an 8-0 shutout of Edinboro’s Hunter Auletta. Newburg followed up by scoring a fall and a 6-3 before defeating Victor Avery of Edinboro 4-2 in the championship round.
Sophomore Ian Miller finished second in the 157-pound bracket, despite getting off to a fast start. Miller earned three pin falls in his first four matches but dropped a 5-3 decision against Ohio State’s Josh Demas.
“[Miller] just didn’t wrestle very well in the last match,” Andrassy said. “… I feel he was better than the guy he wrestled, but he didn’t go with his game plan and it resulted in a loss.”
Senior Stevie Mitcheff finished third in the 125-pound bracket after winning three of his four matches. Mitcheff lost his semi-final match 9-4, and Andrassy said it came down to which wrestler wanted it more.
“He could have very well made it to the finals,” Andrassy said. “A lot of it comes down to getting prepared for that match, working a little harder and staying relaxed. With a little more urgency, I think he would’ve done much better.”
Mitcheff, who wrestled at 133 pounds last season, defeated Buffalo’s Mike Soria 11-5 to earn a third-place finish.
Senior Keith Witt finished second in the heavyweight division, junior Tyler Small finished third at 141, and freshman Sam Wheeler earned third at 174.
Andrassy said this tournament allowed his team to get good experience early in the season.
“It’s a long season,” Andrassy said. “We know where we’re at now, and we know what we need to do to improve.”