Flashes hope to be in full force against Miami

Freshman guard Kellon Thomas drives past his Central Michigan opponent during an 87-72 home victory Saturday, Feb. 9. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Shane Flanigan

Freshman guard Kellon Thomas drives past his Central Michigan opponent during an 87-72 home victory Saturday, Feb. 9. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Tim Dorst

Kent State defeated Central Michigan decisively Saturday, winning its second straight home game while at the same time losing senior forward Chris Evans to injury late in the game.

The Flashes (13-11, 4-6 MAC) are now hoping to have Evans back on the court when they face off against Miami at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center.

According to head coach Rob Senderoff, Evans participated in light practice Tuesday afternoon, mostly during shooting and defensive drills and received more treatment for a sprained right ankle. Senderoff said he is hopeful that Evans will be able to play Wednesday night against the Redhawks.

“Obviously it’ll depend upon how he responds to the treatment,” Senderoff said. “More than likely I would expect him to play. I don’t think he’s 100 percent though.”

Evans said he was being cautious with how much activity he did during practice and added that he will have to wait until he receives more treatment Wednesday before deciding if he can play.

With or without Evans in the lineup, Senderoff said the players have to focus and prepare the same way and continue to do the things they have to do on the court to play their best basketball.

“Whether he plays or doesn’t play we’re going to have to take care of the basketball first and foremost,” Senderoff said. “We’re going to have to defend in the half court, and rebound effectively. We must do those three things to get the win.”

Against CMU Saturday, the Flashes committed only seven turnovers and held the Chippewas to 44 percent shooting for the game. While they were out-rebounded by the Chippewas, the Flashes will have an opportunity to turn that around against the Redhawks, who rank last in the MAC in total rebounds.

Miami (8-14, 3-7 MAC) currently places last in the East Division having lost six of its last seven games. The Redhawks tend of use half-court and full-court presses on defense quite often and try to trap in the half-court sets, and Senderoff said that is what sets the Redhawks apart from most other teams in the conference.

“Miami has really athletic perimeter players, and they scramble and trap and press,” Senderoff said. “There’s not another team in our conference that presses the way Miami does for 40 minutes, or who traps in the half court like Miami does. We showed our guys some film on that so that they can see the things we need to do.”

To counter Miami’s scrambling defense, the Flashes will have to look closely at what was effective for them Saturday and apply it to the game against the Redhawks. Kent State players shared the ball effectively against CMU leading to 18 assists, and junior guard Bryson Pope said it’s important that the team continues to do what it’s been doing.

“We just want to carry over the energy and the effort, the enthusiasm, all the little things that made a difference in the last game,” Pope said. “We have to continue moving the ball, taking care of the ball and keeping turnovers low.”

With the Flashes having two straight home games for the first time since December, Pope said it will be nice to be able to spend an extra day or two in Kent without having to travel in the middle of the week.

“Most of the time, we miss at least two days out of the week being away from class and the campus,” Pope said. “So it’s going to be nice to stay home this week and maybe build some momentum at home.”

The Flashes have certainly gained momentum on the offensive end as of late, as they have averaged 80 points per game over the past three games. The team is 2-1 in that span, and its 87 points against the Chippewas was the most the team has scored since defeating Buffalo 80-68 on Jan. 16.

The increased scoring and improved offensive performance has no doubt played a major role in the Flashes’ recent games, but there are still improvements to be made. Senderoff said the team needs to continue to focus its efforts defensively and is hoping to see more of the kind of defense the team showed in the second half against the Chippewas.

“In the first half we didn’t guard as well as we needed to, and in the second half we did a much better job,” Senderoff said. “We’re going to have to do that again Wednesday to have a chance to get a win. Offensively, to me it’s not about who scores, it’s about us getting good shots. I thought we did a good job of that Saturday night, and that’s going to be important for us moving forward.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].