Diamon Beckford adjusts to a larger stage

Beckford. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Beckford. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Matt Lofgren

Rarely do junior college transfers come in and make as big an impact as Diamon Beckford has made for the Flashes this season.

A native of Upper Darby, Pa., Beckford played for the University of New Hampshire, where she saw action in 29 games. Last season at Kirkwood Community College, Beckford was named second-team All-American and averaged 12.8 points per game.

Coming into this season, her first season with Kent State, Beckford really didn’t know what she was up against with a young team and limited experience. When she first showed up for camp, Kent State coach Bob Lindsay assigned her a completely new position than she had ever been in, which had given her troubles until recently.

“I’ve developed an inside-out game,” Beckford said. “Coach gave me an opportunity and said ‘I’m going to have you step out a little bit’ and have bigger post player guard me. Me being a little bit smaller, a little bit quicker, it’s given them a lot of trouble and hands down, man down is my theory. You come out and don’t guard me, I’m going to shoot it.”

The leap from junior college to the MAC has been a difficult one for Beckford.

“Junior college is, I won’t say easy, but it’s more of you’re playing against people your own age,” Beckford said. “I was the oldest on my team, so it was all sophomores and freshmen. The transition of coming here: You’re playing against people who are a lot bigger, a lot faster, a lot stronger, so definitely the process has been to get into very good shape.”

To this point in the season, Beckford has averaged just over 10 points per game, but in her last three games, she has averaged 21.7 points. In fact, during that stretch, Beckford scored her season high 23 points in a win over Buffalo back on Jan. 19.

But it isn’t all about scoring for Beckford. When she first came to the Flashes, she had envisioned herself as a player who would make the plays no one wanted to make.

“We talked about roles a couple of weeks ago when we had that rough stretch of basketball, and everyone put down what they thought their role was,” Beckford said. “I thought my role was to be that blue-collar worker. Do all the little things no one else wants to do like step in and take that charge.”

Make no mistake, Beckford is the type of player to play with a chip on her shoulder. After being pegged as an undersized player, she knew she would have to work hard to make an impact.

“I’m an undersized post player here, so pretty much, I have to work harder than anyone else when you’re out there playing this position,” Beckford said. “My goals were just to play harder, be a blue-collar worker and make some plays for my team when the need to be made.”

Although Beckford didn’t have a large cast to turn to for help, she couldn’t make this transition alone. Coming into camp as someone who wasn’t a freshman who still didn’t know the offense, she turned to the players she knew could help.

Juniors Tamzin Barroilhet and Trisha Krewson are more than just the other parts to the Big Three that Beckford has joined. The girls have become friends and coaches to Beckford when she made her big move.

“(We) juniors, we try to stick together and we are around each other a lot,” Beckford said. “I was having a hard time in the beginning just finding my role and knowing what it was, and they were like ‘you got it, it’s okay.’ We worked on offense as a team when we had time off and get to practice early to run through the plays.”

For now, the Flashes are still young, still improving and very tenacious. After a rough first half of the season, the Flashes have made a turn-around that has people noticing.

“When we were losing, a lot of teams separate with this person saying it’s that person’s fault, and we were a team that always stuck together,” Beckford said. “We always knew that we were going to be a very good conference team, and now it’s got us thinking that we are going to be a very hard team to beat the second time around because we are sticking together.”

Beckford will lead the Flashes on a two game road trip starting with Western Michigan on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and then out to Northern Illinois Saturday for a 2:30 tipoff against the Huskies.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].