Basketball teams focus on postseason

Lance Lysowski

The Drive for “20” (wins, that is) highlighted the basketball teams’ goals at the beginning of the season.

But after hitting that number, each basketball squad is focusing on the postseason.

The men powered their way to a 21-win season, while the women just hit their mark prior to the postseason by defeating Akron in the final regular-season game for their 20th victory.

Now it’s time for the Flashes to put the regular season behind them and concentrate on the MAC Tournament, which starts Wednesday for the women and Thursday for the men.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay and the women’s team will look to move closer to their first MAC Championship since 2001-02. Last season, senior guard Jamilah Humes powered the Flashes to the semifinals, but a poor shooting performance ended their title hopes.

Humes and sharp-shooting forward Taisja Jones return, along with three other senior starters.

But the performance of role players off Lindsay’s bench could cause a problem.

Sophomore guard Tamzin Barroilhet surprised many with her play this season. After sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules, Barroilhet’s ball-handling skills and ability to find an open teammate has added a much-needed presence in Lindsay’s lineup.

While the team’s guard play is not a problem, its inside game is questionable. Except for senior center Ellie Shields, there is not much height on the team. They will rely solely on a strong defensive effort and a solid shooting performance.

Many questions linger about the women’s team’s offensive consistency heading into the tournament, and the same can be said for MAC Coach of the Year Geno Ford and the men’s team.

Ford is trying to claim his first MAC Tournament Championship as the head coach of the Flashes.

The team hoisted their last title in 2008 when Kent State defeated Akron 74-55 in Jim Christian’s last season as coach.

The Flashes’ team is built much different than last year’s squad that was ousted by Ohio in the second round.

Kent State’s frontcourt is led by the MAC Player of the Year, junior center Justin Greene.

The 6-foot-8-inch big man’s 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game earned him the accolades, along with his team-leading 45 blocks. The question mark surrounding Kent State is the team’s ability to win if Greene struggles.

The Flashes have been at a loss when the junior center fell short.

The responsibilities of running the offense then rest on the team’s guard play.

The team’s backcourt is raw, but talented. Senior guard Rod Sherman is the vocal leader of the group, but junior college transfer Carlton Guyton’s offensive potential could be the catalyst for the team’s offense.

Guyton, who was suspended for several games because of a violation of team rules, has not let off-the-court incidents become a distraction.

The junior guard’s ability from behind the arc has fueled his 12.7 points per game as Guyton has shot 41 percent from 3-point range.

Both teams have the talent, but anything can happen come tournament time.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].