KSU men’s basketball begins series of away games


Junior forward Justin Greene tries to keep possession of the ball during the men’s game Wednesday. The Flashes beat Eastern Michigan 80-70.. Photo by Matt Hafley

Rachel Jones

In the next seven days, the Kent State men’s basketball team will spend a lot of time in airplanes, buses and visitor locker rooms.

The Flashes (16-7, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) begin their series of four road games in one week at Northern Illinois on Saturday at 4 p.m. Kent State will then venture to Western Michigan on Monday, Miami on Wednesday and Drexel on Feb. 18.

Next Game:

Saturday @ Northern Illinois at 4 p.m

“We’ve been getting better on the road and getting a feel for what it takes to win on the road,” said senior guard Rod Sherman. “You have to stay poised and keep your composure.”

Kent State coach Geno Ford said it will take a lot of toughness for the team to handle the schedule that’s packed with not only games, but also travel days.

With no time for players to fully recover or heal, Ford is expecting everyone to be tired by the end of the journey, adding to the importance of Saturday’s game.

“(Northern Illinois) is a big one because it’s the first one,” Ford said. “It’s as fresh as we’re going to be, so we have to be the best.”

The players will be getting plenty of rest before their big trip, but at this point in the season, they are more concerned with fine-tuning and mental preparation than endless drills anyway.

“It’s the time of year where you don’t get better in practice,” Ford explained. “We practice hard in Christmas break and January. I’m not going to wear them out in practice now.”

While the players are concentrating on taking care of their bodies and watching more film, it does not mean they will be slacking off just because they are almost done.

However, that’s how the team has looked lately on the court.

“The one thing we haven’t been good at is we’ve gotten leads and not been able to extend it,” Ford said. “That’s a mental toughness thing we haven’t (fully accomplished).”

On Wednesday, the Flashes took a 40-34 halftime lead and turned it into an 80-70 victory over Eastern Michigan.

“We have to close guys out a high point,” Sherman said. “We get in that dead mode or get relaxed. But we’ll get better at it. We just have to think this thing rolling.”

Kent State is rolling through a five-game winning streak and sitting at first place in the MAC East.

Junior forward Justin Greene said he was happy with the win, but he wished the point gap was bigger. Greene led the Flashes with 23 points against Eastern Michigan – 19 from the first half alone.

But Ford said everyone must contribute that much to keep the winning streak alive.

“If we’re going to win the league, we’re going to need balance,” Ford said. “You can’t ride one guy to the championship.”

All of the players will need to step up if they want to finish this road series victoriously.

With all four teams boasting good home records, Ford said the Flashes could play hard at all four games and still get beat.

“We’re not going to do well on all four,” Ford said. “But playing bad and winning would still be good.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].