Men’s basketball prepares for game against Urbana

Rachel Jones

With five games in the first eight days of the season, it’s safe to say the Kent State men’s basketball team is a little worn out.

Junior forward Justin Greene’s knees and shins have been bothering him lately, and he said the whole team is hurting.

The Flashes (4-1), who hadn’t been able to hold a regular practice in 10 days, will use this week to recharge and reorganize the team’s weak areas before it battles Urbana at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

While the team has improvements that need to be made as a whole, junior Michael Porrini said he wants to work on getting assists.

The guard, who previously averaged five assists per game, did not make any on Friday against Furman (2-1). While he wants to change that, Porrini said he doesn’t want to beat himself up about it.

“I can’t put my head down because me being a leader on the court, that’ll bring negativity to the team,” Porrini said. “I can’t let that happen.”

Ford said the entire team looked tired on Friday and ran out of gas near the end of the second half. But besides stamina, Ford has other concerns as well.

“We’ve got to get an attention to detail that we currently lack,” Ford said. “There’s two stages in getting better: You have to be willing to learn and committed to learning. I don’t question our commitment, but our commitment to learning is not where it needs to be.”

Rebounding was a major factor in the Flashes’ 69-66 loss to Cleveland State on Nov. 14, and they almost brought a loss again on Friday against Furman. The Paladins became the first team all season to beat Kent State on the boards.

“We need to improve on that,” Ford said. “We’ve got a lot of first-year post guys out there, and they’re trying. But there’s another level of effort that we’ve got to find out there. Trying is great, results are what wins.”

With only three starters returning, a lot of the team’s struggles stem from its young team.

Ford said the freshmen had a hard time with the physicality of Friday’s game. He understands it’s hard for freshmen to fill their roles that fast, but he needs them to try if the team wants another championship.

“To be honest, in our program, I can’t think of any freshman we’ve played, particularly freshmen post guys,” Ford said. “But they’re going to adjust.”

After the young players improve on themselves, they will focus on working with the team as a whole.

Every team needs strong chemistry, and the mixture of old and new players still needs some work.

“Last year’s team was a great interior passing team because they had a great feel for each other,” Ford said. “We don’t have much feel yet. I think we will as time goes on, but we’re working with guys who are five games into their Kent State careers and still trying to figure each other out.”

The team figured it out Friday to scoot past Furman with a 78-74 victory. The Flashes hope to do it again against Urbana (1-3), who defeated the University of Indianapolis 88-77 on Saturday.

With young players and a packed schedule, Ford said he knew this season would start out rough but thinks the team can finish strong.

“It’s the least we’ve had back since ’96, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasure cruise,” Ford said. “But we are what we are. It’s going to be a rocky road for a while, and we’re going to be good in stretches. We just have to continue to get better.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].