Mid-Season hardware awards

The Daily Kent Stater sports staff gives out its mid-season awards for the KSU men’s and women’s basketball teams

Kent State’s basketball season is a little more than halfway over, but the sports staff here at the Daily Kent Stater thought it would be a good time to sit back and take a look at each team by pointing out our standouts, surprises and disappointments so far this year.

Men’s Basketball

After 18 games, the Kent State men’s basketball team is a tough code to crack. But after an impressive smacking of Buffalo Wednesday night, hopes couldn’t be higher entering this weekend’s rivalry game against Akron. Leading the way for the Flashes (11-7, 2-2 MAC) is a young rising star, a comeback kid and a couple of grizzled veterans.

Most Valuable Player: Sophomore forward Justin Greene

Not only is Greene the Flashes’ leading scorer (12.8 points per game), but he ranks second on the team in rebounds per game (5.8) and assists per game (1.7). Greene has scored 10 or more points in 13 of Kent State’s 18 games and has 10 or more rebounds in three games.

Most Improved: Junior guard Rodriquez Sherman

OK, so most improved doesn’t really apply here, but we’ll call it “comeback player of the year.” After missing last season following knee surgery, Sherman is a staple for the Flashes’ offense this season, averaging 11.1 points per game. That’s almost six points more than he averaged in his previous two seasons with Kent State.

Biggest Surprise: Greene

The sophomore went from averaging 2.2 points per game in 2008-2009 to being the team’s leading scorer this year. Senior guard Chris Singletary was expected to run the offense this season after averaging more than 12 points per game in 2008-2009, but, although Singletary is having a solid year, Greene is the leader of this offense.

Biggest Disappointment: The team’s inconsistent play

Big wins against teams like UAB and Morehead State are overshadowed by losses to teams like Miami. When the Flashes are on, they are impressive, but when they are off they can lose to anybody. The same team that put up 89 points against then-MAC-leader Buffalo Wednesday night lost a 13-point lead while scoring only 55 points against 5-12 Miami earlier this month.

Best Performance (team): Jan. 20 against Buffalo (89-54 win)

The Flashes turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 35-point blowout of then-MAC-leader Buffalo Wednesday night. Kent State hit 10-of-14 three pointers in the second half and led by almost 40 points near the end of the game.

Worst Performance (team): Jan. 12 against Miami (55-53 OT loss)

Kent State blew a 13-point first -half lead and an 11-point second-half lead to lose to the Redhawks in overtime. At the time, the Flashes were on a two-game winning streak and looked poised to start conference play 2-0 with an easy win at Miami. Even if the Flashes were to pull off the win in overtime, the game would have still been disappointing.

Women’s Basketball

Sitting at third in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference, the Kent State women’s basketball team has eclipsed the halfway mark in the season. Among the team leaders are a few familiar faces, along with two players who have defied all odds to lead Kent State this season.

Most Valuable Player: Junior

forward Taisja Jones

Before the start of the season, Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said Jones had the potential to play in the starting five down the road. Jones has lived up Lindsay’s expectations and then some. The junior college transfer has reached the 20-point plateau in six of the team’s last 10 games.

Most Improved: Senior forward Yoshica Spears

The senior team leader averaged 13 minutes per game off the bench last season, but her hard-nosed play inside has made Spears a mainstay. The former junior college standout led the Flashes in rebounds in seven of the team’s first eight games, while averaging 7.0 points and 7.1 boards on the season.

Biggest Surprise: Jones

The former first-team junior college All-American has taken little time to learn Lindsay’s complex offensive system. Jones has become the team’s catalyst on offense, leading the team with 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Biggest Disappointment: Junior guard Stephanie Gibson

As quickly as the guard shot her way into the starting five, Gibson has shot her way out. Last season, the North Canton native led the Flashes in 3-point field goal percentage with 48 percent, and ranked second on the team in assists. This season, Gibson has started in four of the team’s 17 games, while shooting 13-for-46 from behind the arc. If the junior does not begin to find her scoring touch, Lindsay will continue to use Gibson sparingly.

Best Performance (team): Jan. 19 against Buffalo (68-66 win)

Although Kent State did not win in perfect fashion, a collective team effort executed a comeback against their MAC rivals. The Flashes rallied from a 12-point deficit and scored 14 of the game’s final 19 points. Junior center Ellie Shields led the way with 18 points and six rebounds.

Worst Performance (team): Jan. 16 against Bowling Green (89-61 loss)

Kent State surrendered 55 points in the first half as 2009 MAC Player of the Year Lauren Prochaska evaded the Kent State defensive effort with 24 points. The Flashes could not overcome the dreadful first half that led to a 30-point deficit at halftime, and an 8-for-30 shooting performance.

Contact sports editor Cody Francis at [email protected] Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].