Kent State basketball picked second in preseason poll

Both men’s and women’s teams expected to finish runner-up in MAC East

Credit: DKS Editors

Men’s Basketball

The Kent State men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the 2009-2010 Mid-American Conference Preseason poll.

“We’re really excited to get going,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “We were able to go to Italy on a foreign tour in August, so it feels like we’ve been practicing for quite a while.”

Last season Kent State finished the regular season 18-13, 10-6 in the MAC. The Flashes lost in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals to Buffalo 65-62. The team finished the season losing to Oakland 74-80 at the Post Season Tournament.

Al Fisher, Jordan Mincy and Julian Sullinger played their final game against Oakland last year. Kent State will have to replace the trio that led in several statistical categories.

Fisher led the team with points, steals and assists. Mincy was second in steals and assists, while Sullinger led the team in offensive rebounds.

The Flashes, who had three first-place votes, trail their rival Akron, who received 19 first place votes. Kent State received one MAC tournament champion vote, and Akron earned 19.

Ford said the rankings don’t mean anything to him or the team.

“To be honest we’ve done better when we’ve been picked fourth,” he said. “Sometimes you can use it as a motivator.”

Senior guard Chris Singletary was named to the East Division All-MAC Preseason team. After averaging more than 12 points a game last season, Singletary is the Flashes’ leading returning scorer this year.

The Flashes welcome back junior guard Rodriguez Sherman to the court after he was redshirted from a knee injury.

But Kent State hasn’t completely overcome injuries.

Ford said Singletary and Sherman have both suffered an injury in the past four days. Singletary has a high ankle sprain and Sherman has a dislocated elbow. Both x-rays came back negative, but it is unknown how long each player will be out.

Kent State will start its season by hosting the Hispanic College Fund Classic on Friday, Nov. 13 at the M.A.C. Center.

Women’s Basketball

Coming off a second-round exit in the Mid-American Conference Tournament last season, the Kent State women’s basketball team has been picked to finish second in the MAC East Division.

The Flashes (19-10, 8-8 MAC last season), who finished second in the standings last season, received twelve first-place votes.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said the preseason rankings could mean nothing in the long run.

“Just about any team in our division is capable of winning our division,” Lindsay said. “Bowling Green is picked as the favorite, deservingly so, but the five other teams are more than capable. It’s going to be a tough division.”

Bowling Green, led by MAC Player of the Year junior forward Lauren Prochaska, was picked to finish first in the division. The Falcons beat Kent State twice last season, winning 77-71 at the M.A.C. Center and 61-54 at home.

Kent State faces the daunting task of replacing center Anna Kowalska. The team’s leader in the paint led the team in points (16.1 per game), field goal percentage (.533) and rebounds (8.1 per game).

Lindsay said replacing a pivotal player like Kowalska is never easy, but having two seasoned returning players and an incoming freshman down low will help.

“We’ve got three players: Lorriane Odhiambo, Ellie Shields and a freshman, Leslie Schaefer,” Lindsay said. “They’re going to have to make up for it, but our offense is going to look a little different this year.”

Also returning for the Flashes are the guard duo of sophomore Jena Stutzman and fifth-year senior Rachel Bennett. The perimeter players led the Flashes in three-point field goal percentage. As a team, Kent State ranked second in the nation in three-point percentage.

The Flashes will begin regular season play Friday, Nov. 13 when they begin a five-game road trip at Robert Morris.

Contact sports reporters Cody Erbacher at [email protected]. and Lance Lysowski at [email protected].