21 reasons not to miss this year’s women’s tourney

Not getting your fill of basketball with the Mid-American Conference men’s tournament so far? We hear you.

Assistant sports editor Thomas Gallick and sports reporter Josh Johnston scoured the conference for reasons you should pay attention to the women’s tournament this year. Because anything the men can do, the women can do better. Speaking of which …

1. Kent State’s women are better than Kent State’s men.

A simple glance at the records reveals the Kent State women’s team (19-9 on the year) handled its schedule better than the men’s team (18-13, regular season) in number of wins, as well as winning percentage.

2. Junior guard Rachel Bennett says:

“It’s a high-paced game. It’s really intense. You can come out and get into it (because) it gets your adrenaline pumping.”

3. The Flashes are at full strength.

Last year was nothing short of a disaster for the Flashes, who played with eight or fewer players during the season, depending on injuries. This year the Flashes have 12 healthy players and won’t lose because of a lack of depth.

4. Lauren Prochaska.

The skinny sophomore forward, who’s already scored more than 1,000 points in her career for Bowling Green, is a phenomenal talent. She leads the nation in free-throw percentage, scores prolifically and plays shut-down defense. She could be the most dominant player in the men’s or women’s tournament.

5. Central Michigan’s outstanding offense.

The Chippewas lead the MAC in scoring per game (79.1 points) and put up 109 points on Kent State earlier this season. No one can use the excuse “women’s basketball players don’t score enough” when the team from Mount Pleasant, Mich., is playing.

6. The “Bob Lindsay” press.

Recently, the Flashes have been employing a gritty full-court defense symbolic of their hard-nosed coach. The press led to 29 turnovers in the team’s season-ending win against Akron.

7. Senior guard Asheley Harkins says:

“(We’re) not going in with six people (with) everybody looking at you as definite underdogs. I think people know that we’re one of the top teams in the league.”

8. It’s Harkins’ last chance.

For the fifth-year senior guard, the tournament has mostly been heartbreak – she’s seen two championship games but no titles. This year she’ll have one more shot at glory in Quicken Loans Arena.

9. Kent State has one of the most dominant post players in the tournament.

Senior center Anna Kowalska is fifth in the Mid-American Conference in scoring (16.4 points per game) and fourth in rebounding (8 per game). It could be argued no frontcourt player has a bigger impact on her team than Kent State’s rock.

10. … but Buffalo’s Kourtney Brown might be better.

The Bulls’ sophomore forward averages a tenth better in points and rebounds than Kowalska (16.5 ppg, 8.1 rebounds per game). Unfortunately for her, Buffalo could make a quick exit with its first-round game against Northern Illinois.

11. You can satisfy that early morning basketball craving.

Who doesn’t like washing down their Starbucks with a game of hoops? The first quarterfinal game tips off at 9 a.m. Friday.

12. Kent State’s 3-point shooting.

For fans of the long shot, this is their year. The Flashes have consistently been among the top five 3-point shooting teams in the country.

13. Possible Toledo-BG semifinal game.

This is a rivalry game along the lines of Kent State-Akron. The Falcons have met Toledo in the tournament more times than any other team and hold a 6-3 record in those meetings.

14. Akron is out of the basement.

After three years of taking the bottom seed in the tournament, Akron finally sees some daylight with a fifth seed in the MAC East. Will that even matter in the first round when the Zips take on Central Michigan?

15. Jamilah Humes.

In her first season back from suspension, she’s exploded for 11.5 points a game and a MAC-leading 2.6 steals a game. She’s a playmaker for the Flashes who could dazzle in Cleveland.

16. It’ll be more convenient to watch than the men.

For whatever reason, the men’s first two rounds were scheduled for yesterday and tomorrow. With most of the women’s tournament being held this weekend, you can watch it without missing classes.

17. Bowling Green’s fans.

Bowling Green’s women’s basketball fans bring down the house, probably even more so than the fans for the men’s team. Kent State fans need to pack Quicken Loans Arena to give the Flashes a similar sixth-man advantage.

18. It’s in Cleveland.

Enough said.

19. Bowling Green is looking for revenge.

In last season’s championship game, Miami upset heavily favored Bowling Green. Last week, the RedHawks upset the No. 25 Falcons. The way the bracket works out, we could see a grudge match in the final game.

20. It’s hosted by Kraft …

From the people who brought you Easy Mac comes . basketball?

21. … which is better than FirstEnergy, which hosts the men’s tournament.

Easy Mac vs. electricity. I think even Benjamin Franklin would have rather discovered the first one.

Contact assistant sports editor Thomas Gallick at [email protected] and sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].