Flashes showing signs of turning the corner

Chris Gates

Back-to-back wins attributed to new attitude

Junior center Brandon Parks dunks for two of his 16 points against St. Mary’s on December 4. The Flashes take on the Toledo Rockets tonight at the M.A.C Center at 7 p.m. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The Kent State men’s basketball team hasn’t lost a game yet this season … sort of.

Kent State is 2-0 since losing to Akron 68-54 on Jan. 24. After that loss, the Flashes declared they would “wipe the slate clean” and refocus their attitude for every facet of the game.

Attitude and work ethic in practice, preparation for games and execution during games have all been tweaked, and the result has been consecutive wins for the first time since Jan. 3.

“Our players made a conscious decision that we were rededicating ourselves to the season and we were starting over,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “What had happened was things that you can’t get back. You can’t reverse course.

“For us to string two performances like (these) together says something about our mentality and our concentration level. But we still (have) to keep getting better and keep working to do that.”

The Game:

Kent State (10-11, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) vs. Toledo (4-17, 2-5 MAC)

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Where: M.A.C. Center

Radio: www.blackquirrelradio.com or WNIR 100.1 FM

Internet: KentNewsNet.com live blog

Ford said the best basketball the team has played all season came in a four-game losing streak against Illinois, Texas A&M, Kansas and Saint Mary’s. After playing so well and getting beat the team got discouraged.

Now the Flashes are playing their style of basketball again, and the players have noticed a difference.

“There’s a point in every season when things are starting to click,” junior guard Mike McKee said. “(It’s) too bad it didn’t start to happen a little earlier, but I think now everybody’s starting to see the product.

“When everybody plays together, plays hard and plays for one purpose, I think everybody sees what we can do. It’s just given us more confidence and we’re seeing results right now.”

Progress has come in two straight convincing wins, 68-46 against Eastern Michigan last Tuesday, and 65-47 over Western Michigan on Saturday. A third victory in a row, which would be the first three-game win streak since the opening three games of the season, is available tonight against Toledo.

Senior guard Tyrone Kent is Toledo’s leading scorer, and Ford believes he is the most dangerous scorer in the Mid-American Conference.

“We can’t allow Kent to come in here and have a big night,” Ford said. “He is capable of getting 35 (points).

“He gets more quality shots than anyone else in our league. He’s the most skilled player in our league one-on-one. That presents some problems because you’re not going to be able to do anything to get the ball away from him; it’s not going to happen.”

Ford went on to say regardless of the opponent for the rest of the season success depends on the Flashes playing their style of basketball. He understands that his team has flaws and says that’s OK as long as the Flashes play to their strengths.

Kent State has done so in the last two games and came away with victories.

McKee said the ability to win while knowing there is still considerable room for improvement has the team realizing its potential.

“That means the ceiling is limitless,” McKee said. “If we can just fine tune (everything) and finish plays, I’m really looking forward to see what we can do.”

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].