Despite losing record, men’s basketball team motivated

Chris Gates

Senior forward Julian Sullinger attempts to dribble past a Miami defender earlier this season. The Flashes were defeated 55-66, with Sullinger scoring seven points. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

By looking at the Kent State men’s basketball team’s 8-11 record, fans might think the players aren’t showing enough effort.

However, Kent State coach Geno Ford says that can’t be further from the truth. In fact, he said there is more motivation to do better on this team than last year’s squad, which was nationally ranked and went to the NCAA Tournament.

The Game:


(8-11, 1-4 MAC) (3-16, 1-4 MAC)

Where: The M.A.C. Center

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Bill Needle),

Internet: Live blog at

“If you would have watched our team practice a year ago and (then) you watch this team practice, it’s night and day,” Ford said. “And in a very positive way. These guys practice harder. They’re more vocal. They concentrate better.

“We’ve just got to make sure we keep doing those things, and eventually it will click for us.”

Ford said the team has the desire to win, but poor execution is getting in the way.

In Kent State’s last game, a 68-54 loss at Akron on Saturday, the Flashes struggled in several areas. The most glaring problem was defending the post, as Akron sophomore Brett McKnight and junior Chris McKnight combined to shoot 14-of-17 from the field.

With Eastern Michigan visiting the M.A.C. Center at 7 p.m. tonight, the Flashes will have another strong set of forwards to defend.

Sophomore Brandon Bowdry and junior Justin Dobbins are the main concern for Ford. Bowdry averages 15.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds, while Dobbins averages another 9.6 points and 4.4 rebounds.

“Those two big guys are a real load,” Ford said. “They happen to be in a spot that we haven’t been super dominant (in).”

Going against Bowdry and Dobbins is a banged-up Kent State lineup. Senior forward Julian Sullinger and junior guard Chris Singletary are both battling nagging injuries.

However, those injuries and the losing streak – now at three straight – haven’t hurt the Flashes’ confidence.

After each of the last three losses, the team has said it has to combine a positive attitude with its work ethic during practice and in games. Sullinger said the truth is that “talk is cheap,” and now is the time for the Flashes to prove it on the floor.

“We’ve been talking about this for the last 19 games now,” Sullinger said. “It’s going to take time, but I know that whenever we get this thing clicking we’re going to be something to worry about.”

Ford said the team knows it has to have good execution to win games. He added that once the shots start to fall, the wins will start to come and confidence will grow.

“The collective heart of our team is in the right place,” Ford said. “They’re really working, and they’re really fighting and battling. Now we just need some good things to happen.

“Like any time in life, you’ve got to create your own breaks. We’ve just got to go be better than we’ve been.”

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