Don’t fret: The season’s not over yet

Douglas Gulasy

It’s Christmas time, not St. Patty’s day, so for now, don’t get too worked up

Think men’s basketball coach Geno Ford is happy to see the end of the past six days?

A week ago, many Kent State fans may have been satisfied if Kent State finished 2-2 in a brutal four-game stretch against top-tier opponents Illinois, Texas A&M, Kansas and St. Mary’s.

So it’s not hard to imagine a bit of unrest this morning after the Flashes’ 75-69 loss last night to the Gaels at the M.A.C. Center caused them to end the stretch with an 0-4 record.

The four-game losing streak can’t be easy for Kent State to swallow. The Flashes had second-half leads against Illinois, Texas A&M and St. Mary’s but couldn’t finish the game, losing by six to each team.

So what does the four-game stretch say about Kent State?

First of all, the Flashes have some work to do. Their late-game struggles are an issue that must be addressed, and addressed soon.

Mid-American Conference games tend to come down to the end, and Kent State needs to learn how to execute in the closing minutes to finish off victories. If the Flashes had executed better offensively and defensively against the Illini, Aggies and Gaels, they might have ended the past four games with three wins instead of zero.

To be sure, part of the problem may have to do with the fact that it is just the seventh game of the season.

The Flashes’ big men are inexperienced, which could be seen in the past four games. That’s what happens when you lose players the caliber of Haminn Quaintance and Mike Scott; you’re left with guys trying to fill a big void.

However, Kent State’s goose egg in the past four games can’t be explained by inexperience alone.

Last night, the Flashes hurt themselves. They looked disjointed on offense – even though center Brandon Parks was leading Kent State offensively early on, the team went away from him in the middle part of the second half, when St. Mary’s took control.

Kent State also looked lost defensively at times. Ford said last night he isn’t sure who he would want in the game if the team needed a late stop because all the players have struggled defensively at times.

That should be especially troubling to Kent State fans because defense has been the identity of this team. Let’s face it – while the Flashes have some talented offensive players, they’re not going to win games by putting up 90 points. They have to be able to stop teams defensively.

However, the season is not over yet. Despite its four losses, Kent State showed “flashes” (rim shot) in the past six days that it could be a successful team.

Parks, a redshirt junior, had undoubtedly the best game of his limited career last night, scoring 16 points, pulling down eight rebounds and basically being all over the place.

Senior guard Al Fisher struggled the past two games, but it’s hard to see that continuing. Same goes for senior guard Jordan Mincy, who didn’t exactly have a shining game defensively last night.

Simply put, this team has too much talent to keep losing. When junior Tyree Evans finally becomes eligible to play after Dec. 12, the Flashes will get even better.

Yes, Kent State went 0-4 in the stretch, and yes, the team is still inconsistent. But it’s the beginning of December, not the middle of March.

Easier roads are ahead. The Flashes’ next four games are against Western Carolina, Youngstown State, UNC Greensboro and Cleveland State. Of the four, only Cleveland State made postseason play last year.

If the Flashes go 0-4 in that stretch, then fans can worry.

But for now? Don’t panic quite yet.

Contact assistant sports editor Douglas Gulasy at [email protected].