Flashes head to St. Louis looking for win No. 2

Chris Gates

Kent State ready for road game

Experience No. 1 was positive for the Kent State men’s basketball team (1-0), as they beat North Carolina Central 83-42 on Monday.

Experience No. 2 is at 8 p.m. tonight in Saint Louis, where the Flashes will learn how well they can handle a hostile environment.

The Billikens (1-0) debuted their new home, Chaifetz Arena, on Friday and beat Missouri-St. Louis 48-33. Kent State coach Geno Ford said this game will continue to shed light on the character of his team.

“Now we’re going on the road, which is another new experience,” Ford said. “Every new experience we have (at) this time of year is going to be new. We haven’t boarded a plane yet. We haven’t gone in to an opposing arena yet … it’s a whole different level of toughness required on the road than required at home.”

After a few games away from the M.A.C. Center, Ford said he will have a solid grasp on the makeup of the team.

The Game


(1-0, 0-0 MAC) (1-0)

Where: Chaifetz Arena – St. Louis, Mo.

When: 8 p.m. tonight


Kent State junior forward Anthony Simpson was declared academically eligible before Monday’s game by the NCAA. However, junior guard Tyree Evans will have to wait until the completion of the fall semester to officially join the team.

Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy said the major issue was getting each player’s academic credits to transfer to the university.

Simpson’s transaction was processed quicker because he attended only one school prior to arriving at Kent State: Highland Community College.

Evans attended two schools – Butler County Community College and Motlow Junior College – and therefore has had a longer approval process.

The approval took a bit longer than Kennedy had expected and hoped. However, he is happy that both situations are under control and looks forward to Evans joining the team along with Simpson.

The Flashes play a St. Louis team that was picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic-10 Conference preseason poll. The two teams played last year to the same difference as Monday: a 41-point Kent State win, 81-40.

But Ford stressed that this year’s St. Louis team is little bit better then 2007-2008’s squad.

Three of the top five scorers have returned from last year, including leading scorer, guard Kevin Lisch. The senior averaged 14.6 points per game, but scored just eight points against Kent State last season.

The Flashes are hoping to dictate the game, which was the same goal in the opener against N.C. Central. If they are unable to do so, Ford is worried about the outcome.

“They tend to control tempo,” Ford said. “We’re going to have to play defense, long possessions of defense and then not get impatient on offense so that time of possession isn’t way out of whack. It will be a tough challenge for us.”

When the schedule was announced, the Flashes saw this game as a chance to prove themselves. The players, just as Ford, believe a win will be a boost to their confidence.

“To get in the postseason you’ve got to be able to win on the road,” junior guard Chris Singletary said. “It’s just an adventure right now to see where we’re at, learn something about our team (and) learn something about ourselves as players being able to go on the road and play in a tough environment. I think it’s going to help us if we come out with a win (and) help us as far as confidence (goes).

“If we’re not successful, hopefully guys take something from it and move forward. It’s a long season.”

Tonight’s game is the beginning of a tough stretch for the Flashes. The team will play away from home in four of the next five games, covering a span of 15 days.

UNC Wilmington comes to Kent on Sunday for the only home game during that time.

“It’s just going to come down to us getting put into the fire a couple times and seeing who’s going to step up and make plays,” Ford said. “As the year progresses, we’ll get better and better I think.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].