Men’s basketball tabbed as favorite

Women’s team picked fourth in conference preseason poll

For the second time in many years, the Kent State men’s basketball team is the No. 1 target in the Mid-American Conference.

The Flashes are picked to win both the MAC East Division as well as the Tournament Championship by the MAC News Media Association, earning 16 out of a possible 22 first place votes. Miami earned the other six, good enough for second in the division.

“It’s a nice recognition that we’ve won and been successful, but we also have to realize that everybody is 0-0 and all it does is, everyone goes and circles it and can’t wait to play Kent State,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “But the reality is that’s been going on for a while.

“To be honest, it’s nice,” he added. “It’s better than being picked last.”

Bowling Green, Akron, Ohio and Buffalo round out the standings in order from third to sixth.

Last year’s MAC Player of the Year, senior guard Al Fisher, also received honors, being named to the Preseason All-MAC team in the East Division.

“Knowing teams are going to come after you, it makes you bring your ‘A’ game every game,” Fisher said. “You can’t take a day off because you never know what could happen that day.”

Western Michigan claimed the preseason No. 1 spot in the West Division with 15 votes, followed by Eastern Michigan with seven.

While the men’s team won the MAC championship and went to the NCAA Tournament last season, the Kent State women’s basketball team had its first losing record in 17 years at 9-21. This season, the Kent State women’s basketball team was picked fourth in the MAC East, behind Bowling Green, Miami and Ohio.

“I didn’t expect to be anywhere,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsey said. “We won nine games last year. Why would anybody pick us to be any place?”

Last year, suspensions, injuries and players leaving the team whittled Kent State’s roster down to seven players at one point. With three junior-college transfers and a freshman joining the team this year, the Flashes will have a full bench for the start of the season.

The Flashes will return all five starters from last season, including senior center Anna Kowalska, who was named to the Preseason All-MAC team.

“It makes practice go a lot easier at the start,” Lindsey said about having eight returning players. “In terms of progression, we’re a lot farther than we were last year at this time.”

Rounding out the MAC East is Buffalo and Akron. In the MAC West, Ball State was picked to finish first, followed by Northern Illinois.

Bowling Green, last year’s MAC Tournament runner-up, is this season’s favorite to win the MAC Tournament.

Contact sports reporters Chris Gates and Josh Johnston at [email protected] and [email protected].