Women Flashes look to improve before upcoming MAC Tournament
Last Saturday at the M.A.C. Center, after the Kent State women’s basketball team won 65-62 over rival Akron, coach Bob Lindsay made one thing perfectly clear: The team’s performance was not good enough.
In fact, Lindsay said he did not have long enough to describe all of the problems the team must overcome before the Mid-American Conference Tournament begins.
“We don’t have enough time for me to sit here and talk about that (what the team needs to improve on),” Lindsay said. “We don’t block out very well, we don’t handle physical teams very well (and) that’s part of it. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to fundamental parts of the game, and when I watch us play, I just think we need a whole other year to pin down some of the things we need to do.”
Despite the problems he sees with the team, Lindsay admits he can envision the Flashes upsetting some teams in the tournament.
“I think that (pulling off an upset at the MAC Tournament) is what we’re trying to do,” Lindsay said. “We go in the locker room every day and we have a good attitude. We’re positive, we’re trying to get better (and) we’re trying to do the best we can. Our kids haven’t packed it in by any stretch of the imagination.”
Kent State dominated Akron by forcing 25 turnovers, but after the game Lindsay said the stat did not represent how poorly the team played on defense. Sophomore guard Rachel Bennett said she agreed that the team needs to improve on defense before the tournament.
“We need to stop somebody and block them out,” Bennett said. “Turnovers, yeah they’re going to come when you’re being aggressive. Blocking out and not letting them get second chance opportunities is huge.”
In Kent State’s win over Akron, the Flashes only recorded 12 offensive rebounds, while the Zips posted 16 offensive boards. Overall, Akron beat the Flashes in rebounds 47-39.
The Flashes have been playing improved basketball over the last two weeks, winning two of their last three after two consecutive overtime losses to Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. Bennett said the overtime losses were a wake-up call for the team because it made the players realize they do not have the personnel to overcome fatigue in overtime.
“Those two overtime losses kind of hit us hard,” Bennett said. “I think our goal since those overtime losses was to get our lead, push it (and) play as hard as we can to not even have the overtime.”
The play of junior center Anna Kowalska is another factor that could affect the Flashes’ MAC Tournament fortunes. Although Kowalska has not played more than 15 minutes in a game since her return against Bowling Green, freshman forward Ellie Shields said her impact on the team has already been huge.
“It’s a blessing (Kowalska’s return), especially in practice,” Shields said. “She pushes me hard in practice, and I think that she’s just starting to get back in her groove. I think next game she’ll definitely be ready to play.”
Kowalska and the rest of the Kent State team will have their next pre-tournament test tonight when they take on Miami at Millett Hall.
Miami held on to beat the Flashes 64-59 earlier this season at the M.A.C. Center, behind a 31 point effort from senior guard Amanda Jackson, who leads the MAC in scoring. Jackson averages 22.3 points a game, 5.9 points more than Kowalska, who is second in scoring in the conference.
After Miami, the Flashes take on Ohio and Buffalo to close out the regular season. After those games, the team moves on to the MAC Tournament where Bennett hopes the team can do some damage.
“We’re very focused on them (our last three games), but right now in practice and everything we’re trying to get ourselves better to get us a couple wins in the MAC Tournament and get to the championship,” Bennett said. “That’s our whole focus right now.”
Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick