Kent State to face tough Temple team on road

Jeff Russ

Kent State sophomore Rachel Bennett dribbles past Vermont Junior Amy Rosenkrantz in Saturday’s game at the M.A.C. Center. The Flashes fell to 1-5 on the season with the 63-53 loss. REBECCA MOIDEL | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

When the Kent State women’s basketball teams faces Temple tonight in Philadelphia, Dawn Staley – a woman who contributed to the increase in exposure and popularity of women’s basketball – will be trying to guide her team past the Flashes.

Staley was one of the WNBA’s original stars, she is now the head coach at Temple. In her seventh season at Temple, she has compiled a record of 154-72 and has had a player drafted in the first round of the WBNA draft the past two seasons.

While coaching at Temple, she also worked a summer job, playing and starring in the WNBA. Between 1999-2006, Staley compiled 1,797 career points and 1,055 assists while playing for the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets.

She led the Sting to its only WNBA championship series in 2001, losing to the Los Angeles Sparks two games to one. She also won three gold medals for the United States during the Summer Olympics in 1996, 2000 and 2004. She retired from the WNBA in 2006.

Her influence on the game is appreciated by the Flashes.

“I know that she’s a great player,” junior forward Samantha Scull said. “I will be excited to meet her and shake her hand at the end of the game.”

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay also has nothing but respect for Staley.

“She’s done a great job,” he said. “What else are you going to say about her. She was a great player, she did a great job at Temple building it into a nationally ranked team for a number of years.”

This season, Staley’s Owls are 3-5 having already played a tough nonconference schedule. The Owls have faced four teams in the top 25; Georgia, Duke Standford and Purdue. The Owls defeated 22nd-ranked Purdue 61-47. Other wins came against Mid-American Conference teams Western Michigan and Ball State. Kent State coach Bob Lindsay recognizes tonight’s game could be difficult.

“Temple is going to be hard because the game is on the road,” he said. “But put it this way, Temple beat Ball State (Nov. 28) by 24, and Ball State is picked to win (the MAC). It shows what our challenges are right now.”

The Flashes are 1-5 so far this season. The last time out they lost 63-53 to Vermont. After that game Lindsay said he is looking for the team to improve and he is still looking for someone to develop as the leader of this young, inexperienced team.

Improvement can only come through practice, the players said.

“First, we got to get the hustle factor down,” Scull said. “Once we get that down, we can work on improving the fundamental skills and execution. It’s basically hustle and communication that we need to work on the most right now.”

For the second straight game junior forward Asheley Hakins will not play due to injury. The Flashes switched the lineup Saturday, bringing Samantha Scull off the bench to play power forward and moving freshman Chenel Harris to small forward from power forward. Harkins averages nine points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Due to Harkins injury, the Flashes will only play eight women tonight. That lack of depth combined with Temple’s talent has Lindsay concerned, saying all five of the Owls starters are good. The key to winning tonight, the players and coaches say, comes from improving, hard work and hustle.

“It’s the same game plan,” Scull said. “We have to working playing hard, being aggressive and not play soft.”

Contact sports reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected]