Season opener Sunday against St. Bonaventure

Jeff Russ

The Kent State women’s basketball team opens a new season Sunday against St. Bonaventure, 2 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.

All of the unknown surrounding the team will begin to clear up at tip-off. The Flashes lost all five starters from last year’s team and open up play with no seniors and only three experienced players on the roster.

“It’s going to be interesting,” head coach Bob Lindsay said. “We have some brand-new players mixed with some veteran players who we expect a lot out of.”

Sunday’s game is viewed as a test for many of the Flashes. The newcomers will find out if they are ready to compete at the Division I level, and others attempt come back from injury. Among those with questions are in the backcourt.

Freshman guard Stephanie Gibson steps into the lineup in her first ever game with the Golden Flashes. A 5-foot-6-inch guard from nearby North Canton, Gibson showed off her speed and ability to hit shots from behind the 3-point arc during preseason practices and scrimmages.

“She’s just not going to show up and play it safe, she’s going to play,” Lindsay said. “She’s going to miss some shots and there’s going to be some times she looks like a freshman. That’s the growing part of the game.”

Another of the Flashes mysteries that prepares to be answered is Rachel Bennett. Bennett returns to the Kent State lineup after missing all of the 2006-07 season with a torn ACL. Bennett said she feels fine and is ready for the season opener.

“Last year was really hard to sit out and watch,” Bennett said. “I was in the locker room three times a day with my trainer trying to get back and I am ready to play.”

Lindsay said he is not sure about his starting lineup for Sunday, and he would not know until game time, but expect to see Bennett and Gibson on the floor a lot.

The Flashes last faced St. Bonaventure in 2005, winning 85-45 at St. Bonaventure.

The Bonnies return nine letterwinners and four of five starters from last season’s 16-15 squad. The Bonnies return 6-foot-1-inch sophomore forward Dana Mitchell, who was the team’s top scorer at 13 points per game and second with 5.5 rebounds per game. Another top returning starter for the Bonnies is senior guard Priscilla Edwards. Standing only 5 feet 7 inches, Edwards still managed nearly five rebounds per game while scoring nine points and three assists per game.

Lindsay does not know what to expect from St. Bonaventure having not seen any game film from its preseason scrimmages. The Bonnies will play at Bucknell Friday before coming to Kent State. While he may not know what to expect from St. Bonaventure, Lindsay knows what he expects from his Flashes.

“We’re going to come out and a play like a Kent State team,” Lindsay said. “Traditionally, we play hard and our teams are very tough to beat. That’s what we expect.”

Lindsay enters his 19th season with the Flashes. He’s won 15 or more games the 18 seasons, but said he does not measure by wins and losses.

“We’re still learning,” he said. “We’ve spent three weeks learning the system and trying to develop chemistry.”

Contact women’s basketball reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].