With only three experienced players, women’s basketball season could be tough

Jeff Russ

Kent State Junior guard Asheley Harkins, sophomore guard Rachel Bennet and junior forward Samantha Scull are the only players with Division I experience returning this season for the Flashes. A tumultous offseason and the loss of six seniors means coach B

Credit: DKS Editors

Inexperience is one of the first words that comes to mind as the 2007- 08 Kent State women’s basketball hits the hardwood this season.

A tumultuous off season, combined with a lack of seniors, losing six letterwinners and four starters, leads to a lot of new faces and a lot of unknowns.

Coach Bob Lindsay said it is too early to tell how any of this will affect the team.

“We’re young, we’re thin, we’re minus some players,” he said. “We’re going to have to play extremely well in the conference schedule to beat 15 wins. To have a winning season, we’re going to have some of the younger players step up and perform relatively well for being young and some of the older players are gong to have to have really good seasons.”

No coach in the Mid-American Conference may be as successful as Lindsay. He has won five MAC championships, three MAC tournament titles and has won 15 or more games a season for the past 17 years at Kent State. In 2005 he became the first women’s coach to win 300 games in the MAC.

But because the team goes into the season with so many unknowns, the Flashes were picked to finish fourth of six teams in the MAC East Preseason Poll. The teams were picked by members of the MAC Media Association and league head coaches. The team sees this as motivation.

“Not a lot of people are expecting a lot out of us, so we just want to go out and play hard and prove them wrong,” junior guard Asheley Harkins said. “We know we have some good players on our team, we’ve recruited good people to come here, it’s just getting everybody on the same page, getting the right chemistry before we can actually go out and show people we are good too.”

Harkins is expected to be one of the leaders of the Flashes both on and off the court. She played in all 28 games last season, starting four, and averaged 5.8 points and two rebounds per game. She is also a threat from behind the arc, hitting 44 percent of 3s she took. As one of the team’s leaders, she takes responsibility in getting everyone assimilated into the program.

“It’s a good new start,” she said. “We were all here over the summer, we all took classes together and hung out together.”

“If you want to mesh out here on the court, then you have to mesh up there in the locker room,” junior forward Samantha Scull added.

Because of Scull’s size and strength, she is expected to be a difference-maker in the post. The 6-foot-3-inch forward played in only 22 games, missing six with a foot injury. She averaged six points and three rebounds per games and scored in double figures seven times. Combined with 6-foot-4-inch junior forward Anna Kowalska, the Flashes look to control the boards on both ends of the court.

Through preseason scrimmages and preseason practices, the team learned a lot about itself.

“We were thin, we didn’t have many kids that were available to play, and we are going to have to be in a lot better shape physically,” Lindsay said.

In order to compete in the MAC, the Flashes will have to compete with a lot of strong teams, including Bowling Green, who won the last three MAC championships and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season. Ohio was picked to win the MAC, returning three of five starters from last year’s team.

“I think the Eastern Division has some tough teams in it,” Lindsay said. “A lot of teams had returning starters from last year, and it will be a very tough division from top to bottom.”

As the season goes on, Lindsay expects the team to get better. He doesn’t expect to walk into any game and expect victory.

“Our goal as a team to improve on a daily basis and be as good as we can be, whatever that is,” he said. “We reach these goals by spending time in gym needed to become better and really concentrating on what the coaches want the players to do.”

It all starts Sunday, when the Flashes face St. Bonaventure at the M.A.C. Center.

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