MAC announces basketball polls

Deanna Stevens

Without the comfort of Mid-American Conference leading seniors to count on, both the Kent State men’s and women’s basketball teams begin their 2006 season with a new strategy, but the same expectations.

The men’s team was picked to finish third in the MAC East Division and the women’s team was chosen No. 2 at the MAC media day in Cleveland yesterday

Men’s coach Jim Christian said although the Flashes lost four seniors, they still have several veterans with experience.

“It’s always hard to replace guys,” Christian said. “But I don’t think we win with just three or four guys; we play 10 guys every single night. So I think people forget we had a lot of guys playing valuable minutes for us on the way of winning that championship.”

While the men’s team is the reigning MAC champion, preseason polls do not show a repeat. Akron was picked as the preseason favorite to win the MAC Tournament. The Ohio Bobcats were selected to finish second.

Christian said the MAC is “a very balanced and competitive league.”

The Flashes have proven the predictions wrong on a consistent basis. Christian said they have been picked to finish first only once in the last eight seasons, even though they have made it to postseason play in each of the eight seasons, including four NCAA Tournament bids.

Miami, Buffalo and Bowling Green were picked to round out the East.

The Flashes didn’t have a player selected to the preseason All-MAC team. Christian said the lack of one player being singled out indicates the team’s style of play.

In the Western Division, the Toledo Rockets were picked to finish No. 1. Senior guard Justin Ingram represents the Rockets on the All-MAC team.

Northern Illinois was chosen to finish No. 2; fallowed by Western Michigan, Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan

The women’s basketball team was picked to finish second behind two-time defending champion Bowling Green.

Bowling Green is returning five starters from last year and are the obvious pre-season favorite to win the conference. Kent State is returning three starters, including senior La’Kia Stewart, who was named MAC Sixth Man of the Year last season.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].