Friday, August 22, 2008

Kent State: 2008-2009 Team Preview

2007-2008 Team Record: 27-8, 13-3 (MAC)

Key Losses: Mike Scott (13.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Haminn Quaintance (10 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 1.9 spg)

Key Returnees: Al Fisher (13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg), Chris Singeltary (10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Jim Christian (coach)

Newcomers: Tyree Evans, Anthony Simpson, Frank Herny-La, Justin Greene, Alex Grimsley, Geno Ford

Kent State only loses two players from last year's rotation, but they just happen to have been the Golden Flashes starting front court, meaning that there is going to need to be a lot of defense and rebounding replaced. That problem was solved as Kent State brings in four recruits that play in the front court, headlined by former Lincoln Railsplitter Justin Greene. The 6'8" Greene is known for his defense and his hustle, and should fill in the void left by Haminn Quaintance and Mike Scott well.

Kent State does return a very solid back court. Senior Al Fisher was MAC player of the year last season as he averaged 13.9 ppg and 4.0 apg. The 6'1" scoring guard was a leader for KSU, and had a knack for big shots and big games, including a 28 point outburst against St. Mary's during BracketBusters. Joining Fisher as a returner in the back court will be junior Chris Singletary, a strong and physical 6'4" guard that can defend the point through the power forward, and senior Jordan Mincy, a steady PG known more for his defense and ball control than his scoring.

Kent State did land a huge recruit recently. Tyree Evans, the former blue-chipper and Maryland-signee (as of April) who fell out of favor with big-time D1 school because of his criminal record (statutory rape, marijuana possession), has transferred to Kent State as a walk-on. Evans, an explosive 6'3" guard, was a top 25 recruit coming out of high school, but has spent the last few years trying to get academically eligible (and judicially available) to play at the D1 level. He was the sixth-rated JuCo recruit this past year after averaging 21.1 ppg for Motlow State CC.

The biggest change this season for Kent State will be on the bench, as Jim Christian, who led the Golden Flashes to six 20 win season and to two NCAA tournaments (including the 2002 Elite 8 run), will be coaching at TCU next year. Not too much should change, however, as KSU hired assistant Geno Ford to take over the team.

Outlook: Kent State looked like the favorite for the MAC title before yesterday's news that Evans had been accepted. But with the addition of Evans, Kent State looks like a top 25 team and maybe the best mid-major this side of Davidson.

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