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November 17, 2008It turns out a Geno Ford team looks an awful lot like a Jim Christian team.
On Monday night at the M.A.C Center new Ford, Kent State's newest head coach, picked up his first win in a 83-42 drubbing of the undermanned and inferior North Carolina Central Eagles.
Defensive intensity and all-out hustle, both staples of the program's dominance of the Mid-American Conference the last 10 years, was on full display in the opener for KSU. It was on display from the very beginning.
Of the play coach Ford said, "There's no better start to your year than having a veteran guy make a hustle play like that and sending a message that that's how we play."
There was plenty of offense on display as well as five players scored in double figures, led by Al Fisher's game-high 15 points.
The Golden Flashes jumped out to an 11-0 lead at the 16:57 mark when NCCU took a 30-second timeout.
Highlights of the first half included Chris Singletary's lob to Rashad Woods for a dunk at 11:22 and Mincy's perfect cross-court bounce pass to a streaking Mike McKee for an easy basket at the 9:02 mark.
Brandon Parks, starting at center, had an impressive first half with 10 points and five rebounds. Fisher had nine points in the opening half and Anthony Simpson contributed seven points, fresh off being certified as eligible by the NCAA prior to the game.
Tyree Evans once again was in street clothes but the athletic department released a statement indicating he will be eligible to play after the fall semester.
Kent State took a 40-17 lead into the break and didn't let up in the second half.
"This was our best performance, we played better tonight than we played in the exhibition," Ford said. "We matured enough to where we can take a 20-point lead and really extend it and bury a team. Our guys didn't stop playing down the stretch and didn't take the final minutes for granted."
In addition to Fisher's 15, Singletary finished with 12, Woods 11 and Parks and Simpson both finished with 10 points.
The Golden Flashes held the Eagles to 31-percent shooting from the field and scored 34 points on 29 NCCU turnovers.
Kent State will travel to St. Louis for a Wednesday night game against the Billikins. Last year, KSU easily defeated St. Louis by 41 points, the same margin of victory as Monday night.
Evans waits while Simpson impresses: It appears Tyree Evans will have to wait a little longer than he would have hoped to make his debut for Kent State. The athletic department released a statement indicating that Evans will be eligible to compete for the Golden Flashes at the conclusion of the fall semester. Anthony Simpson was declared eligible and he provided a much needed boost of energy and talent in the front court. In 18 minutes of action, Simpson scored 10 points to go along with five rebounds. He was able to score out of a post-up situation, something the Flashes will need as they try and sort out their rotation on the front line.
Ford said, "Anthony Simpson gave us some good energy. He's a skilled a big man."
b>Ford debuts with W: Geno Ford became the sixth straight KSU coach to win his first game. Ed Douma was the last coach to not win his first game back in 1978. Ford previously was a head coach at Shawnee State and Muskingum.
Flashes extend Home Dominance: Kent State matched a school record for consecutive home wins at 17 games. It was first achieved from the end of 2000-01 to midway through 2002-03. Akron was the last team defeat Kent State at home, beating their archrival on March 4, 2007.
Uniform Talk: North Carolina Central will wear its home white uniforms for the first six road games this season, which included Monday night's game in Kent. Reportedly, the team ordered new road uniforms from Russell Athletic. Somehow the uniforms ended up getting shipped to Europe. That meant Kent State got to unveil its new gold "alternate" uniforms. The uniforms are consistent with the home white's and the road blue's in that they do not feature last names on the back. It's a good thing the Golden Flashes didn't wear their black "alternate" uniforms. When wearing the uniforms last year the team went 0-2, and I know of at least one media member who didn't find them very appealing to look at.
BP gaining confidence: Brandon Parks followed up a nice exhibition performance with another nice game while starting at center. Parks did most of his damage in the first half when he had 10 points and five rebounds and was a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line. Ford was most impressed with Parks' ability to snag a few rebounds in traffic and be strong with the ball.
"He's lost 21 pounds," Ford said. "He's changed his body and athleticism."
Senior guard Chris Singletary added, "BP is one of those guys who if he can get confidence then the sky is the limit for him. Right now he's stepping up and a lot of guys are gaining confidence in him."
PG: Kent State experimented with its lineup a couple times when dealing with its point guard during Monday's game. From 14:30 to 12:59 in the first half, with Jordan Mincy and Al Fisher on the bench, Chris Singletary was the initiator of the offense. For the last 7:40 of the game, with the result well in hand, Mike McKee played point guard for the first time in his Kent State tenure.
With McKee handling the situation well, Ford joked in the post-game press conference that the team may have found a new point guard in McKee.
Turnover Story: Kent State was able to force 29 NCCU turnovers and turn them into 34 points. The Eagles only had six assists. On Kent State's end, the Flashes only committed seven turnovers and had 18 assists. Ford sounded pleased when he said, "That's pretty impressive for the first game."
Road Warriors and undermanned: North Carolina Central, in only its second year in Division I, will play 21 road games during the 2008-09 season. On Monday night the team dressed just eight players. Two players have been sidelined by season ending knee surgeries that took place on the same day. Bryan Ayala, who averaged 13 points a game last year for the team, missed his second straight game due to suspension.
Saint Louis: The Golden Flashes will charter a plane Tuesday and head to St. Louis for their first road game Wednesday versus the Billikens. Last season KSU routed Rick Majerus' squad 81-40.
St. Louis defeated Missouri-St. Louis in its only game on November 14, 48-33. It was the first game in the brand new Chaifetz Arena and the Billikens' opener attracted 7,170 fans.
Ford said, "They're much improved, they got their two best players back. They've got five really good players. They were picked in the middle of their league (Atlantic 10). They tend to control the tempo."
Click here to discuss the game in the Blue and Gold Forum.
Officials: William Humes, Larry Scirotto, Damon Williams