January 16, 2009

Streak in jeopardy?

Some fans have been grumbling recently over Kent State's 8-8 start. They fear the Golden Flashes' streak of 20-win seasons might come to an end.

However, as Kent State is about to go deeper into Mid-American Conference play, the Flashes are in a good spot. Compared to other MAC teams in the East, Kent State is right in the mix of the overall standings. Buffalo is at the top with a 9-5 record and Ohio is close to them with a record of 9-6. Miami, Bowling Green, Kent State and Akron all have eight victories.

In the East standings, Ohio is 2-0, Akron is 0-2, and all the teams in between are 1-1.

While a .500 record may not excite most fans, the Flashes could be in a worse situation. The team has seven new players that have used the first couple months of the season to get acclimated playing for the Flashes.

The Flashes have also had to wait for players like senior guard and last seasons MAC Player-of-the-Year Al Fisher to come out of an early-season slump.

Fisher, who said he's not adding any extra pressure on himself, could be poised to break out of that slump as he scored 23 points and compiled seven assists against Bowling Green on Wednesday.

Other players besides Fisher are going to have to step up if the Flashes want a shot at 20 wins.
Junior guard Chris Singletary has been up to the task so far and his presence alone could lift the Flashes to more wins.

Singletary has been called a coach on the court because of his leadership.

"If something is going wrong, [besides] the coaches, he's the first one I look to," Fisher said of his teammate.

Coach Geno Ford agrees.

"On good teams, guys lead and Chris has been very vocal and he's ratcheted up his defense," Ford said. "He went from a guy who would take plays off a year ago, and even at times early this year, to now a guy who's not really taking a lot of mental blows in spite of playing a lot of minutes. Guys respect Chris and that's made a big change."

Ford believes that as long as Singletary stays vocal and his teammates keep responding to him, the team has a chance to get better and put some winning streaks together.

Aside from the ESPN Bracket Buster game, Kent State's schedule is full of MAC teams the rest of the way.

Consistency will be the key if the Flashes hope to rise to the top of the MAC. Kent State started the regular season by winning its first three games then dropped five straight. Since Dec. 15, the team has been able to achieve back-to-back victories two other times this season, but hasn't been able to build on those wins.

Ford feels like the team is getting better and wonders if the team is ready to put a big streak together.

"That's hard to say," Ford said. "We played hard at Ohio, we played hard and well [against Bowling Green] and that's great; but now we got to go to do it again Saturday."

Other Notes:

Not true: Fisher was asked if there was a competition with junior forward Tyree Evans to see who could score more points.

Fisher said no and added that Evans is a great scorer, so when Evans is on fire, he tries to get him the ball as much as possible.

Singletary also had an opinion on the question.

"I really don't think there's a competition," he said. "I think both of those guys are great scorers and look to get baskets when they are both in the game. It might look like they are competing, but at the same time those guys are teammates and they know that they are there for one another when it comes to passing the ball and things like that."

Got your back: Singletary also defended the play of Fisher and expressed how important Fisher is to the team.

"We are all big fans of Al Fisher, especially the returning guys, being their last year seeing some of the things he did. It really helps us go, he's our leader," Singletary said. "He was in a slump, but at the same time, you got to know he was the MAC Player of the Year, so coming into this year, teams are focused in on him. It's going to be a lot different than last year when he was the new guy in the MAC."

Welcome to the MAC: Anthony Simpson had his best game for the Flashes Wednesday, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds against Bowling Green.

Ford said Simpson had his eyes opened on what the intensity of the MAC was like in the Flashes' game at Ohio. Simpson, played only six minutes at Ohio but got an idea of how physical a league the MAC is.

"We need him to play well," Ford said. "He's the most dynamic front court player we have. It has taken him awhile to adjust and tonight was a breakthrough because he competed hard."

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