By Stephanie Storm Beacon Journal staff writer
''We've had a pretty challenging schedule, so we have some confidence that we can play with good teams and have some success against them,'' Ford said. ''We've played some really tough people on the road that will hopefully get us ready.''
Ford and the Flashes (9-5) will begin to see if the plan was successful today, when they open their MAC schedule at Ohio.
The Bobcats (9-5) will provide another test for KSU.
First, Ohio is well known across the league for being a tough place for visitors to play. The Bobcats have a 49-8 record against the Flashes at the Convocation Center.
Ford has emotional ties to Ohio, as well. As a guard, Ford was a 1,700-point scorer for the Bobcats in the early '90s.
In addition, Ford's younger brother, Dustin, is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Bobcats.
Ford, who is in his second year as coach of the Flashes after several as an assistant, will have no trouble putting all that aside in an attempt to earn his first win in an all-too familiar building.
If the Flashes are to beat the Bobcats, they'll need continued strong play from sophomore center Justin Greene.
Greene is fifth in the MAC and leads the Flashes with 14.1 points per game. He is averaging 5.9 rebounds per game and has 11 blocks.
Greene has gotten better as the season has progressed, averaging almost 17 points and seven rebounds in the past seven games.
''When we came back [from an offseason team trip to Italy], Justin was clearly our best low-post scorer and most productive inside guy,'' Ford said. ''He played well on our tour and came back and has been like this ever since.''
In overall team evaluation, Ford is not one to dance around the obvious when it comes to the good and bad he's witnessed from the Flashes so far.
The positives: ''We've won a lot of different ways. Some nights we've won by playing zone [defense], some nights we've won by playing all man[-to-man] and some nights we've won by basically just offensive rebounding. But we've found a way to win — and that's a good thing.''
The negatives: ''We've battled being consistent. In fact, the only thing we've done consistently is that we've shot the ball poorly — and that's not a good thing to be consistent at. We've not made very many 3s and we've not shot very good percentages from out there.''
Ohio coach John Groce also would like to see his team develop a little more consistency, although with four freshmen in his top eight players, it's likely a harder task for inexperienced Ohio than for veteran-led KSU.
''We need to develop some consistency and some maturity,'' Groce said. ''Of course we've got two freshmen averaging 15 minutes a game and we're starting two freshman guards. So, we've gone through some growing pains with that.''
As for health, KSU endured a preseason injury to junior guard Rodriquez Sherman (12.2 points per game) and knee injuries to senior guard Chris Singletary (8.9 ppg) and freshman point guard Randal Holt (3.6 ppg).
Ohio is playing without injured sophomore guard Steven Coleman, who was averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds.
''Losing Coleman has affected us, but we're fighting through it,'' Groce said.
Junior forward Greg Avila recently informed the team he plans to transfer. Avila, who came to KSU as a junior college transfer from Harcum College (Pa.), played in six games, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds. . . . Another player on the team also appears to be considering other options. Redshirt freshman guard Cameron Joyce (St. Vincent-St. Mary) is considering transferring to rival Akron (but he wouldn't play basketball) for the spring semester.
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