The first of possibly three rivalry games is upon us. The Kent State Golden Flashes will visit Rhodes Arena for a noon game on Saturday.
Here are five things to know about the archrival Flashes...
1) While Akron is rebuilding around mostly new players, Kent State has to become accustomed to a new coaching staff. As you should know,
Jim Christian left for TCU and his assistant
Geno Ford took over. Ford played at Ohio and earned All-MAC First Team honors there. His staff includes former Flashes guard
Armon Gates and
Rob Senderoff, who ran into a load of recruiting
issues at Indiana. Kent State AD
Laing Kennedy has already hired three great head coaches. Don't be naive and think the Flashes will be in this rebuilding pattern for long.
2) The Flashes also are rebuilding a little with players. Despite returning the MAC Player of the Year,
Al Fisher, Kent State lost
Haminn Quaintance, who was undoubtedly the most valuable player in the conference last season. (I know a lot of people have high hopes for
Zeke Marshall, but if he can impact a game defensively like Quaintance did, Zips fans should be pleased.)
Rodriguez Sherman is out of the season with an injured knee. Sherman was a defensive pests. Let's not forget
Mike Scott, a first-team MAC performer who was vastly underrated. Basically, the Flashes lost Fisher's entire supporting cast.
3) Who is filling those sneakers?
Chris Singletary is the kind of forward you like to have on your team. He scores and rebounds consistently. If I had to pick one Kent State player to put on Akron's roster (besides Fisher), it would be Singletary. He averages 13.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 points per game. Those numbers are good for 10th
in the MAC in scoring, third in assists and second in steals. Similarly, Fisher averages 16.4 points per game (5th in the MAC), 3.56 assists (4th) and 1.6 steals (10th). The wild card, of course, is shooting guard
Tyree Evans, who averages 13.3 points per game. If he pans out, Kent State will have the most lethal 1-2-3 combination in the league. So far, the former bad boy has been hot and cold. Recently, cold. In Evans' last three games, he is a combined 4-for-28 from the field. Still, he's not someone you want to leave open on the perimeter. Big men
Anthony Simpson (freshman) and
Brandon Parks (junior) have each had a few strong games.
4) Kent State and Akron meet Saturday with the two worst records I can ever remember them having at the same time. The Flashes are 8-10 and 1-3 in the MAC. Akron is 9-8 and 1-3 in the MAC. You have to believe, however, that these teams will not be desirable opponents in Cleveland for an upstart like Buffalo. Anyhow, Kent State has had a particularly difficult time on the road, going 2-7 away from the M.A.C. Center. Its biggest win was at Saint Louis, which is an Atlantic 10 team with an 11-7 record. Like Akron, Kent State's early MAC schedule has been difficult. The Flashes lost at Ohio and Buffalo. At home, they lost to Miami and blew out Bowling Green. The problem during MAC play has been a stale offense and poor 3-point shooting.
5) Over the entire season, however, Kent State still scores the most points in the conference with 69.4. Mostly, this is due to their shooting 44 percent on field goal attempts. Still getting accustomed to Ford's more laissez-faire style of offensive management, Kent State often strays from its offensive gameplan, and that's when the Flashes lose games they should win. The team is shooting 32 percent on 3-pointers. Despite having a couple good outside shooters, chucking up 3s is not their best option. Like Akron, Kent State is not a strong rebounding team, but the Flashes do play defense.
It will be a tightly contested game on Saturday. Don't expect high scores, but if the teams' history is any indication of the future, you will see a lot of 10-2 and 15-3 runs. Indeed, this rivalry feeds off in-game momentum. Considering the progress Akron has made in MAC play -- even in its losses -- and the struggles Kent State has faced recently, I predict the Zips will win by five.
a defensive end to its 2009 recruiting class.
is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound Dearborn, Mich. product. Scout.com called him a tough, mean "head hunter."
The story also said Akron made Homayed feel "at home" with its facilities, players and coaches. Although Akron was Homayed's only scholarship offer, he was scheduled to visit Ohio this weekend before he committed to the Zips.
Homayed two stars. Their highlight video does not show much. Homayed only runs a 5.09 in the 40-yard dash, which would be a big problem for a middle linebacker, but not so much for a defensive end.
Also, here is a
about recent wide receiver commitment
, who seems very excited to get to campus.