KENT: Kent State needs to turn a weakness into a strength if a turnaround to its tumultuous basketball season is possible.
The Golden Flashes’ reserves have struggled in recent games and haven’t given the starting lineup much help. In a 70-53 loss to Eastern Michigan, players coming off the bench shot just 5-of-26 from the field.
Finding more production off the bench is key to Kent State (12-11, 3-7 MAC) and especially important in its game tonight against Bowling Green (10-13, 4-6).
The Falcons have five scorers averaging in double-digits but don’t have much offensive firepower after those five. Even for struggling reserves like Kent State’s, it could be the Golden Flashes’ biggest advantage and is perhaps the biggest key to this game, according to KSU coach Rob Senderoff.
“We need guys that are coming off the bench and playing well. It’s hard to win on the road or at home when your bench shoots 5-for-26,” Senderoff said. “For us, we’re just going to attack, continuously attack, and our bench is going to have to play well. That’s where we have the advantage over them, that we have more depth.”
The Golden Flashes also need better play from point guard Kris Brewer. Brewer still leads the team in points and assists per game but has struggled mightily the past few weeks. Against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Senderoff chose to sit Brewer to start the game for the first time this season. Brewer then had one of the worst games of his career, shooting 1-of-10 from the floor and missing all seven 3-pointers he attempted.
The Flashes have often boasted a couple of scorers who acted as the first and second options on offense, but they’ve all graduated. Brewer is now No. 1 on that list but has struggled to handle the extra responsibility.
“He’s got to find a way to get out of this funk,” Senderoff said. “He’s a guy who in my eyes has all-conference ability but he’s not having an all-conference season. I think some of it is that he’s in a bigger role than he’s ever been in and he’s struggling with it. Last year he was the complementary player, third or fourth on the scouting reports. Now he’s the guy everybody’s trying to shut down.”
Senderoff is adamant that Brewer needs to work himself out of his own slump, although the poor performances of other players hasn’t helped. One example is guard Devareaux Manley, whose shooting percentages haven fallen into the low 30s after starting the year as the team’s go-to 3-point shooter.
Senderoff wouldn’t reveal whether Brewer could find his way back into the starting lineup against Bowling Green. But whether he starts or sits, production is a must if KSU wants to keep its head above water (in this case, above a .500 record).
For at least one game, the reserves must find the advantage.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.