KENT: It has reached a point of frustration for Kent State that the Golden Flashes are simply searching for a win to turn around this season.
Kent State (11-9, 2-5) has dropped four games in a row, the final two by a total of five points in which KSU held second-half leads in both, and it hasn’t looked like the same team since entering Mid-American Conference play.
KSU now turns its attention toward the University of Akron (14-6, 6-1) for a 6 p.m. tip-off tonight at the M.A.C. Center. The Zips, leading the MAC East, and the Golden Flashes, trailing all other division opponents, are in much different positions as the season trudges onward. Flashes coach Rob Senderoff knows how much a victory over the rival Zips would mean, and what it could do for the team’s morale. But it’s more about getting back to a winning feeling than beating UA.
“It would mean a lot. For us, we need to get a win to start feeling good about ourselves,” Senderoff said. “Certainly, if we can get one over Akron, it would help even more because of the rivalry. But at this stage, I’d take a win over anybody.”
The Golden Flashes are coming off consecutive crushing losses, one an 81-78 loss at Toledo, the top team in the conference, and the other a 50-49 home loss to Northern Illinois. Each time, KSU led in the second half (against NIU, by as many as 14). Finishing is becoming one of Senderoff’s mantras.
“We need to play 40 minutes,” he said. “We had to a chance to win both of those games. It’s coming down to little things, us not making some of those winning plays. It’s more of a mindset, more of a resolve.”
It’s also come down to the play of point guard Kris Brewer. Against Toledo, Senderoff said Brewer was arguably the best player on the floor, as he finished 14 points and seven assists and nearly willed the Flashes to a win. Against NIU a few days later, Brewer was a different player, only coming away with two points on 0-for-7 shooting.
It’s often said of quarterbacks that as “far as he goes, the team goes.” Brewer and the Flashes might be in a similar situation, Senderoff said.
“And that’s a lot of pressure [on his shoulders],” Senderoff said. “You’re supposed to want that pressure. [After the Northern Illinois game], we met. He took responsibility for his play. But ultimately, we need him, our team needs him, to play more consistently.”
To get a major victory over UA, Kent State will need solid performances from every member of its rotation, not just Brewer. After forwards Demetrius Treadwell, Nick Harney and Quincy Diggs, Senderoff praised the Zips’ depth and ability to find big scoring nights from several players deep down their rotation, which could possibly be a key to the game Saturday.
“They’re got really good players in Diggs and Harney and Treadwell, but it’s more than just them,” he said. “Their quote-unquote ‘role guys’ play well and step up. That’s a part of being good. We’re going to have to defend well and rebound well and play our game.”
The Flashes are hungry to again put a “W” on their schedule. No better, or at this moment tougher, time to do it than against an archrival.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.