KENT: Darren Goodson said all the right things.
Kent State’s senior forward admitted he didn’t play up to his potential during the nonconference portion of the schedule. He vowed to work harder in the gym between games.
Goodson even pointed out why his backup, sophomore forward Chris Ortiz, deserves to start in his place.
But Goodson’s body language during a news conference afternoon at the M.A.C. Center left the impression he is disappointed in himself for losing his starting role.
“I really don’t have a problem with it,” said Goodson, whose slumped shoulders, hushed tone and a lack of any sign of his usual outgoing personality left the indication he’s still in the process of coming to grips with the move. “If this is what’s better for the team — which I think it might be because Ortiz is a better defender and a better rebounder — then I’m fine with it. I’ll come off the bench and try to do the things I can to help my team win. Whatever it takes for us to win.”
Coach Rob Senderoff has benched Goodson twice for lack of production in favor of less experienced players, the most recent coming in KSU’s last game, a 73-68 loss at Princeton on Dec. 31.
Now, the move could become a long-term solution as the Flashes get set to being the Mid-American Conference portion of their schedule Wednesday against Ohio University.
Although the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Goodson leads the team in assists (2.7), he’s averaging just 10.4 points and 4.1 rebounds despite being one of KSU’s focal points on offense, especially late in close games.
Having Goodson come off the bench against Princeton didn’t yield the kind of positive results Senderoff had hoped.
Goodson produced just six points (along with three personal fouls and two turnovers) and did not have a rebound or assist in 17 minutes.
“Darren’s just gotta work a little harder to get the switch turned on because there’s no lack of confidence in him from the coaching staff or his teammates,” said Senderoff, whose Flashes will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak when they play the Bobcats at the M.A.C. Center.
Despite Goodson struggling on a team that doesn’t feature a standout scorer, the Flashes (9-4) begin MAC competition with the third-best non-conference record behind Toledo (12-1) and Ohio (10-3).
“Remember last year pre-conference, Darren struggled to make the adjustment coming from junior college to here,” Senderoff said. “But then he had a great conference season and in my eyes, should have been a preseason All-Conference pick based upon what he did last year in the league. … It’s a new season. Everything you’ve done up to this point, whatever your records are, everybody is 0-0. The slate is clean.”
The sentiment goes not just for teams, but also for individuals like Goodson, who are searching for a fresh start.
“The non-conference is over with and I’m just trying to move forward and do what I have to do to help the team,” Goodson said. “Me and [Senderoff] have spoken about it and there’s going to be a different Darren Goodson come conference [play].”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.