The opener looks competitive

The Flashes and North Dakota State, Kent’s first-game opponent Friday, look well matched.

The game is at 1 p.m. Kent time. Details on that, including the reason for the weird time, are at the end of this article.

Kent was 7-23 last year and returns four starters. North Dakota State was 6-24 and returns three starters.

Kent returns its leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists. So does North Dakota State.

Both teams were picked last in their leagues.

Kent State won its exhibition against Ohio Christian University of the National Christian College Athletic Association, 100-45. North Dakota State won its exhibition again Division 2 Bemidji State, 100-47.

The Bison’s best player is 5-6 senior guard Brooke LeMar, who was Summit League Newcomer of the Year last season as a transfer. She averaged 15.1 points and 5.3 assists per game. She’s a transfer from Southern Illinois and played there with Kent State center Cici Shannon, who also transferred after her sophomore year. LeMar was a second-team all-league selection.

Marena Whittle, a 5-foot-11 junior forward, was the Summit League’s second-leading rebounder (7.1 per game) and led the team in blocked with 27 and steals with 45.

Six-foot forward Holly Johnson was second-leading scorer (13.5 per game) and best three-point shooter (39 of 118 for 33 percent).

South Dakota had 546 three-point shot attempts last year, making 32 percent. Seven players took more than 30 three-point shots.

Kent State shot just 326 three-pointers, making 27 percent. Only four players took more than 30. Kent’s opponents made 33 percent of their 541 attempts.

Coach Danny O’Banion said at the team’s media day this week that North Dakota played a “one-in, four-out” up-tempo offense that emphasized the three pointer.

Other statistical comparisons from last year:

Kent averaged 55 points a game, North Dakota 67. Kent’s shooting percentage was 38, North Dakota’s 39.

Kent gave up 68 points a game, North Dakota 74. Kent’s opponents; shooting was 41 percent, North Dakota’s 42.

Kent”s rebounding margin was -0.7. North Dakota’s was -3.5.

Kent averaged 20.3 turnovers pet game and had a -4.9 turnover margin. North Dakota mad 13.1 turnovers per game and had a -0.7 margin.

In its exhibition, the Flashes started 6-4 center Shannon, 6-2 freshman forward Jordan Korinek, redshirt junior guard Melanie Stubbs, sophomore guard Larissa Lurken and senior point guard Mikell Chinn at Friday’s exhibition. Their leading returning scorer, 6-1 senior forward Montia Johnson, was first off the bench but played almost as many minutes as Korinek.

Korinek, an all-state center from Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds Friday. Lurken had 22 points, including three three-pointers. Shannon had 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Johnson had 14 points and freshman Madison Ridout 13.

Kent State had been plagued with turnovers and bad shooting and shooting for three years. The key to game is simple: do better in both.

The 1 p.m. (Kent time) starting time happened because North Dakota State’s main arena is undergoing renovation. The basketball teams have to share a facility with the volleyball team, which has a Friday night game.

The game is on Kent State’s iHeart radio channel, which is at http://www.iheart.com/live/Golden-Flashes-Radio-6068/ Pre-game broadcast usually starts about 10 minutes before the game. Apps for Apple and Android phones and tablets are available free. It’s also on Akron Fox Sports Radio at 1350 am.

You can watch video through North Dakota State’s feed at http://www.gobison.com/watch/?Live=360. It will cost $6.99. You’ll get North Dakota announcers.

Live stats are available through North Dakota State at http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=68546

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