Impressions from the opening loss: (Still) big problems with turnovers, but some encouraging signs

Kent State led the MAC in turnovers last year. It’s been the big problem in Kent State’s struggles over the last three years.

It wasn’t any better Friday. That was especially true in the second half, when North Dakota State had 19 points off 13 Kent turnovers. Five of those turnovers came in a 15-0 NDSU run from 7:54 to 3:41 in the second half.

Was there any pattern? Point guard Mikell Chinn had some foul trouble and played just 28 minutes. There was a bigger drop-off between her and freshman Naddiyah Cross than we saw in Kent’s exhibition. Chinn had four turnovers and four assists. She did better last year. Montia Johnson, who led the team in turnovers last year, led them again with six. Krista White had four and Cross, sophomore Larissa Lurken and frreshman Jordan Korinek three.

A lot of the turnovers led to breakaway baskets when Kent coudlnt’ get back on defense. NDSU had 12 fast-break points; Kent had zero.

On coach Danny O’Banion’s post-game show on iHeart radio, the first thing she said was “free throws and turnovers.” North Dakota State shot 34 free throws, making 26. Kent hit 13 of 18. But what the fouls did to the team on the floor was as bad as the points. Korinek, White and Cici Shannon had four fouls. Chinn fouled out in the last minute. Lurken and key reserves Johnson and Melanie Stubbs had three. This team has only nine healthy scholarship players right now. It doesn’t have the depth for 26 fouls.

But there’s a lot good to take from the game.

  • Until those last eight minutes, Kent State was clearly the better team. During a first-half timeout when Kent was on a run, O’Banion told her team, “See, basketball can be really fun.”
  • Kent shot 48 percent from the field. It averaged 38 percent last year. It shot 53 percent in the first half.
  • The 67 points were 12 more than Kent averaged per game last year. It scored more than 68 only four times.
  • Kent out-rebounded NDSU, 43-28. It rebound margin was -0.7 last year.
  • Cici Shannon had 17 points and 10 rebounds. She was 7 of 12 and did miss some shots in the last minutes. And she played only 20 minutes because of foul trouble.
  • The team ran its offense really nicely in the first half, with 11 assists on 16 baskets. (In the second half, it was five on 10 baskets.) For the game, Chinn and Korinek led the team with four assists each.
  • White had four steals. She had 18 all last year. Chinn, who led the team in steals last year, had three.

Other thougths.

  • The starting lineup was Chinn, White, Korinek, Lurken and Shannon. Korinek started ahead of Johnson, last year’s leading scorer. Stubbs had started ahead of White at guard in the exhibition.
  • Lurken scored 14 points, including Kent’s only three three-pointers. Madison Ridout, a freshman who the team hopes will add a second three-point three, missed her only shot. She played only five minutes
  • Shannon’s six blocks equalled a career high.
  • Korinek, the freshman who led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds in its exhibition, looked in the first half as if she was starting where she left off. She had seven points and five rebounds. In the second half, she had two points and two rebounds in the same number of minutes. O’Banion said she thought “the physicality of the college game” caught up with Korinek. But the coach emphasized that she thought all-stater from Akron St. Vincent St. Mary would be “very good for us.”
  • Johnson did not have a good game with eight ponts, six turnovers, three fouls and three rebounds in 23 minutes. They’ll need more from her to have a good season.
  • O’Banion’s final impression: “A tough one, but we know we have the potential to be a good basketball team.”

Box score website story

One comment

  1. Neil Paolucci

    The only thing I can add is Shannon playing well again is a positive. Their first game wasn’t a test for the bigs. This game was a better test and that is why the freshman big struggled a bit. It looks like guard is still a big issue. Without Mendelson, Evans and Dunlap it could even be worse. The MAC is a guard league and we will still be weak. Also Johnson baffles me. She looks like she should be able to be as good as anybody in the MAC but it just does not happen. I suppose her being a senior there is not much of a chance it will.


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