Kent State will have one new player and may have two old ones back when it returns to action against Arkansas State Wednesday at the MAC Center.
Playing in her first game will be McKenna Stephens, a redshirt freshman transfer from Michigan State. Stephens was recruited to play softball at MSU, but a shoulder injury brought her back to play basketball closer to home. She’s from Uniontown and played at Lake High School.
Stephens was third-team all-state and district player of the year during her senior year, when she averaged 13.6 points, six rebounds and 2.3 assists. She has been practicing with the Kent team since she transferred second semester last year.
Also possible the line-up is Mikell Chinn, the team’s starting point guard before she suffered a concussion while Kent State played in a Thanksgiving tournament in California. Chinn leads the MAC in assists at 5.5 per game (though she averages only one point a game). When she was out, freshman Naddiyah Cross started at point and played more than 35 minutes a game. The team has no other point guard; Krista White filled in there for the minutes Cross wasn’t playing.
Sophomore forward Janae Peterson also may be back. Peterson was the first post player off of the bench last season, averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 25 games with six starts. She’s struggled with health problems since the end of summer and has played only three minutes this season. Peterson averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds a game at Temescal Canyon High School in California.
Coach Danny O’Banion calls both Chinn and Peterson”day to day.”
Kent State is 1-7. In its last game before finals 10 days ago, It lost by two points in the final minutes at Cleveland State. One reason for that loss was that Cross fouled out with two minutes to go and the Flashes had four turnovers in the last minutes.
To understand Arkansas State, you need to look at the teams it has lost to (all on the road):
- No. 21 Mississippi State (10-0) by 10 points.
- Colorado (6-1) by 11 points.
- Ohio State (7-4) by 15 points.
- Kansas (8-3) by 14 points.
The Red Wolves have beaten a good Mid Major (Chattanooga, now 6-2) and a weak one (Jackson State, now 1-7). They’ve also beaten Division II Christian Brothers. All three wins were at home. They’ve consistently gotten votes in the Mid Major Top 25 poll.
A-State, as the university calls itself, is led by 5-9 junior guard Audrea Gamble, last year’s Sun Belt Conference player of the year. She finished in the the top-10 in eight statistical categories in the league. So far this year she’s averaging 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. She isn’t a big three-point shooter — 4 of 18 so far this season. Five-foot-11 junionr guard Khadia Brown-Haywood averages 12.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. As a team, the Red Wolves average 72 points a game and give up 65. They have a plus 1.7 rebound average and are plus 3.5 in turnovers. They’ve taken only 10 three-point shots per game. (Some of those statistics are screwed by the Red Wolves’ 39-39 win over Christian Brothers.)