It was just over a year ago when Kent State women’s basketball coach Danny O’Banion learned she had lymphoma.
O’Banion went through chemotherapy all through last season and never missed a game.
Pronounced cancer-free by her doctors last spring, she’s the force behind Saturday’s “Victor Day,” in which people and their families who have fought cancer are honored.
Fans at the game with North Dakota State will be able to sign ribbons with their names or with the names of loved ones who have fought cancer. The ribbons will combined with a banner, and a photo will be taken of fans and the banner after the game.
“A lot of people reached out to me last year,” O’Banion said. “But I also heard from people who didn’t get that kind of support.”
The women’s basketball team spent Thursday afternoon at Akron General Hospital, where players and coaches toured the Breast Health Center and Cancer Center and heard doctors and nurses talk to them about patient care and prevention.
Guest of honor (and guest coach) at the game is Bonny Beachy, the only Kent State woman basketball player to have her jersey retired. She is KSU’s all-time leading scorer (men and women) with 2,071 points and has seven letters, including three in tennis. Since graduation in 1982, she has been a small business owner, teacher, coach and school administrator in Texas.
She too is a cancer survivor, having fought cervical and ovarian cancer. The name “Victor Game” comes from Beachy, who calls herself a cancer victor, not a victim.
The game against North Dakota State is a rematch of last season’s opener, which Kent State lost, 74-68.
The Bison are 2-4, the same record at Kent State. Their leading scorer is 5-11 senior guard Marena Whittle, who is averaging 19.8 points, tops in the Summit League. 6-1 forward Brianna Jones leads the Summit in rebounding at 11.3 a game.She also averages 10.7 points.
NDSU averages 66.2 points a game and gives up 72. It is outrebounding opponents by five a game but turns the ball over 17 times a game (a negative four average).
Kent State’s scoring and defense is similar. The Flashes average 68 points a game and give up 72. Their rebounding margin is a negative four, but they have a positive turnover margin (0.8) and lead the MAC in steals with 11.2 per game.
The Flashes lost Wednesday to Cleveland State, 60-49, in their weakest offensive performance of the season.