The Flashes open the conference season Saturday at Central Michigan against a team that looks a lot different than the one they’ve faced for the last four years.
Biggest difference is the absence of Crystal Bradford, the leading scorer and rebounder in CMU history. She went seventh in the WBNA draft to the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Chippewas start two freshmen, a sophomore, a redshirt junior and a senior. Freshman guard Presley Hudson, an early candidate for MAC freshman of the year, leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points a game. Freshman forward Reyna Frost leads the team in rebounding at 8.3.
The Chippewas have 10 freshmen and sophomores on their 14-person roster. That’s actually the same number as KSU, though only four of Kent’s players actually got into games last season. Five CMU sophomore started at least two games last year, and forward Jewel Cotton played only four games before she was injured.
After being picked fifth in the MAC West, Central went 6-5 in non-conference play. Its RPI is 120 (of 349 teams) and RealTimeRPI ranks its schedule as 99th toughest in the country. The best team CMU has beaten is Middle Tennessee State (6-5, 106 RPI).
The Chippewas fourth in the conference in scoring (73.3), fifth in scoring margin (+5.9), second in three-point percentage (35.3) and three-point baskets per game (7.7), and fifth in rebounding margin (+4.5).
CMU’s three-point shooting will be a test for Kent State, which has been inconsistent defending the three. The Flashes have held six teams under 29 percent but gave up 12 three-point baskets to IPFW and 15 to Youngstown State. They’re ninth in the conference in defending the three at 31.1 percent. Of equal worry is that fact that KSU is last in the conference in overall field goal defense at 43.6 percent. Teams that have been stopped on three-point shooting have been able to go inside.
KSU also is last in rebounding margin in the MAC (-3.5).
The Flashes lead the MAC in steals with 11.1 per game. CMU is ninth in turnover margin (-1.45).
Sophomore forward Jordan Korinek leads Kent State in scoring (16.0 points per game) and rebounding (7.5). Larissa Lurken averages 15.1.
Kent State was 3-7 in non-conference games, has an RPI of 324 and schedule strength of 277.
The game starts at 1 p.m. Audio starts at 12:45 on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Video is on ESPN3; you can get live statistics followed the CMU website. You have to subscribe to ESPN to be able to see the online-only game.
Without Crystal Bradford LA Spark