KSU, winless on the road last season, takes its 2-1 record to Detroit Monday

For coach Todd Starkey, Kent State’s schedule this semester has been like a countdown.

Robert Morris, which beat the 2-1 Flashes in overtime Saturday, was better than Eastern Kentucky, which KSU beat by 13 Monday, Starkey says.

Eastern Kentucky was better than Bradley, routed by Kent State by 25 in its opener, he argues.

And Detroit Mercy, the coach says, is the best so far.

The Flashes play in Detroit at 7 p.m. Monday in the first road game for the Flashes, who were 0-13 away from Kent last season.

Detroit Mercy returns five starters and its top reserve from a team that was 15-15 and fourth in the Horizon League last semester. The Titans were picked second in the league this season and have the Horizon preseason player of the year in 5-10 senior guard Rosanna Reynolds. She was one of two Division I players to average at least 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists last season.

Detroit Mercy also has second-team preseason forward Brianne Cohen, who averaged 15.6 points and  5.7 rebounds as the Horizon Sixth Player of the Year last season.

Add to that 6-foot forward Kelsey Mitchell, a graduate transfer from Michigan who had 12 points and 16 rebounds in the Titans’ game Saturday.

Yet Detroit Mercy is only 1-2 on the season, with Saturday’s game being an 70-60 loss to Bradley, the team Kent State dominated in its first game. Its other loss came to 3-0 East Carolina in overtime, 83-81. All three of the Titans’ games so far have been on the road.

A big reason Detroit Mercy lost at Bradley was that it made only 3 of 24 three-point shots, and the three-pointer was the Titans’ major weapon last season. They set a school record of 234 and were second in the league in three-point percentage. Reynolds, Nicole Urbanick and Haleigh Ristovski all have made more than 115 three-pointers in their careers.

But so far this season Detroit Mercy is shooting 29.8 percent from three-point distance, 4 percentage points worse than a year ago. The Titans are averaging 28 three-point shots per game.

In its first three games, Kent State has defended the three-point shot fairly well, holding teams to 30.8 percent. That’s 4 points better than a year ago, when the Flashes were a distant last in the MAC in three-point defense.

But Robert Morris made 6 of its first 8 three-point shots before Kent State adjusted its defense Saturday. The Colonials made only 1 of 12 after that.

Overall Kent State’s defense has been substantially better than last season. The Flashes are allowing 62.3 points, seven fewer than last season. Opponents are shooting 41 percent, compared with 43 percent a year ago. The competition has been comparable; Robert Morris and Eastern Kentucky are first-division teams in their conferences.

The defense will be key as KSU tries to win on the road.

“Defense travels,” Starkey likes to say. If the offense struggles on an unfamiliar court, the defense has to make up the difference.

Notes:

  • Kent State will take the bus to Detroit Monday morning and head home after the game. “I don’t like to wait around on the road,” Starkey says.
  • In case you’re confused about the name of the opponent (as I was): I grew up in Michigan hearing about the University of Detroit and its basketball program. Men’s star in those days was Dave DeBusschere, later an NBA all of fame player who also played baseball for the Chicago White Sox. The University of Detroit, a private Catholic school, merged with Mercy College of Detroit in 1990 to form the University of Detroit Mercy. (ESPN analyst Dick Vitale also coached at Detroit in the 1970s.)

To follow the game

  • Video stream starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. You have to subscribe to ESPN to see it on a computer or portable device.
  • Audio at about 6:45 on Golden Flash iHeart radio and 640 AM WHLO.
  • Live statistics through the Detroit Mercy website.
  • In-game updates on Twitter at @KentStatwbb.

 

KSU statistics through three games.

Preview from Detroit Mercy’s website, including links to its roster and statistics.

Preview from Kent State website.

Sunday MAC scores

  • Wake Forest (3-1) 89, Eastern Michigan (2-2) 61 at Wake Forest.
  • Akron (2-1) 73, Canisius (0-2) 64 at Canisius.
  • Chattanooga (3-2) 54, Bowling Green (0-4) 49 at Chattanooga.

Here’s link to MAC standings and some team statistics. Unbeaten teams in the league are Buffalo and Toledo (both 3-0) and Ohio and Ball State (both 2-0).

Game stories from the MAC website.

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3 comments

  1. goldenflash101

    Now we’re going to find out how much better we really are. The road games show all the warts. I’m writing off the upcoming 3 game tournament games and the road games at Iowa and Minnesota. Those opponents won’t tell us too much. However a road game at Detroit will be interesting. I’m a little concerned with all the minutes Lurken and Cross are playing. The wing positions need to be Lurken 30 minutes, Poole 25 and Golden 25. I understand what happened Saturday as he needed Lurken in the first half to keep us in the game and needed her in the second half to fuel the comeback. She was out of gas when she missed those three pointers and foul shots near the end. Hopefully Poole will keep improving so she can help in those tough situations giving Lurken some rest.

    The point guard situation could be even worse as Carter looks sluggish when she is out there. Hopefully Carter just needs to shake off the rust from not playing much last year. I’ve seen some point guards play 38+ minutes a game but 32 is a lot better.

    If we can work those things out during the non-conference season we could be competitive in the MAC. Korinek has had 2 out 3 so so games but I think in both cases she just had a tough match-up. Robert Morris in particular had said me athletic bigs. I assuming she’ll continue to play as well as her two previous years.

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  2. Carl Schierhorn

    Agreed on the guard minutes. Notice that Lewis played a few minutes Friday? They may need one more in the rotation in case of foul trouble. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carter play a little 2 guard. If they don’t get 14 points a game out of Korinek, it will be a long season.

    Baylor was ranked No. 2 by AP last week and probably will be about No. 5 after losing to Connecticut. Do you ever remember KSU playing a team in the top 10 or top 5 before? I remember Lindsay playing a good Purdue team on the road very early on, and he tried to schedule tournaments where he would run into power conference schools at a neutral site. But I can’t remember a top 10 school.

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    • goldenflash101

      I remember some top 25 teams but not top 10. Beating no. 20 or so Virginia in January at Kent was probably there best win. They also beat BC when they were in the top 25 (O’Banion played on that team) but that was early in the season and they fell out of the rankings by seasons end, Virginia did not. They played some high ranked teams in the NCAAs. Iowa St., Penn St (they might have been top 10 but I’d have to look it up), Kansas St,, Arizona and Texas A&M. Only Texas A&M was a victory. I liked when Lindsay could get a top 5 conference team to come to Kent. For awhile it was almost every year. I remember Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan St., Arizona St. and Washington coming in.

      This will be the tough part of the season. I hope the team can survive these upcoming beat downs uninjured and with their spirit intact. We’ll see.

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