The women’s team will open at Northern Kentucky Saturday, Nov. 11, and won’t play a home game until it hosts Detroit Mercy on Thursday, Nov. 30.
The final pieces of the Flashes’ schedule came out over the weekend. Apparently things were pretty much done weeks ago, but the announcement was held up while university attorneys reviewed the contracts for the games.
The schedule features only two non-conference home games — Detroit and Wright State a week later.
The team plays Florida Gulf Coast and Southeast Louisiana at the JAR at Akron Nov. 17-18. It’s part of the Akron Classic. KSU coach Todd Starkey and Akron coach Jodi Kest have agreed to alternate such an event between Akron and Kent. So KSU will host two teams in 2018.
The Flashes will travel on Dec. 10 to the University of Michigan, a team the Flashes played in the WNIT last spring. Starkey said the game was scheduled before the teams met in the tournament, a game Kent State lost 67-60 but outscored Michigan 38-24 in the second half.
As previously announced, the team will play in the “Play4Kay” Shootout in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. They’ll open against Stanford, a Final Four team a year ago, on Thanksgiving. The rest of the field includes six 2017 conference champions and Memphis, 14-16 a year ago and where former KSU head coach Danny O’Banion is now associate head coach.
Starkey said in an interview last week that he wasn’t thrilled with such a road-heavy schedule.
“I inherited some contracts (for series with other teams),” he said. “(The non-conference games at Akron) are almost home games in that our fans can get over there pretty easily.”
Besides Northern Kentucky, Michigan and the Akron and Las Vegas events, the schedule is entirely return engagements with teams the Flashes played last season.
Besides Eastern Kentucky, the Flashes will travel to Youngstown State, Eastern Kentucky, and Robert Morris.
Here’s the schedule and a quick look at the opposition (I’m just going to post what I have and add more on the opponents later):
Saturday, Nov 11: At Northern Kentucky (9-22 and tied for eighth in the Horizon League last season). NKU returns two starers and five players total from last season’s team. They have a newly eligibly transfer from Coastal Carolina (where she was a starter) and an eight-member freshman class.
Tuesday, Nov. 14: At Youngstown State (9-22 and tied with Northern Kentucky for eighth in the Horizon las season). YSU had been hit hard by injuries when Kent beat the Penguins 75-60 last season. Most of those players are back, along with a good recruiting class.
Friday, Nov. 17 (at Akron): Florida Gulf Coast (26-9 and champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference). KSU beat Gulf Coast 77-64 in the Gulf Coast Showcase (almost next door to the team’s campus) last Thanksgiving. It was a signature win for the Flashes against a team that had a lot of newcomers and transfers and hadn’t completely jelled yet. Gulf Coast is coached by KSU alum Karl Smesko and is a power in its conference year-in, year-out. It’s possible Kent State could play the Eagles a second time in the Las Vegas Tournament.
Saturday, Nov 18 (at Akron): Southeastern Louisiana (5-24 and 12th in Southland Conference).
Thursday, Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving) through Saturday, Nov. 25. Stanford (32-6, second in Pac 12 and Final Four participant), then two other games in Play4Kay Shootout in Las Vegas. Previous post on tournament is here.
Thursday, Nov. 30. Detroit Mercy (18-14, tied for third in Horizon League). In one of their worst games of last season, Flashes lost at Detroit 73-52. By the end of the season, the team really wished it could play that game again. This November they’ll get their chance.
Tuesday, Dec. 5. At Eastern Kentucky (12-20, tied for eighth in Ohio Valley Conference). KSU beat Eastern 80-67 in Kent in second game of last season.
Thursday, Dec. 7. Wright State (25-9, tied for first in Horizon League). KSU broke 18-game road losing streak with a 79-69 victory at Wright State last season. KSU play three of its best quarters of the season to lead by 25, then held on for the victory.
Sunday, Dec. 10. At Michigan (28-9, third in Big Ten, WNIT champions). Flashes fell behind the Wolverines 43-22 in WNIT, then completely outplayed them in the second half, still losing by seven.
Tuesday, Dec. 19. At Robert Morris (22-11 and first in Northeast Conference). Robert Morris beat KSU 68-65 in overtime in Kent early last season. Team lost to No. 1 seed Notre Dame in NCAA tournament.
Saturday Dec. 30. At Eastern Michigan. Beginning of MAC season. Earlier post on MAC schedule is here.
I’ll try to update this with more detail on opponents, along with their 2016-17 RPI rankings. I’ll also have complete interview with Starkey later in the week.