Flashes will host Ohio State in November, play in December Las Vegas event

The Kent State women will play Ohio State for the first time since 1981.

The game will be at the M.A.C.C in Kent on Nov. 21. Word came of the game when OSU’s non-conference schedule was announced Thursday. Kent State’s schedule should be announced in the next few weeks. Last season it was announced Aug. 4

Ohio State finished 14-15 last season, 10-8 and fifth in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes lost to Moorhead State in the first round of the WNIT. Last year’s team had lost all five starters from the previous year, including Kelsey Mitchell, the No. 2 scorer in OSU history.

So the Buckeyes put together a roster with five graduate transfers, three freshmen, two seniors and a junior. 

This year’s freshman class is ranked in the top four in the country and includes five players ranked in the top 65 by ESPN. Highest ranked is No. 6 Kierstan Bell, a McDonalds’s All-American from Canton McKinley. Bell, a 6-1 guard, was Ohio player of the year three time. She averaged 28.8 points a game as a senior and 33.3 as a junior. The only other high school player ever to be player of the year three times is LaBron James

The Buckeyes also return leading scorer Dorka Juhasz, a 6-4 sophomore who averaged 11.7 points a game and 5-10 sophomore guard Janai Crooms, their No. 3 scorer at 8.8 points a game.

Kent State lost to Ohio State five times between 1977 and 1981, when both were members of the Ohio Association of Intercollegiate Sports for Women. Kent State’s first varsity team played in 1974-75.

The last time KSU played a power conference team at home was in 2015, when former coach Danny O’Banion’s last team lost to Minnesota 85-73. The Flashes played North Carolina State and North Carolina on the road last year, Michigan on the road and Stanford in a holiday tournament in 2017-18, and Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan on the road in 2016-17 and Baylor in a holiday tournament that year.

KSU lost all of those games. Closest was a 67-60 loss to Michigan in the first round of the WNIT in 2017. The Flashes led North Carolina last season by two points with four minutes to go but lost 73-60.

The last time Kent State defeated a power conference team was in 2006, when the Flashes beat Washington 81-78 in overtime in Kent.

Kent State returns 84 percent of its scoring from last year’s 20-13 team, including its top four scorers — senior guard Megan Carter (15.9 points per game), sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (12.9), sophomore forward Lindsay Thall (10.1) and senior forward Ali Poole (8.8). Its three income freshmen include first-team Kentucky all-state forward Nila Blackford, and second-team all-Ohio guards Clare Kelly and Katie Shumate.

December in Vegas

Also announced this week was Kent State’s participation in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic Dec. 21-22. Las Vegas seems to have half a dozen December tournaments; this one is a decidedly mid-major affair.

On Saturday, Dec. 21, Kent State will play Georgia Southern, a Sun Belt Conference team that is rebuilding with a new coach after a 7-22 season.

The next day the Flashes play Troy, another Sun Belt team that returns three starters from a group that went 22-9 last season and made the WNIT.

Both games are at noon Las Vegas time. That’s 9 a.m. in Kent. They’re at the South Point Hotel and Casino.

Other teams in the competition — it’s not really a tournament — are Toledo from the MAC (21-12 last season), Pacific of the West Coast Conference (19-12), St. Francis Brooklyn College (18-13), Toledo plays Troy and Pacific.

Here’s the release on the tournament.

The recruiting trail

Coach Todd Starkey and his three assistants all tweeted or retweeted in June that Kent State had received a verbal commitment from a recruit. But they’re not allowed to name a recruit who hasn’t signed a national letter of intent, which happens in November. Usually the high school player, her high school or AAU team will tweet a commitment; I haven’t seen anything on Twitter or elsewhere online. We don’t even know which year she’ll enroll, though I would think would be the freshman class entering in 2020.

One player in that class had announced her commitment in March, 5-4 guard Casey Santoro from Bellevue High School in northwestern Ohio. She was district player of the year and first-team all-Ohio in both her sophomore and junior seasons and averaged 22 point a game last year.

Another rising high school senior tweeted a picture of her and KSU coaches on a recruiting visit last month. In the same tweet, Rachel Loobie also included pictures of herself at Bowling Green and Miami. The next week she visited Central Michigan. I’ve been following Loobie on Twitter since she got a KSU offer last year, and she must have a dozen Division I offers, mostly from mid-major schools. She’s a 6-foot forward from Franklin High School in Indianapolis who averaged 10 points and 11 rebounds her junior year.

The summer AAU basketball season is in its last month. Kent State coaches are on the road at four different sites, including a 1,200 (!) team event in Louisville. AAU has become a primary source of recruiting because coaches can see many players in a weekend, and the season doesn’t overlap the college season — as high school schedules do.

Kent State should have at least four scholarships to give for 2020. Seniors Carter, Poole and Sydney Brinlee are graduating. The Flashes had one scholarship left over from the this year. Junior Linsey Marchese, a 6-4 transfer from Indiana, will be eligible that season after sitting out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.

Golden is back in a new role

Alexa Golden, a four-year starter who got both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years, is back at Kent as a graduate assistant for the women’s team. It was a move that had been in the works for months. In an interview with Golden’s home town newspaper, Starkey said he had given her “homework” to interview KSU assistants as she applied for the job and to report on her findings to him. All current KSU assistants started as GAs.

Golden also was named Kent State’s nominee for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year award, which goes to athletes in any sport who “distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership. Now the MAC and other leagues pick two member nominees, then the NCAA cuts it to 30, then a selection committee picks three finalists from each division. National winner is named in October.

A shorter shot clock reset

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Committee ratified a recommendation that the shot clock be reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound or a foul in the front court. It had been reset to the full 30 seconds. The idea is “enhance the pace of the game…because a full 30-second shot clock is not needed since the offensive team is already in the front court.”

In another small rule change, the shooting team would get possession of the ball after two-shot technical fouls.The ball had been going to the team that would have had possession before the technical.

In a potentially major rule change, women will experiment with a 22 foot, 1 3/4-inch three-point line in the WNIT and other postseason tournaments in 2020. Current distance is about 17-inches closer. The new line would be the same as international distance.

Men’s teams are going to the new distance for all play this season. It’s a pretty good guess the women will increase the distance in 2020-21.

The NCAA also tinkered with transfer rules to clarify and tighten the reasons a player could get immediate eligibility when switching teams. Some critics had said that it seems as if high-profile players got special consideration. Here’s the USA Today story on that.

In April, the NCAA rejected a rule that would have tightened requirements for graduate transfers. It also made small changes to other transfer rules. Walk-ons, for example, will not have to sit out a season if they transfer. Here’s the NCAA release and an SBNation story on the changes.

 

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