What we learned from Flashes’ three exhibition wins in Vancouver

Image-1Asiah Dingle in action against Vancouver Island University. Dingle averaged 16.7 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 steals. (Photo from VIU Twitter feed.)

First, two big qualifiers:

  1. All this is second hand through quotes and statistics. Sadly, I wasn’t on the trip.
  2. The competition wasn’t nearly as tough as the Flashes will face in the MAC this season. (More on that at end of post.)

Dingle ups her game

Asiah Dingle was already one of the Flashes’ best players. The 5-foot-4 point guard from Massachusetts was on the MAC all-freshman team (likely runner-up for freshman of the year) and was KSU’s second leading scorer.  Her aggressive drives to the basketball and her leadership on the fast break were a key factor in Kent’s 20-13 season.

Dingle needed to work on assists, where she averaged 2.3 a game. That’s very low for a point guard. She was second on the team in turnovers and her assist/turnover ratio was 0.8, again very low for a point guard. (The MAC assist leader averaged 6.2 a game; the league’s best assist/turnovers ratio was 2.7).

On the trip, Dingle averaged 6.7 assists per game and had an assist/turnover ratio of 2.1.

“It’s something we’ve been focusing on,” coach Todd Starkey said. “We’re wanting her to really share the ball, making those players around her better.”

Dingle made 21 of 40 shots in the trip (52.5%) and 2 of 8 three-pointers (25%). Her numbers last season were 37% and 18%.

She averaged 6.3 steals a game on the trip. Part of that was the quality of the competition, but it’s still an impressive number. Last season Dingle averaged 2.0, which was eighth in the MAC.

All of my season statistics are conference games only. I’ve found it to be a better indication of ability at the end of the season.)

Three impact freshmen

This year’s freshman class may be just as good as last year’s, which was one of the best in school history. Freshman last season score 44 percent of KSU’s points, led by Dingle’s 13.1 and Lindsay Thall’s 10.7. Kent’s five freshmen averaged a total of 20 points a game. They scored 44% of the teams points — third highest in the country.

On the trip, KSU’s new freshmen averaged 31 points a game.

Katie Shumate, a 5-11 wing from Newark, averaged 12.3 points a game. Her 19 points against the University of British Columbia was the highest total on the trip. She also had 12 rebounds, the most in a game on the trip. She blocked four shots and had five steals. “She impressed me a lot,” senior Megan Carter said. “She has a high motor and just doesn’t stop.”

Nila Blackford, a 6-2 forward from Louisville, led KSU in rebounding with a 7.3 average and scored nine points a game. Half of her rebounds were offensive.

Clare Kelly, a 5-9 guard from Olmsted Falls, made nine of her 18 three-point shots. She scored 12 points against British Columbia, 11 against Vancouver Island University and six against VK Select, a club team.

None of them (or anyone on the roster) played more than 25 minutes a game.

Another way to look at is this: KSU has its top four scorers back from last season. Three of its top five scorers on the trip were incoming freshmen. A fourth was a transfer. Dingle was the fifth. (Senior Ali Poole, fourth on the team in scoring last season, didn’t play on the trip because of an injury suffered in practice in Kent.)

A lot of scoring, a lot of weapons

The Flashes averaged 95.7 points a game. Five players scored in double figures in every game.

Eight different players scored in double figures at least once. Eleven of the 13 players made at least one three pointer.

“It was nice to see multiple players making shots,” Starkey said after the Vancouver Island game. “The versatility of scoring we have is really going to help us.”

Carter said the multiple 3-point shooters allows her and Dingle to drive to the basket with more ease. “It definitely spaces the floor,” she said.

Scores were somewhat inflated by the use of the international 24-second clock (the NCAA’s shot clock is 30) and having just eight seconds (instead of 10) to get the ball over half court.

The 3-point international distance is about 16 inches farther than the NCAA women’s. KSU made 30.8 of its 3-pointers, down about 2 points from last season. But Lindsay Thall, who led the MAC in 3-point percentage last season and who has no problem shooting from any distance, made just 4 of 27. From watching her in practice last week, she should be fine this season.

About the competition

Both university teams the Flashes played had good records last year, but at least the University of British Columbia was missing some of its starters because school wasn’t in session.

I’d guess the competition was along the lines of Division II teams in the U.S. Kent State played two such teams last season and beat them 77-48 and 92-38 — similar margins to their wins in Vancouver.

Still, we can compare the Flashes’ scores to Alabama’s two games against the same competition the previous week. Alabama was 14-17 last season and 11th in the 14-team SEC. Its RPI was 159 of 351 schools. Kent State was 20-13 and fifth in the MAC with an RPI of 83.

Alabama beat VK Select 104-64. Kent State beat them 90-68, though the Flashes led by 38 — almost Alabama’s margin — going into the fourth quarter. KSU beat the University of British Columbia 94-54. Alabama beat them 104-74.

So things were pretty similar between the Flashes and a somewhat below average Power Five school.

Links to stories on the three games, including links to their box scores:

KSU 90, VK Select 69. Nine steals for Dingle. KSU took 38-point lead into fourth quarter.

KSU 94, University of British Columbia 54. All three freshmen scored in double figures, led by Katie Shumate’s 19.

KSU 103, Vancouver Island University 54. Flashes were 13 of 33 from 3-point distances, best of the trip.

I’ve got some other notes on the trip I’ll add tomorrow — things like how some veteran players did, how the team did on correcting last season’s weaknesses, the starting lineups. I’m trying not to have so many very long posts this year.

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