Senior Ali Poole (right), who started 19 games last season, is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in practice this summer. Wearing a hefty knee brace, she participated in drills last week that required no significant movement or contact. Her status for the upcoming season is still unclear. (Details below.) Other player in photo is sophomore Lindsay Thall.
Perhaps for the first time, the Kent State women’s basketball team will play the marquee game in a doubleheader with the men.
When the women host Ohio State on Thursday, Nov. 21, they’ll play the 7:30 p.m. game — after the men play Division II Concord at 5 p.m.
In every other evening doubleheader I remember in 35 years of following KSU sports, the women always played first — before the crowds arrive.
But the Ohio State game is something special. The Buckeyes are the biggest name (men or women) to visit the M.A.C. Center this season and certainly one of the biggest schools ever. It’s also the first time the two teams have played since 1981.
When the game was announced earlier this summer, coach Todd Starkey said he dreamed of filling the 6,200-seat M.A.C.C.
The doubleheader is one more piece that might make that happen.
Biggest women’s crowd I can remember was about 4,500 in 2010, when the Flashes lost to Bowling Green in a “10 tickets for $10” promotion. I remember talking at that game to Judy Devine, KSU’s first women’s coach and later longtime top woman sports administrator for the university. She told me that there were crowds that large in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “A different era,” she said.
Other game times of note:
- The Flashes opener at Duquesne on Tuesday, Nov. 5, will also be the second game of a doubleheader. The Duquesne men play Princeton at 6. The KSU game will start at about 8:30 or a half hour after the men end. It will be the first game Duquesne women have ever played at PPG Paints Arena, the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.
- The Flashes’ game vs. Michigan at the Akron Class will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, an awkward time for fans.
- Kent State will play St. Bonaventure at noon Tuesday, Dec. 3. It’s a “school day” game with students from local elementary and secondary schools invited. The men play at 7 that night against Detroit Mercy.
- The Flashes have two other home doubleheaders:
- 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, vs. Western Michigan. The men play Central Michigan at about 3:30 p.m.
- About 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, vs. Toledo. The men’s game against Ohio starts at 1.
- Kent State’s two games at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic start at 3 p.m. (noon Kent time). The Flashes play Georgia Southern on Thursday, Dec. 19, and Troy on Friday, Dec. 20.
Senior Ali Poole rehabbing an injured knee
Poole was injured in practice in August, shortly before the team’s exhibition game trip to Vancouver, Canada.
She has been in rehabilitation since. When I watched practice last week, she wore an impressively large knee brace. She did take part of a couple of non-contact drills, shot some free throws with the team and spent a lot of time shooting three-point shots with a team manager. (Her shooting looked pretty good.)
“We just continuing to see how she progresses,” Starkey said after practice. “She’s actually ahead of where I thought she’s be at this point. So I’m optimistic.
“We need her, We need her experience, and we need her leadership.”
Poole averaged 8.8 points a game last season, fourth best on the team. She started 19 of 33 games and averaged almost 28 minutes per game. Poole, Megan Carter and Sydney Brinlee are the seniors on the team.
It’s been a rough year for women in the Poole family. Her sister, Mikayla, plays basketball for Malone. Mikayla watched a couple of KSU games last season with a dislocated shoulder in a sling. The sisters’ mother, Jodie, watched her daughters play last season with her own foot in a cast after surgery. Jodie had been an assistant and junior varsity coach at Carrollton High School for many years.