Kent State Golden Flashes
Overall Rank: #112
Conference Rank: #4 MAC
2006-07: 21-11, 12-4, 2nd East
2006-07 postseason: none
Under Coach Jim Christian, Kent State seems to always be in the hunt for a Mid-American Conference title and this year will be no different. Six players return who started at least 15 games and that should help the Flashes avoid another slow start this year. Yet, there are some concerns thanks to the absence of the team’s best two long range shooters.
The shooting concerns stem from the absence of Omni Smith and Armon Gates. Smith, who was the only player on the team to average over ten points per game, spent most of the season coming off the bench. Yet, it will be tough to find another spark who was as effective as Smith. Gates added 9.2 points per game and was by far the best shooter from beyond the arc. Gates drained 2.2 shots per game from behind the arc and Smith added 1.5. The shooters left on the 2007-2008 Kent State squad are anything but proven.
The addition of Korey Spates will immediately bolster the backcourt. Spates, who averaged 10.1 points in 15 contests during the 2005-2006 season at Purdue, spent last year at the junior college level. His ball handling needs some improvement, but Spates is expected to run the show from day one. At the least, Spates drastically increases the talent level of the Flashes. Forwards Antonio DiMaria and Rashad Woods will add some depth at the three and four spots. It is Woods, a 6-6 junior college transfer, who will make the biggest impact right away. Gabe Garcia is the third of the junior college transfers and a teammate of Spates at Schoolcraft Community College. The seven-footer may need some time to adjust to life in the MAC, but getting some quality minutes out of Garcia will be a big help to a team that has no impact players over 6-7.
Who to Watch:
However, there a lot of talented forwards in the 6-5 to 6-7 range at Kent State. By the numbers senior Mike Scott, who averaged 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, is the best of the unit. Sullinger may be undersized for a power forward, but he is a tough player and will battle anybody on the glass. After two years in the system, Sullinger is developing into a solid offensive threat and he may be ready for a breakout campaign. Haminn Quaintance proved to be a quality pickup after transferring from Jacksonville. The 6-7 forward averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 boards as a junior and bigger things are expected for his final collegiate season. Quaintance will use his strength and athleticism to block plenty of shots and grab a few steals. He is even a decent passer out of the post and will find plenty of open looks to the shooters on the perimeter. Isaac Knight will not put up big numbers, but he is an experienced post player ready to come off the bench.
Despite the absence of Smith and Gates, the Kent State backcourt is not lacking in depth. Jordan Mincy started 20 games a year ago, Chris Singletary just scratched the surface of his potential and Rodriguez Sherman holds the hopes of the long range shooting. All three, along with Mike McKee, will see an increased in playing time and will need to answer the call. Singletary, Sherman and McKee are all sophomores and the future of the backcourt is very bright. Yet, the future is not quite here. Kent State has enough talent to win what is always a close conference race, but all the frontcourt athleticism will not make up for a team that cannot open up the defense by hitting the three-pointer.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Korey Spates, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Rodriquez Sherman, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Mike Scott, Senior, Forward, 9.4 points per game
Julian Sullinger, Junior, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Haminn Quaintance, Senior, Forward, 8.2 points per game