Men's Basketball Blog: Rob Senderoff previews Sunday's CIT second round game at Loyola Maryland
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
By Rob Senderoff
We gave our guys off yesterday as we normally would do in a week when we have three days in between games.
While we were off, I did some recruiting and our guys got in some extra study hall. Now we'll get back to practice today and starting our preparation for Loyola Maryland.
It is great to still be playing. Randal obviously made a huge shot on Wednesday that allowed us to keep going. I think our guys are really excited about having the opportunity to advance in this tournament. When you watch team's seasons end, whether it is in the NIT or the NCAA Tournament, there is a finality to it. So our guys are excited to continue to play.
On Saturday, we will leave early for Loyola. When we get to Baltimore, we are going to take our guys to the ESPN Zone to eat and let them get that experience at the Inner Harbor. After that, we'll practice Saturday night at Loyola, and then we play on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Loyola is a really good team. They have two first-team all-conference players. As you all saw with Derek Needham of Fairfield, who is an all-conference player in the MAAC, the leagues are obviously very similar. If you are a first-team player in the MAAC, you'd be a first-team player in our league. Loyola's two first-team players are Dylon Cormier, who is a 6-foot-2 combo guard, and Erik Etherly, who is a 6-foot-7 post player. It'll be a challenge for us.
Chris Evans saw our team physician last night. He has had a number of treatments and we are hoping he is feeling a lot better by Sunday. Regardless, our kids are going to go to Loyola and they will compete hard and try to continue to advance in the CIT.
Chris has been hurt for a while. He got hurt in our last regular season game at Akron. He didn't practice much at all in the week leading up to the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Of course he has probably the best game of his career against Buffalo in the first game of the MAC tournament, but I think the next day he was very sore and he just didn't play well against Akron. He still had some Chris Evans-type moments, but he just didn't play well. I know Chris doesn't want to say that his ankle had anything to do with how he played in that game, so I'm going to say it didn't. But he is a little banged up.
MONDAY, MARCH 18
By Rob Senderoff
We are fortunate to still be playing. Obviously everybody's goal is to play in the NCAA tournament, but only one team in our league gets to do that.
At this stage, only four teams are still playing. Us, Akron, Ohio and Western Michigan. It's a testament to our players that we are one of the last four standing from the conference.
These events, the CIT, the CBI and the NIT are similar to some of the bowl games in football, in that its not a BCS bowl, but its game that is important to our team, it's important to our players, and it is important to our coaches and our program.
Last night, we talked to our players a little bit about that. Today we are preparing for Fairfield. I think our guys are going to be very excited to play. Sometimes these games go the way your seniors go. I know Randal will be ready to go. I feel very strongly that Chris will not want his last performance in a Kent State uniform to be the 1-for-11 he had at the Q. He is two much of a competitor and he has had too good a year for that to be the way he goes out.
Our younger guys can really benefit from the experience of playing good teams in a postseason environment.
Fairfield is a great defensive team with really quick and athletic guards. Two of their starting guards are guys we faced in the NIT two years ago. Derek Needham can really score. He is from Chicago. He will be out here firing and ready to go.
Their team has some depth and they try to control the tempo, similar to Eastern Michigan from our league only they don't play zone. They play mostly man-to-man. In that way they are like one of the older Charlie Coles-coached Miami teams.
This game will be a challenge for us. Our team appreciates that we have a chance to play this game at home. Our players appreciate it. They are going to play hard, and I hope there is a nice turnout for the game.
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
By Rob Senderoff
We just finished our team breakfast at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland. In a little while, we will go into film study and get back to preparing our guys to play the University of Akron in tonight's Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal at Quicken Loans Arena.
Akron is the MAC regular-season champ for a reason. They are 14-2 for a reason.
They are a great team with the best front court in the league and some phenomenal shooters. They are very deep.
They are obviously well coached. Keith was the Coach of the Year in the MAC this season.
It is going to take a great effort to have a chance to beat them tonight.
Based on last week's game and the way they came back in the second half, I'm sure a lot of people think Akron will come out pressing us right from the start. We have to be ready for pressure, but really we have to be ready for everything. This is the time of year where teams do whatever they need to do to be ready for the next game.
We did some things differently last night against Buffalo because we felt like we needed to if we were going to win the game. So, we'll be prepared for Akron to press. We'll be prepared if they play Zone. We'll be ready for whatever they throw at us, and I'm sure they'll be ready for whatever we throw at them.
More on what we did differently last night against Buffalo. We pressed a little bit, played some zone early on and then switched a lot of screens later in the game because they are so difficult to guard. Buffalo's system is difficult to defend. For those who understand the Pomeroy Rankings, Buffalo made the fourth biggest jump of any school in the country in the last two weeks because of how efficiently they had been playing. They were playing great basketball on the offensive end. We were fortunate to hold them to 68 points.
I don't know how this season is going to end. We obviously hope we are the team cutting down the nets on Saturday night. But I've been here at Kent State for a long time now, and I don't remember two seniors who have carried a team the way Randal Holt and Chris Evans have all year long. To me, they haven't received the respect they deserve.
Ever since the Trevor and Drew Crew in 1999, 2001 and 2002, I know we've had Kent State teams go to the tournament. But all of those teams had three or four seniors. The exception was 2008 when Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance were seniors. I wasn't here then, so I can't speak to their senior leadership. But the leadership of Randal and Chris has been just phenomenal. Remember, this team was left for dead in the middle of January after we lost our first MAC home game to Toledo.
For the rest of the guys who had seen little or no action in the MAC Tournament prior to last night, it was nice to get some of the jitters out in the win over Buffalo. I thought we were a little tight and a little out of sorts for the first 20 minutes. I know our guys will be a little looser tonight.
I also want to thank our fans for last night. I thought the Kent State fans were great. They came out on a Thursday night in great numbers, and it meant a lot for our kids to see that support. We are looking forward to seeing you all again tonight when we play Akron at 6:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, MARCH 14
By Rob Senderoff
Our guys are excited to start Mid-American Conference Tournament play and they are ready to go.
We had a great shoot around this morning at Quicken Loans Arena. In a few minutes we'll look at some film of Buffalo and walk through their stuff in the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel here in Cleveland.
Buffalo obviously has an all-conference player at the center spot in Javon McCrea. Their team has won two games to get here and they were really dominant in the second half last night against a Ball State team that had been really, really hot coming into the tournament.
Will Regan had a career night last night with 36 points. He can really shoot the basketball and he has size at 6-foot-8. We've been very fortunate that he's gotten into some foul trouble the first two times we played the Bulls.
Buffalo doesn't play a ton of guys, but the guys who do see action are all playing with a ton of confidence right now.
Tonight's third-round game will be the third time we've played Buffalo, so we know them and they know us.
I think the key stats for us tonight will be rebounding margin and turnover differential.
McCrea scored 33 and 32 points against us in the two games we played and he also had double-digit rebounds in both. The key for us is going to be that we have to keep him off the glass and off of the free-throw line. He already gets the ball a ton and he is a great player. So, we need to limit his second-chance opportunities the best we can and force him to shoot as many jump shots as we can.
I've always thought the first game in the MAC Tournament is the toughest. Granted, they are all tough, but there are always some nerves to deal with in the first one. We'll have to handle that tonight because we have a lot of new faces to this. Randal Holt and Chris Evans are the only guys on our team who played in the MAC Tournament last year, with the exception of Kris Brewer, who played just three minutes against Western Michigan.
We are going to have to play through all of that and be efficient with the basketball.
This is a great time of year and our guys are excited and ready.
MONDAY, MARCH 11
By Rob Senderoff
This is obviously an exciting time of year, knowing that you are just three games away from the NCAA Tournament. It's also a time when you know how quickly it all can end.
You look around the country and see it. I watched Middle Tennessee. They had an incredible season and then unfortunately for them didn't play their best game the other night and now they are more than likely not going to the NCAA Tournament. Stony Brook. Niagara. You just see it all throughout the country.
Then you see a team like Liberty get in and it is a reminder that everybody has a chance. From Akron to Miami, whether you are the No. 1 seed or the No. 11 in the Mid-American Conference Tournament this week, everybody knows they have a chance. Liberty is the perfect example. They had 20 losses, got hot, won four games and now they are in the NCAA Tournament.
We are hard at work preparing for this week.
After Friday night's win at Akron, we took saturday off and then our guys shot on Sunday for about 45 minutes. I wanted guys to get a good sweat up. We also watched some film of our Akron game on Sunday after we shot.
Today we will work on us, trying to make sure we are getting ourselves prepared. I want to make sure we are fresh and that we are in a great mindset and that we have a ton of energy heading into Thursday's game.
Tomorrow we will know the two teams we could face on Thursday. We'll spend a few minutes on each team during tomorrow's practice, but there are a lot of principles that will be there regardless of who we play. So, there are some things we'll do during today's practice that are important for whoever we play.
This is a busy time for assistant coaches. They each have multiple scouts that they are working on already. They need to get scouting reports ready for just about any team we could play. Once we get to Cleveland, every night is pretty much an all-nighter. The minute the game between Ball State and either Buffalo or Central Michigan ends on Wednesday night and we know who we are playing, we'll finish the scouting report, so everything needs to be ready for that.
The players will get to watch the game live on Wednesday while the coaches are working.
Director of basketball operations Mike McKee, who does our film, probably has the hardest job of anyone because he has to cut up edits and film for two teams. He'll have to have two edits ready to go for our scouting report right after the game on Wednesday. And then if we win on Thursday, he'll have film ready for Akron. Each day you have to worry about the next one.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27
By Eric Haut
Buffalo is two spots ahead of us in the standings. If you projected it right now, we would be a No. 6 seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and Buffalo would be a No. 4.
But if we can beat Buffalo tonight, that would be a season sweep and we could leapfrog into that No. 4 seed. Because of the byes you get as the No. 4 seed, the importance of every game is huge the rest of the regular season.
Those are also huge in terms of our senior class getting to 20 wins. If we can get there it would be the 14th time in the last 15 years. I know that's on the minds of Randal Holt, who has been here for four years, and Chris Evans. It's a major goal for them.
We had a very hard fought game with Buffalo that could have gone either way when we played them at their place on Jan. 16. The 80-68 margin of victory wasn't indicative of the game. I think a technical foul agains them late gave us a little bit of a cushion to what could have been a five-or-six-point victory.
Javon McCrea had 33 points in that game for Buffalo. That was a career high for him at that point. He did a great job on the glass against us and he was 15-for-15 from the foul line. We have to do a better job of playing him aggressively but not fouling when he is around the basket. Make him score over our defense as opposed to sending him to the free-throw line or giving him angles to the basket.
Tony Watson has really come on of late for them. He is 19-for-28 in his last three games from three. He was just 1-for-11 against us in Buffalo. They now have that one-two punch to go along with guys like 6-foot-8 forward Will Regan and Jarryn Skeete, their freshman point guard who is playing better and better.
This is going to be a tough game. We are going to have to do a really good job defensively, rebounding the ball, which gets us out in transition. We also have to keep them off the free-throw line.
Turning them over would be a huge key for us. They had struggled with turnovers earlier in the year, but in their last three games they've won they've had 12 of less turnovers.
I'm seeing a lot of encouraging things in our team right now. I was telling my wife about it just last night. This is one of the few teams I've been around that hasn't been playing for the No. 1 overall seed or a regular-season championship this late in February that still comes with a good attitude in practice.
I've been around other teams late in February that have been out of the conference championship race, they kind of just go through the motions when it comes to practice time and preparing for games.
This team almost has a little swagger to them because they kind of feel like they are peaking right now. They see they are starting to play their best basketball and they know we can make a late run.
It's a little different than I'm accustomed to considering we aren't playing for a regular-season championship. I think a lot of it has to do with our seniors leading our young guys and some of it has to do with our inexperience in that those young guys want to continue to play.
TUESDAY, Feb. 12
By Rob Senderoff
We have got to focus game by game and let the big picture play itself out.
I think our team believes it can compete with anyone in the conference, but we have to go out there and perform every night.
Since we lost at Northern Illinois, Randal Holt and Chris Evans have taken a lot of leadership and responsibility to make sure practice is good every day. They have worked really hard at that and it has helped our team.
Obviously we had a setback last week at Western Michigan, but we played pretty well in that game on the road against a very good team. We were just one or two possessions away there.
Right now we are focusing on the defensive side of the floor. I think that will be the biggest key for us moving forward.
Offensively, we've had a couple of other guys step up of late with Darren Goodson and Kris Brewer becoming much more consistent. We still need to get some more guys coming off the bench and helping us with production.
I don't have any news on Chris Evans and his injured ankle. The X-rays were negative. There is nothing structurally wrong with him. Knowing Chris the way that I know him, I believe he is going to find a way to play on Wednesday vs. Miami University. It's 2:30 p.m. now. We are on the floor for practice at 3 p.m. and I don't know what he will do or not do today or tomorrow, but I would be surprised if he doesn't try to play. How effective he will be, we'll have to see.
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12
By Rob Senderoff
Conference play starts tomorrow for everyone in the league. We are excited about getting things going.
Right now our team is playing with a lot of confidence, but we also understand there is a very slim margin between winning and losing in this league, and especially with this team. Considering there is a very slim margin between winning and losing for us, our focus is making sure we play hard and compete for 40 minutes. We need to have a lot of energy, enthusiasm and effort. Those are our three E's for 40 minutes.
We play Toledo, a team that to me is one of the two or three most talented teams in the league. They were picked to win the West Division. They are coming off a year when they won 19 games and they return all five starters from that team. They have arguably the best wing in the league in Rian Pearson and arguably the best point guard in the league, who is the reigning freshman of the year in Julius Brown.
The Rockets are very good offensively. They are very well coached and it is going to be a very difficult game for us at home. People who look at their record, which is 4-7, don't understand that they have played something like eight of their first 11 games on the road and they have had huge gaps in their schedule because of their APR situation. Their record is really not indicative at all of the team they have, so we are going to have to play very well if we are going to win this game.
Practice has been good for us. Our guys right now are in a pretty good place. I know how fragile that is and I think our guys know how fragile that is. But we've been working very had in practice. We've been very focused. I think we are continuing to get better and progress as a group.
We are at a point now in the season where guys are starting to understand their roles and what they have to do to help us win. I think that has helped us during this four-game winning streak.
Our keys for us tonight are, first, that we have to do a great job defensively in the half court. We have to do a great job on Pearson, trying to force him to take tough shots. We are also going to have to keep them off the free-throw line. They shoot about 77-percent as a team, which makes them one of the best in the country.
On the offensive end, we have to execute, share the basketball and make simple plays.
Chris Ortiz has gone through conditioning and our dummy offensive drills the last couple of days. If he continues to progress, he could be back soon. I think he is sore right now, probably because he hasn't done very much for five weeks. I think his body is a little tired. But we are hoping he'll be able to play a little bit on Saturday at Ball State. That's the goal. We'll see how things go the next few days, but Saturday is the goal for him.
By Rob Senderoff
The Bracket Buster has been great for our program.
It has allowed us the opportunity to play on television multiple times. It has matched us up with great opponents where the atmosphere at the games have been as good as any outside of our Akron game.
I remember our first bracket buster game was against Hawaii, and Antonio Gates was playing three days after spraining his MCL. He went for 36. We lost the game, but it was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a sell out. The fans were here early. It was phenomenal.
The year Southern Illinois went to the Sweet 16, we played them in the Bracket Buster in a great game. We would never schedule Creighton and Creighton wouldn't schedule us normally. But because of Bracket Buster we got to play them home and home, and we beat them both times we played them. We played George Mason the year after they went to the Final Four.
Beating Saint Mary's in 2008 is what got Kent State ranked for the first time in the regular season. Without winning that game on the road, Kent State doesn't get ranked.
So, the Bracket Buster has been great. It will be something we really miss at Kent State. I understand it may have run its course and it may have almost gotten too big. For a lot of schools the travel at that time of the year has not been a great thing. I know last year it really affected Buffalo.
Buffalo was playing really well. But then they had to travel to North Dakota in Bracket Buster, and then they turned around and played Ohio at home. Ohio had played a home game in Bracket Buster. The turnaround was three days, and Ohio beat Buffalo by about 20. My thought as I was watching the lead up to that game, I knew the travel at that time would hurt Buffalo. You could argue it cost them a chance to win the regular season, because that loss made a big difference.
There are advantages and disadvantages in everything. But Bracket Buster has been great for Kent State for sure.
Next year, our league adds two games, so we were going to have to schedule two less non-conference games because of that league change. Now we'll have to only schedule one less game. That does open up a spot for us, but our schedule has been pretty much done. We'll take our time to add that new game and probably not do anything until the spring to see what options we have.
FRIDAY, Dec. 7
By Rob Senderoff
There are two things we are working on right now.
First, we have to become a better defensive team in the half court.
Part of our offensive problems the last couple of games is that we are not getting enough stops and then getting out in transition. It is really hard to score against another team's set defense all of the time. Some of our problems are mental, seeing it and understanding we have to dig down deeper.
The other thing we are working on is dealing with frustration. Our guys get frustrated when things aren't going well and we are struggling to battle through that frustration. That could be part of having a young team. We haven't been a young team in a very long time. We have a lot of new guys, and they need to learn that the game is never over.
Today we are going to watch the 1994 Kentucky vs. LSU game when Kentucky was down 31 points at LSU in the second half and came back to win the game. We'll watch that half just so that our guys understand they have to keep battling regardless of time and score.
We were down four points at Bucknell with eight minutes to go, and our body language was as if the game was over. We were down six against Princeton with five minutes to go and it was as if the game was over. RIght now, we are conceding way too soon. You can't run the flag up the mast when its a nine-point game with eight minutes to go. Too many teams come back from that.
I knew this was going to be a tough stretch of the season with four out of five on the road and all five against NCAA Tournament caliber type teams. Some people may argue Youngstown State isn't NCAA Tournament caliber, but I think they are going to surprise some people in their league. They certainly should be in the top half of their league. The rest are very good teams.
Next week is finals week. We'll give some guys time off and work with them on some individual stuff. And then we have two more games at home before we go home for Christmas. This stretch of three games we have coming up before Christmas is obviously important. We have to keep trying to get better and keep plugging away.
Chris Ortiz had his surgery and it was successful. We are hopeful he will be back in six weeks and we'll have him for the majority of league play.
THURSDAY, Nov. 29
TALES FROM THE END OF THE BENCH, Vol. 1
By Brian Frank
This is a blog written by me, Brian Frank, and with a little help from my go to media guys Dave Carducci and Todd Vatter, with the purpose being to provide an exclusive look inside Kent State Basketball from my own unique perspective.
Last night was a battle of toughness, and the tougher team won. All year we’ve made our mark by battling through adversity and I think it will pay off in the long run.
But before I get started I first want to send a huge congratulations to my fellow senior Randal Holt on hitting the 1000 point mark. This is an accomplishment he should be very proud of. I know I am proud to say that I’ve been there through it all.
As I mentioned previously this blog’s sole purpose is to provide you with an inside look at the Golden Flashes from my perspective. If you don’t know who I am, I am the third of three senior captains, this is my fourth year with the program and I am the only walk-on in my tenure to make it to his senior year.
Back to last night at Youngstown State, our third overtime game of the year and our second win. Coach Senderoff has preached taking care of the ball all year long and last night we did just that with only 10 turnovers. Our point guard, freshman Kellon Thomas, has gone 3 straight games with 0 turnovers (knocks on wood). That’s impressive for any point guard nonetheless a freshman. A couple of other guys deserve some praise that don’t show up in the stat sheets that much are Bryson Pope and Mark Henniger. Mark does a lot of stuff that helps us win that doesn’t show up in the box score, and he’s been playing at a high level so far this season. Bryson has been huge for us on the defensive end this year. Last night he guarded a 1 and the game before he guarded a 4 or a 5. No matter what position he comes to work every game.
Til next time Golden Flashes,
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8
By Rob Senderoff
We open our the 2012-13 season tomorrow at 7 p.m. against Drexel at the M.A.C. Center and we need a big crowd to help us against a very good team that won 29 games last year and I think is Sweet-16 caliber this season.
Then we are back next Tuesday at noon for a nationally televised game against Temple that is part of ESPN's 24 Hours of Basketball. We have a young team, and need every advantage we can get playing at home in front of big crowds for both of those games.
I thought our fans might be interested in what we have been working on in our last week of preparation before the start of the new season.
We were off on Monday. On Tuesday, we watched the film from our exhibition game. It was a long session to say the least. Probably the longest one we've had here.
After that, we came out and practiced really hard on Tuesday with a lot of rebounding work. I think that's something we need to do better and get really good at it. We worked a lot in transition because our transition defense and offense wasn't very good in the exhibition.
On Wednesday we came back and did some more of the same, but we also played a lot of 1-on-1. The reason for that was we were trying to make sure everything was as competitive as can be. It is important for us that we are competing all of the time. That is the theme to this week. We need to make sure we compete at a really high level.
Yesterday we also watched some film of Drexel from last year. Mostly just to show how good they are as a rebounding team. If they were in our league, they would have been the best rebounding team in the league and they bring back all of their post players.
Today's practice will be a little bit shorter, but it will be the same theme. We'll go over our scouting report, we'll watch film, and then we'll get on the floor and work on not just our stuff and what we need to do during the game, but we'll also guard their actions. While the practice will be shorter in length, the intensity of the practice needs to be very high.
Tonight I'll have everybody at my house at 8:30. We'll have a team meal and we have a little start-to-the-season ritual that the team will do tonight. Basically it is about team bonding and it is something we haven't done for a while, but with so many new guys this season I think it's a good idea to bring.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31
By Rob Senderoff
It is really good to have Randal Holt now finally cleared to begin practicing with us.
He's been doing non-contact drills the last couple of days, but starting tomorrow he'll be back on the floor doing all of the things the rest of the guys are doing.
I know he's been chomping at the bit (and yes I know the term is "champing" at the bit, but nobody ever says that).
When one of our guys drew a charge in yesterday's scrimmage, Randal was the first person off the bench and on the floor to pick him up. So, clearly he's excited to be out there.
Yesterday was a very good practice. We brought officials in again to help us with some things.
Two things stood out from our closed scrimmage at St. Bonaventure over the weekend that we need to improve upon. One, we need to continue to play hard but without fouling. And two, we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.
We weren't planning on bringing in officials to practice this week, but as a staff we thought it was important to to see if our kids could play as hard as they have while trying to be conscious about cutting down on the fouls. We had a lot of offensive fouls in the scrimmage last weekend.
The guys did a much better job yesterday. They played extremely hard again and the officials called it tight. There were a couple of times when guys committed what I would call dumb fouls of the same nature, but they also showed they were starting to recognize that they have got to defend without using their hands and set solid screens.
Today the team lifted weights and then we'll be back for three days of practice before our exhibition against Rochester at 7 p.m. on Sunday in the M.A.C. Center.
There are several things I want to see on Sunday. I know what I'm expecting out of the team and I want to see our guys do the things that I expect while playing in front of people other than myself.
I see flying around in practice. I see guys taking charges in practice. I see unselfishness on the offensive end in practice. I see guys being really supportive of each other in practice.
But when there is a game, when the lights are on, when people are there to see them, I want to see if they play with the same enthusiasm level and the same level of unselfishness that we've seen in practice.
We have several guys who are getting better. With the young guys it continues to fluctuate. One day someone looks great and the next he doesn't look as good. That's the nature of being a freshman or being new to a program.
I probably haven't given Chris Evans enough due for how well he is playing. Internally, our kids know he has been the best player on our team pretty much every day in practice. But I don't think I've discussed that publicly, written it in this blog or said it to a newspaper reporter.
Chris has been consistently very, very good. And I think going into his senior year, just like Randal, he has matured. Chris has always had talent, but now he is beginning to put it all together.
With the younger guys, I'm seeing that they are all going to help us at some level. We have 12 scholarship players on our roster. Four of them are freshmen. At some point, each one of them is going to impact our team. Are they going to impact our team consistently on a game in and game out basis? I hope, but I still have to see that.
I have seen enough out of each of them, though, to feel that there will be some game at some point where a fan will say, "boy Khaliq Spicer really helped you get that win.'"Or another fan will say, "man, without that Kellen Thomas you probably wouldn't have won that game."
I'm really happy with the progress of all of the freshmen. Kellon and Earvin Morris have both played better over the last couple of days.
Off the floor, today was the first Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off event, and I was really happy to see a great turnout from all four schools – Kent State, Akron, Youngstown State and Cleveland State. The Kent State turnout was fantastic, and as coach at this school I am really appreciative of that fact.
I hope the event continues to grow. We raised over $50,000 this year for a very good cause.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24
By Rob Senderoff
Yesterday was the second time this year that we had an intrasquad scrimmage with officials.
We were really good at taking care of the basketball, which of course made me very happy.
We played 24 minutes and then did some situations. In about 48 minutes of total game time, we only had 11 turnovers. If we can do that during the year, that is really a formula for success for us.
We do have to get better defensively, though. I think right now our off-the-ball defense isn't where it needs to be where everyone is conscious about guarding the ball first and their man second. Because of that, we are giving up too many drives to the rim and some cuts when we need to do a better job of swarming the basketball.
Individually, a couple of guys stood out with how they played. Darren Goodson had his best day here. Chris Evans had his best day here. Those two in particular were very good. Kris Brewer didn't turn the ball over a single time, which is very good. He probably played 22 of 24 minutes at the point and didn't have a turnover, and he had nine assists. Chris Ortiz also shot the ball very well again. He was 4-for-4 from the field, but he was also the guy guarding Darren Goodson, who had over 20 points.
RIght now, we need to play somebody else. We scrimmage another team next weekend and that will be good for me to get a better feel for what we need to work on and where we are as a team. For yesterday's scrimmage, though, our intensity was higher than our prior scrimmage. I think our conditioning level was better. Overall, we had a better scrimmage and that is another step in the growth process of our team.
We'll take today off. We come back tomorrow and try to learn from watching film. And then we have two more days to prepare for the scrimmage at St. Bonaventure.
With this team, we are going to do things a little differently in terms of our preparation for the scrimmage. In the past, we really prepared for the scrimmages as if they were regular season games with our scouting and spending a lot of time with scouting reports with our players. I'm not going to do that this year because when you it can take a little bit of time away from the time you have to get better as a team. I just want to work on our team and sort of use the scrimmage as a barometer for where we need to get better. If we were to really, really prepare, we might be able to take some things away in the scrimmage. But is that going to help us get better as a team? I don't think so.
MONDAY, OCT. 22
By Eric Haut
Our effort has been great. Guys are really working hard.
With seven or eight new guys on the roster, we are still learning how to play with each other. Getting that chemistry on the court is something we are working on.
The first few days of practice were a little helter skelter. Guys were playing hard, but not as smart as we should have been.
We've put some things in to keep track of turnovers to make them conscious of taking care of the basketball. Since we did that, we've been taking care of the basketball.
I find it kind of exciting to have so many new guys because they are hungry. We only have two guys who played extended minutes last year with Chris Evans and Randal Holt. So, everyone else is fighting for a roster spot and trying to emerge. Those are challenging times for a coaching staff, but great times for players.
Out of the young guys, Kris Brewer has really stepped up in practice and is probably our leading scorer. Last year I think he got sped up at times, but now he is learning when to attack and when to pull it out and run a play. That is really helping his game. He is also really working on his leadership qualities. He sometimes has a tendency to get down and hang his head, but he is doing a good job of trying to fight through that and be a leader on this team. If you are going to play point guard, you have to have those leadership qualities.
For the freshmen, I think this is an adjustment for all of them. The speed and the strength and the pace of the college game is just different from high school. I would say Chris Ortiz is steadily emerging out of the freshman class. He has that extra year of prep school which I think helped him. He has put on something like 20 pounds since he graduated high school. He is shooting the ball extremely well. He has a great basketball IQ and he is really rebounding the basketball. We expect pretty big things out of Chris.
Now, the most important thing for the freshmen is to just be consistent with your effort and try to learn. You are going to have bad days, but you can't get down. You have to move on, have a short memory and continue to progress and get better.
FRIDAY, OCT. 19
By DeAndre Haynes
The guys have been going really hard in practice.
The thing that was missing at the start of the school year was leadership. But our older guys like Randal Holt and Chris Evans are now showing our younger guys the way Kent State basketball needs to be played.
Right now our team is really scrappy. They play hard. And they all want that gold ball.
We have guys like Darren Goodson on our team. He's the muscle of the team. Now he is starting to get it from a leadership standpoint, so he is actually helping the young guys, too. Having those upperclassmen like Darren, Chris and Randal develop into leaders, that's great for our team. They are making guys Kris Brewer and Bryson Pope work even harder.
Randal had been showing guys what to do, and that was about it because he's been injured. But now as he is closer to coming back, that's making our practices that much better.
The start of practice has been great for me, too, because I've had more of a chance to learn from coach Senderoff. It's a transition from being a player. I'll break down film from practice and see some things that the guards are doing wrong, and I'll want to get out on the floor and play myself. There are some things, though, from my playing days in college and over in Europe that I can teach the guys, especially the point guards, and hopefully they can carry it over to games.
It feels so good to be back home and working with our players. Kent State feels like home. Even at MACC Madness last week, I saw some of the fans that were here when I was playing. They were telling me that they love having me back. Being back as a coach is definitely a strange and good feeling at the same time.