Kent State Preview

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Kent State Preview

Postby Commissioner » Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:32 am

Kent State

When: Tuesday, December 3, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Memorial Athletic Center, Kent, Ohio
TV: ESPN+
Radio: 910 AM Superstation

Back in September, I looked at the Titans schedule and wrote in another post, "Are we [meaning we fans] ready for a 2-14 start?" The Titans are quickly headed in that direction, as it doesn't get a lot easier if our guys can't break through this week at Kent on Tuesday and at home against EMU on Saturday.

Kent State's program history is an interesting one in its trajectory. In their first 60 years of competition, they had just 15 winning records, and in 77 years of play before the arrival of Gary Waters in 1997, the Golden Flash had just 23 winning seasons. They had never played in the NCAA tournament, and had reached the NIT just three times, all between 1985 and 1990, a brief period of modest success under coach Jim McDonald. They lost in the first round each time. They joined the MAC for the 1952 season, but didn't have a winning record in conference play until 1972. They didn't have another until 1985. In seven seasons between that 1990 NIT appearance and Waters' hiring for the 1997 season, the Flash were 64-100 overall, and 38-66 in conference play. They had never won a MAC regular season or tournament title. Walters took a couple seasons to turn things around, but Kent won 23 games in his third year (1999), and won the MAC tournament for its first NCAA bid ever. They won 23 games the next season, snagging an NIT bid, where they beat Rutgers and Villanova, and returned the NCAA in 2001, after winning their first ever MAC regular season title. There they beat Indiana in the first round before falling to Cincinnati. Walters left for Rutgers, but the next year, under Stan Heath, Kent won 30 games and reached the NCAA Elite 8. They've not repeated that kind of success, but nor did they fall back far back. Beginning with the breakout 1999 season under Walters, Kent has had 23 consecutive seasons at .500 or better, 17 of them with at least 20 wins. They've played in 6 NCAA tournaments, 6 NITs, and 5 CIT tournaments, and won 10 MAC regular season titles. They are, year-in and year-out, one of the most solid MAC programs.

This year is no exception. The Flash are off to a 6-1 start, including a win at Horizon favorite Wright State. Though their other wins are over none too impressive opponents (Stetson, IPFW, Towson, and a couple non-D1 teams), they've won easily enough, and their only loss is at 10th-ranked Ohio State. The Flash come into the game ranked #108 by Ken Pomeroy, #138 under the NET formula, and an impressive #24 under the old RPI formula.

Kent's leading scorer and rebounder is a Detroiter offered back in the day by Ray McCallum, forward Danny Pippin. The redshirt junior is putting up 14 points, 7 rebounds, and over 2 blocks per game. The #2 scorer is another Detroiter, sophomore guard Anthony Roberts, the landslide early favorite for MAC 6th Man-of-the-Year. As that implies, Roberts comes off the bench, but he will spend a lot more time on the floor than on that bench. The other starters are 6-8 senior Phil Whittington, 6-5 senior small forward Mitch Peterson, and senior guards Antonio "Booman" Williams and Troy Simons. Besides Roberts, the main men off the bench are 6-7 junior forward Tervell Beck, and freshman guard Giovanni Santiago. Senior CJ Williamson is also likely to see action.

If you've been following, you've noted a lot of use of the word "senior." Kent State is indeed a veteran team. They don't get easily ruffled, they're relatively patient on offense, and they don't turn it over much. The main three-point shooters, both in quantity and quality, are Simons (39.6%) and Pippin (37.2%). Roberts (33.3%) is the only other player who will take more than the opportunistic or desperate three. The point guard, Williams, will rarely shoot more than 1 or 2 a game.

Back to that possibility of a 2-14 start... The Titans simply haven't shown that they can play solid ball for 40 minutes at a time, the victory over UC-Irvine notwithstanding. The Titans have had just 1 winning season in the last six (and this year is looking very much like year 7), that being a 16-15 record in 2016, Ray McCallum's last as head coach. We've had three straight losing seasons. The Titan fanbase isn't large these days. Is it willing to stick through another 5 weeks of losses--most of them lopsided? Kent will be heavily favored in this game--Vegas odds aren't out as of this writing, but KenPom has Kent by 14. However, Kent will not have the size advantage many of our opponents have had; they are not a particularly good three-point shooting team. Last year the Titans had Kent State on the ropes but let the Flash score the game's final 11 points to steal a 76-72 win. Eight of those were scored by Jaylin Walker, who dropped 36 points on the Titans. But Walker and Jalen Avery, the top two scorers on that team, have graduated. If the Titans can't be competitive with teams such as this one, it's hard to imagine us doing much in the Horizon.

Probable Starters
PG - Booman Williams, 6-0 Sr. (12.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 apg).
SG - Troy Simons, 6-3 Sr. (11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 39.6% 3PFG)
SF - Mitch Peterson, 6-5 Sr. (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
PF - Danny Pippin, 6-7 RS Jr. (14.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 37.2% 3PFG)
PF - Phil Whittington, 6-8 RS Sr. (9.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg)

Key Reserves
PG - Giovanni Santiago, 6-1 Fr. (3.9 ppg, 3.0 apg)
G - Anthony Roberts, 6-4 Soph. (13.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 33.3% 3PFG)
SF - CJ Williamson, 6-6 Sr. (3.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
F - Tervell Beck, 6-7 Jr. (4.4 ppg)
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby titanmac » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:59 pm

you goin commish?
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby Commissioner » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:39 am

titanmac wrote:you goin commish?

Still unsure but probably not. Exam tomorrow and have to be available for students through the late afternoon.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby udballer » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:03 pm

The University of Detroit should not be getting blown out by MAC teams on the regular. Seriously, that should never happen.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby upbasketballfan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:29 am

udballer wrote:The University of Detroit should not be getting blown out by MAC teams on the regular. Seriously, that should never happen.

+1
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby UDDRUMMER » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:59 am

The team looked tired, especially in the second half. AD was the man source of offense, the rest of the offense had the deer in the headlights look.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby Commissioner » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:59 am

Commissioner wrote:
titanmac wrote:you goin commish?

Still unsure but probably not. Exam tomorrow and have to be available for students through the late afternoon.

Thank heavens for exams or I might have made the 2 hour drive up to Kent last night.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby udballer » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:57 am

UDDRUMMER wrote:The team looked tired, especially in the second half. AD was the man source of offense, the rest of the offense had the deer in the headlights look.


That highlights the issues on offense we are dealing with this season. Our main source of offense and (according to your comment) our only confident player shot 28% from the field. Even during a poor shooting night, he was forced to put up 25 shots.

By default, I don't think we'll be a competitive team until AD's shots per game drop significantly. That should minimally signify that we've got some more offensively talented players on the court.

Currently our second leading shooter (Miller) is a senior transfer who is shooting the ball at a <30% clip. That doesn't bode well for next season. I almost don't see the point. I'd much rather see Moore, Brandon, Legrande & Isiani putting up a ton of in-game shots for the rest of the season. Maybe going into next year we'd be able to identify some scoring options based on how that plays out.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby NC Titan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:48 pm

I saw a couple of games in person, a few more on ESPN+. Yes, we need a second scoring option. McFolley carried that last year, no one has stepped up this year.

Miller is a third or fourth option. He has good touch and can do some nice things in the paint, but he doesn’t move well and doesn’t get off the ground so he gets smothered by bigger players. He uses his body well for positioning and scores off that, but in offensive sets he’s not particularly effective, lots of blocked shots, and all his shooting percentages are mediocre at best. I’d rather see Brandon get more minutes because he’s more dangerous both on offense and defense, and consistent time on court should make him a more consistent baller.

Boe is performing well, both rebounding and scoring, but he’s no more than a good third option on offense and most of that is cleaning up on offensive rebounds.

Isiani is and Calipari are both streaky and not reliable enough to draw attention from Antoine. When does Maxwell get cleared to play? And Pink?
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby Rogobob77 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:46 pm

NC Titan wrote:I saw a couple of games in person, a few more on ESPN+. Yes, we need a second scoring option. McFolley carried that last year, no one has stepped up this year.

Miller is a third or fourth option. He has good touch and can do some nice things in the paint, but he doesn’t move well and doesn’t get off the ground so he gets smothered by bigger players. He uses his body well for positioning and scores off that, but in offensive sets he’s not particularly effective, lots of blocked shots, and all his shooting percentages are mediocre at best. I’d rather see Brandon get more minutes because he’s more dangerous both on offense and defense, and consistent time on court should make him a more consistent baller.

Boe is performing well, both rebounding and scoring, but he’s no more than a good third option on offense and most of that is cleaning up on offensive rebounds.

Isiani is and Calipari are both streaky and not reliable enough to draw attention from Antoine. When does Maxwell get cleared to play? And Pink?

At today's luncheon, it was confirmed that Pink was recently cleared to play. Maxwell is having his cast off I think on Friday, and then may still need a splint for the ligament issue involving one of his hands. I didn't get a sense that we would expect to see Maxwell in action anytime soon.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby 1975SHjoe » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:17 pm

Rogo, any update on the 7 footers?
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby Rogobob77 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:45 pm

1975SHjoe wrote:Rogo, any update on the 7 footers?

Tim Waller, Director of Basketball Operations, was at the podium representing MBB. When asked about the international players reportedly in the pipeline for the second half of this season, he didn’t directly answer the question. I interpreted the response as an admission we aren’t getting any additions to the roster at this time.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby Big Chuck » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:40 am

Rogobob77 wrote:
1975SHjoe wrote:Rogo, any update on the 7 footers?

Tim Waller, Director of Basketball Operations, was at the podium representing MBB. When asked about the international players reportedly in the pipeline for the second half of this season, he didn’t directly answer the question. I interpreted the response as an admission we aren’t getting any additions to the roster at this time.


I agree, not only did he have no encouraging words about big men, but shifted to comments about the need for another ball handler to take some of the pressure off of AD.
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Re: Kent State Preview

Postby titandave » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:47 pm

NC Titan wrote:Boe is performing well, both rebounding and scoring, but he’s no more than a good third option on offense and most of that is cleaning up on offensive rebounds.


Agree with you point on Boe, he's developing into a solid contributor. In fact, I would like to see more of Boe and less of Justin Miller.
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