Game 15: at Kent St. (8-8, 1-1)
The Golden Flashes are coming off their most impressive win of the year, beating BG by 24 after being tied with the Falcons at halftime. Until Wednesday night, Kent had come up short when matched up against quality opponents. Kent lost competitve games at home to St. Mary's and on neutral floors to Illinois and Texas A&M while losing by double digit margins at Temple, Cleveland St., and Kansas. Then, the Flashes opened MAC play losing to OU by 6 at the Convo. But after Wednesday night, Coach Geno Ford may have his team starting to play the way it needs to in order to meet its expectations, which is winning the MAC title.
Al Fisher, 6'1" 185 Sr. 16 pts, 4 ass. 42% FG, 34% 3PFG, 84% FT. Wants to take you off the dribble and go to the rim or pull up for the jump shot. He has a very low dribble, making it hard to stay in front of him. He can pull up on a dime and has a quick release on the pullup which is also very hard to guard. With his low dribble, quickness and ability to use screens effectively, he is very good on the pick and roll. Still tends to play too fast sometimes and makes poor decisions and pounds the ball out front too much.
Tyree Evans, 6'3" 210 Jr. 16 pts, 2 reb. 44% FG, 45% 3PFG, 87% FT. Really good jump shooter. Has deep range, really elevates on his jumper. Uses screens really well, has good footwork on squaring up for his shot. When you crowd him, he'll go by you and finish at the rim. Will force shots and take some head scratchers, but he will make some of those too.
Chris Singletary, 6'4" 220 Jr. 14 pts, 5 reb, 4 ass. 45% FG, 32% 3PFG, 55% FT. Can do a number of things. Likes to drive and work in the lane. When he's in the lane area, either driving or posting up, he likes to go to the spin move. Not a great outside shooter, but because he's such a threat to penetrate, the room he creates for himself gives him time to collect himself and make the shot. Arguably Kent's best post scorer.
Julian Sullinger, 6'5" 230 Sr. 6 pts, 4 reb. 58% FG, 60% FT. At his best on the offensive boards. His wide frame allows him to gain inside position. In the post he wants to drop step left, duck in a little bit with the right shoulder and take it up. Have to make him go right.
Brandon Parks, 6'10" 270 Jr. 8 pts, 6 reb. 56% FG, 53% FT. Beefy post player, mostly benefits from the drives and dishes of the 3 guards. His post game is still developing, but he doesn't get much lift on his scoring moves, so he's not the toughest guy to defend down low. If he catches the ball away from the block, he's very turnover prone, not comfortable with the ball at all. Defensively, he's average defensively, better down low. Vulnerable if you face up and attack him on the dribble, doesn't move his feet well.
Off the Bench
Anthony Simpson, 6'8" 215 Jr. 7 pts, 6 reb. 44% FG, 50% 3PFG, 55% FT. Mavunga-like skills. Has the ability to score outside while mixing it up down low and finishing underneath. More perimeter-oriented, likes to drive and is able to finish under control.
Jordan Mincy, 5'10" 175 Sr. 2 pts, 2 ass. 33% FG, 13% 3PFG, 17% FT. He's in to run the offense and play defense. Doesn't look at the basket at all outside. Not a very good shooter.
Mike McKee, 6'5" 190 Jr. 3 pts, 2 reb. 36% FG, 36% 3PFG, 60% FT. Catch and shoot guy, can't leave him. Make him put it on the floor because he's not quick enough to drive and can't rely on his pull up jumper.
Justin Greene, 6'8" 230 Fr. 3 pts, 2 reb. 50% FG, 33% FT. Freshman who plays really hard. Attacks the offensive glass with reckless abandon. Likes to go to the baby hook in the post.
Kent's offense revolves around the triple threat outside. The Flashes will run sets, but the guards have the freedom to create on their own when they see an opening. A lot of Kent likes to do revolves around the dribble weave. They'll run the dribble weave while keeping a big up top to run interference. They'll dribble weave, reverse back to the previous dribbler, overloading one side and go back door. Kent will also overload by bringing the weak side wing through the lane for a baseline jumper or another back door opportunity. Another way they overload is running Evans and Singletary off the same double screen to the same side. The 1st guy usually isn't open, but it's the 2nd guy who catches the defense by surprise by going off the same screen. Fisher will drive, sometimes off a screen and look for the 2nd guy in the corner. In addition, you can't fall asleep on inbounds plays under your basket. Kent will run flex screens and look to score.
Defensively, Kent is good when they put forth the effort. They play good defense in spurts, which is usually fed by their offense. Their perimeter players are big and quick, so they're to drive on and shoot over. Teams are only shooting 31% from 3 and are turning it over 17 times against Kent for that reason. But when Kent isn't scoring, their defense suffers. When I watched Kent, I was surprised how poorly they defended the pick and roll. It appears they don't communicate well on the screen and roll because they'll try to defend it in different ways. Sometimes, the big guys play off but the guards play for a switch off. Other times their bigs look to hedge, but they're late on the hedge letting the dribbler get through and/or the roller roam free. Then the bigs will call out switches, but the switch is late, letting the dribbler use the screen. Kent's defensive rotations are slow, they'll give you open shots. You'll see a lot of standing and watching on the weak side. If you attack their ball pressure and strong with the ball, you'll get good shots. Kent doesn't protect their defensive glass very well. Parks doesn't get up well off his box out and the 3 guards just look to jump over everyone, not necessarily check anyone out. Kent will play some 2-3 zone, but the middle is very soft, easily attackable. They'll also show some 2-2-1 press, but the middle is soft also and can be taken advantage of.
This is a very talented offensive team. They will make some shots, but you have to force them to be tough shots. If they start getting in the lane with ease and kicking the ball out, moving it around, finding open guys, it will be a long night because those shots will go in, which will up Kent's defensive intensity. You have to make their perimeter players go 1on5, frustrate them into taking quick, contested shots. At the other end, if you can handle their ball pressure, move the ball and aren't afraid, you'll get good looks. Since Kent has ascended to the top of the MAC, they've always had good offensive players, but their team defense took them to the next level. This team isn't at that level defensively, yet, at least not consistently. If we can score the ball early consistently, that might rush them offensively, get them to force some things. But we have to communicate defensively. Fisher, Evans, and Singletary can't be left open to shoot or create off the dribble. Our bigs have to talk and help out, especially on screens. Offensively, our guards can't be afraid to take the ball in the lane and look to kick out or dump it to a big for a layup. We can't rely on jump shots. Whoever plays the toughest basketball at both ends will win.
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