KENT: The Kent State basketball team appears to have figured out what it needs to do to be consistently successful on offense.
The Golden Flashes have scored at least 82 points in each of their past three games. The offensive surge has been fueled by the Flashes’ perimeter scoring. KSU has made at least 10 3-pointers in each of those games, a fact that is tied to improved production inside.
In the past two games, junior center Mark Henniger has scored in double figures and his 11 points against Miami matched his career high.
“As long as we continue to get production from that position, it can only help us,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “When your post players catch and score and are able to finish, it makes it harder for [opponents] to stay glued to the perimeter guys.
‘‘So Henniger being able to do that has helped us a lot the last two games.”
The Flashes even stepped up their defensive game against the RedHawks, not needing a halftime plea to play tougher defense for a late comeback.
Instead, Kent State used an 18-2 run late in the first half to pull away for the Mid-American Conference win. By maintaining defensive intensity for the rest of the game, KSU stayed in control.
If the Flashes (14-11, 5-6 MAC) are going to avenge a one-point loss to Ohio University (18-6, 9-1) earlier this season, they’re going to have to step up their defense another notch in Athens today.
“I like the way the team is playing offensively,” Senderoff said. “But I still think we need to get better defensively because that’s going to be important moving forward. We had a number of steals [against Miami], which was good, but we’re still fouling too much and we’re not rebounding nearly as well as we need to. Against the teams we’re going to be facing moving forward, we’re going to have to do a better job for a longer period of time.”
A big part of that will mean paying more attention to rebounding. Even 6-foot-5 junior forward Darren Goodson, who has come on strong the past month, needs to focus more on the boards.
Goodson, who Senderoff believes can grow into the mold of former Flashes standout Chris Singletary, has scored in double figures in six of his last eight games but is averaging only 3.0 rebounds this season.
“We need to focus on the defensive end by paying attention to our rotations, having everyone get back [in transition] and just trusting everyone,” said senior guard Chris Evans, who leads KSU in scoring (17 points) and rebounding (7.3).
What Evans and senior guard Randal Holt know from experience is that the formula for KSU’s consistent success has always been about unselfish offense and dominant defense.
“The recipe to our success is easy,” Holt said. “Share the ball, knock down open shots and defend like crazy out there.”
Holt also knows the Flashes will have to give it their all for 40 minutes to compete with the Bobcats on their home court.
“We have to come out and play with a lot of intensity, a lot of emotion and a lot of effort,” he said. “We’re going into the game with a chip on our shoulder because we feel we shouldn’t have lost that game. So we’re going into it hungry and fired up to get this win. If we start out right, continue to share the ball offensively and buckle down on defense to limit teams to one shot, I think we can hang with anybody in the league.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.