The Kent State men's basketball team has consistently practiced with fewer than 10 players over the last few weeks due to players being in COVID-19 related quarantines.
Coach Rob Senderoff said in a press conference Thursday that no players have tested positive for COVID-19, but several have been forced to quarantine “for precautionary reasons.”
"If we were playing tomorrow, we wouldn't even have 10 people," Senderoff said. "But when the lights come on next week, we will be ready."
The Flashes have not released a full schedule, but Senderoff said they are scheduled to play a game on Saturday, Nov. 28. He did not name the opponent, but Alcorn State released a schedule that has them coming to Kent State on that date.
KSU is also slated to host Purdue Fort Wayne on Nov. 30 and Northern Kentucky on Dec. 13, according to those teams' schedules. The Flashes kick off conference play when they host Akron on Dec. 19. The team was selected to finish seventh in the Mid-American Conference in the 2020-21 MAC men's basketball coaches' preseason poll.
The team was not able to hold any summer practices or workouts together and did not have its first practice until the middle of October. Senderoff said that weekly intrasquad scrimmages have helped his team get more acclimated to game environments.
“We have gotten used to making adjustments on the fly dealing with players out,” Senderoff said.
Kent State has three returning seniors, but two of them are currently injured: Tervell Beck and Danny Pippen.
Pippen, the only returning starter, is recovering from an offseason knee surgery and has only practiced three times. Senderoff said the team has missed having him as “a practice anchor,” but he expects Pippen to be able to play when the season starts.
Yesterday, Pippen was named to the preseason All-MAC second team. He averaged 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.
Beck, a 6-foot-7 forward who played in 30 games last year is expected to miss the early part of the season. Senderoff wouldn’t specify Beck’s injury.
Senior guard Mike Nuga, a transfer from Portland State who sat out last year, is expected to play significant minutes.
The team has to replace four starters and five of its top six leading scorers from last season, including starting guard Anthony Roberts, who transferred to St. Bonaventure.
In April, KSU landed Justyn Hamilton, a 6-foot-10 senior forward who transferred from Temple. This week, the NCAA granted Hamilton’s request for immediate eligibility.
“We have such a new inexperienced team, so the leadership of our seniors means everything,” Senderoff said. “We are just excited to get the chance to play. We are ready to see what this team can do under Pippen’s leadership.”
Sean is a sports reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.
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