Monday, August 26, 2013

Return from Bahamas marks beginning of fall semester

By Rob Senderoff
Head Men's Basketball Coach

We got back from our six-day trip to the Bahamas Saturday night. We won all four of our games down there, which I was pleased with. Six of the 13 guys who played on the trip were playing with us for the first time with the lights on against an opponent other than each other in practice, so it was nice to see how well they competed.

We really focused on defense during our 10 practices leading up to the trip. I thought the first half of our final game was the best that we played defensively, so it was good to see improvement throughout the week. We had 16 steals at halftime of that game, which is a phenomenal number. We rebounded the ball really well, which was nice to see as well.

I thought we had a number of guys play well on the trip. We did an excellent job of sharing the ball and averaged nearly 23 assists. A different player led us in scoring each game and 10 guys were in double-figures in at least one game. We used some different lineups to see who can play where they can play and roles are starting to be defined.

I really liked the leadership that Kris Brewer showed on this trip and in the practices leading up to the trip. While he didn’t score a ton on the trip, he had better than a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is really important for a point guard, and I think he really established himself as a leader of the team. Kris will be a team captain this year, along with Darren Goodson and Mark Henniger.

Today is the first day off classes and it is important that our guys to get off to a good start academically. These guys have been going at it since June 10th, so I’m going to give them a week or so off to allow their bodies to recover and get established in the classroom. Then sometime during the second week of September, we’ll start conditioning and preseason activities.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Snorkeling in the Atlantic on day off in the Bahamas

By Devareaux Manley

Junior, Guard

This trip has really been amazing. I’m enjoying just being here in the Bahamas because it’s something I’ve never been able to experience before. It is so beautiful here—the weather, the beaches, pretty much everything.

The people down here are nice and excited to see us. Everybody asks us questions, like where we are from and how we our team has been doing down here. Some people thing we’re in the pros and we have to tell them we’re in college. 

Our team is staying at The Atlantis, which has been a cool. The resort is huge and there are so many things to do right here that allow you to enjoy the weather. I’ve been spending time going on the water slides, chilling at the beach and going out on the jet skis. Overall, we’re just all having a good time and hanging out with each other.

Yesterday was an off day and we went went on a snorkeling tour. We got on a boat and they took us on a little cruise in the ocean before stopping near one of the islands and letting us get in the water. I’ve never been snorkeling before, so it was definitely a cool experience. I know it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, so I had to get out there in the water and see all of the fish and everything.

It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The ocean and the current just kind of take you out there and you have to fight to go where you want. Even though they gave us life vests to wear, we still had to work and swim on our own just to stay above the water. There’s salt water splashing all around and you have to try and make sure it doesn’t get in your mouth and eyes. It was definitely a workout. But overall, it was a good experience and I’m glad that I was able to do it.

And on the basketball side, it’s just been fun to get out there and finally play against people other than each other in practice. It’s been incredible for me to see how well we already play together. This team is just so unselfish and everybody shares the ball so well. Sometimes we are too unselfish. We’ll have open shots and we’ll still make that extra pass if somebody is open. That’s probably what I like about this team though.

We won our first two games and play our next one later tonight. We’re trying to go unbeaten down here and build off that as we try to win the MAC title.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bahamas trip provides time for fun away during the day and opportunity to improve on the court at night

By Khaliq Spicer

Sophomore, Forward

I’ve really enjoyed these first couple of days in the Bahamas. The weather has been really nice and it’s good to get away and travel somewhere different.

This is my first time down here and it’s cool to be making the trip with my teammates. I’ve spent the past few days down by the pools, going downtown, and just having fun with the team. I feel that we are a really close group and spending time with each other down here has made us even closer.

Coach Senderoff has given us a lot of freedom and wants us to have fun. He does a good job of making sure we know when to have a good time and when to get down to business.

Last night, we played our first since arriving on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since it was my first time playing against a team from outside the United States. The game went well, but could have been better. We played a team that forced us to play fast and feel that our defense could have been better. I think that we need to do a better job of communicating on the court and play better team defense.

It was good to get out on the court against another team. I feel that I’ve worked hard to improve my game since the end of the season. I am a lot stronger now than I was last season and could tell the difference going against their post players. An area that I am looking to improve on this week is to stop thinking so much when I’m on the floor and just play.  

We have another game tonight, and I believe that we will be better this time out. Then tomorrow is our off day, so hopefully we get another win.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Arriving in the Bahamas and day in the sun at The Atlantis

By Tyler Scott

Freshman, Guard

We arrived to the Bahamas yesterday and will spend six days on the islands before heading back on Saturday. It was a very long, but very fun day.

We left Kent at 4 in the morning to catch a flight in Cleveland. That flight was delayed a bit and we almost missed our connection in Charlotte. Coach Haynes had to run ahead and make sure they would hold it for the rest of us to board and our luggage to be transferred.

After we arrived, we had to go through customs. There was a bus waiting at the airport to take us to the hotel. We were all hungry, so we stopped at Wendy’s to get some food.

When we got to the hotel, we had a quick meeting in Coach Sendy’s room and met with our guide for the trip, who used to coach in college and professionally in Europe. He went over everything that’s going on this whole week that we’re down here and gave us some tips on getting around on the island.

We’re staying at The Atlantis Resort this week, which is the nicest hotel down here. Probably the best part of the resort is that it has its own water park, and that was the first thing we all checked out. We spent most of the day at the pools and went on some of the water slides. K.K. and I went on the jet skis a raced a little bit, which was pretty fun.

In the evening, we went downtown to get a bite to eat. Then we came back to the hotel and chilled the rest of the night.

This is such a nice trip that we have the opportunity to experience. Just getting down here to the Bahamas and seeing all of the excitement going on is a nice change to being in Kent or back home. I’ve been to the Bahamas once before, but I was only like five.

Our first game is tonight. After spending 10 days practicing, we’re all really looking forward to it. Personally, I’m really excited to get back out there and play again. I sat out last year, which was kind of depressing. I’m just ready to get going and make the next step in my career.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Getting back on the court after year of growth

By Derek Jackson

Junior, Guard

I can’t wait for this trip to the Bahamas. I’m really excited because I’ve never been there and we’re staying in the Atlantis, so I can’t wait to see what that’s like.

The biggest reason for my excitement is that I can finally get back on the court and actually play a real game. I wasn’t able to play anywhere last year after transferring from Central Michigan and had to work on my game a lot on my own.

Over this past year, I’ve probably learned as much as I can in a year. Not being part of a team, being away from school, and working out on my own helped me a lot with the mental side of the game. I have more motivation and confidence than ever and feel that I need to prove myself all over again.

Finally getting back in school and being around an actual team is everything I wanted. Kent State is a great fit for me. Our team is like a family. They welcomed me with open arms and I feel like I fit in immediately. One of my teammates always has me laughing and they’ve been good about showing me around campus and stuff.

We’ve been over a lot of defensive stuff in our practices so far. Coach Senderoff is cracking down on our defense this year. We’ve also been doing some transition stuff and putting in a few sets to get ready for our games in the Bahamas.

My goal is to win the MAC Championship. We have a lot of hard working guys and a good coaching staff. All I think about is just working hard and that ultimate reward. I think we can do it this year, and this upcoming week in the first step towards that goal.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Recapping an intense first week of practice

By Devin Carter
Sophomore, Guard

We just finished up our first week of practice to get ready for our trip to the Bahamas. A week from now, we will be arriving in Nassau.

Being my first year at Kent State, one of the things that has surprised me a little is the intensity of it all. The intensity at practices and the intensity at weightlifting is just at such a high level. You really have to go all out at everything if you want to make it.

In practice, we’ve been doing a lot of defensive stuff. That’s Coach Senderoff’s main focus over the summer. He wants us to become a defensive team and has been on us to make sure we stay focused and there isn’t any slacking from anybody during practice.

The majority of our drills are designed as a competition. I think it’s helping us a lot because nobody on this team wants to lose, so it makes us go that much harder and compete on every play.

He also has us reading this book called Relentless. The book is about being relentless and having mental toughness. It talks about being able to fight through adversity and overcoming all types of difficulties you’ve been having over your career. It helps you keep going when you feel like quitting.

We’ve really been pushed this week, but it’s still basketball at the end of the day. I’ve been playing this game all of my life and love being able to continue playing in college.

I’m really looking forward to going to the Bahamas. This is a group of goofy guys off the court and I clicked with everybody right away. There’s a real family environment and they treat you like a brother once you get here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two days of practice down, eight to go

By Khaliq Spicer
Sophomore, Forward

On Monday, we opened practice to get ready for our trip to the Bahamas later this month. It was great to get started again and be on the floor with all of my teammates and coaches.

Coach Senderoff has us going through two-a-days right now. In the morning, we either lift weights or have a little shootaround to get shots up. Then we come back for practice at night.

We ‘ve worked a lot on our defense so far, really focusing on becoming better individual defenders. We get points for things we doing different things defensively, like taking a charge, and the coaches made a chart to track each of us. They say defense wins championships, and that is our goal for this season.

Today is our day off, but most of the guys came to the M.A.C. Center to get some shots up. I worked on shooting free throws and little hooks shots.

We get back to two-a-days on Thursday and Friday and then just weights on Saturday before repeating it again next week. I love playing and am ready to get back out there tomorrow.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Already a great summer, and Bahamas still to come

By Rob Senderoff
Head Men's Basketball Coach

The NCAA passed a new rule that allows you to have eight weeks during the summer to work with your players.

This is week eight for us. Our whole team came back to campus in the middle of June. We've spent the majority of our time during the last eight weeks working on our individual skill level, and I think we've seen some improvements. Some of our new guys have caught up a little bit and they have become more up to speed with how we do things and the intensity with which we do them.

We've done a few team workouts where we've worked on some offensive and defensive concepts as well. Our last session for that will be Friday. On top of all of that, our kids have been lifting four days a week and conditioning with our strength and conditioning staff on Fridays.

It's been a pretty full summer.

I'm also very pleased that our team GPA for the first summer session was over a 3.40. So, we are happy with how our kids have performed in the classroom as well as how they've worked on the court.

Now, starting on Monday we have our 10 days of practice in preparation for our foreign tour. I'm really excited about that. The NCAA has a rule that allows teams to go on a foreign tour every four years. Our team is heading to the Bahamas on Aug. 18 for seven days, and we'll play four games while we are there.

From a coach's standpoint, those games are great, but I'm really looking forward to the practices. We'll have our entire team here to practice for that trip. We'll do a couple of days on and a couple of days off to get in those 10 practices. We'll do some shooting in the morning and then a two-to-three hour practice in the evening each day.

I'm looking forward to those practices because we have some guys who are going to need to expand their roles a little bit this year, and we have some new players, just like everyone does in the country. I'm looking forward to seeing how those guys develop over these 10 practices.

While we are in the Bahamas we will be staying at the Atlantis, which is a really nice resort down there. The same people who organized our trip to Italy, Basketball Travelers, are doing this trip for us. They do a great job of organizing the trips. Each day we will do something. Obviously we play the four games, but on the days we don't play games there are things planned for us. One day there is a full-day scavenger hunt for us. Another day there's a thing called "The Amazing Race." Lots of team-building exercises.

When we are in the Bahamas, the games are obviously important and we want them to compete. But we also want them to also have a good time. This is going to be a great team-building experience for the group and for our coaching staff to have this time together.

While we are there, a couple of our players will be blogging for our fans.