Coach Bob Lindsay, on the other hand, is

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Coach Bob Lindsay, on the other hand, is a little less certain.

Members of the MAC media made Kent State the favorite to win this year's conference title during the annual MAC Basketball Media Day festivities, held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Toledo on Tuesday.

Kent State was awarded 178 points and 19 first-place votes to edge Bowling Green (169, 13) as the favorite in the East Division of the MAC's new two-division format.

Meanwhile, defending champion Toledo (193 points, 26 of 34 first-place votes) was an overwhelming choice to claim the West Division, but the Golden Flashes claimed 18 of 34 votes to win the overall MAC title.

With four of five starters and nine letterwinners overall returning from last year's 20-10 squad that lost to the Rockets in the MAC title game, Kent State was an obvious choice to claim the crown in '97-98.

That is, an obvious choice for most MAC authorities.

"Any time you have a veteran team coming off a 20-win season and a good conference year, most everyone will expect them to do well," said Lindsay, who enters his ninth year at the Flashes' helm. "But I honestly don't know how good we can or will be. Each team has a different chemistry and personality, and we have to work on those things to get the most out of this team."

Lindsay will turn loose a talented stable of veteran players and promising newcomers, led by senior forward and preseason All-MAC selection Carrie Templin and reigning MAC freshman of the year Dawn Zerman (point guard).

Still, there are reasons for a never overly optimistic coach like Lindsay to be concerned.

First of all, the Flashes have temporarily lost two players to injury already. Junior forward/guard Gwen Hurley reinjured the same knee that kept her out of action the entire 1995-96 season and is expected to be out through the end of November, while freshman center Julie Studer has a stress fracture in her foot and isn't expected to return until mid-December.

Then of course, there's the East Division opposition.

Bowling Green has 11 letterwinners, including preseason All-MAC selections Charlotta Jones (forward) and Sara Puthoff (guard) returning, while Miami of Ohio has three starters back from last year's squad. And both the Falcons and RedHawks advanced to the MAC Tournament semifinals a year ago.

Toss in newcomer Marshall, which qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and one can easily see why Lindsay isn't taking anything for granted.

"The East Division in women's basketball is the Black and Blue Division," said Lindsay. "You have three or four teams that are very capable of being the best team in the league overall. If you compare returning players in the East and West, you have to believe the East is tougher, at least on paper at the start of the year.

"But Toledo has won (52) games the last two seasons, so I don't think they can be discounted."

The Rockets (27-4 in '96-97) return the MAC's leading scorer in junior guard Kim Knuth, but lost player of the year Angela Drake and two other all-conference performers to graduation.

So the torch has been passed to the Flashes. Question is, how far will they run with it?

"We just approach the season trying to be as good as we can be," said Lindsay. "How good will that be? I really don't know. But we don't feel any more pressure this year than we have in the past. It's a big challenge and a long season, and we'll just let the games speak for us."

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