Bob Lindsay was hoping his Kent State women's basketball team would somehow find a way to skate through its typically rigorous early-season schedule with merely a respectable .500 record.
But the Golden Flashes couldn't quite pull it off.
A disappointing loss to Rhode Island (2-8) in the consolation game of the State Farm Classic in Gainesville, Fla., last Monday left the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites with a 4-6 mark heading into phase two of the 1997-98 campaign, which includes 15 consecutive battles with conference opposition beginning with today's 2 p.m. matchup against Northern Illinois at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center.
Still, even though his Flashes fell short, Lindsay wasn't overly dejected about his team's play overall.
"We were hoping to be at least .500, but really we were only five points away," said Lindsay, referring to close losses to Massachusetts (67-65) and Rhode Island (62-59). "We didn't play any poor games, but we played two poor halves _ one against Youngstown State and one against Rhode Island."
The Flashes (2-0 MAC) trailed the Rams 37-21 at halftime, and their furious second-half rally fell just short as they endured their fourth loss in five games.
But Lindsay doesn't believe the affects of those defeats will linger for long.
"You always wish you had a few games back," said Lindsay. "But we're looking more at what we can do now. I told the players the important thing now is to do what we can to win the conference games."
The Flashes are relatively healthy heading into the annual MAC meatgrinder.
Freshman center Julie Studer, sidelined for the first eight games of the season due to a stress fracture in her left foot, has started the last three games and is averaging a respectable 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
"Her foot is still bothering her, but she can play," said Lindsay. "She's doing OK. She's a freshman that's only practiced with us eight times, and she's playing like a freshman that's practiced only eight times."
All-MAC performer Carrie Templin (senior forward) has come on strong of late, leading the squad in scoring in four of the last six games. She's averaging a team-best 16 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Sophomore point guard Dawn Zerman poured in 24 points against Rhode Island, and is averaging 13.6 points per game even though she's shooting just 32 percent from the field.
Overall the Flashes, who averaged 77.9 points per game a year ago, are putting just 68.3 points per contest on the board thus far in 1997-98 while connecting on just 39 percent of their field goals.
"Offensively, we've struggled with our consistency all season," said Lindsay. "We need to concentrate on improving those areas we've been inconsistent in and get ready for Northern Illinois. We have two games coming up that are important to win, and we've got to be ready."
The first is today's game with MAC newcomer Northern Illinois, which has struggled immensely out of the gate (1-7, 0-2 MAC).
"They got their best player back two games ago (senior forward Kelly Sue Miller), and that's helped somewhat," said Lindsay. "They're athletic, but they're young and prone to making mistakes. We need to defend their transition and play solid defense, and not give them any reason to believe they can win."