KSU freshman could be back this season

By Allen Moff Record-Courier sports writer Published:

Don't count Kyrem out quite yet.

Freshman swingman Kyrem Massey, the Kent State men's basketball team's leading scorer who has missed the past two games with a stress fracture in his foot, may not miss the rest of the season as was originally feared according to coach Gary Waters.

"Kyrem won't play Wednesday at Miami, and he's highly doubtful for Saturday's game against Bowling Green," said Waters. "But he may be able to return for the final three games if it heels properly, which would really help us during that stretch. He's getting it examined (today), so we should know more soon."

Massey scored a team-high 17 points in a loss to Akron on Jan. 24, but played sparingly the next week on the team's road trip to Central and Western Michigan.

"He actually played those two games with the stress fracture," said Waters. "He was jumping all over the gym against Akron, but he was jumping and landing on one leg in the next two games. Finally, we had to get him out of there before he really hurt himself."

Waters believes his shoes may have caused the injury.

"He changed shoes three times in the last few weeks, so I think it may have been shoe-related," said Waters. "We're going to get him a pair of form-fitted shoes with arch supports."

Also on the injury front, junior guard Scott Effertz continues to play through a knee injury suffered during practice early last week.

"He's about 60 percent," said Waters. "Physically, he did a good job last game (against Eastern Michigan).

"Overall, we've been pretty fortunate with injuries. We haven't had any major ones yet."

The Flashes need to be as healthy as possible as they head into the stretch run of the conference season, competing for a MAC Tournament berth.

Kent State (9-14, 6-7 MAC) is currently locked in a three-way tie for sixth with Miami of Ohio (12-9, 6-7) and Bowling Green (9-12, 6-7), one game ahead of Marshall (9-11, 5-8) and Northern Illinois (9-12, 5-8). The top eight teams qualify for the tournament.

"The way I see it, there are four teams fighting for two spots," said Waters. "Miami should make it. They have (leading scorer Wally) Szczerbiak back, and they have a favorable schedule. So it's a tossup between the other four."

The Flashes travel to Miami on Wednesday, then host the Falcons Saturday at 2 p.m. They'll then finish out the conference season by traveling to Akron (Feb. 19), hosting Marshall (Feb. 23) then journeying to Ohio University for the regular season finale (Feb. 25).

"We have to get at least a split this week," said Waters. "If we lose both, we'll have a tough time making the tournament. And that's very important to us.

"Not only was that one of our goals this season, but it's also important for our young players to get a taste of the tournament atmosphere. Then next year, they'll know what it's like and they'll go in expecting to win. It's all part of the growing process."

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