Men’s basketball lands in Sacramento


Members of the Kent State men’s basketball team and Coach Rob Senderoff exit the team plane at Sacramento International Airport in Sacramento, California, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Henry Palattella

The Kent State men’s basketball team’s plane took off from the Akron-Canton airport Wednesday morning with one destination in mind: California.

The Flashes have a date with No. 3 seed University of California, Los Angeles on Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento after completing one of the best runs through the MAC Tournament in recent memory.

To get to this point, the Flashes had to get the nation’s leading scorer in a play-in game that got them to Cleveland, and then beat the tournament’s top three seeds at the Quickens Loans arena.

The Flashes won the games with by showing tenacity on both the offensive and defensive end. They played three draining games in three days in the tournament, which was evident on the plane ride, as most of the team elected to spend the four and a half hours in flight asleep, sans for a few outliers.

Senior Jon Fleming was flipping through an issue of Sports Illustrated. Freshman Mitch Peterson played on his phone. Freshmen Danny Pippen and Rosel Hurley — who sat in the general seating as opposed to the rest of the team, who sat in coach — drifted in and out sleep, sometimes stopping to admire the view outside the window.

Take-off for the plane was delayed close to an hour due to a mix-up with the TSA, which led to the team sitting in its bus outside the airport.

The delay led to the team and company having to go through the normal airline security screenings. This resulted in a line snaking across the lobby of the Akron-Canton airport that was a mixture of Kent State coaches and their families, donors, members of the athletic department, the dance team, the band and the team.

All members of the party made it onboard the Boeing 737 and were immediately directed to their seats by stewardesses clad in Kent State apparel, who then began to lead the plane through its take-off procedure.

However, before the plane took off, the band started singing the Kent State Alma mater, which served as the final noise before a hush came over the cabin during take-off.

The relative continued for the first part of the ride, as Ohio’s winter weather caused some turbulence, which led to the “fasten seatbelt sign” being on for most of the trip.

But as the white snow-covered ground beneath the plane changed to brown dirt-covered ground and the level checkerboard pattern of the American countryside changed to leaps and valleys of the American mid-west, so did the mood aboard the plane.

People began to mill about through the aisle to talk to acquaintances, while others moved to get a better view out the window.

Eventually, the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that the plane was approaching Sacramento, which sent a palpable sense of anticipation onto the passengers on the plane.

Once the plane touched down the team exited the plane and grabbed their luggage before going into the team bus that sent them into the city that will decide their fate in two days.

Henry Palattella is the sports editor, contact him at [email protected].