Perspectives: The road to a golden victory

Kent State senior guard Deon Edwin celebrates after cutting down the net at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Kent State beat Akron in the MAC Championship game 70-65.

Clint Datchuk

Until this past week, the Kent State men’s basketball team hadn’t won a Mid-American Conference championship since nearly a decade ago when then-coach Jim Christian led the Flashes to a 28-7 record in his final season at the helm of the program.

At the start of this season, it certainly didn’t look like the team was set for a return to the glory days. In his sixth season as coach, Rob Senderoff was expected to struggle with leading a young team featuring only three seniors returning for the 2016-17 season and 10 players new to the program.

The team was coming off a disappointing year in which they were eliminated in the first round of the MAC Tournament. Starting guard Kellon Thomas’ departure from the team in the offseason didn’t help the Flashes’ chances of a successful season either, not to mention the team’s star player, senior foward Jimmy Hall, declaring for the NBA Draft. Luckily, Hall eventually opted to return to Kent State for one more year.

This past Saturday vindicated Hall’s decision to stay put and erased the doubts fans had going into the new season. A number of players stepped up to make the Flashes into a contender, including sophomore guard Jaylin Walker, whose clutch play secured the MAC Championship against their rival, The University of Akron.

The Flashes are now at the doorstep of the NCAA Tournament and the national stage that it represents.

On Friday, they play No. 3 UCLA in Sacramento, California, and hope to shock the world.

Again.

Clint Datchuk is the photo editor, contact him at [email protected]