Momentum from Grambling State win looks to propel Flashes during home stand

Nick Buzzelli

Kent State men’s basketball head coach Rob Senderoff originally thought Friday night’s game against Grambling State University would have been closer than the final stat sheet suggested. He took note of the Tigers’ close loss to conference rival the University of Miami (OH) two days prior and expected a tightly contested game.

But what he got was a convincing 29-point win over a Southwestern Athletic Conference team to begin a home stand that will see the Flashes host Niagara, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Wright State University from Dec. 6-18.

“I thought this was going to be a closer game than it turned out to be. I’d love for them to all be like this,” he said. “But I’m sure these coming up games, there’s going to be a couple close games that we’re going to have to execute and that we’re going to have to come back from where we’re down at some point.”

While seniors Jimmy Hall, Deon Edwin and sophomore Jalen Avery started all three games in the Florida Gulf Coast Showcase, Senderoff opted for a different look against Grambling State, inserting sophomore Jaylin Walker, freshman Mitch Peterson, junior Kevin Zabo and sophomore Adonis De La Rosa alongside Hall in the lineup.

“For me, that (the rotation) is not important. I don’t know why it’s a question. But for the players, I know everybody wants to play. But you’re on a team,” Senderoff said during postgame press conference. “Some guys are going to have to sacrifice. I can’t play everybody. The bigger thing is, ‘Are we playing hard? Are we playing well? Are we sharing the basketball? Are we rebounding the basketball?’”

Despite the fact that Kent State had a rough road trip over Thanksgiving break, dropping three out of its four games by a combined 10 points, Peterson believes that beginning a four-game home stand with a win — its longest of the season — can help from a confidence standpoint.

“It gave us a little bit of momentum and should get us ready for these next three home games,” he said. “It got us off to a good start.”

While Senderoff isn’t looking for one specific scorer to step up and supplement Hall’s offensive production on a game-to-game basis, he said he’d rather see consistency out of multiple players heading forward.

“With our team, there’s going to be a lot of different guys that, on different nights, play well. It’s not like there’s a number two option. On one night, it may be (Walker). On one night it may be (Edwin). On one night it may be (De La Rosa),” said Senderoff, who is in his seventh season as head coach. “We just need consistent play out of multiple guys. (Friday night) we got pretty consistent play over the course of the night from a number of players.”

Kent State hosts Niagara University (2-6), a team coming off of a 74-58 win over Iona, and its leading scorer, Matt Scott — who is averaging 19.3 points per game this season — Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center

 Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].