Opinion: Kent State men’s basketball disappoints


Junior guard Jon Fleming consoles senior Chris Ortiz after Kent State was eliminated by Bowling Green from the MAC Tournament, 70-69, on Monday, March 7, 2016 at the M.A.C. Center.

Ty Sugick

Kent State men’s basketball team dreams of dancing in the NCAA tournament came to a shocking end on Monday night, as they lost 69-70 to No. 12 seed Bowling Green at home in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

At the beginning of the season, the Flashes had mild rumors circulating of being the MAC East dark horse. The backcourt had its doubts due to lack of chemistry, with most of the guards being in their first year on the court in a Kent State uniform.

The only guard with real experience under coach Rob Senderoff was redshirt junior Kellon Thomas, who was fresh off a season ending an injury a year prior. But even with the inexperience of the backcourt, the team still had the potential to be very explosive and make games very interesting to watch.

The front court is where the team bolstered its strength with redshirt junior Jimmy Hall and senior Khaliq Spicer. Hall is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Hall went on to be named to the first-team All-MAC. Spicer averaged 1.75 blocks per contest on the way to being named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Even with the dynamic duo of Hall and Spicer leading, the team struggled to find a dependable second scoring option and seemed as if it wouldn’t be in the ball game unless Hall scored 15-plus points. Thomas would be Kent State’s second leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points.

It is difficult to be successful in Division I basketball if your second leading scorer in the paint is under six feet. No offense to Thomas who did a superb job at finishing at the rim all year but the team relied on his scoring too often.

The team also failed to sit down and defend at the perimeter all season, which became overwhelming at times. The best defender for the Flashes was senior guard Xavier Pollard whom the team lost to a foot injury halfway through the year.

The Flashes weaknesses were exposed in Monday’s game as the Falcons outscored Kent State 30-18 in the paint. Bowling Green also managed to keep the very dangerous Jimmy Hall to fewer than ten points for the night as he went 2 of 10 from the field and ending with six points.

Kent State missed a golden opportunity to showcase how good they could actually be. Kent State fans could live with not winning the MAC tournament, but a first round loss is a tough pill to swallow, and the team must improve if they want to be successful in postseason play if they get invited to another tournament.

Ty Sugick is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].