MAC mania: 2012 all star-team

Kent+State+guard+Carlton+Guyton+runs+past+Akron+players+during+the+March+2+game+in+the+MAC+center.+The+Flashes+lost+the+game+against+Akron+61-55.+Photo+by+Brian+Smith.

Kent State guard Carlton Guyton runs past Akron players during the March 2 game in the MAC center. The Flashes lost the game against Akron 61-55. Photo by Brian Smith.

Matt Lofgren

The all-star tournament team

Justin Greene- senior, forward

After being one win away from dancing last season and Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, Greene’s numbers have gone down. Last season, Greene averaged 15.4 points per game while adding 53 blocks and collecting 8.3 rebounds per game. This season, he averaged 13.6 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. During MAC play this season, Greene has raised his points average back up to 15.4 points per game.

A veteran at Quicken Loans Arena, Greene is making his fourth trip to Cleveland in as many years. But this season, Greene just wants one more shot at Akron.

“I want to play [Akron] tomorrow, or even right now,” Greene said. “But we have to take care of business Thursday first, and I really think we’ll come out with the right mindset and really focus on Thursday and get the handle before we get our rematch with Akron.”

Michael Porrini- senior, point guard

Porrini has been a leader of the Flashes for the past two seasons after transferring from Gulf Coast College after his sophomore season. Last season’s MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Porrini has worked hard to lead the team with 49 steals. Teammate Justin Greene called Porrini a “jack of all trades” for his ability to be an all-around player.

“He does it all: scores, rebounds, assists, all of the intangibles,” Greene said. “He dives on the floor, blocks, everything. He’s all over the floor, and that’s the type of point guard we need.”

Carlton Guyton- senior, guard

Guyton has jumped into the starting role after being last season’s MAC Sixth Man of the Year. Averaging 12.4 points per game off the bench last season, Guyton has struggled at times with the increased minutes by averaging 10.6 points per game in 28 starts.

With Guyton and Porrini out on the floor, teammate Justin Manns said that it is like having another “floor general.”

“He brings everybody together and keeps everybody calm,” Manns said. “He makes sure everyone is in the right spot and runs plays for us and just perfect to the tee.”

FirstEnergy MAC men’s basketball tournament schedule

Wednesday, March 7

Second Round (Games on Sports Time Ohio)

Game 5: No. 12 Northern Ill. vs. No. 8 Western Mich., 7 p.m.

Game 6: No. 7 Toledo vs. No. 11 Central Mich., 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 8

Quarterfinals (Games on STO)

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. No. 4 Kent State, 7 p.m.

Game 8: Game 6 Winner vs. No. 3 Ohio, 9:30 p.m.

Friday, March 9

Semifinals(Games on STO)

Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. No. 1 Akron, 7 p.m.

Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. No. 2 Buffalo, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 10

MAC Championship Game, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Justin Manns- senior, center

Standing at 6-foot-11, Manns has been a consistent contributor for the Flashes. Collecting 4.1 rebounds per game in 19 starts this season, Manns is a hard worker on the glass. Guyton said having a big man like Manns is a “game changer.”

“He brings a lot of energy, and he’s very versatile,” Guyton said. “He’s able to block shots and finish.”

Randall Holt- junior, guard

Being the lone junior on a starting squad of four seniors, Holt has become one of the Flashes’ most reliable players all season. Last season, Holt came off the bench to average 9.9 points per game. In 27 starts this season, Holt has made good on the additional time by averaging 12.6 points per game.

Holt said that he knows just how bad his senior teammates want to raise a MAC Tournament Championship banner in the M.A.C. Center.

“In the beginning of the season, we set out to win the MAC regular season for the third time in a row and get to the tournament,” Holt said. “It ended up not going our way as far as winning the MAC Championship during the regular season.”

The only way that this team will be happy, Holt said, will be to get to the NCAA Tournament.

“I know these guys,” Holt said. “They’ll do anything to get to the NCAA Tournament, and they know the rest of us will too. We are just going to go out there and give it our all.” 

The best opposing players to watch

Zeke Marshall- center, Akron

Marshall led the conference-leading Zips in scoring with 10.3 points per game, but his most important role has been as a shot-blocker. The 7-foot center averages 2.9 blocks per game and has caused all sorts of trouble for opposing forwards. Marshall, the 2011 MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, will look to again earn the honor in 2012.

Mitchell Watt- forward, Buffalo

Watt was named the MAC’s Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season Monday after averaging 16 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Bulls. Watt and Javon McCrea teamed up to create the conference’s most-feared duo as the two led the Bulls into the conference tournament after defeating top-seed Akron twice in the regular season.

D.J. Cooper- guard, Ohio

Cooper has been an outstanding point guard since he arrived on campus at Ohio in 2009. The junior guard’s career average of 14.5 points per game explains his impact on the Bobcats’ the past three seasons. Last season, Cooper averaged 14.1 points and 5.6 assists per game to lead the Bobcats to a third seed in the MAC Tournament. Cooper was named the MAC East

Player of the Week twice in 2011-12.

Info

For Kent State students, the Kent State athletic department is offering a free ticket and bus ride for students wanting to attend Kent State’s first MAC game Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Once the bus is full, students will have to buy their tickets from the Kent State Ticket Office and will be on their own for transportation and parking in downtown Cleveland. Tickets at the ticket office are $10 per student. Students can purchase two tickets per Flashcard.

For the general public, tickets can be purchased through the Kent State Ticket Office for $32. Tickets will be sold at the gate at the Q, but you may not be sitting in a Kent State section.

The Kent State Ticket Office will be open and selling tickets from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and may be reached at (330) 627-224. If Kent State advances to the championship game, call the office to be sure tickets are available.

Javon McCrea- forward, Buffalo

McCrea made his talents known in his second season at Buffalo, averaging 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game alongside senior forward Mitchell Watt. The 6-foot-7 sophomore forward was a key factor in the Bulls, finishing second in the conference standings.

Rian Pearson- shooting guard, Toledo

After sitting out the 2010-11 season because of NCAA transfer rules, Pearson, a sophomore guard, averaged 17.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He was clearly the best player on the floor for the Rockets, who finished second in the MAC West standings. Pearson was named the MAC West Player of the Week three times during the regular season. He led all scorers with 21 points in Toledo’s 60-53 victory over Miami (OH) in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] and @MLofgrenDKS.