Flashes begin home stand with nationally televised game

Kent State junior gaurd Randal Holt shoots a basket on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the University of Akrons James A. Rhodes Arena. The Akron Zips beat the Golden Flashes 84-75. Photo by Kristin Bauer.

Kent State junior gaurd Randal Holt shoots a basket on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the University of Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena. The Akron Zips beat the Golden Flashes 84-75. Photo by Kristin Bauer.

Nick Shook

Kent State loves to play on a national stage.

“You know everybody’s watching,” senior forward Justin Greene said. “You know your family and friends back home are watching, so you naturally want to play well on ESPN.”

Kent State, winner of five straight games, returns home Saturday to host Ball State in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.

The Flashes needed all 40 minutes of regulation Wednesday to secure a victory over Eastern Michigan and are glad to play their next game at home. Besides maintaining a winning tradition, in order to secure ESPN’s broadcast of Kent State basketball, the Flashes have had to make some unusual arrangements.

Kent State’s game versus Ball State begins at 11 a.m. The early start may prompt the average fan to wonder if it is the earliest in Kent State basketball history.

It isn’t.

The Flashes opened the 2011-12 regular season on the road with a 10 a.m. game at West Virginia as part of an ESPN 24-hour college basketball marathon. Kent State left with a surprising 70-60 victory over the favored Mountaineers.

While early, Kent State’s upset victory over West Virginia wasn’t the earliest game in the history of the program either.

The Flashes hosted Robert Morris at 8 a.m. in another nationally televised ESPN game during the 2010-11 season. The Flashes came away with a 62-59 victory that morning. Senior guard Michael Porrini and junior guard Randal Holt were members of both Kent State teams that earned the two early-morning victories and have experience in getting prepared for an unusual start time.

“When you play early, your body has to get warm early, you’ve got to get up earlier,” Holt said. “You’ve got to get something in your body and get your body moving.”

“I’m sure we’ll get up for it,” Porrini said. “We’ve had two already since I’ve been (at Kent State). For some reason we come to play when we’re on ESPN. Hopefully we’ll do the same Saturday.”

At least one member of the team prefers the early start.

“I actually like playing earlier,” Greene said. “You get it out of the way and can relax the rest of the day instead of sitting around all day waiting for the game. And we get to play on TV, so I think if we played at 6 in the morning, as long as we’re on TV, we’ll be excited.”

Kent State is 4-2 in its last six nationally televised regular season games. The Flashes will look to go 2-0 on the national stage in 2011-12 Saturday against Ball State.

Senior Jarrod Jones leads Ball State’s offense with 16.7 points per game. The 6-foot-9-inch forward will likely be matched up with Greene, who scored 17 points in the Flashes’ victory over Eastern Michigan.

“I know Jarrod is one of their best players, but they’ve got some guys that can play,” Greene said. “We’ve just got to be ready to play and try to match their intensity because it’s an ESPN game and we’re Kent State, so everybody is going to try to give us their best shot.”

“I know that [ESPN is] going to try to hype up that match-up between me and [Jones],” Greene said. “But it’s not about me and him, it’s about Kent State versus Ball State.”

After losing three of its first five conference games, Kent State cannot afford to lose a game at home, which its players are aware of.

“The race is really tight right now,” Greene said. “Any loss can shake up the seeding. We’re just trying to stay in the top of the race and hopefully we can finish where we want to.”

Kent State’s game versus Ball State is being marketed as a “Goldout.” Fans are encouraged to wear their gold Kent State apparel.

“We have an advantage every time we play at home,” Holt said. “We’re a very good home team. Everybody’s confidence gets boosted when we’re at home.”

“We’ve got a goldout, fans,” Porrini said. “We appreciate all the love and support so far and hopefully we’ll see you Saturday.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].