Flashes prepare for best post player in MAC

Senior center Justin Manns goes up for a dunk against Shawnee State on Jan. 2. The Flashes beat the Bears 90-65. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Senior center Justin Manns goes up for a dunk against Shawnee State on Jan. 2. The Flashes beat the Bears 90-65. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Nick Shook

Kent State returns home on Wednesday following a disappointing 66-65 loss at Buffalo on Saturday. The Flashes will look to earn their first win of Mid-American Conference play versus Miami (OH) on Wednesday night at the M.A.C. Center.

The Redhawks currently stand at 4-9 overall and 0-1 in the conference, losing their conference opener to Akron 65-60. Miami is led by forward Julian Mavunga, who is averaging a double-double with 19.7 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8, 239 pound senior will be the focus of Kent State’s game plan defensively.

“They obviously have one of the best players in the league, Julian Mavunga,” said Rob Senderoff, Kent State basketball coach. “We’re going to have to make it tough on him to get points and rebounds. He’s having an exceptional year. He can shoot threes. He’s a great free throw shooter. We just have to do a great job as a team, guarding him and trying to make it difficult for him to get touches.”

Kent State was out-rebounded 42-30 in its loss to Buffalo, and with a talent such as Mavunga on the roster of the Flashes’ next opponent, rebounding is key to a victory. Post players worked on rebounding during practice on Monday, Senderoff said, and the Flashes will have to make sure they limit second-chance opportunities.

The Flashes benefited from the return of senior guard Michael Porrini, who missed much of December’s games with a foot injury. Porrini scored 13 points in Kent State’s loss on Saturday and hasn’t had any issues with his foot. He will likely play a pivotal role in Wednesday’s game.

In a statistical comparison, Kent State ranks ahead of Miami in every major category. The Flashes average 69.4 points per game, as opposed to Miami’s average of 60.9 points per game. The Flashes average 13.9 assists per game, which is higher than Miami’s 10.4 assists per game. Kent State has scored an average of 74.7 points per game in its last three games, as opposed to Miami’s average of 65 points per game.

The Flashes’ week at home will be important to the team’s hopes of repeating as MAC regular season champions.

Justin Manns

Kent State senior center Justin Manns was suspended for three games in December for a violation of team rules. Manns missed the Flashes’ victory over Saint Peter’s and losses to Texas-Arlington and Utah State. Contrary to rumors, Manns was not arrested.

“We have two home games this week, starting with Miami, and obviously it’s important to protect home court in this league,” Senderoff said. “Tomorrow we have to come out with a lot of energy and intensity and do the things that we do well.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].