Opinion: Flashes: Step up your defense



Cody Erbacher

An offensive post presence is generally the highlight of a Kent State game because of the powerful authority that junior Justin Greene brings to the court.

In Thursday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinal game it was no different, as Greene finished with 16 points shooting 7-for-12 from the field en route to Kent State’s 73-62 victory over Buffalo.

But Greene, who was awarded the MAC Player of the Year honor following Kent State’s second straight regular season championship, was non-existent in the defensive post.

Greene has never shied away from an offensive bout against the opposition’s big men.

Against Buffalo, though, the forward was distant from the defensive post action.

When Buffalo’s Javon McCrea got hot, Greene wasn’t anywhere near the 6-foot 6-inch forward.

“He’s (McCrea) going to be great,” Greene said. “I’m glad I’m going to be gone after next year.”

“He’s going to be really good in this league, he’s dominant down there,” senior guard Rod Sherman said. “I told him after the game when we were shaking hands, ‘you’re going to be great in this league. Just keep working.’”

The job to guard McCrea was left to junior guard Michael Porrini for a majority of the game.

Porrini, who is a solid four inches shorter than McCrea, used his strength and physicality in attempting to keep McCrea, who finished with a game-high 28 points, from scoring.

It worked fairly well for the MAC Defensive Player of the Year at times, but at others, McCrea used his bigger build to toss Porrini aside and hit an easy basket.

“You don’t have to be a genius to figure out when they see that we’ve got a 6’2’’ guy on him that that’s probably where the ball is going to go every time,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “But he scored on our big guys too.”

For Kent State to continue winning in the MAC Tournament, Greene will need to provide more of a presence on the defensive side of the floor instead of straying away from the action.

When players like McCrea go up for a shot, Greene is going to need to give some defensive help, especially when a smaller teammate is attempting to put pressure on a taller forward.

Greene has the build to pose a physical threat to any post player in the MAC. He just has to use it.

At times Greene, who finished with three blocks, played like a deserving MAC Player of the Year on defense, throwing shots from the Bulls into the crowd.

But at others he was gazing at the play waiting on a teammate to fix the defensive problem.

That’s unacceptable defensive game play from the MAC Player of the Year.

Contact Cody Erbacher at [email protected].