8-man rotation propels men’s basketball

Rachel Jones

Seven games into its Mid-American Conference schedule, the Kent State men’s basketball team found the winning combination that could unlock another MAC Championship.

“For the last couple of games, we’ve been playing the same eight players,” said junior forward Justin Greene. “I think the rotation is doing well.”

Kent State coach Geno Ford said the 8-man rotation the team has settled into is bringing points from both the starters and the bench players.

“Depth is a huge key,” Ford said. “Right now, we feel like we have six starters, but anytime you can get that many points off guys off the bench, it’s a good thing. We’re not going to change that anytime soon.”

Sitting with a three-way tie in the MAC East, the Flashes (14-7, 5-2 MAC) don’t need to make any changes.

But Ford is expecting junior guard Carlton Guyton to change his playing style.

“[Ford]’s always on me about being more aggressive,” Guyton said. “He’s given me that extra thing to work for, which is a big freedom.”

With a suspension in December that kept the guard off the court for a month, Guyton said it was tough sitting out that long. Right now, his main goal is to get back into his rhythm.

“[Guyton] is a very unselfish kid,” Greene said. “When he gets a few games under his belt, he’ll be able to get more aggressive and start playing the way he used to play.”

Ford said unselfish players do make teams more successful, but the players have to make sure they do not just let other people take the ball from them.

“When you have guys who are talented and unselfish, it’s the unselfishness that’s going to get wins,” Ford explained. “But you teeter on what’s unselfish and what’s just not aggressive.”

Straddling that seesaw of unselfishness and non-aggressiveness, Guyton said he will try to be more aggressive to help out the team.

“I’m perfectly fine with my role – as long as we’re winning,” Guyton said with a laugh. “As long as I’m staying aggressive and making shots, things will be rolling.”

Thanks to veterans like Greene and senior guard Rod Sherman, the Flashes have been able to maintain a tie with Buffalo (13-6, 5-2 MAC) and Bowling Green (10-11, 5-2 MAC) for the top spot in the MAC East.

After scoring 20 points against Toledo on Jan. 30, Greene earned the title of MAC East Player of the Week on Monday.

This marks Greene’s fifth title this season, which is a school record.

Tacking on his three POW awards from last season, Greene also earned a record for most awards in a career.

Just as Greene makes his mark in the MAC, the bench players are making their marks on the Flashes.

“Guys who were playing a few minutes here and there are making significant contributions,” Ford said. “[Freshman forward] Mark Henniger is getting better. [Senior center] Justin Manns gave us some good things (against Toledo).”

And if the bench continues to work hard, Greene said the team has a shot at getting the highest seed at the end of the season.

“Coming (into the season), we had a lot of new guys, and it takes a while for new guys to get into the groove,” Greene said. “They’re doing a great job, so hopefully they can continue at that speed.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].