Al Fisher: Kent State’s Captain Clutch

Chris Gates

Al Fisher thrives under pressure.

After he transferred to Kent State from Redlands Community College last year, no one knew what to expect from the then-junior guard. Since then, the previously unknown player has turned into one of the best pressure-performing players in Kent State men’s basketball history.

Fisher has earned a reputation as the go-to-guy for the Flashes with the clock running down. Last season, he hit game-winning shots in the closing seconds of games at Akron and against Miami in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals. He also sealed a road upset over nationally ranked St. Mary’s by scoring 28 points, two of which came on a circus layup with 51.4 seconds left to put the game away.

His heroics have continued this season and have helped turn around a disappointing start for the Flashes. With every game being a win-or-go-home situation in tournament play, Fisher and Kent State will have to continue to play well under pressure to keep their season alive.

With the Flashes looking to win their second straight MAC championship, principal sports reporter Chris Gates sat down with Fisher to talk about his reputation for taking – and making – big shots.

In your time at Kent State you’ve had some pretty clutch performances. Is there any reason why you’ve been able to perform so well in pressure situations?

Growing up in the Amateur Athletic Union, I always wanted to take the big shots. I’d be outside playing and always counting down – always taking big shots. Coming here (and) having the faith of all my teammates and all the coaches (saying), “We know you can do it, we’ve seen you go out and do it plenty of times,” it just takes a lot of the pressure off and makes it a lot easier to happen. Knowing that people have faith in you makes it a lot easier.

Do you demand the ball in those situations?

I would definitely like it, but if somebody else is going to fire – let’s say Mincy or Chris (Singletary) or somebody is just hitting – you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But at any time in a clutch situation I would definitely like the ball..

Is there a top moment that you have of performing in the clutch?

As long as we get the win, that’s all I really care about. I could (score) all the points or (not) score at all, (but) as long we win, I’m the happiest person in the world.

As far as buzzer-beaters go, which shot sticks out to you more: at Akron last year or at No. 23 St. Mary’s?

Probably Akron because it’s a big rivalry. St. Mary’s was nice because they were ranked and we beat them on television, but Akron … there’s nothing better than going to Akron and beating them in their own house. That just really felt good.

You’ll have to win three games in three days to win the MAC Tournament. Having gone through it last year, what kind of effort does it take to play and win games day after day?

It takes all your effort – 100 percent effort. If you don’t bring it, you could lose at any time. Even this year, we’ve been up and down having our good times and our bad times. The MAC Tournament is just a whole new season. (We’ve) got three games, and if you don’t bring it for those three games they could be your last three games. So we’ve just got to bring 110 percent and be ready to play at all times.

Being that it’s your senior year, how important is this tournament for you?

Oh, it’s really important. I mean I don’t want to go into the first game and (lose). Me, Mincy and Jules were saying that we’ve got (one) game to our name, definitely. (One) more guaranteed game.

After the performance last year we (were) happy to make it to the NCAAs, but you know we didn’t do as good. We definitely want to come back and give it another try and try and see if we can go further. Especially, when you know you can do it, it makes you want it that much more.

After you graduate and people look back on Al Fisher, what do you want them to think?

I just want them to think he’s a good guy on and off the court. I don’t want anybody having any negative thoughts about me – just he smiles a lot, he’s a good person, he talks to everybody . just that he’s a good guy with a good personality.

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].