Flashes get another shot at 20 wins, play Oakland tonight

Doug Gulasy

Senior guard Jordan Mincy passes the ball after making his way past two Buffalo defenders in the March 12 loss to Buffalo in the 2nd round of the MAC Tournament. Mincy had 10 points, four assists and four steals as the Flashes fell 62-65. Daniel R. Doher

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State’s men’s basketball team will get a second chance at 20 wins tonight when the Flashes travel to Rochester, Mich., to take on Oakland in the first round of the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.

“Any time you can get the chance to play in the postseason, it’s a big deal,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “Only about 30 percent (of college teams) get to participate, so you’ve got to be in the top 100.”

The Flashes (19-14) lost to Buffalo 65-62 last Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, putting their streak of consecutive 20-win seasons in jeopardy. Kent State has won at least 20 games for 10 straight years.

Ford said, following the Buffalo game, that the team had been contacted about playing in a postseason tournament.

“We may not be done,” Ford said. “They’ve got the (National Invitational Tournament), the Collegeinsider (tournament) and the (College Basketball Invitational). Hopefully we get a bid to one of those. … Hopefully we get in one of these tournaments, and we can still get a shot at (20 wins).”

The Collegeinsider.com tournament was created this season to join the three existing postseason tournaments: the NCAA Tournament, the National Invitation Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational. Kent State and 15 other teams will compete in the four-round, single-elimination tournament.

Oakland (22-12) lost 66-64 to North Dakota State in the championship game of the Summit League Tournament. The Golden Grizzlies are led by senior guard Erik Kangas, who averages 18.7 points per game and shoots 41.9 percent from 3-point range.

“The whole key to the game is how we defend,” Ford said. “We cannot go up there and try to outscore them.”

If Kent State wins tonight’s game, the Flashes will advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament, which will be played March 23 at a time and place to be determined. It would be their first postseason victory since 2002, when the Flashes advanced to the Elite 8.

“We have not won a postseason first-round game since the Elite 8 (season),” Ford said. “We need to win a postseason game.”

Contact sports editor Doug Gulasy at [email protected].