Christian claims MAC Coach of the Year honors

Jeff Russ

In a season to remember, where all the focus has been on postseason success, the Kent State men’s basketball team received its first postseason victory yesterday in the form of an award.

Coach Jim Christian was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in Cleveland yesterday by the MAC News Media Association.

Christian guided Kent State to a 25-6 record, the team’s most successful season in school history. The 25 wins are a school record.

The team also added another accomplishment this season, as Christian and the Flashes became the first Mid-American Conference school to be ranked in the Top 25 since 2001 after the team beat St. Mary’s 65-57 Feb. 23 as part of the O’Reilly ESPN BracketBuster. The win was also the first for the Flashes against a ranked opponent.

His philosophy on defending the home court played well all season, as the Flashes went a perfect 16-0 at the M.A.C Center this season, including wins against Akron, Miami, George Mason, St. Louis and Cleveland State.

“This is a well-deserved honor,” said director of athletics Laing Kennedy. “Jim and his whole staff have done an incredible job with the program. I’m looking forward with anticipation to the postseason which has become the jewel at the crown of KSU.”

This is the second time in three years Christian has won the award. In his six years as head coach, Christian has posted a 135-57 record.

While the individual accomplishments are special to Christian, his main focus hasn’t changed.

“We’ve had a great season so far, but there is still work left to do,” he said. “Our goal remains the same, to win the MAC Tournament and earn a NCAA berth.”

Christian will get his first chance to win the tournament Thursday against the winner of tomorrow night’s game between Bowling Green and Toledo, two teams that beat the Flashes this season.

This could be the first of many postseason awards for the Flashes, as junior guard Al Fisher is expected to be in the race for MAC Player of the Year, and senior forward Haminn Quaintance is expected to be in contention for MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Jim Christian highlights

• Record: 135-57 (sixth season)

• His .703 winning percentage is the highest in Mid-American Conference history

• School-record 25 wins this season

• Only coach in MAC history to win 20 games in his first six seasons

• Only person to ever coach a Top 25-ranked Kent State team

• First coach to win a regular-season game against a Top 25 team — when the team beat St. Mary’s

• Two-time MAC Coach of the Year

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].