Flashes flourishing as tournament begins

Doug Gulasy


Jordan Mincy remembers a specific time when things started to come together for the men’s basketball team this season.

“It was sort of like the middle of the season, and coach (Jim Christian) just talked to us and was like: ‘We’re not going to practice today, guys. We’re going to sit here and have a meeting,'” said Mincy, a junior guard.

That meeting didn’t include Christian or the other coaches. Instead, the players talked out their individual thoughts about the team.

Mincy said the players also defined their roles according to each of their strengths – for example, his role was defense.

And since that meeting…

“I think we’ve flourished; we’ve done better,” Mincy said. “Everybody’s more comfortable, more excited about playing.”

The Flashes (25-6, 13-3 Mid-American Conference) enter the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland tomorrow having won eight of their past nine games and 11 of the past 13.


KENT STATE (25-6, 13-3 MAC)

vs. either Bowling Green (13-16, 7-9 MAC)

or Toledo (10-18, 7-8 MAC)

Where: Quicken Loans Arena

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Bill Needle)

TV: Fox Sports Net Ohio

Admission: $5

Note: The Flashes will play the winner of today’s 5:30 p.m. game between Toledo and Bowling Green. Both teams defeated the Flashes during the regular season.

“We want to keep getting better, and there’s certain things obviously that we pick out of each game that we want to get better at,” Christian said. “We want to be clicking on all cylinders when that MAC Tournament rolls around, but we’ve been pretty happy with how we’ve been playing.”

The recent run has enabled the Flashes to enter the tournament as the top seed in the MAC. They were the No. 1 seed when they last won the tournament, 2005-06.

But even with the team’s high position, Christian isn’t sure whether the Flashes are the favorites – or even if there is a favorite, given the MAC Tournament’s unpredictable nature and the way this season has progressed.

“The one thing that’s come out of this season is that anybody can beat anybody,” Christian said. “There’s unbelievable balance. Whether there’s a favorite or not, I don’t know.”

This season the Flashes have lost league games to Toledo and Bowling Green, both of whom had losing records.

Overall, though, the Flashes have won 25 games, the most regular season wins in program history.

Christian believes that the team’s success has been building all year long.

“There’s games where all of a sudden, man, we showed signs that we could be good early in the year,” Christian said. “(The) Illinois State game, where we were resilient after being tired after playing the night before. Playing Saint Louis and George Mason at home, we showed signs that we could be a really good basketball team. On the road, (we had) some tough games – at (UNC) Greensboro.

“There’s a million small things that lead to a type of year that we’ve had, but it’s always a work in progress. You’ve just got to keep getting better.”

Perhaps no win was bigger this year for the Flashes than their 65-57 victory Feb. 23 at St. Mary’s. At the time, the Gaels were nationally ranked and undefeated at home.

But the Flashes went to Moraga, Calif., and came from behind to win behind 28 points from junior guard Al Fisher. In the process the team gained national recognition and got ranked in the Top 25 for a week.

“There was a couple times in (the St. Mary’s game) we could have just gave up,” Fisher said. “We could have buckled and just gave in. But we just kept fighting, and everybody did what they had to do.

“We had people in foul trouble – (senior forward Haminn Quaintance) had four fouls, came in and played big and didn’t change the way he played for anything. He was a big factor, had a couple big shots down the stretch, big blocks down the stretch. That St. Mary’s game definitely sticks out.”

The Flashes exited the tournament in the semifinals last season, but Christian has a simple explanation for what it will take for them to win this season.

“It’s going to take 120 unbelievable minutes of intense basketball, of consistent play, of playing with poise and understanding the situations, of making good decisions,” he said. “(They’re) all the things it takes to win every other game, but it’s magnified with the tournament.

“Every possession is magnified. Your season’s on the line every night you go out every time you go out there, so you have to play with that type of urgency.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].