It was over. The Kent State Golden Flashes, who had led Akron throughout the game, and who had sewed up the Mid-American Conference championship last Tuesday against Miami, had lost.
There was no way Jim Christian’s squad could win. Akron senior Jeremiah Wood had just canned a 3-pointer with like six seconds left to tie the game at 58.
Start the bus. Copy and paste the same lead that Doug Gulasy used after the Toledo loss, the Flashes had just collapsed like Britney Spears on a Thursday night. Frat brothers from Akron would never let fans, who left moments earlier, forget “The senior night miracle game.”
Kent State momentum gone. Golden Flash momentum going into the MAC tournament: toast, fin, see-ya-later, roll the credits.
Let’s be honest here, Wood was jumping up and down hollering and screaming. Akron senior point guard Nick Dials was actually smiling. The place was as loud as a 1985 Motley Crue concert with Ozzy Osborne playing lead guitar. The Zips were locked in the proceeding overtime.
I was not a true believer. I had shrinking faith after I saw Kent State fumble possession after possession in the final minute.
But they didn’t lose, because 20 some odd years ago, Al Fisher was born.
Fisher ran down the court and hit a 3-point shot that will have people in Bristol, Conn. saying, “Well, they’re ready for March.”
Look beyond the blown lead. Ignore the sloppy play against the press that allowed the Zips to come back (it’s hard to make adjustments to the full-court press when you have no timeouts). The Flashes took Akron out of the game in the first half, then, when it really mattered, the Flashes cut the hearts out of the home fans like the American Indian in “Last of the Mohicans.”
If you do focus on the comeback, make sure you look at tournament history, NCAA tournament history. Mid-majors, a derogatory term, don’t beat teams in the tournament by 15 points. They don’t hold a lead throughout the game and scrap by with an eight-point win.
Mid-majors win games by running down the court in the final six seconds and nailing a 3-point shot with a hand in the face in front of a hostile crowd (tournament games are supposed to be in neutral sites. But ask anyone who plays North Carolina in North Carolina in the second round of the NCAAs and see if they think it’s a neutral site.).
Mid-majors win games because there are point guards like Al Fisher who were overlooked by Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and any other team that defines a “BCS” team. Fisher never hesitated in those final seconds and he never even thought he would miss the shot.
That’s what mid-majors stars do. That’s how you beat a rival. And that’s how you win MAC player of the year.
It was over. But, now the only thing that is over is my doubting of the Kent State men’s basketball team.
Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected]