Speak softly, play loud

Doug Gulasy

Al Fisher prefers to let his performance do the talking

Junior guard Al Fisher is the Flashes’ leading scorer and was recently named MAC Player of the Year. CAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Al Fisher is a player who makes loud plays on the court – spectacular plays. His circus layup at the end of the game at St. Mary’s has become the play of the year for the Kent State men’s basketball team.

But off the court there isn’t anything loud about Fisher.

“I’m a pretty quiet guy – laid back, not really rowdy,” said Fisher, a junior guard. “I really like to just chill somewhere, not really do too much.”

Fisher hasn’t always been quiet. He said that when he was growing up in Pennsauken, N.J., he was the complete opposite: a rowdy child with too much energy.

But one day that changed, and even though Fisher isn’t sure when or how it happened, he became a calm, soft-spoken person, surprising people in his family.

“My parents say they don’t know how I’m this calm and collected now,” Fisher said with a laugh.

Fisher named MAC

Player of the Year

Kent State junior guard Al Fisher was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year yesterday.

In his first year for the Flashes after transferring from Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, Fisher led the team in scoring (14.3 points per game) and assists (4.2 per game).

In the team’s latest game, on Sunday at Akron, Fisher paced the team with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists and hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left.

“This is a tremendous achievement for Al,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said in a statement. “The impact he made this year as a newcomer to the league is remarkable. I can’t say enough about the lift he has given our program this season. He is a pleasure to coach and (I) hope his success continues as we turn our focus toward winning the MAC Tournament.”

The award was the second the Flashes have received in the past two days from the conference. Christian was named MAC Coach of the Year on Monday.

The rest of the conference awards will be announced today: Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and the All-MAC and All-Freshman teams.

Fisher transferred to Kent State in August from Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, and his teammates found out quickly about his quiet personality.

“Even on the bus . all the guys will be at the back, and we’ll all be like, ‘Where’s Al at?'” junior guard Jordan Mincy said. “Al will be at the very front sleeping, listening to music, listening to his iPod.

“He’s always such a quiet person. He’s just real quiet. You would think that the way he plays, he’d be so boastful, but he’s just quiet.”

Fisher leads the Flashes in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game and has begun to build a reputation for taking – and making – big shots.

But even on the court he is quiet. The most he celebrates is with an occasional fist pump. And even that is low-key – not the Tiger Woods birdie fist pump but a slight bending and raising of his arm.

That attitude comes from a lesson Fisher’s father, uncles and Amateur Athletic Union coaches taught him when he was younger: Do your talking on the court.

“My dad isn’t really a talkative guy. He’s a quiet guy,” Fisher said. “He’s just like: ‘Just play your game. Let your game do all the talking for you.’ So that’s what I learned to do.”

The quietness may not be the only thing Fisher got from his family.

Basketball seems to run in the Fisher family genes. His father served as his AAU coach, and his cousin Charron, a senior at Niagara University, is second in the NCAA in scoring with 27.6 points per game.

“I’m glad that they’re all doing well,” Fisher said. “A lot of people in my family play basketball, and I’m just out here to come out here and help Kent State and Kent State help me in whatever way we can.

“We’re trying to win a championship.”

Fisher would be a big part of any potential championship. Since Mid-American Conference play began, he has been the Flashes’ most prolific scorer and arguably the team’s most valuable player.

He is third in the MAC in scoring in conference games with 16.3 points per game. Twice in the past month he has scored 28 points in a game, his career high.

That reflects the quick transition Fisher has made to the Kent State program. He was a late addition to the Flashes, added in late August, and had less than three months to get acclimated before the season began.

“Coming in, I was kind of unsure,” Fisher said. “But just getting here, talking to the coaches and them helping me through everything – helping me through school if I needed help, helping me on the court, helping me outside the court, helping me be a better player (and) a better person, helping me with the things I need to do better – it’s been an easy transition.”

Fisher also gives credit to teammates such as Mincy and seniors Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance for helping him make the transition.

“We’re always like so compatible; he’s like my brother,” Mincy said. “We always talk after games. If he’s feeling down, I just talk to him and be like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Even on the court, I’ll be like, ‘Don’t worry about it.'”

Mincy and the other Flashes have also been trying to get Fisher to open up more, and Mincy believes their effort is working.

“I think he kind of opened up more as the season’s gone along,” Mincy said. “He’s gotten more playful, more active.

“At first, he wasn’t such an active person. He was just quiet. We didn’t know what was wrong with him. … He kind of got more comfortable around us, and now he’s like our family.”

As the MAC Tournament begins, the Flashes are going for their fifth MAC championship in the past 10 years.

A conference title would send the team to the NCAA Tournament, but it would also do something even more remarkable: It would get even the soft-spoken Fisher pumped up.

“I’m going to be a totally different person if we win the MAC Tournament, a totally different person,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to; that’s a big accomplishment.

“And that’s what we’re striving for. That’s what we’re trying to get to. I’m going to do whatever it takes and whatever we need, whatever the team needs me to do, just so we can do that.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].