For the first time ever, KSU goes into a game ranked

Doug Gulasy

Kent State faces Bowling Green in its first game in the Top 25 of both national polls

Junior guard Al Fisher drives to the basket for two of his 28 points Saturday night against St. Mary’s College. Fisher and the Flashes upset the nationally ranked Gaels 65-57. DANIEL DOHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

It’s been a big week for the Kent State men’s basketball team.

The Flashes (23-5, 11-2 Mid-American Conference) go into tomorrow’s game at Bowling Green ranked No. 23 in the country in the Associated Press poll. It marks the first time the Flashes have been nationally ranked during the regular season.

“I wanted to make this a historic year, and I told the team from the beginning,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “I felt like, throughout my four years, the pieces just really, really came together very smoothly this year. I felt we could do some very special things.



(23-5, 11-2 MAC) (12-14, 6-7 MAC)

Where: Anderson Arena – Bowling Green

When: 12:30 p.m. tomorrow

Radio: WNIR 1001.1 FM (Bill Needle)

“It’s definitely not over. We have a lot more goals to achieve, but we’re definitely starting off on the right foot.”

Kent State’s victory at nationally-ranked St. Mary’s on Saturday, the Flashes’ first-ever regular-season win over a ranked team, was what ultimately pushed the team into the national rankings, as it garnered national attention to the team and the university. Laing Kennedy, Kent State director of athletics, believes that exposure will help the university.

“You can’t buy this kind of promotion,” Kennedy said. “I’d just flat-out say (the win will help) enrollment, but it really keeps the university’s ‘Excellence in Action’ theme a topic of daily conversation by the national sports media.”

The excitement from Saturday’s win and the current ranking has spread locally also.

” … It also brings (excitement) to the community, the town down,” Kennedy said. “You walk downtown – wow, the people are talking about it. It’s a buzz all over town.”

Kennedy said he believes the conference as a whole will benefit from this ranking.

The MAC doesn’t get a lot of attention nationally because usually only one conference team (the winner of the MAC Tournament) makes the NCAA Tournament.

The last time the MAC received an at-large bid was 1999, when Miami joined the conference champion Flashes in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think the fact that Kent State is ranked is a benefit to the whole league – it shows how much national respect the league is getting” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “You don’t rank teams from bad leagues. Our conference is now getting the national respect that, in my opinion, I think it’s deserved.”

That doesn’t make it likely for any team around the conference to take it easier on the Flashes anytime soon, though.

“Anytime you make an achievement like that, you have people that want to show that they’re as good, if not better,” Scott said. “When we play ranked teams, we had that mentality. When we play a team that nationally is better than us, nationally recognized, we really get amped for it and we really want to go out there and show that we can play with this team.

“Especially in this conference – knowing how the MAC is, a lot of games are close. So I’m sure conference teams are really going to have a lot more confidence going into games against us.”

The Flashes have a chance to clinch at least a share of the MAC East title with a win tomorrow, but Christian said it won’t come easy.

The Flashes have had close calls against MAC opponents this season, such as an overtime victory over Ball State and come-from-behind wins against Akron, Buffalo and Western Michigan.

“We know how competitive the league is; we know how good the teams are,” Christian said. “We know how tough it is to win in other teams’ venues in this league, so it’s going to be a fight to the finish.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].