Like a rock

Doug Gulasy

Sherman shrugs off injury, leads second-half comeback

CHECK OUT an audio slideshow of the West Michigan game.

A stray elbow from a teammate dazed Rodriquez Sherman, but it didn’t faze him.

The sophomore guard scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime to spark the Kent State men’s basketball team (16-4, 5-1 Mid-American Conference) to a come-from-behind, 67-58 victory against Western Michigan yesterday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.

Sherman, nicknamed “The Rock” by Kent State coach Jim Christian, had to leave early in the second half when he received an elbow to the head from teammate Mike Scott. He came back, and so did the team, from a 10-point deficit in the second half.

“My teammates encouraged me,” Sherman said. “(They were) telling me: ‘Don’t even worry about it, just go out and play. Play through pain.'”

Sherman said the inadvertent elbow dazed him, but after he returned, he scored 10 points in a 19-2 run that turned a 10-point deficit into a 57-50 lead.

“It was good to see him just play through it,” Christian said. “He’s been showing signs, he’s been playing better and better each game and playing through mistakes better. That’s what I want from him.”

Sherman wasn’t the only player who stepped up in the second half. The team as a whole improved its defense.

After Western Michigan shot 48 percent in the first half, the Flashes held the Broncos to 25.9 percent shooting in the second half.

The Broncos (10-9, 4-2) made eight of their first 16 3-point attempts, including their first four of the second half, but shot just 1-of-8 from behind the arc in the rest of the game.

Also, Western Michigan went over seven minutes without making a field goal in the second half — from the 9:21 mark until just 1:50 remained in the game.

“They were in such a good rhythm (that) for about three possessions, we just went zone just to get them out of rhythm,” Christian said. “Then we went back to man, and I think putting (junior guard) Jordan (Mincy) on David Kool was big for us because he’s going to chase screens and make (Kool) earn it.”

Kool scored 21 points after making a 3-pointer with 15:40 left in the game but got shut out the rest of the game.

“We’ve got to give all the credit to Kent State,” Kool said. “They came out and played a lot tougher in the second 10 minutes in the second half.”

The Flashes also played tough defense on Western Michigan senior center Joe Reitz, causing him to commit four offensive fouls.

Reitz came into the game averaging 14.6 points a game, but he scored 13 points while being plagued with foul trouble all afternoon and eventually fouled out.

“He’s a very physical guy, and we knew that coming in,” Christian said. “You can’t back away; you’ve got to kind of meet him physically and you’ve got to fight around him.

“He’s a hard player to handle down there; he’s strong and he knows how to play. But our guys did a good job picking up some charges and collapsing on him a little bit.”

Junior guard Al Fisher led the team with 17 points and seven rebounds, while senior forward Mike Scott had 13 points and six rebounds.

The Flashes will play at Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night.

Game Notes

Home, sweet home

Only brides look better wearing white than the Kent State men’s basketball team. With yesterday’s win, the Flashes improved to 12-0 this season at home. “(Home court advantage has) been huge for us,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “I thought we had a great crowd today — they get loud at key times (and) our guys feed off of them. Especially in this league right now, you have to win at home.”

More on the Sherman injury

Plenty of people at the M.A.C. Center may have worried when they saw Rodriquez Sherman down with an injury in the second half, but Christian wasn’t one of them. “I looked around, there was no snipers in the building, (so) I figured he’d be OK,” he said. “He’s a tough kid…he’s like a boxer that goes down. You know he’s getting the full count but he’s going to get back up and fight.”

Two 3s for McKee

Coming into yesterday’s game, sophomore guard Mike McKee hadn’t made a 3-pointer since the Flashes’ Jan. 6 victory over Buffalo, a span of five games. He made two in the first half yesterday. “It was good to see him be aggressive and look for it,” Christian said. “…He’s a great shooter and we’re encouraging him to shoot.”

Pretty in the W column, at least

The Flashes didn’t get any style points with yesterday’s win, but Christian didn’t care. “We’re heading towards February, and when February comes, pretty goes out the window and winning becomes the priority here,” he said. “We’re not trying to be pretty, we’re not trying to set records, we’re trying to find a way to win basketball games.”

Start slow, finish fast?

The Flashes have struggled in the first half recently. Yesterday’s game marked the third in a row where the Flashes trailed at halftime. “We’ve had a couple instances this year where we start off slow and then we pick it up second half,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “I’m not really sure what that is — man, if I had an answer, it wouldn’t be happening.”

And on a personal note…

Finally, the Flashes won when I wore the new sweater vest I got for Christmas. Previously when I wore it, the team went 0-2, losing to North Carolina and Ohio. It was good to find out that it isn’t as unlucky as the team’s alternate black uniforms.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].