101 reasons to win

Deanna Stevens

Wednesday night Jim Christian became the second basketball coach in KSU history to win 100 games.

Jim Christian and senior guard Omni Smith talk to the media after beating Ohio in overtime on Jan. 14. FILE ART BY AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

The Kent State men’s basketball team prides itself on playing for the team rather than the individual. But it was the work of the whole team — and teams of the past — which led to an individual accolade. Kent State coach Jim Christian won his 100th game Wednesday at Ball State.

The win was the first in Muncie, Ind. for the Flashes since 1999, and the first ever for Christian.

Career Record

100 – 48

MAC Record

55 – 23

At M.A.C. Center

50 – 13

Road Games

34 – 30


8 – 7

Christian, who was more impressed with the way the team played rather than his milestone, said the win was an important building block to the rest of the season.

“It’s big because it’s a team win,” Christian said. “Everybody who went on the trip contributed and played a part in it. Over the course of the season, we’re going to need everybody to win games. And games like that (Ball State) prove it to them. “

Kent State Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said Christian’s efforts have had a major effect on Kent State athletics as a whole.

“A lot of coaches — we haven’t had it here — but a lot of coaches go about their business saying ‘I’m going to build a championship team’ and not a championship program. He’s built a championship program. (It) is built on values and integrity and that is integrated into our whole athletic department.”

Freshman guard Rodriquez Sherman said not everyone knew Christian was going for his 100th win at tip-off. But those who did know played with an extra sense of motivation.

The current players weren’t the only ones happy to see their coach get the extra recognition.

Former forward Nate Gerwig, who is now in Finland playing for Porvoon Tarmo, said he had a good time playing for Christian because he is down to earth. He added Christian’s knowledge of things like hip-hop made for some interesting times in the locker room.

“First off, he’s a great coach,” Gerwig said. “He thinks about basketball about 24 hours a day. I’m not sure he sleeps.”

DeAndre Haynes, who graduated last year, said Christian was instrumental for making his transition from high school to college easier. He said that when he came to Kent State as a freshman, there wasn’t an upperclassmen guard to learn from, but he found a true teacher in Christian.

“He showed me how to be a leader,” Haynes said. “I’m happy he got his 100th win. He deserves it.”

Haynes is also overseas, playing for Royal Atomia Brussels in Belgium.

Former Flashes forward Kevin Warzynski is trying his luck in the business world as the owner of South East Class Coating in South Carolina. He says his days on the court prepared him for his current endeavors.

“I enjoyed my experience a lot under coach Christian,” Warzynski said. “He taught me how to handle adversity not only in basketball, but through life.”

In order to get win 101 and a second consecutive Mid-American Conference road win, Christian said the Flashes (11-8, 4-2 MAC) have to compete against Northern Illinois with the same intensity they took to Ball State.

“We have to do a lot of things we did (Wednesday) night,” Christian said. “We have to play solid defense, we have to take care of the basketball, we have to get contributions from everybody. The formula always seems to stay the same, but the consistency of it is what you have to do to become good.”

The Huskies (4-14, 1-5 MAC) are on a five-game losing streak, but Christian said that streak makes them dangerous.

“They’re a team that’s hungry for a win at home,” Christian said. “They’re trying to compete for a championship. In this league you have to protect your home court.”

The Flashes will go for their third conference road win 2 p.m. Saturday at Northern Illinois.

“It’s our fifth out of seven road games in the league, so it’s imperative that we just keep trying to build off what we’ve done,” Christian said.

Contact basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].