Smith ignites Flashes in romp

Jonas Fortune

The Kent State men’s basketball team looked lethargic for the first 10 minutes against Shawnee State on Friday night. With a three-point lead, 16-13, The Flashes needed a spark, which came in the form of senior guard Omni Smith.

Smith drained a 3-pointer, and a few moments later, he found Isaac Knight underneath the hoop for an easy basket. Smith took control, and the Flashes went on to a 70-47 romp over the outmatched Bears on opening night of the Kent State Classic.

“Omni was the not the best leader at the beginning of the year but has now emerged as one and that’s what you have to do,” head coach Jim Christian said. “Some guys have it naturally and some guys lead just through shear concern for the program and shear concern to win.”

Smith’s timely 3-pointer with 10:21 to play in the first half ignited the stagnant Flashes offense and propelled them on a 12- 0 run that lasted nearly four minutes.

The Flashes would never look back, increasing their scoring run to 24-7 by the half and eventually ending their two-game losing streak.

After the game Christian couldn’t say enough about his senior guard.

“It’s obvious to everybody around how much this means to him and how much he’s willing to sacrifice for himself; he just wants to win,” he said. “My hope is that it continues to stay infectious because that’s what you have to have to win.”

Finishing the game with 13 points, six assists and five steals – all game highs – Smith gave much of the credit to his coach.

“As long as you have coach on your side you can never lose,” Smith said. “The tradition that they (Kent State) have is winning and coach comes in every day with the same attitude, same enthusiasm, knowing that we can win, and when you got that behind you your confidence level kinda goes up a little bit.”

Although Friday night’s romp was a good win for the Flashes, there was a sour note.

Freshman guard Chris Singletary didn’t dress for Friday’s game and will not dress for today’s championship game against New Hampshire.

“He’s just got some issues right now, and until we get those resolved, we think it’s in his best interest that he not play right now,” Christian said. “In the long run its always more important for us to have our players develop as total people and basketball is just a small part of that.”

Christian said that it was “nothing major” and that Singletary is academically eligible and still enrolled in the university.

Another notable concern is the play of junior forward Haminn Quaintance. The 6-7 forward has scored 6 points combined in the last two outings for the Flashes, but Christian isn’t concerned.

“He’s getting a lot of touches, he’s making a lot of plays,” Christian said. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in.”

Contact assistant sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].