Flashes’ depth proves No. 1 spot

Kali Price

As senior guard DeAndre Haynes dribbled down the court with less than a minute left, he raised his left hand in the air, pointed to the ceiling and showed everyone watching that the Kent State men’s basketball team is No. 1.

When the final buzzer rang, Kent State posted a 72-59 win over Ohio, and I only had one thought on my mind – bring it on.

The win sends the Flashes (24-8, 15-3 Mid-American Conference) to the MAC Tournament final where they will face Toledo at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Flashes proved exactly why they are the regular season MAC Champions last night and why they boast the MAC Player of the Year, MAC Coach of the Year, MAC Sixth Man of the Year and two All-MAC First Team guards.

“I thought it was just a great game,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “Both teams played extremely hard. We had to win with depth. I can’t say enough about the guys who came off the bench for us.”

The Flashes’ bench put up 20 points for the night as the Bobcats’ bench players only scored eight.

The bench has been the backbone of the Flashes’ game this season and has allowed them to not rely on only one player to win.

Luckily, most of the depth of the Flashes’ bench comes from the younger players, such as freshman guard Jordan Mincy and junior guard Omni Smith.

“Jordan’s like my little brother,” senior guard Jay Youngblood said. “He was just hustling. I’m just very proud of him.”

Youngblood was named to the All-MAC First Team – joining MAC Player of the Year and teammate DeAndre Haynes. Last night, Youngblood, along with sophomore guard Mike Scott, scored 15 points. The pair led the team in scoring, followed by senior forward Kevin Warzynski with 14.

The depth secures the team a bright future – and maybe more trips to the MAC Tournament Championship.

But before the underclassmen step up and take the seniors’ place, Youngblood, Warzynski, Haynes and Gerwig have one thing left to do – win the MAC Tournament Championship and receive an NCAA Tournament bid.

There’s nothing I’d like to see more than the Flashes make it to the Elite Eight again.

As Youngblood put it, the Flashes’ seniors need to put it all out there on the court if they want to win.

“There’s no tomorrow if we lose,” he said.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected]