Seniors step up to lead Flashes

Kali Price

It’s almost that time of year again.

Basketball season is winding down, Bracket Buster Saturday is at the end of this week and Selection Sunday is nearing.

And it’s time for the Kent State men’s basketball team to step up and dominate the Mid-American Conference.

If anyone needs to step up, it’s the seniors.

So far this season, the seniors have been carrying the Flashes, most notably guard Jay Youngblood and forward Kevin Warzynski.

But in the Flashes’ 67-55 win over Northern Illinois yesterday, it was guard DeAndre Haynes who stepped up for the Flashes.

Haynes carried the team, scoring 24 total points and sinking 7-of-8 3-pointers.

“I think that’s what seniors have to do,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We’re getting towards the stretch run. As a coach you can motivate them and they’ve got to take the bull by the horns. It’s my program, but it’s their team. This is the time of year where they’ve got to step up collectively and try to make plays.”

Christian is exactly right. It may be his program, but who is it that Kent State will remember in a few years?

Haynes, Warzynski, Youngblood and Nate Gerwig.

It’s their team, and it is them who will be remembered in a few years when freshmen Brandon Parks, Mike McKee, Julian Sullinger and Jordan Mincy are in their final season with the Flashes.

“We have some senior guys, and I think they’re hungry, and they’ve worked awfully hard to put themselves in the position to compete for this championship with some other really good teams,” Christian said.

But it’s not just up to the seniors to lead the team.

So far, each and every player has proven his strength on the squad and why he deserves to be playing for Kent State.

“The difference in this team is, any given night one of our players will just step up for us,” Haynes said. “Anyone that steps on the floor can give us numbers, defensively they can be like Mike Scott and come in and get rebounds; they don’t have to score.”

And for the first time since the 2001-2002 season, the team isn’t falling apart as it nears the end of the regular season.

Exactly one year ago, the Flashes were kicking off a three-game losing streak with a 77-73 loss to Bowling Green before finishing in fifth place in the MAC.

But this season is different. The team has more strength, depth and character.

“The strength that we’ve got in this team is a big difference to me (than last season),” Haynes said. “Right now it’s just fresh in everybody’s head that we want to win the MAC.”

And with that kind of winning mentality, the Flashes may very well be seeing some action in the Big Dance.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected].