Forget Toledo

Matt Goul

Haynes dusts off slump, bad luck

Junior point guard DeAndre Haynes had just three points, two rebounds and two assists vs. Toledo.

Credit: Andrew popik

Barbecue sauce on his coat and gum on his pants, DeAndre Haynes can be glad he does not have to return for another game at Toledo.

The two nuisances were the tar and feathers to an already downhill day.

Haynes sat on the bench through most of the final minutes of Kent State’s 73-70 loss at Toledo. A metal sole in his shoe caused it to blow out. Haynes had to wait as freshman Marcus Crenshaw ran the offense and team manager Justin Phelps raced back to the locker room — which was locked — for a backup pair. The junior point guard and team captain returned for the final 30 seconds, but had struggled to create for himself and teammates all game long. His play was suffering. The previous game was even quieter, scoring only a point.

“I was disappointed, but I knew sooner or later I’d come out of this slump,” Haynes said. “It’s about how much effort I put into it and how much energy I bring onto the court. It just comes from me having confidence and not believing I’m in a slump.”

Haynes said he questioned himself.

“For a minute, I was thinking ‘was I losing confidence in myself?’ The problem I was having was I was trying to do everything perfect and not make a mistake,” he said. “Coach would tell me I’m the captain and got to be a leader out there. Instead of just going out there and playing, I was putting too much pressure on myself.”

Then came redemption in the form of a road game at Marshall.

Haynes did not start. Crenshaw started in his position.

No problem, though.

When Haynes entered, it was as if he had been playing through with no struggles. He found teammates for scoring opportunities, created them for himself and helped his team to its first road win since Dec. 11 at Cleveland State.

“I just want him to feel good and play well,” coach Jim Christian said. “When you’re not playing well, he doesn’t have to worry about the leadership. If he starts playing well, that will all take care of itself.”

Of course, that is tougher to do with a busted shoe.

Haynes wears a metal plate in his right shoe because of a swollen foot. The foot hurts whenever he plants it. That makes for pain on little plays like coming down with a rebound, taking a jump shot or driving to the basket with a jump stop.

At Toledo, the plate took him out of the game in the second half instead of any pain.

“The whole front busted open and my toes stuck out,” Haynes said. “I couldn’t run. I stopped and every time I stepped, my foot would slide out. I just had bad luck.”

When it could not get any worse, Haynes got barbecue sauce on his coat and gum on the back of his pants after the loss. Fortunately for him, Toledo comes to Kent State instead of a return trip his senior season.

Also, he’s found being captain does not mean the leadership role solely lands on him.

Armon Gates, keeping a steady voice on teammates, and Jason Edwin, leading by example, have given Haynes some relief. He had five seniors to provide the presence last season. Edwin is the only senior this season.

Haynes credited his teammates for support during his slump.

Haynes took on the freshman as a prot‚g‚ before the season. Christian hoped the two would benefit each other, Haynes providing guidance and Crenshaw providing relief as a backup.

Both have done what was expected. But Crenshaw is adding support in more ways than just a breather.

“It’s like a brother thing,” Haynes said. “He sees that I’m down right now so he’s been helping me out. He tells me about how good of a player I am. When I hear that from them and him being a freshman, he’s being a leader right now. We’re trying to teach each other things on and off the court.”

The two have shown chemistry as a backcourt duo on the court simultaneously.

Both being point guards, each has allowed the other to get time at shooting guard and away from the grind of running the offense.

Crenshaw, with the stroke of his left hand, has become a reliable 3-point shooter. He’s broke double figures in scoring three times when coming off the bench. Haynes showed his scoring ability in back-to-back games leading up to the Mid-American Conference tournament championship game last season. He scored his career-high 26 points in the tournament against Bowling Green.

Together they provide Christian a luxury neither he nor Haynes have had.

Haynes now has the backup he did not in his first two seasons. Crenshaw has what Haynes did not in an older point guard.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Matt Goul at [email protected].