Christian calls on point guards to provide leadership

Matt Goul

Freshman guard Marcus Crenshaw dribbles the ball Saturday at the M.A.C. Center against Bowling Green. Coach Jim Christian was critical of both Crenshaw and starting point guard DeAndre Haynes for their play in the loss.

Credit: Matt Goul

Point guards can identify with quarterbacks — at least when it comes to criticism.

Kent State coach Jim Christian was critical of his point guards’ play Saturday following their loss to Bowling Green. He kept junior captain DeAndre Haynes on the bench as the Flashes (16-8, 8-5 Mid-American Conference) made their run to take a second-half lead over the Falcons. He did not praise freshman Marcus Crenshaw, who ran the offense during the 15-1 run, either.

“We obviously need to get more leadership from our point guard position,” Christian said. “Neither one of those two guys are giving us any leadership on the floor, in terms of getting us into our offense and having some poise and composure during the game. It’s something we need to work on.”

The time to fix it will be up tonight at Buffalo (15-7, 8-6 MAC).

Winning at Alumni Arena has not been easy. Kent State has lost there in two of the last three seasons, including a 16-point loss last season. The two games before that were each decided by one point.

And while Christian may question his point guard play of late, Buffalo’s has been unquestionable.

Turner Battle won MAC East Player of the Week after leading the Bulls to wins over West Division leader Western Michigan and Ball State. He scored a game-high 25 points in an overtime loss at Kent State earlier this season.

Haynes still leads the MAC in assists, averaging more than six per game. Scoring is not a concern, but Christian was not happy with the impatience he saw exhibited on the offensive end on Saturday. Twenty-six 3-point shots were attempted. Regardless if they were inside or outside of the 3-point arc, many shots were attempted quicker than the coach liked.

He blamed the point guard play for the impatience.

“That’s where leadership on the floor comes in,” said Christian, adding several plays were run with the point guard in the wrong spot.

“They are the quarterback of the team,” he said. “They have to understand what we’re trying to do.”

Christian admitted he was getting that before the Bowling Green loss. Whether or not that play returns tonight could be the deciding factor in Kent State winning its third straight road game.

In the home loss, the offense went through Kevin Warzynski. He’s no point guard, but he scored all 23 of his points in the second half Saturday.

“I’d rather play like I did at Akron and win,” Warzynski said. “That’s the most important thing.”

He shot 1-of-8 from the floor, scoring only two points, in that game.

Haynes did not sit, playing 35 minutes and running the offense — the way Christian likes it.

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