GREENE IS PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Sophomore Justin Greene was named MAC East Player of the Week for his performances against Bowling Green and Miami. Greene averaged 22 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game and 77-percent shooting. Greene and four-time winner, Chris Singletary are the first set of KSU teammates to be honored multiple times in the same season. Red-shirt junior Rod Sherman received the POW award on Nov. 16 giving KSU a school record eight this season.
FLASHES PLAY THEIR STYLE - Sometimes Kent State isn't the prettiest basketball team to watch. Sure, a 22-8, 12-3 record heading into Friday's showdown with the University of Akron is pretty. But for the most part, the Kent State basketball program has won over the years by doing the dirty work, with the 'nitty gritty' as Jordan Mincy would say. This season is no different. With rugged, physical post presences, athletic offensive re-bounders and players willing to buy into defense, Kent State is using a familiar formula as they play for another championship.
"We need to offensive rebound," KSU head coach Geno Ford said. "We've got to do what we do and for us its play good defense, it's offensive rebound, it's make hustle plays. That's how we've won 22 games. We've had some games where we've gotten hot from three...for the most part we win with all that other stuff, defense and rebounding." Kent State did go through a stretch where they combined solid defense and torrid shooting. It led to a 35 point win over Buffalo, a 17 point win over Akron, a 20 point win over Toledo, a 30 point win over Northern Illinois and a 34 point victory over Ball State. Kent State's margin of victory in league games is first in the MAC at +9.9 points per game.
"Hopefully if we can get hot from the field again like we did during that one stretch in the middle of January where we were having some kind of lopsided scores, because you continue to defend, you continue to rebound, while you're making shots now you're really, really good. Hopefully we can get back to that next week," Ford added. Don't expect Friday's game to be lopsided either way. The grind is on in the Mid-American Conference just in time for the conference tournament next week in Cleveland.
SINGLETARY MATURES | PART II - While the emotions and maturation process of senior Chris Singletary have been well documented recently, they should be. A candidate for MAC Player of the Year, it has been a rewarding experience to see Singletary mature up close and personal. This is what I wrote about Singletary on November 12. I am happy that that is the scenario playing itself out.
I feel like Chris Singletary needs to be "the guy" this season. Hopefully an ankle injury doesn't linger this season for him. Chris has the ability to be the best player on the floor. The key is he needs to be on the floor. He battled foul trouble all season long last year. He has his entire senior season in front of him to write his final chapter, and go down in Kent State history with some other great players. In the off-season Singletary declared he wanted to be an All-MAC Defensive player. He has the ability to do that. Singletary needs to be the ultimate leader this season with his production on the floor and in all other facets. Players have always respected Chris a lot for his talent and his passion for the game. The perfect scenario for Kent State has the Golden Flashes in contention and hopefully winning the MAC Championship, with Singletary front and center as a MAC Player of the Year candidate with a season stat line that looks like 14 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 4 assists per game, improved free throw shooting and three point shooting and a leader on the defensive end of the floor. Singletary has been much maligned for some off the floor incidents and on the floor incidents. The University of Akron fans won't be sending him a Christmas card this holiday season. Singletary doesn't owe the fans, the officials, the opponents anything. All he owes is his team, coaches and school to have the best senior year he can have and walk off the floor at the M.A.C. Center this season knowing he can be proud of himself and his team.
"He lays it all out there," Frank Henry-Ala said. "When everything is going wrong, Chris will bring the team together and bring us back together as one." MAC Player of the Year or not, he is Kent State's leader of the year. And with the type of year that team is having, that says enough.
SIMPSON, THE X-FACTOR - Anthony Simpson continues to be the biggest X-factor for Kent State. After Saturday's 11 point, 7 rebound performance, Kent State is now 12-0 this season when Simpson scores in double figures. While Simpson has always had the ability to make the crowd pleasing plays with blocked shots and dunks, on Saturday Simpson's offensive ability was on full display late in the game with a three pointer, a tip dunk and a smooth mid-range jump shot.
"We need Anthony to make shots," Ford said. "We haven't been a consistent three point shooting team but his shooting really helps." The usually soft spoken Simpson did speak up at one point during Saturday's press conference. "All I've been saying all year, we don't lose, we go to the tournament. That's our goal, go to the tournament." Kent State will need Simpson on Friday to combat Akron's bigs they can throw out there like the McKnight brothers, Nik Cvetinovic and Mike Bardo. Simpson had a good first impression of the JAR in Akron last season when he had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
MORE... - David Carducci of the Record Courier is checking in today with more coverage of Kent State, including a breakdown of Kent State's postseason resume...Ford spoke at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton yesterday, he also spoke to the Canton Repository.