KENT: Kent State is entering a season finale with its archrival, the University of Akron, in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN2. The Golden Flashes still have a chance to host a first-round game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, although a loss would dissolve that possibility.
There shouldn’t be any question about the team’s energy level entering tonight’s game. Then again, that same thought could have been used before KSU’s Senior Night against Miami on Tuesday in which the Golden Flashes came out sluggish and never really recovered in a 73-61 loss.
Senior Darren Goodson said the team was “out to lunch.” His frustration wasn’t with the talent level on the roster, it was with the lack of consistency. KSU (16-14, 7-10) was coming off arguably its best win of the year, a 75-61 victory at Ohio.
“Consistency is missing, that’s it,” Goodson said. “We’re the same guys that go in and out of the locker room every day. It’s been like that all year.”
Flashes coach Rob Senderoff is using two other teams as prime examples of being able to bounce back from tough losses, one being the Zips (19-11, 11-6).
“The bottom line is that it was an incredibly disappointing night, but you have got to move forward. A week ago, Miami lost at home to us by 20 and then bounced back to win back-to-back games. A week ago, Akron lost to Ohio by 16 and they’ve come back to win two in a row. You can’t dwell on it, disappointing as it is.”
Kent State is one of several teams vying for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the MAC Tournament, which would mean a home game in the first round. If the Golden Flashes lose, the best they can hope for is the No. 9 seed and a road game. With a win, KSU would still need a Miami or Northern Illinois loss to grab the No. 8 seed. If both lose and KSU wins, the Golden Flashes will get the No. 7 spot.
Lately, though, the M.A.C. Center hasn’t been as friendly to KSU as in years past — the Golden Flashes are 4-5 at home in conference play. Now, it’s about simply competing, not the location.
“We just need to play well wherever it is,” Senderoff said. “If we compete, we’re going to be fine, and if we don’t, it’s going to be a short stay in the tournament.”
KSU got the better of Akron in the series’ first meeting this year, when Goodson banked in a 3-pointer in the final seconds for a 60-57 win at the M.A.C. Center.
Kent State will still have to handle UA’s frontcourt of Demetrius Treadwell, Quincy Diggs and Nick Harney. Those three combined for 42 points in the first game, and now stand as the biggest obstacle to KSU’s possible home game in the tournament. The task of taking on UA’s big men belongs to Khaliq Spicer, who’s drawn several tough assignments in a row, Mark Henniger and Goodson.
“I’m concerned about Treadwell and Diggs and Harney,” Senderoff said. “We have got to do a good job on the glass and we have got to compete.”
“Compete” has been the operative word in Kent for several days now.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com.