KENT: The Darren Goodson who came out of nowhere in the first half of Kent State’s game against the University of Akron on Saturday afternoon was exactly what the Golden Flashes needed to get off to a good start against their rival.
The junior forward led the Flashes with 14 points — and went 2-for-2 on 3-point attempts — in 13 action-packed minutes. His unexpected energy and hustle provided the spark Kent State needed to help take a 10-point halftime lead.
“Coach Sendy [Rob Senderoff] told me that if I want to stay in the game, [I had] to rebound and be the kid he came and got in Pensacola, [Fla.],” said the 6-foot-5, 245-pound junior college transfer. “I haven’t been that kid all year. So, I just tried to come out and do what I had to do to help the team win.”
But for as good as Goodson was in the first 20 minutes of play, he was equally ineffective in the more-important final 20 of KSU’s 71-67 loss. In his final 14 minutes of play, Goodson never found the basket again and added only two more rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
“My teammates know what type of player I am and can be,” Goodson said. “In the first half I was open and they found me. I got the same looks in the second half and just didn’t knock them down. I was just trying to find a way to help my team win. But it wasn’t good enough and I fouled out, just wasn’t good enough.”
Goodson’s up-and-down play is, however, a good way to sum up the state of Kent State’s relatively young team so far this season four games into the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule.
The Flashes — individual players as well as the team as a whole — have shown glimpses of what they can be, as evidenced by hanging with the veteran-laden Zips until the final minute of play Saturday.
What has been lacking for KSU (11-7 overall, 2-2 in MAC) is consistency.
How quickly Kent State begins to establish it will likely come as players like Goodson and fellow junior college transfer Melvin Tabb (a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward from Texas’ Midland College) begin to find their way in the offense.
If or when they do, KSU could make a late surge in league play or end up being that dangerous team with nothing to lose in March that no one wants to face in the MAC Tournament.
For now, this is not meant to single out Goodson, a Cincinnati native who joined the team via Pensacola State College, where he averaged 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as the Florida Community College Athletic Association’s Freshman of the Year.
It’s not easy on a guy who has been a focal point in junior college to come to a four-year school like Kent State and fit in right away.
“There’s a [transition] from being the main guy to becoming a role player,” Goodson admitted. “I’ve made that [transition] and I’m trying to find guys open shots, trying to rebound and keep other guys off the glass — and I’m fine with that.”
Senderoff and his staff certainly couldn’t ask for a better attitude as Goodson and other newcomers are brought along. But it does help to have other teammates who’ve gone through the same situation.
Last season, guard Chris Evans went on to become the Flashes’ go-to sixth man as he went from the focus of the offense at Illinois’ Wabash Junior College to trying to fit into a much more balanced offensive system at KSU as a reserve. As one of just three seniors this year, Evans is back in a star offensive role.
“We haven’t been worried about Darren on the offensive end,” Evans said. “He competes hard every day, so we have confidence in him and are fine with what he does … [Saturday’s performance] didn’t surprise me at all. I know he can shoot the ball and play hard.”
As disappointed as Senderoff was in the postgame news conference after the loss to UA after being so close to snapping a four-game losing streak to the Zips, he was quick to praise Goodson’s effort — with a caveat.
“Darren played very well and we need him to do that more often,” Senderoff said. “He played the way he’s capable of playing and competed incredibly hard, especially in the first half. Now, we need him to do it every night.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.