KENT: Kent State basketball coach Rob Senderoff turned to junior center Melvin Tabb out of necessity in the second half of Wednesday’s overtime victory over Buffalo.
This afternoon at Miami, Senderoff might be expecting production from Tabb.
“He didn’t play the first half [Wednesday against visiting Buffalo], but we started him in the second half because quite frankly, Mark [Henniger] and Khaliq [Spicer] hadn’t played well in the first half,” Senderoff said.
“When we played [junior forward] Darren [Goodson] at [center], he didn’t play well in the first half, either. We were down nine at halftime and were just trying to get a spark. I’m really proud of how well Melvin played because he gave us that spark. Along with the points and the rebounds, how he came out in the second half really helped energize a team that didn’t have any energy going into halftime at all.”
In 14 second-half minutes, Tabb contributed 12 points and five rebounds in the Golden Flashes’ 83-81 Mid-American Conference victory.
During interviews after the game, Senderoff responded to Tabb’s efforts by saying, “Welcome to the party, Melvin.”
Tabb, a 6-foot-9, 250-pounder from Texas’ Midland Junior College, was one of Senderoff’s prized recruits during the offseason. The hope in landing Tabb was that he’d fill, or at least help to fill, the void in the post left by graduating senior center Justin Greene.
Before Wednesday’s sudden output, any contribution from Tabb was practically nonexistent for the Flashes (16-12, 6-7 MAC). In 28 games, including 10 starts, he was averaging 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and had picked up 60 personal fouls.
The personal fouls are part of Tabb’s problem. When he does get on the court, he often finds himself quickly in foul trouble. In one half against the Bulls, Tabb fouled out while defending 6-foot-7, 250-pound MAC Player of the Year candidate Javon McCrea.
After the victory that kept the Flashes in line for a No. 4 seed and first-round bye in the upcoming MAC Tournament, Senderoff wasn’t the only one to get on Tabb a little bit.
“Melvin Tabb played huge for us,” senior guard Randal Holt said. “We need Melvin to play like that every game. We know Melvin is a good player who works hard. He’s a big, strong and physical player. It’s just a matter of is he going to bring that every game? When he does bring it, you see he can’t be stopped.”
Tabb didn’t flinch while listening to his teammate’s assessment.
“I haven’t played up to my potential for a while now,” Tabb said. “But these guys always stay with me and always get on my case like, ‘Mel, we need you to bring it every day.’ So, I’ve kind of let them down. I just got frustrated on the bench [Wednesday] and after [assistant] coach [DeAndre] Haynes pulled me to the side and said, ‘hey, we need you to play big,’ it happened. I started attacking and I got a little more aggressive.”
It’s a mindset Tabb will need to maintain if the Flashes are to continue making a surge during the final three regular-season games, including today’s game against Miami (8-18, 3-10).
“They press, trap and play very fast,” Senderoff said. “So you’ve got to handle pressure and be able to guard. You have to do a good job defensively against them because they play four guards. So it’s a little bit different than Buffalo, the Bulls are really physical. But we’re going to have to take care of the basketball and make sure our transition defense is good. We just have to find a way to gut out a road win to start March the right way.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. 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.