KENT: When shooting guard Devareaux Manley came to Kent State as a freshman last season from California, he quickly found a mentor in then-junior guard and Cleveland native Randal Holt.
“Since Day One when I came to Kent State, I’ve been looking up to Randal,” said the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Manley. “He’s somebody I want to pattern my game after, the way he shoots. He’s close to being the school’s 3-point leader and that’s what I want to be one day before I leave.”
It’s ironic that Manley might enter tonight’s game against visiting Eastern Michigan as a starter in place of Holt, who continues to look for ways to shake his season-long shooting slump.
“Randal’s trying hard and it’s his senior year, but right now things just aren’t going his way,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “It’s not for a lack of effort or lack of him wanting to do well. He’s working and he’s trying to lead the right way, but occasionally he’s been forcing things.”
That was apparent in Wednesday’s 67-65 loss at Northern Illinois, the Golden Flashes’ fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference loss. Holt finished the game with just nine points, shooting 1-for-10 from 3-point range and 4-for-17 from the field.
Despite his recent struggles, Holt is still second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points and leading the MAC with 48 3-pointers.
“Randal’s had so much success here and made so many plays for us over the years, he expects to make them,” Senderoff said. “But he’s struggling right now — our whole team is struggling right now.”
The Flashes (11-10, 2-5) enter tonight’s game at the M.A.C. Center hoping to avoid their first five-game losing streak since 2009. Holt needs just four more 3-pointers to tie Trevor Huffman (210) as KSU’s all-time leader.
But as Holt searches for his old form, Manley has become the kind of spark that Holt has been throughout his career.
“Dev’s done a nice job,” Senderoff said. “I gotta find ways to get him on the floor more.”
With the Flashes trailing by nine points late in the second half at NIU, Manley came off the bench to make three clutch 3-pointers in the final 2:09, his third basket with 31 seconds left on the clock tying the score 65-65.
“When Coach calls my name, I know my role,” said Manley, who is averaging 5.0 points in 9.9 minutes this season. “I know he’s looking for me to knock down shots.”
Manley said the first two 3-pointers simply came within the flow of the offense. But the third, coming out of a timeout, was designed specifically for him.
“When I tied the game with the last 3, I really thought we were going to win,” Manley said. “I was stunned when they made that last-second shot. We were crushed.”
In the few days since, the Flashes adopted the motto: “Enough is enough” and have focused on finding ways to play more together as a team so they can begin to close out games instead of letting the close ones slip though their grasp.
Senderoff had Holt come in early Friday and spent some one-on-one time taking extra shots with him.
“He’s just got to work through this,” Senderoff said. “I have faith that eventually, [Holt’s shots] will go down. He knows they will, and so do I.”
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.