Flashdancing in Boston: KSU to meet Temple in NCAA Tournament

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

John Whorton claims that the Kent State men's basketball team's first-round NCAA Tournament pairing with Temple came to him in a dream.

And why not?

Dreams have been coming true for this team all season long.

"I had a dream we played Temple (Saturday night)," said the junior center on Sunday, after the Mid-American Conference Tournament champion Golden Flashes (23-6) were seeded 11th in the East Region and shipped off to Boston to play the No. 6 seeded Owls (21-10) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. "They were playing that matchup zone, and I saw (Kent coach Gary) Waters and (Temple coach John) Chaney talking before and after the game.

"The outcome didn't come to me."

That's too bad.

A final score would have been nice, to confirm whether this particular dream was really a dream and not a nightmare.

The Flashes (23-6) certainly didn't get a dream seeding, behind all seven Big Ten teams in the field and MAC rival Miami of Ohio (No. 10) _ which they defeated twice in three meetings _ just to name a few.

Kent coach Gary Waters was convinced his team had guaranteed itself a berth in the NCAA Tournament just by advancing to the MAC Tournament championship game, but the No. 11 seed makes you wonder.

"I thought we'd be a No. 8 to No. 10 seed," said Waters. "But we were picked to finish sixth in our division, remember? We haven't gotten much respect from people all year, so why should that change now?"

The Flashes won't exactly be making a dream trip to frigid Boston.

"I went to Boston when I was four years old," said Whorton. "The only thing I remember is that the people talk funny."

And facing Temple's dreaded zone, that's just not the stuff dreams are made of.

"This is a tough matchup for us," said Waters. "They have two things that have given us problems at times. They average around 6-foot-9, 250 pounds on the front line and they're very athletic, and they play that zone defense. They make it hard to get the ball inside, and that's our strength. We've struggled against zones this year."

The perennial national power Owls have made the tournament every year in the 1990s under legendary coach Chaney. This year's edition features a balanced offense led by 6-5 sophomore forward Mark Karchner (13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds per game), 6-10 junior forward Lamont Barnes (12.5 ppg, 7 rpg) and 6-4 senior guard Rasheed Brokenborough (11.8 ppg), but scoring isn't a major concern.

Temple wins with smothering defense, pure and simple.

"We have our work cut out for us, pure and simple," said Kent senior swingman Ed Norvell.

If the Flashes should find a way to get by Temple, a probable second-round matchup with Bob Huggins' Cincinnati Bearcats awaits on Sunday.

So what are the seemingly slightly overmatched Flashes to do?

Simple: Just keep on dreamin.'

"We've seen Temple play on TV, and they're good," said Whorton. "But it doesn't matter who you are in the NCAA Tournament, you either come to play or you go home. You never know who's going to win. Anything can happen."

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