Here’s what Kent State men’s basketball coach Rob Senderoff noticed after watching the tape of Wednesday’s 83-81 overtime victory over visiting Buffalo. Senior Chris Evans banked in the game-winner from about five feet at the buzzer to give the Golden Flashes their fourth win in five games, which currently puts them in the No. 4 spot for seeding in the upcoming MAC Tournament:
WHAT STOOD OUT: “In typical us form, we’re up three with almost 30 seconds to go (in overtime) and we almost found a way to lose. A kid that had been making 62 percent of his 3s for his last four games and hadn’t made one all night, Tony Watson, makes a 3 and (KSU junior swingman) Bryson Pope fouls him. In my head I’m saying to myself I can’t believe it, the only way we can lose this game is to foul the 3-point shooter. And he did foul him. We were fortunate that Watson missed the free throw. Chris got the rebound, and what a great shot he made. What a special moment for him and for our team, because we’ve been through so many of those games where other teams have made that shot, it was nice for us and for him to be able to make that play that won us the game. You could see the emotion from our whole team when that shot went in. It was great to see. (Junior forward) Melvin Tabb had a huge impact on the game in the second half. We had gotten molly-whopped by their post players in the first half. (Bulls junior forward) Javon McCrea (32 points, 15 rebounds, 8 blocks) is a special player. I don’t know if he’s the MVP of the league, that’s probably somebody from Akron or Ohio, but he’s probably the toughest guy to guard in the league for us. We needed somebody to step in and play well. Melvin has not performed the way we need him to perform and has really gotten into my doghouse because of that, but at halftime we were sort of searching for answers. We put Melvin in to start the second half and he really provided a spark for us. In the second half when we played zone our activity level was at a really high level. In the first half we played some zone and we were just standing around, and when you’re not active in the zone it’s easy to pick apart. We did a much better job in the second half with our activity and were able to force some turnovers, and we made big plays. (KSU senior guard) Randal Holt (career-high 28 points) made big plays and made big free throws, (junior forward) Darren Goodson made some big shots when we needed them as part of the comeback. We had 21 offensive rebounds. To me they’re always one of the best rebounding teams in the league. It was just our guys’ will and desire and toughness that they played with, which is what got us over the hump in this game. Just a gritty performance to end the month of February. Now we head into March, which for a basketball player, coach and fan this is the most exciting time of the year.”
ON ONGOING ADJUSTMENTS TO THE ROTATION: “I want to try to get these young guys some time. (Freshman forward Khaliq Spicer) has played more minutes in league play this year than (junior forward) Mark Henniger did all of last year. I want to try to get him some minutes, I want to try to get (freshman forward) Chris Ortiz some minutes, because I think they need it for their development. But at the same time I need them to play well when they’re in, more on the defensive and rebounding end and just playing hard. I put them in (in the first half) because we had some foul trouble, and I didn’t think Darren and (Henniger) were playing well defensively — their post players had 24 points at halftime. To be honest I didn’t want to play Melvin based on his production and his performance in recent games. But (Spicer and Ortiz) didn’t help us in this game, didn’t play as hard as I need them to play, so we gave Melvin a chance and he responded. (Sophomore guard Devareaux Manley) and Bryson have earned the right to be solidly in the rotation and (freshman guard Kellon Thomas) plays some backup point, but the rest of it is by committee. With what Melvin did last game he’s gonna play again, and if he continues to perform and play as hard as he did and with as much passion as he did he’ll continue to play. If he goes back to playing the way he had been playing, which is just being out there … it’s gonna be game-by-game and how you’re playing and what you’re doing while you’re out there.”
NEXT GAME: The Flashes (16-12, 6-7 MAC) will visit Miami (8-18, 3-10 MAC) on Saturday at 3 p.m.
— Allen Moff/R-C