The Flashes then proceeded to go 4-6 in February, a month that is historically one of their best each season.
However, I’m here again to tell you this: don’t give up on the Flashes. Why?
Well, why not?
Kent State hasn’t been consistent all year. Three-game losing streaks followed back-to-back wins. Big home games turned into clunkers in terms out entertainment, performance and overall effort made by the team. There’s been a disconnect on this team that we haven’t seen in more than a decade.
Yet, at this point, why not believe in the Flashes?
Despite poor performances at home against MAC East champion Buffalo and mediocre, middling Miami (alliteration unintended), Kent State finally showed it cared at least a little on Friday in Akron. The Flashes ultimately fell to the rival Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena, but it took 59 minutes and 50 seconds for UA to finally put them away.
This is encouraging for a team that has lost to perennial conference bottom-feeders at home, a place where they have historically dominated.
When I chatted with Devin Crosby, Kent State deputy athletic director, on the phone Friday afternoon, he made a great point: this team plays much, much better on the road than it does at home.
It’s rare for a college basketball team to thrive away from its home floor—after all, when at home, the fans are supporting you with hopes for success and victory—but this KSU team seems to enjoy being the underdog, the villain, the nobody-believed-in-us role.
Monday night, the ninth-seed Flashes open the MAC Tournament against eighth-seed Miami in Oxford, a place where they’ve struggled, winning just 15 of 50 games. More numbers are working against the Flashes:
I’m not saying Kent State will win the conference tournament. But the Flashes are working with a unique set of circumstances—which essentially every other school in America would view as disadvantageous—that actually may play in favor of Kent State. Even if Crosby and I were the only ones to think it might happen, the Flashes are in the tournament as of Monday, and are playing on the road, where they play some of their best basketball.
A quick look at the schedule will show you that Kent State is 5-8 on the road this season—a losing record. But I can assure you, the Flashes have shown their greatest sense of urgency (outside of the home win over Akron) when away from home. Also, the Flashes haven’t lost to Miami in the tournament since 1998.
This team is not your father’s—or, 30-something-year-old KSU alum and co-worker’s – Flashes team. But that’s OK.
If Kent State beats Miami Monday, the Flashes will face the winner of No. 12 Ball State vs. No. 5 Ohio. On the road. In Cleveland.
The Flashes recently ruined Ohio’s Senior Day in a 75-61 win over the Bobcats. On the road. In Athens.
Noticing a trend here?
Looking past the second round for future opponents and potential matchups is a waste of time. Too many factors go into play, and for the Flashes, they need to focus on Monday night’s game first and foremost.
As unorthodox as they may seem, the cards may fall in favor of Kent State this week.
The KSU faithful could be making multiple trips north for MAC Madness.