|Final - 2.21.2012||1||2||Total|
|Kent St. Golden Flashes (19-8, 8-5 MAC)||22||38||60|
|Miami RedHawks (9-17, 5-8 MAC)||27||35||62|
Call it a surprise or call it nostalgia. You could say it was a bit of both. Wally Szczerbiak was in the building, and for some that's all that mattered. Even though they had good teams (and tournament teams) since then, the defining moment for Miami basketball had to be Wally World's trek into the Sweet 16, beating Washington and Utah. There have been remarkable MAC moments in the NCAAs, but that team was unknowingly the last team in a while to make it to the tournament as an at-large team. Since then it has been a one-bid league.
Julian Mavunga may not be at the same level as Szczerbiak, but he might be the only player since that 1999 team who has shown incredible bursts and ability to make plays when needed. Exhibit A (through Z): With the game tied, the play call was essentially a Mavunga iso. Maybe they've done that before, but I never saw that.
He acted as a point forward, driving all the way into the paint and drew a foul on a shot, as questionable a foul it may have been. He sank both free throws with a couple seconds left on the clock and Justin Greene had to heave a halfcourt shot in desperate response. Mavunga had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Quinten Rollins also had a solid night, despite being erratic at times, to finish with 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
You could tell Greene still wasn't himself after sitting out the game vs. Charleston, but he still was able to make a presence and finish with 11 points and six rebounds in just 27 minutes. When they needed a bucket to tie the game in the final minute, they didn't hesitate, went right to him in the post, and he delivered. Most of the scoring was done by way of guard play, however: Carlton Guyton scored 13 and Randal Holt (RANDAL HOLT!) added 15.
And that's what Miami does. They get in your way. Take any sport, any moment in history. When they're not dominant they're downright ornery. It's only their ninth win of the year but KSU suffered a kidney shot in the MAC East, because now it opens the door for OHIO to secure a No. 2 berth and BGSU to win their way into a fourth-place finish and first-round bye.
And don't tell Miami they're not playing for anything. A 5-8 record at this point is good for eighth in the MAC, and wouldn't they like to give Mavunga one more home game to display those skills? Because not unlike Wally World, they're going to miss this fellow when he's gone.