The Kent State Golden Flashes (16-16 , 7-11 MAC) had a really tough year on all fronts. Rob Senderoff finished 16-16 in his third year as the head coach, in the first time the Flashes haven't finished over .500 since '98, and missing the postseason for only the second time in that same span.
I would argue that there were two high points this season. The first was Kent States win on December 21st against the College of Charleston. That win put the Flashes at 9-2 on the season, and gave fans a reason to be optimistic headed into Christmas break. That 9-2 start included a win against Temple, a two point loss to Seton Hall, and a three game sweep in the Coaches vs. Cancer classic at home against Western Carolina, USC Upstate, and Niagara.
The second high point of the season was the home win against Akron. Darren Goodson may have struggled this year, but boy did he leave his mark on Wagon Wheel history. In front of a raucous Kent State crowd, with the time winding down, Goodson appeared to just throw the ball up well behind the three point line, and it somehow banked off the glass and in with 1.6 seconds left. For Kent State fans, it was a magical moment, and for Akron fans, it was tragic. Regardless, nobody that was in attendance at that game will forget it any time soon.
KENT STATE vs. AKRON Game-Winner (via GoldenFlashesTV)
There were so many low points through out the season that it is hard to just select a few. One was the four game losing streak in January against Buffalo, Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois. It seemed like the season was over but the Flashes broke that streak with the stunning upset at home against Akron. After that game however it was SOF (Same Ol' Flashes), with an overtime loss at Central Michigan and a drubbing in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The second biggest low point of the season was the closing stretch. Kent State lost five of its final six games, including a tough four point loss on the road to Akron, sandwiched between a beating on senior night to Miami and a first round MAC tournament exit to Miami again.
This is more interesting than it may seem because there are a lot of rumors circulating around the program about certain players transferring. From what I have heard, it sounds like a done deal that Tyler Scott, K.K Simmons, and Devin Carter will be transferring. The rumors about Simmons began to swirl during the middle of the season that he was going to be on his way out. From what I understand he may not even be attending classes still, but that is unconfirmed. Carter and Scott saw very limited minutes, so if it is does become confirmed that either of them leave, it would come as a shock to nobody.
As for graduations, the Flashes lose Darren Goodson and Mark Henniger. Both men have been serious contributors for the Flashes the last couple years, and will be missed. Unfortunately both men had down years in what was a down season for the Flashes. Goodson played forward, but really just didn't have the height, or shot discipline needed to be really good. Henniger on the other hand played really well some games and was just lost other games. Both guys were very inconsistent in their senior campaigns. Despite their inconsistencies, both men's leadership and experience will be greatly missed.
Kent State returns almost everyone pending the transfers. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. The Flashes have a lot of shooters, all with a ton of potential, but unless one of them can get consistent and be a leader, it will be a bigger mess than this year. Among the contenders to be the top scorer will be Derek Jackson, Dev Manley, Kellon Thomas, and Kris Brewer.
The key big men returning for the Flashes are Khaliq Spicer, Chris Ortiz and Marquiez Lawrence. I have been big on Spicer's size and athleticism, but his inability to finish around the rim, aside from just throwing it down, could cost him a starting position. Ortiz was a pleasant surprise this year. The 6'8 sophomore out of Brooklyn, NY has to be in consideration to start. If he improves as much as last year, he will eat up a ton of minutes. Lawrence didn't see a lot of playing time, but at 6'8, the young forward probably will see a serious uptake in minutes.
Jimmy Hall, a transfer from Hofstra, has had a lot of hype around him. Hall is 6'7 forward out of Brooklyn, and averaged almost a double-double at Hofstra. Hall will be a redshirt sophomore next year. Blake Vedder also sat out this year due to transfer rules. Vedder is a 7'4 center from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Although a walk-on, Vedder's freakish size could let him become a scholarship player in his final year of eligibility where he could see limited minutes.
The Flashes also bring in three freshman 6'5 JUCO forward Gary Akbar, 6'8 forward Raasean Davis, and 6'6 guard Rosel Hurley. All three men could see the floor for the Flashes this upcoming year. Akbar fits the Goodson type mold as sort of a swingman. Davis is big post body that will replenish the depleted frontcourt. Hurley is a big athletic guard, who seems to have huge upside. With the depth the flashes have at guard, Hurley might end up redshirting next year.
Season Grade: D
I hate to venture into the F column with this one, only because the Flashes finished 16-16, which some programs (Ball State) would have considered an A type season. In the grand scheme of things for Kent State, this was a really bad season. With a lot of new talent coming in next year, the Flashes have to improve, or there could be a serious shake up in the program.