Previews are hard.
It's easy for us to look at what has happened in previous games, identify a trend, and use it to look forward to an upcoming game. But to actually predict the game's outcome? That's downright impossible. Sometimes you're right, but picking sports game is like being a weatherman. Which, naturally, is the reason Kent State-Western Michigan was played on February 21 and not February 2. We'll postpone the game because the weather's going to be terrible! And then there's an equally horrific snowstorm-slash-wintry mix the night before, and the roads are still slushy and gushy. Predictions are hard.
But what I didn't see coming was Kent State squeezing out a victory, although I can believe the outcome infinitely more in the way it was done: a clutch basket at the end of a close game where WMU did everything right.
While the game was close for most of the game, WMU did finish out the first half with seven points in 39 seconds to lead by as much. Flenard Whitfield went nuts with 16 first-half points. But a seven-point lead isn't enough. It never is. Because that's when the Golden Guards finally arrived:
Much of that second half was Rodriquez Sherman, sure, but a notable omission in the preview, Michael Porrini, led everybody in that half with 15 points, including the game-winning basket with one second left on the clock, and he also came up with the steal on the last-gasp WMU inbounds pass. But it came to that point because — and here's where a truism in the preview came true — the third and fourth options for WMU fell through as the game clock waned:
1st half points:
Flenard Whitfield/Demetrius Ward: 23
Rest of team: 18
2nd half points:
Rest of team: 11
So there's the crux of what happened. Whitfield and Ward are only going to carry you so far, and while the rest of the team is quite young, they're not always going to play clutch MAC basketball. But they will in future years, you'd like to hope.
And right now, their backs are probably in need of a good chiropractin' as they remain tied for first with Ball State in the West. Meanwhile, Kent State sneaks back up with a share of first in the East with Miami. Four games are left for everyone, and KSU has three of them at home. Advantage: fake gold avians.