Monday, March 10, 2008

To the MAC Champions!

I just wanted to post my congratulations to the Kent State men's basketball team on their thrilling and heart-stopping 61-58 win over Akron on March 9 that clinched the outright MAC East and overall MAC (Mid-American Conference) titles for Kent State. Had they lost, Akron, Western Michigan, and Kent State would've all finished in a three-way tie for the overall conference title (with Kent and Akron sharing the East), but Kent State (as I previously mentioned) already had clinched the number one seed in the MAC Tournament by virtue of their victories over Akron (January 23 in Kent) and Western Michigan. Western Michigan, in turn, defeated Akron during the season, which gave Kent the tie-breaker in the event that Akron had won the rematch yesterday. And they almost did!

For 38 minutes, Kent was really schooling Akron with stunning ease. The entire game Kent did their thing and Akron was just uncharacteristically out of sync and shooting terribly. All of the sudden, they clamped down and roared back from a 12-point deficit with under two minutes remaining to tie it at 58 with about nine seconds left. They were aided by a few Kent State free-throw misses and a few turnovers that the Zips all coverted into scores, not to mention they finally hit two three-pointers at the end (prior to those that had shot something like 1-for-21 from three point range). I really couldn't believe what I was seeing, but then Al Fisher dribbled down the court with and from the corner hit a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left and Akron could not get a shot off before the clock expired. I guess a win is a win, but WHEW! I give Akron a lot of credit. Like I said I was stunned at how poorly they played almost the entire game, especially at their gym on Senior night. I expected Akron to make a comeback, but certainly not how or when they did.

Not only is winning the MAC regular season title cool, but beating Akron is always enjoyable, but especially so this year. Every once and awhile I read the blog on the Zips on the Akron Beacon-Journal's website I've blogged about it before (after the January 23 game in Kent...see my MySpace blog entry "National Anthem part 2" at The guy that writes it obviously HATES Kent State (his latest blog even said so). I expect disdain from a rival, but I also expect respect and praise when it is deserved. Sure, I can't STAND the Akron Zips, but that doesn't mean that everything that comes out of the University of Akron is bad or that I only wish bad things on them or fail to recognize the accomplishments they do achieve as a team. It would be one thing if his blog was a personal blog like mine, but his is published by a newspaper with a reputation (albeit, a failing one), so one would expect some level of professionalism and a degree of objectivity since the Beacon-Journal's readership includes a large amount of Kent State fans and alumni. I don't expect the blog to be neutral, of course, but you gotta give props where they are earned.

The guy that writes this delights in anything bad that shows up in the news associated with Kent State and is quick to report on it and present it, while he ignores or is slow to recognize anything positive attached to KSU. The latest news was that former KSU football player James Harrison, who was honored at a recent halftime presentation at Kent, was arrested on charges of assault. Just one day before the January 23 meeting in Kent, former KSU basketball star Eric Thomas, whose number was retired and hangning in the rafters of the MAC Center, was arrested on charges of rape in Ravenna. Two other football players were recently arrested for theft I believe. The Akron blogger just has to blog about this like it's a black eye for Kent and that somehow this reflects on our athletic program. Funny thing is, James Harrison (who is actually a native of Akron!) hasn't played for Kent State since the 2002 season, the same as Eric Thomas. Sorry, Kent State has nothing to do with how these players live their personal lives, especially SIX YEARS after they graduated. Of the two current players who were arrested, one was suspended immediately and the other had transferred by the time he was arrested. In other words, one was gone and the other was properly dealt with by the administration. It would be one thing if these players did such things WHILE they were playing for the Flashes (like basketball player Chris Singletary's DUI earlier this season) and the University did nothing about it, but KSU did do something about each thing. Even with Eric Thomas, while his trial is ongoing, his jersey has been removed from the rafters of the MAC Center. Some may consider this an act of judgement on the part of KSU, but I see it as KSU trying to stay away from being attached in any way or to draw any more attention to it. If he's found not guilty, I expect to see the jersey go back up.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that the Akron Zips athletics website,, is much more balanced and fair than the Beacon-Journal's Zips blog and I've found it very informative as well. How sad is that? No wonder people are so suspect of journalists!

I do have to add this little extra here from the game. I found out about this from Facebook groups and those who attended the game in Akron. The AK-Rowdies (Akron student section) felt the need to make a big sign for the visiting Kent State students in reference to the few who threw debris near the end of the January 23 game in Kent. The sign was supposed to say "we don't throw stuff," but, well, just look at the picture. Now which school can't read and can't write? It was only fitting after the AK-Rowdies snuck a sign into our student section at the January 23rd game that said "we suck." As one Kent State fan put it, "we don't have to sneak signs in, we just let them humiliate themselves." I also heard once the sign was displayed, it was met with a "hooked on phon-ics" chant from the KSU students. Priceless.

Can't read, can't write, CAN'T BEAT KENT STATE!

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