December 17, 2008

Singled out

For all the credit fans give Kent State senior Al Fisher, for all the accolades that seem to fall into his corner--all of them necessary because he's a great player--it doesn't take head coach Geno Ford long to highlight one player.

And it isn't Fisher.

Take away his off-court issues. Take away his knack for violating team rules, which haven't been huge issues so far, and people would probably notice that if Kent State wants to go anywhere in the 2009 Mid-American Conference season it's Chris Singletary that will lead them.

Monday night against Youngstown State, Singletary didn't lead the team in points and even had seven turnovers. But, at 14 points, he not only was six behind Fisher, but he recorded his 11th straight game scoring in double figures.

Sounds consistent to me.

And that's what Kent State fans have come to expect. In all honesty, can anyone really remember the last time Singletary didn't play well? Not fantastic, or out of this world, as Fisher has done, but well.

Every game its Singletary who seems to be the most forthright player on the court. If you need a shot, or someone to drive to the hole deep into the shot the clock, well in the words of Jerry West, "Give me the damn ball and lets go," is what Singletary seems to do.

And then it comes back to Ford as he sits in the press conference. His team has just ended a five game losing streak. The Golden Flashes have played horribly on defense, something each player and coach admits, but when asked about the things Singletary does on the court that people don't realize, Ford lights up.

"He's the best passer we have," he doesn't hesitate to say. On a team with Fisher, senior Jordan Mincy, junior Mike McKee and even junior Tyree Evans, it's Singletary who is the best passer.

It also doesn't take long to notice that when a team runs a press on the Flashes, as they have done a lot since last season, it's Singletary who usually has the ball in his hands.

Ford went on to say that Singletary is the one guy that other coaches ask about after games. In fact, Ford said nearly every coach the Flashes have faced, Big Ten and even Big XII coaches have praised him.

And that's the only problem with the Chicago native.

If Singletary had never been in trouble off the court, if the only noise he made was screaming after a dunk, he would undoubtedly be the most loved Kent State athlete on campus. This guy is the first person to cheer on his team when he's on the bench, the first person to congratulate a player after a shot and the person who sticks up for his teammates.

But Kent State fans, always behind him when he's in trouble--but never too proud of him--treat him like uncle Morty who sells cars on a cheap lot across from the Check'n Go.

Maybe that's the only way it can be. But if Singletary can continue his streak of double-figure scoring games and Kent State somehow wins MAC games, is Singletary going to be the Ray Lewis on campus? The athlete who has been in trouble, but has overcome to garner the love of his fans and the hatred of rivals.

Well, Ray Lewis won a Super Bowl with a team quarterbacked by Trent Dilfer. Let's see if Singletary can do the same with this young MAC squad in January. Oh by the way, it doesn't hurt that he has Fisher too.

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