March 14, 2009

Season-ending loss takes its toll

After sitting through 40 minutes of what could be Kent State's final game this season at the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Cleveland on Thursday, I ate some frozen chocolate cake instead of going to the press conference.

I'm trying to shed my college weight, so it was a poor choice for me to partake in the generous hospitality the MAC offered me. But it was better than sitting through the most depressing thing that happens at the end of a disappointing and early end to a basketball season.

I saw it last season in Omaha, when the Flashes were picked by many to beat UNLV and advance in the NCAA tourney. It didn't happen and I sat in a press conference where all parties were shocked and had deer-in-the-headlights eyes. Jim Christian had his bags packed, Haminn "Q" Quaintance was lost mentally and everyone in that press room was sad. So no, I didn't go to the press conference.

I saw the game. I saw the missed opportunities, such as the ball flying in the air and junior Mike McKee and senior Jordan Mincy couldn't come down with it. I saw senior Al Fisher being dogged all afternoon and trying desperately to win the game. I saw Mincy playing his butt off in the final three minutes. I also saw a team that was missing a few pieces, just as they have all year.

I didn't need coach Geno Ford's comments to tell me that Kent State played hard, missed opportunities and got in foul trouble. I saw Fisher drape his jersey over his face as he no doubt shed a few tears now that his college career was likely over. It was a moment that needed no further explanation.

Obviously, people wanted opinions on the foul issues, which in hindsight was even between both teams, although junior Chris Singletary picking up those fouls early was a bit surprising--because he played as if he didn't know what the foul situation was. He's Chris Singletary, him walking into a MAC Chess Club Tournament will draw extra attention from referees.

Unfair, but true.

No, I didn't need that sick joy of watching a player cry on the podium, if they did, because like I said, I was eating frozen chocolate cake with our photographer and a Kent State photographer/SID member. My fork even broke as I dug into the fudge cake.

Buffalo will move on and could walk away with the MAC crown. Who knows what will happen in a conference that is so evenly bad that it makes every conference game suspenseful and entertaining? The only thing that is certain about the conference is that the MAC hospitality will offer stale coffee, Pepsi products, salad and cake that haven't been defrosted yet.

As for Kent State, the Golden Flashes will be seeking another post-season tournament. They will be looking to keep Fisher, Mincy and Julian Sulinger's season and careers going. And throughout the possible journey, there will likely be more frozen cake and stale coffee, but it just won't have the same texture or feel of a regular March dessert.

But then again, I don't care. Just as long as Mincy, Fisher and the rest of the Flashes continue to play hard, where ever they go, I will gladly have a piece of cake and eat it too at these tournaments.

Here's to another winning season Golden Flashes, as I tip my Diet Pepsi in the air with chocolate on my face.

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