Just a couple of quick notes on MAC basketball and the race that’s ahead…
With Ohio returning everybody from a Sweet 16 team and Akron returning almost everybody from a team that won the MAC regular season, it shaped up, again, as a two-team race. That the bottom of the league is really, really bad does nothing to change that perception.
Both have started the season 3-0 in conference play.
Today brings Kent State’s chance to make it a three-team race. In fact, the next week presents Kent State a chance to take over the race.
The Golden Flashes (11-6, 2-1) host Akron today, visit Bowling Green on Wednesday and then host Ohio next Saturday. That will be former Kent State coach Jim Christian’s first homecoming trip and the first time he’s faced current Kent State coach Rob Senderoff. Christian and Senderoff are so close that each served as best man in the other’s wedding.
Back to today, though, Akron has won eight in a row and probably holds the edge in overall talent and big-game experience.
“Akron’s size is a big concern,” Senderoff said. “Their depth is a big concern. They have a great point guard. They have a number of guys who can shoot the basketball. They have a good coach. Basically, that covers just about every aspect of basketball. They are good at everything, so we are going to have to play very well.
“We are going to have to take care of the basketball. We are going to have to rebound the basketball. We are going to have to limit their transition baskets and make them play in the half court. Those are the three things we are going to have to do. It’s not as if a lot of teams are able to do those things against them, and that’s the reason they are 12-4. They are good at those three things.”
In Athens, Ohio will look to handle its business against Toledo. The Bobcats are 33-2 in their last 35 home games and appear to have their confidence back after a December rut against some pretty good non-conference competition.
Their success starts with getting tempo, sharing the ball and scoring in bunches. With D.J. Cooper leading the way, Ohio leads the nation in assists
Cooper has been MAC East Player of the Week in three of the last four weeks and this season has become the MAC’s all-time assist leader and moved to 23rd all-time on the NCAA assists list.
Ohio plays at Akron on Feb. 2 in their first of two meetings. The first really big game on the MAC schedule is today, and it should tell us a lot about Kent State’s chances of hanging around the top of the standings.