Kent State On Top Of MAC

By Josh Herwitt - October 18, 2007

MAC Media Day hit Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Thursday, and Kent State was named this year's preseason favorite to win the conference.

The Golden Flashes, which play in the MAC's East Division, finished last season at 21-11 but missed the NCAA Tournament with a home loss to cross-town rival Akron in its final regular season game.

Now Kent State welcomes back its entire starting lineup, including preseason All-MAC selection Mike Scott. The 6-foot-7 forward started in all 32 games for the Golden Flashes while averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as an All-MAC Honorable Mention.

While Scott will be expected to lead KSU at both ends of the floor night in and night out, Haminn Quaintance could also play into the mix for the Golden Flashes after posting 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and finishing among the top 15 players in the conference in field goal percentage.

Meanwhile, Miami was nipping at Kent State's heels in the polling, finishing just one vote shy of the Golden Flashes for second place. The RedHawks, after all, ran through the MAC Tournament, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament last season with only an 18-15 record and a second-place finish in the East Division. It was the program's 17th appearance in the Big Dance, and don't think Miami coach Charlie Coles doesn't want to see No. 18 happen this spring. The 12th-year coach returns three starters from last year, with one of them being two-time All-MAC selection Tim Pollitz, who ranked third in the conference in scoring (18.1 ppg) while finishing second in field goal percentage (.629).

Ohio took third in the balloting with the voters well aware that the Bobcats will have to replace two starters and nearly half of their scoring production after a 19-13 season. But head coach Tim O'Shea does return All-MAC players Jerome Tillman (14.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Leon Williams (14.4 ppg, 8,8 rpg).

Following Ohio in the votes was Akron, which won its first East Division championship last year since 1998, and Buffalo, a team that struggled over the course of last season with a 12-19 record.

In the West Division, Western Michigan claimed the top spot with 23 first-place votes, as the Broncos return a dynamic trio in Second Team All-MAC center Joe Reitz (13.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg), Honorable Mention All-MAC guard Shawntes Gary (10.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and MAC Freshman of the Year David Kool (11.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg). Reitz, now a senior, could become the school's all-time leading scorer after ending last season in ninth with 1, 234 points.

Toledo did receive six first-place votes, but the Rockets weren't nearly as close as Miami with their second-place standing in the West. Two starters return for first-year head coach Louis Orr, most importantly junior Kashif Payne, Toledo's leading scorer last year (7.6 ppg) and the 2006-07 MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Central Michigan followed, scooping up 131 votes, including three first-place ones, to take third after struggling last season with a 13-18 record and posting a dismal 4-24 mark the year before. The Chippewas, however, have reason to be excited this season as First Team All-MAC guard Giordan Watson makes his way back to Mount Pleasant following a junior campaign that saw him rank second in scoring (18.8) in the conference and sixth in assists (4.16).

Here's how the voting broke down for both divisions:

East Division
1. Kent State (10) 147
2. Miami (9) 146
3. Ohio (8) 131
4. Akron (5) 128
5. Buffalo 52
6. Bowling Green 47

West Division
1. Western Michigan (23) 173
2. Toledo (16) 144
3. Central Michigan (3) 131
4. Eastern Michigan 92
5. Northern Illinois 58
6. Ball State 53

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 08:08 PM on October 18, 2007

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