KENT--In his short time at Kent State junior transfer point guard Michael Porrini has quickly garnered a reputation for being a highly active player,
both offensively and defensively. He brought his aggressiveness to unforeseen
heights Sunday night in a 56-51 win over South Florida.
Porrini was the catalyst of several fast breaks through his suffocating defensive
play and scored seven of Kent State's final 10 points to lead the Golden
Flashes to their 14th consecutive home win.
"I felt like I had to be more aggressive," Porrini said. "For
us to go, I have to go. When I go, Justin Greene goes and vice versa.
We just lost two in a row, and coach [Geno] Ford preaches we don't lose
two in a row, so I had to do whatever I had to do to get the win."
Porrini, either by crashing the boards or challenging passing lanes, disrupted
nearly every second-half possession for South Florida. He was credited with
two steals but several of KSU's 10 team steals were a direct result of
his high-intensity play.
Holding onto a one-point lead with three minutes remaining, Kent State's
physical point guard took over on the other end of the floor.
Porrini corralled an air ball from junior Carlton Guyton, fought
his way inside and hit the put-back. A minute later he hit a 15-foot jumper
along the baseline as the shot clock wound down to open the game up a bit at
With 54 seconds left and that same score still standing, Porrini pulled up
for an uncharacteristic 3-pointer and drained it to extend the lead to six.
"Mike had the big shot on the baseline, and then the [3-pointer] was
the dagger," Ford said. "We milked the whole shot clock down. That's
a huge shot. When that went in we had control of the game."
Ford has called Porrini a "pit bull" in the past, and it was his
defensive toughness that salvaged Kent State's sluggish start to the
game. After falling behind, Ford turned to a smaller line-up and put his 6-foot-2
point guard in the defensive paint.
"Mike guarding the four-man changed the game in the first half," Ford
said. "Mike's an animal down there physically. He's strong,
he's tough and he's quick. He was giving up a lot of inches but
when you beat guys to spots, it's an effective way of guarding them."
Porrini finished with a game-high 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds,
three assists and three steals.
Greene notched 15 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three blocks, three
steals and two assists.
Each probably played the most complete game of the season individually, but
neither Porrini nor Greene, however, started the game due to an on-floor altercation
between the two during Kent State's loss to Florida this past Thursday.
Ford sat both the first couple of minutes in an effort to bring them back
down to Earth.
"I'm not dumb, I know they're two of our best players. This
is the thing of coaching--you can't be afraid to coach your best players," Ford
said. "I was just trying to get them refocused. I give those kids a lot
of credit for not sulking, not pouting, because to tell you the truth that's
the other option when you get yanked--you can point fingers, but they looked
within themselves and were really good tonight."
Porrini was in a similar situation once in high school, and said he then had
a career night--so he and Greene were ready for the challenge.
"Me and Justin both knew what we had to do when we came in," Porrini
said. "I respect coach for doing that a lot, and it opened our eyes."
The entire Kent State family played Sunday night with a heavy heart after
the passing of Saint Crawford, a dear friend to the basketball program and
"[Crawford] was a good friend of mine, and our kids wanted to win the
game and get the game ball for his family," Ford said. "Those things
put in perspective what's important in life. It's certainly a rough
time for a lot of us around here."
"Tonight, my thoughts and prayers go out to Saint's family. We
know there are a lot more people that are struggling worse than we are," Porrini
said. "We also wanted to win it for us, the university and the fans who
came out in the snow and cheered us on."
KSU held a moment of silence for Crawford, and also celebrated the 2001-02
team that made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament with the return of
Stan Heath, who coached that team and is now the head coach at USF.
Following a video montage of that magical run through the tournament, Heath
received a warm standing ovation.
"They didn't have to do that and I appreciate their recognition
of that special year," Heath said. "This was a special place for
me. I cheer for Kent. They're my second favorite team."
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