Game #9-562: Kent State Golden Flashes at Loyola (Md.) GreyhoundsMarch 24, 2013 3:00 pm
Over the past two seasons, my opinion on ghostbracket games has changed. Initially, and before I began writing for this site, I was in favor of tournaments such as the CBI and CIT. I felt that they rewarded teams for a successful season, gave teams extra practices to give younger players more experience, and served as a final hurrah for the graduating seniors.
Then, for my final write-up of the 800 Games Project last season, I attended a CIT opening round tournament game at American University, a game that had an announced attendance of 256. After attending that game, my opinion of these tournaments changed. I began to feel that it isn't much of a reward to play in front of a tiny crowd that has stopped showing interest in your season, after you already lost in your conference tournament. And do you really want your senior's final memory of college basketball to be playing in front of that small of a crowd, in a game shown on AXS TV (a station that I had never heard of prior to this March, and that is not a part of my cable package) if it is televised at all? I knew that several ghostbracket games were coming to the DC area, and when I learned that Kent State, a school with a soft spot in my heart, was coming to Baltimore to play Loyola, I made the drive to Reitz Arena to give them a second chance.
Regardless of anyone's opinion of the game, there were two memorable moments for two different players, both of which came towards the very end, and both involved walk-on players from both teams. The first came for Greyhounds junior guard Chido Onyiuke, who scored the first points of his collegiate career. After making the team as a freshman and playing sparingly, he redshirted his sophomore year. With the game in hand for the Greyhounds, Onyiuke had his number called by Coach Patsos, and the crowd went nuts following his basket. Even if he does not score in his senior season, he will be able to say he scored a basket during his college career.
The second memorable moment came for Kent State senior walk-on Brian Frank. After playing his freshman year below the black-line at the College of Wooster, he transferred to Kent State, where his father had taken the job as Provost of the University. He walked on to the Golden Flashes basketball team, and appeared in 21 games throughout his career. Unlike Onyiuke, he did score during his career, although his season high was three points. He would get the chance to play one final time in a Kent State uniform, and in a postseason tournament to boot. While he did not score and it ended in a loss, I am sure that it is a memory that will remain with him.
Am I still positive that ghostbracket games are a good idea? Well, the announced attendance at the game was 747. But for Frank and Onyiuke, the memory of this game will live on forever, not matter what happens during the rest of their lives. The number of people that saw it happen did not matter. What mattered is that is happened.