Calvin Mattheis | Ohio Athletics

Kaminski and the ‘Cats Face Kent State

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One year ago the Ohio Bobcats were in the exact same position. Win and you’re one game away from the NCAA Tournament. Lose and you go home.

Last year, the Bobcats went home after an 88-74 loss to the Buffalo Bulls.

This year they face the Kent State Golden Flashes for a spot in the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

After a 67-66 victory over Toledo, Kenny Kaminski got one step closer to accomplishing a goal he has had since he got to Athens.

“Jaaron [Simmons] and I came in three years ago with a dream and we had promised each other that we’re going to do everything we possibly can to get this group of guys in the NCAA tournament,” Kaminski said. “We kind of had some struggle there throughout the game and faced some adversity but at the end of the day, Jaaron was able to find me the ball and I was able to make a big shot.”

Kaminski hit a game winner with seven seconds remaining to blast Ohio past the Rockets on Thursday.

Kaminski has often said that coming to Ohio has done wonders for him. Kaminski transferred to Ohio from Michigan State in Aug of 2014. During his time, Kaminski has grown as a player and as a person. Earlier in the year head coach Saul Phillips said Kaminski has had a “total transformation from the time he got here [to Athens].”

“It’s always been preached to me to trust the process,” Kaminski said on Thursday. “For a long time there I didn’t really believe in myself at one point in my career, and when I came to Ohio everything changed for me. I’ve got a big passion for the game again and everything for me has really taken off.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to put in a situation like that and get the outcome that we did. It’s really just trust process and just truly believe in myself,” Kaminski said.

Standing between Ohio and a spot in the MAC Championship are the Kent State Golden Flashes. Ohio and Kent State split their two matchups during the regular season, with both teams winning on their home floor.

“It’s going to be tough. They’re very good. [They have a] tremendous point guard,” Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said on Thursday. “I think Jason Carter, he didn’t win freshman of the year, which I was sort of surprised, he’s had an incredible, incredible season and they’ve got some great guys around them.”

Kent State knocked off two-time defending champion Buffalo Thursday evening, 68-65. Kent State is the best rebounding team in the conference. They are number one in rebounding margin by 1.5 per game and average 15 offensive rebounds per game. When these two teams met on Feb. 25, Kent State out rebounded Ohio 44-36. First Team All-MAC player Jimmy Hall had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Golden Flashes have won seven of their past eight games. The key to their success has been the stellar play of Deon Edwin. Against Ohio, Edwin had 20 points and 18 rebounds. Edwin had 14 points and 11 rebounds against Buffalo on Thursday. Despite the quick turnaround Hall, Edwin and the Golden Flashes will be ready for the Bobcats.

“You know what, our guys are excited to play and to get an opportunity to play tomorrow night in the MAC semifinals it’s great for our guys and I’m really happy for them and you know what we’re going to give our best effort as we did tonight and we’ll see what happens,” Senderoff said.