Christian impressive at Kent State

Updated: December 21, 2006, 3:54 PM ET
Earlier this year, I wrote about some outstanding coaches that you might not know about. One of them was Kent State's Jim Christian. On Tuesday, I took a busman's holiday and watched Kent State play Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. When you watch Christian's team play, you can see just how good of a coach he really is. His team is disciplined and well drilled, and he runs a really good offense. Christian's offensive sets are well designed, and he is fully engaged in calling plays from the sidelines as the game progresses. Kent State runs a lot of multiple option set plays that allow his best players to be put into a position to make a play. He uses run out ballscreens, downscreens, staggers, flat screens, handoffs and basket cuts, and incorporates it into a style that allows a lot of drive and kick opportunities.

In talking to Christian, it is clear that he gets it. I have been surprised that someone hasn't plucked Christian out of Kent State. It is not that he wants to leave, but I thought that someone would have seen what seems to me so obvious: This guy really can coach. He played for Ralph Willard in high school and coached under him at Pitt. He also spent time on Herb Sendek's staff at Miami (Ohio). Christian knows the game.

Kent State is a really good job, and Christian has carried on the tradition established by Gary Waters. The Golden Flashes have won 20 or more games for eight straight years, one of just 11 programs to have done that. Since 1999, Kent State has appeared in four NCAA tournaments (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2006) and four NIT's (2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005). Christian has taken Kent State to three NITs and one NCAA Tournament in his four years. For a mid-major, to make the NIT when falling short of an NCAA berth is a compliment to the strength of the program. The Flashes are good this year and capable of beating people, but should be even better next year, when Christian has some really fine prospects coming in to blend in with the returnees. Kent State is a good team -- and getting better.