Hal would have loved Kinsey

January 13, 2019

Hal would have been proud.

It’s just a shame the late Greer wasn’t here to enjoy Marshall University’s thrilling 70-69 come-from-behind victory over Western Kentucky Saturday night before 7,687 ecstatic fans in the Cam Henderson Center.

But I’m pretty sure I know who Greer would have been impressed with the most.

Hurryin’ Hal would have loved Taevion Kinsey.

Marshall’s 6-foot-5 true freshman is Greer’s kind of player. That’s because — just like Greer — Kinsey did it all against Western Kentucky.

Kinsey scored a game-high 23 points on superb 9-for-14 shooting, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and was the only player in the game that played all 40 minutes.

And get this.

Kinsey was making his starting debut in the Henderson Center. Anybody see any stage fright? Me neither.

And don’t even bother asking Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury.

“I thought the difference in the game was Kinsey,” he said during a postgame news conference. “Somewhere in the game you knew (Jon) Elmore was going to exert his will on the game. And Elmore stepped up and made some huge shots.

“But Kinsey was the difference in the game.”

In fact, Kinsey was the best true freshman on the floor.

Yes, I said it.

On this night, in this arena, Kinsey was better than Western Kentucky’s 6-11, 245-pound true freshman center Charles Bassey, who is supposed to be a one-and-done and a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Don’t get me wrong, Bassey was really good. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and threw down goodness only knows how many slam dunks.

Yet, Kinsey had as many offensive rebounds as Bassey did.

That speaks volumes.

So did Elmore.

“Words can’t describe how good Kinsey was tonight,” said the Herd’s star senior point guard, who finished with 21 points, five assists and three steals. “Conference USA better be on the lookout the next few years for Taevion.”

At one point, Kinsey took over the game. With 7:22 remaining, Elmore tossed a lob pass to Kinsey for a showtime, high-wire slam dunk. Then, 33 seconds later, Kinsey made a post move, scored, got fouled and hit the free throw.

That cut Western Kentucky’s lead to 63-58.

Next, Kinsey made another post move with 6:35 remaining and made the layup.

The true freshman had scored Marshall’s last seven points and gotten the Herd back into the game. He wasn’t done, either. With only 2:53 remaining, Kinsey scored a layup on a pass from Elmore to cut the Hilltoppers’ lead to 67-65.

That set the stage for Marshall’s Jannson Williams to score the Herd’s final five points for the win.

“It was a fight, it was a fight,” said Kinsey. “It was a great team win. It was a great fight. I knew it would be a fight.”

“Kinsey was extremely good,” said Marshall coach Danny D’Antoni. “Kinsey is more athletic than anyone they had. Thank goodness, he’s going to be here for three more years.

“As long as he’s playing, I’ll keep coaching.”

It was the perfect comment to end a truly perfect evening of basketball.

This one was for you, Hal.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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