Bonded by Basketball

The Kent State University men’s basketball program is a family with a deep bond that closely ties its players and coaches together. In a piece by WKYC-TV in Cleveland that aired Feb. 24, morning news anchor Dave Chudowsky likens head coach Rob Senderoff as “father” of the program and Jim Christian as the “grandfather.”

In his 20th season with the Golden Flashes, 12 as head coach, Senderoff is the winningest head coach in Kent State history. This year, Kent State brought back Christian to serve as assistant athletic director, basketball administration. The winningest coach in Mid-American Conference (MAC) history, Christian has also served as head coach of the Golden Flashes from 2002-2008 and then went on to serve as head coach at Texas Christian University, Ohio University and Boston College. 

Senderoff was Christian’s first hire in 2002 to be his assistant coach. Now 20 years later, Senderoff has brought Christian back on his coaching staff.

“This is such a special place for all of us,” Christian said about Kent State.

Senderoff and Christian have been friends for 30 years, talking almost every day since they met.

Once a fiery head coach who was demanding and tough, Christian has been told he is different now.

“Oh, totally different guy,” Julian Sullinger told WKYC-TV regarding Christian. “I mean, he’s so laid back, man, you know I didn’t know he smiled.”

Now associate head coach of the team, Sullinger played for the Golden Flashes under Christian. The family of Flashes also includes assistant coaches Randal Holt and Jon Fleming, who both played for Senderoff.

“This all becomes about people, relationships and long-term relationships, and that is kind of what this story is all about,” Christian said.

The Kent State men’s basketball team has two home games this week – Tuesday against Ohio University and Friday against the University of Akron – to close out the regular season. The 2023 MAC Men’s Basketball Championship runs March 9-11 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2023 04:19 PM
Updated: Friday, March 3, 2023 03:54 PM