August 26, 2014

Cleveland State Preview: Season Tips Off With Waters Getting A Seven-Year Extension

Since the salad days of Kevin Mackey, the “Run and Stun,” and Ken “The Mouse ” McFadden, there were some seriously lean times for the Cleveland State Men’s College Basketball team. From Mike Boyd to the disastrous Rollie Massimino hire to Mike Garland, the program was headed in the wrong direction.

Enter Gary Waters.

The former head coach at Kent State came back to Ohio after a failed stint at Rutgers, never an easy place to win in the loaded Big East. Waters arrived in Cleveland in 2006 with a plan to get the Vikings back to the top of the Horizon League and he has done just that. He enters his seventh season piloting the Vikes, where he has gone 122-82. Most importantly, Waters has taken CSU to four postseason appearances, including the school’s second NCAA Tournament bid where they upset fourth-seeded Wake Forest in the first round.

All of this has added up to Waters getting extended by the school late yesterday for seven more years. [Read more...]

The “Real” Ohio Gets Michigan, Bucks Stay East, Akron/CSU Get NIT Invites

Ah, we have arrived at March Madness. It is my favorite time of year. Now the country’s eyes are focused on a sport I follow intently all year long. I have a lot of friends that are of the “call me in March” group who love to parachute in for the tournament, but that is all right with me. Come one, come all, to the best event in all of sports.

Locally, we have lots to look forward to and to watch, starting as early as Tuesday night:

Ohio State – The Buckeyes, coming off a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten finals, look to have regained some of their mojo over the past three weeks. The selection committee placed them as the #2 seed in the East Region, where Syracuse sits on top. Thursday in Pittsburgh, OSU will face 15th seeded Loyola (MD), winners of the MAAC Tournament. The thing they are best known for is their media darling coach Jimmy Patsos, who you will hear about 100 times this week as the “former bartender turned coach.” He was one of Gary Williams’s top assistants at Maryland for years before finally getting the gig at Loyola eight years ago. [Read more...]

Opportunity Lost: Cleveland State’s Big Dance Dreams Shattered in Indiana

It wasn’t supposed to end that way. A season that started with a shocking 71-58 road win at #7 Vanderbilt, rode a 12-2 start to a 20-4 Horizon League lead, crashed and burned on a Valparaiso Saturday night.

In the semifinals of the Horizon League tournament, the second-seeded Cleveland State Vikings faced the Detroit Titans, who finished tied for third in the league and earned the  third seed thanks to a sweep of Butler. UDM came into Saturday’s tilt needing two victories just to get the opportunity to face the Vikings, the recipient of a double-bye. The draw look auspicious for CSU, considering that nemesis Butler and top seeded Valparaiso were on the other half of the draw. The Vikings had already beaten Detroit both times they played in the regular season, including a 77-64 win just a week ago. Gary Waters’s club was also welcoming back Senior leader SF D’Aundray Brown, their second leading scorer and best defensive player.

It all looked so good on paper. The Vikings had floundered down the stretch, but seemed to gotten their acts together with back to back home wins to close out the regular season. With Brown back and four seniors ready to take their last shot at the NCAA Tournament, the Vikings looked like they were ready to roll. [Read more...]

Vikings Handle Their Business, Now Just Two Wins Away From the Big Dance

When we last left our Cleveland State Vikings, they were losers of five straight. This reeling bunch, which once stared down the Horizon League title and then fell completely off the table, had two games left to make things somewhat right. On Thursday night, they faced a pseudo-double bye chance elimination game with Detroit (sporting the same 10-6 conference mark as CSU). The Titans came to Cleveland on a five-game winning streak. Still without their Senior leader and defensive stopper D’Aundray Brown, it was put up or shut up time for the Vikes.

Like they have so many times in the Gary Waters era, Cleveland State rose to the occasion and leaned on their defense in the second half, erasing a six point halftime deficit on its way to a 77-64 win over the talented Titans. CSU held Detroit to just five second half field goals (on 23 shots) and 29% shooting for the game. The duo of Anton Grady and Aaron Pogue did a great job holding UDM Center Eli Holman to just six points on 3-10 shooting, which was key during the second half surge. Offensively Senior Tre Harmon’s 16 led four Vikings in double figures.

The Freshman duo of Marlin Mason and Charles Lee came up huge in a time when their team needed it the most.  Mason, who had played more than 18 minutes just once and never scored more than six points in a game, exploded for 15 points in 32 minutes.  “That’s the best I’ve ever played, defensively and offensively,” he said.  Lee came off the bench to add 12 points and five assists, and was subsequently moved into the starting lineup for the next game. They really were the difference makers in this one. [Read more...]

Can The Vikings “Right The Ship” In Time For March?

What has happened to the Cleveland State Vikings?

Once the darlings of the Horizon League, the wheels have come off of the proverbial wagon and Head Coach Gary Waters has been left scratching his head, wondering how things turned so quickly towards the negative.

The Vikes were 20-4, 10-2 in the conference and battling it out with Valparaiso for league supremacy. Then Valpo came to town on February 9th for the ultimate showdown.  The winner would be in control their own destiny for the regular season title as well as the inside track to host the Conference Tournament. Instead of coming out hyped on their home floor where they have been so good during the Waters era, CSU laid a major egg, being blown out in front of their biggest crowd of the season. The loss gave Valpo essentially a two-game lead on Cleveland State, since they had now beaten them twice.

Little did we know that was just going to be the beginning of the Vikings swoon. [Read more...]

Vikings Collapsing At The Wrong Time

This one really hurt.

The Cleveland State men’s basketball team was riding high, sitting atop the Horizon League in control of their own destiny to host the conference tournament just two short weeks ago. Fast forward to last night, and not only has the league lead been taken away from them completely, but all of a sudden the all important double-bye in the tournament is on its way to disappearing.

Coming off of a pair of ill-timed home losses to league leading Valparaiso and Butler last week, the Vikings travelled to Wisconsin for the tough battle against Milwaukee. The Panthers, a team that CSU has caught, jumped, and pounded at the Wolstein Center 83-57 on January 22nd, took it to the Vikings and handed them their third straight loss last night 86-84. It wasn’t just that they lost, it was how the game ended. [Read more...]

Valpo Stuns Cleveland State; Vikings Left Searching For Answers

It was only their biggest game of the year to date. With the potential to take sole control of first place in the Horizon League, controlling their own destiny the rest of the way, the Cleveland State Vikings came out of the tunnel for their showdown with Valparaiso seemingly ready. Their largest crowd of the year (4,521) was ready. Everyone was on their feet as the ball went in their air…. and just like that, everything went, splat.

Valpo took control from the opening tip and never looked back. In the blink of an eye, the Vikings were down 17-1. While the Crusaders were hitting everything, the home team couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (unofficial count had CSU missing NINE first half layups, en route to a 25% shooting evening). Even with star Center Kevin Van Wijk going down with an injury just seven minutes into the game, Valpo just took it to Cleveland State. Outside bomber Ryan Broekoff exploded for 24 points and reserve forward Richie Edwards added 20. For the first time in ages, the Vikings were not the aggressor; their opponent was. [Read more...]

CSU Weekend Wrapup: Vikes Sweep Wisconsin Schools and Stay Atop Horizon League

It was a huge weekend for the Cleveland State Vikings basketball team. They entered Friday night’s home tilt with Green Bay in a three-way tie for the Horizon League lead with Valparaiso and the team they would be facing Sunday, Milwaukee. A sweep of the Wisconsin schools would be of the utmost importance, especially at home, considering the Vikings have already lost an in-conference home game against the upstart Youngstown State Penguins.

Before the first place showdown with the Panthers, CSU had to make sure they didn’t overlook Green Bay on Friday.

They didn’t.

In front of a National TV audience on ESPNU for the second straight week, the Vikings controlled the game and took down the fighting Phoenix 78-68. The first six minutes were a back and forth struggle, but after back to back threes by Senior Tre Harmon, the Vikings never looked back. They led by six at the half. [Read more...]

CSU Vikings Leave Indiana With a Split

Horizon League play is always done in pairs. Each team has a travelling partner and the norm is to play two games on the road or at home over a three day period. During the Gary Waters era at Cleveland State, the toughest road trip for any of the League foes is always the Indiana combo.

Friday night, the then-4-1 Vikings headed to take on their nemesis, Butler, at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in front of a National TV audience. As you know, the Bulldogs have been the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, making the last two National Championship games under the tutelage of wunderkind coach Brad Stevens. Since Waters took over in 2006, his teams are just 2-10 against Butler, with just one of those wins coming in Indy – the 2009 Horizon League title game.

So when the Vikes took the floor Friday night, they had plenty of payback on their mind. They lost three times to Butler last season and have the better team in 2012. They came out smokin from the start and never looked back in a hard-fought, 76-69 win, to put them in a first place tie at 5-1 with Milwaukee. The game was highly entertaining and the usually raucous Hinkle crowd was quieted early and often by the stifling Vikings defense.

The Senior duo of Tre Harmon and Tim Kamcyzc showed early that this one was going to be different. Harmon hit two threes and Kamczyc added seven quick points as CSU raced out to an 18-4 lead five minutes in. As they usually do, Butler creeped back ti within four points at 26-22 and re-energized the home crowd. They were silenced on the next trip down with a triple from the most unlikely of sources, 6-9 sophomore PF Luda Ndaye. It was his first three of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. At the half, CSU was clinging to a two-point lead and Butler seemed to carry the momentum. [Read more...]

Norris Cole Goes Off in Second Career Contest

From the bowels of The Wolstein Center to the bright lights near Biscayne Bay, former Cleveland State University guard Norris Cole has already made a name for himself within the National Basketball Association.  Cole, the 28th overall selection in the most recent NBA Draft and former bodily foundation for a killer high-top fade, provided his team, the Miami Heat, with 20 points off of the bench in a crucial seven-point win over the Boston Celtics, a win that took his team to 2-0 in the very young 2011-12 season.

Benefiting largely from a hot hand and being surrounded by three future Hall of Famers trading against a zone defense, Cole provided the Heat with 14 fourth-quarter points (nine of which came in the final three minutes), several of which came in crucial moments, helping his employer avoid what would have been a huge collapse against an Eastern Conference rival. [Read more...]

CSU Wins Two

It wasn’t pretty, but the Cleveland State Vikings continued their winning ways over the weekend. With the start of their usual Thursday/Saturday schedule, Gary Waters’s crew took on two undervalued competitors and came away with two hard fought wins, to improve themselves to 10-1, a third of the way through their season. Their lone blemish remains the head-scratching loss to a very average Hofstra club on a neutral floor in Rhode Island.

Thursday night’s road battle with Robert Morris was a close call, with the Vikings nursing a three point halftime lead on a buzzer-beating 30-footer from Senior SG Tre Harmon. The stretched their lead to a game-high 16 points just under 10 minutes left on a Jeremy Montgomery triple. But then the wheels almost fell completely off the wagon. The streaky shooting Vikes went cold and Robert Morris, picked to finish near the top of the NEC, came storming back. With less than a minute to go, the Colonials used a 19-4 run to cut the lead to just one. But CSU bared down and hit the free throws that counted.

Another Senior, Tim Kamczyz, hit five of his six free throws to ice another road win, 72-68, for Waters. The big lead vanished for two reasons, according to Waters – too many deep shots and too many turnovers (19). Of the 40 CSU field goal attempts – 19 of them were from the land of three. They hit seven of them, with Harmon leading the way with four. He also led the team with 24 points; only Montgomery joined him in double figures with 10. They always tough defense forced 21 Robert Morris turnovers. [Read more...]

Buckeyes beat a bad team and Cleveland State gets conference win over Detroit

Ohio State played the University of Texas Pan-American today.  The Broncs, as opposed to the Broncos, are not a good basketball team.

After beating Victory University in late November by 19 points, the school first founded in 1927 as Edinburgh College has now fallen all the way to 2-7 on this 2011-12 season.  But enough about the tenth largest university in Texas who came up short against the Sullinger-less Ohio State Buckeyes 64-35 earlier today in the Columbus.

What’s important is that OSU moves to 8-0 with the win today, and now readies the ship for a collision with TD’s Kansas Jayhawks.

Evan Ravenal got his first start of his career today, and finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes of work.   Deshaun Thomas also scored eleven, and that many guys got into the game for Thad Matta’s group on the day.

Sullinger is expected back for the trip down to Kansas on December 10th, and as of today the Jayhawks are ranked 14th in the nation. [Read more...]

TD’s Ten For Tuesday

It’s Tuesday…. The Browns are bad and not interesting….The Cavs season still hasn’t started and we still don’t know when free agency and training camp will begin…. The Indians offseason is in full swing, but no games are being played….Sure, their is plenty of things Buckeye to chat about, but this is a slow time right now….so here are 10 quick thoughts on a Tuesday afternoon to chew on.

1. I’m no Ohio State fan, but if you are, you have to look back on the 2011 season and realize this was a GREAT thing for your program. Sure, you were dragged through the mud, you lost your legendary coach, and you finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, but it all happened for a reason and you will come out ahead and better for it.  [Read more...]

Cleveland State Beats Kent State 57-53 Before A Packed House

The SEC or Big East didn’t need to send teams like Vanderbilt or West Virginia to Northeast Ohio last night in order to create that big-time basketball atmosphere.

The Cleveland State Vikings and Kent State Golden Flashes took care of that by themselves.  Besides, they beat those two teams already anyways.

As a result of those early signature wins, Cleveland State came in ranked 26th in the AP Poll while the votes Kent State received had them slotted at 37th.  Both collectively recognized as two of the nation’s top-40 college basketball teams, both hailing from Northeast Ohio.

6,327 basketball fans filed in as a result last night.  The largest crowd for a non-conference game at Kent State in forty years. [Read more...]

Cleveland State Beats 7th Ranked Vanderbilt On Road To Open Season

At 2pm yesterday I shifted my attention away from the Cleveland Browns and over to the Cleveland State Vikings on ESPNU.  Two hours later, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my decision.  All Gary Waters’ team did yesterday was completely dominate the nation’s 7th ranked Vanderbilt Commodores in a wire-to-wire beat-down that was never in question, and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon as a result.

CSU led Vandy by as many as 16 in the first half, and with under one minute to go in the game they found themselves up 15 before making it a final at 71-58.  The Nashville crowd was shocked into silence for most of the afternoon, and left the arena stunned, but you should be neither shocked nor surprised by this result.  The Cleveland State Vikings are absolutely for real this season. They will be ranked in top-25 shortly, and stay there for most of the year. [Read more...]

NBA Draft: On Norris Cole, and where he ends up

The last Cleveland State Viking to be drafted into the NBA was Clinton Smith in 1986.  He was selected by the Golden State Warriors, but not until the 4th pick of the 5th round.  

Twenty-five years later Norris Cole looks to be the next, but he only has two rounds to work with.   

Before Smith, Cleveland State products Darren Tillis and Franklin Edwards were each taken by the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers as 1st round picks in the 1981 and 1982 Drafts respectively.  If Cole sneaks into the first round on June 23rd, that would make twenty-nine years in between 1st round picks for the Vikes.   

Paul Roba was also taken in that 1981 Draft, but not until the 9th round.  Three other CSU hoopers were drafted into the NBA before 1981, and all three were taken after round number two.  So what Norris Cole is about to do doesn’t happen too often.  

Where Cole ends up being selected is anyone’s guess at this point, but he’s most definitely in the mix.  The consensus appears that he’ll hear his name called somewhere early in round number two, however late in the first round is not totally out of the question. [Read more...]

WFNY Bracket Challenge – Winning

Charlie Sheen is in town tonight and some people are pretending like this whole deal wasn’t played out two days after it started. Similarly, that championship game was played out about two minutes in. When a buzzer-beating three pointer to end the first half represents 15% of your previous point total, you know the game is an absolute abhorrent snoozer.  But, as bad as the game was, it served its true purposes. It has allowed WFNY to give out a couple of prizes to the best pickers/guessers in our Yahoo! bracket competition.  Here is your final top ten.

[Read more...]

WFNY Bracket Challenge – Ohio State Out

Well, I am sure a lot of WFNYers are significantly less interested in the tourney now that the Buckeyes have been Calipari’d out of the game.  Still, the contest goes on for the Tribe tickets and Carlos Santana jersey.  As we await opening day on Friday, that should be enough to keep your eyes glued to the competition.

[Read more...]

WFNY Bracket Challenge – Sweet 16 Abounds

“Nobody cares about your bracket!” That has commonly been bandied about on Twitter, but it just isn’t true right here right now on this post.  This is where we absolutely care about your bracket.  We care so much that we have assigned not one, but two prizes for winners.  We still haven’t figured out something to give to the last place finisher (who also completely filled out the brackets) but we probably will.

I am happy to say that the bonus point structure is also causing a bit of chaos. The leader right now has gotten 34 of 48 picks correct, while second place has gotten 36 correct.  One of the two tied for third has 38 correct.  Picking those underdogs correctly pays!  Even I finally pulled myself out of the basement with a VCU win last night.  Make no mistake, I still have no chance at winning, but it still feels good to be in the 200s rather than the 300s.

So Long, Norris

While we were all basking in the glory of an Ohio State NCAA Tournament blowout weekend at the Q, the Cleveland State Vikings were taking the floor a short distance away at the Wolstein Center for the second round of the NIT. The opponent was the College of Charleston, coached by former Georgia Tech legend Bobby Cremins. Two more wins would put CSU into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York and a huge opportunity for the Viking program.

All year long, CSU has done it with their pressure defense. They play this way because their best quality is their quickness. What they didn’t have was size and depth. If I’d have told Head Coach Gary Waters that his team would have won the battle of the boards 37-25 and his bench would outscore its opponents 8-3, he’d have said “where do I sign up.” Even Center Aaron Pogue, the king of all foul trouble, only committed two and scored 13 points while snagging 14 boards. [Read more...]