August 17, 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...]

Cleveland State’s Gary Waters gets seven-year extension

Cleveland State University continues to build toward the future, erecting buildings by the day. Helping provide a little more certainty on the road to come, the Division I program opted to extend men’s basketball coach Gary Waters for seven more years, keeping him with the Vikings through the 2018-19 season, the Associated Press reports.

With the season set to tip off on Friday, the Vikings will look to maintain their status as a prominent mid-major program. Waters has led the Vikings to the postseason in four of the past five seasons. Cleveland State has had four 20-plus-win seasons and won two Horizon League championships (2009, 2011) under Waters, named the league’s top coach in 2008. He took a Cleveland State program – led by guard Cedric Jackson and forward J’Nathan Bullock —  to its second NCAA tournament in 2009, when they upset the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first round.

Potentially even more telling: Per the AP, of the 19 seniors who have come through Cleveland State’s program with Waters in charge, all have graduated.

“I am excited about the commitment that Cleveland State has made to me and my family,” Waters said. “With this vote of confidence, it will allow me to basically finish out my career here at Cleveland State. I love Cleveland and I love Cleveland State University and it’s a marriage made in heaven. I look forward to the challenges and goals we will set to continue to make this a very successful program.”

[Related: While We’re Waiting…The New Look CSU Vikings]

Cleveland State Earns NIT Bid, Set to Face Stanford

With the brackets set for the men’s NCAA championship tournament, the Cleveland State Vikings (22-10) earned a bid for the nation’s other tournament — the National Invitational Tournament.

The 32-team NIT features a handful of teams considered to be snubs for the former tournament, this season setting Washington, Tennessee, Seton Hall and Arizona as the four No. 1 seeds. The Gary Waters-led CSU team will head west to lock up in a first-round pairing against Standford’s Cardinal. A win over Stanford would set the Vikings against the winner of Ole Miss and Illinois State. 

“I am so happy for the young men in our program because they have been given the opportunity to play in the postseason,” Waters said. “This team has played hard throughout the season and played against some of the best teams in the country. This group is very deserving of receiving a postseason bid and I thank the NIT selection committee for the honor.”

This is the seventh postseason appearance for the Vikings in program history with CSU owning a 3-2 record in two NCAA appearances and a 3-4 mark during four trips to the NIT.

Akron University and the University of Dayton round out the rest of the Ohio-based schools that will take part in the 2012 NIT. 

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

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...]

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...]

Killer Loss Puts CSU Vikings Behind Eight-Ball

If Gary Waters was told that Norris Cole and Tre Harmon would combine for 49 points, he’d ask, “where do I sign up?” If Gary Waters was told that he would get 13 unexpected points off the bench from SG Josh McCoy, he’d be beyond thrilled.

Waters would assume that with those contributions, his team would end up on the winning side of the coin. Instead, his front court was completely worked over and the team once again was killed on the glass, causing a devastating 87-83 home loss to Milwaukee. Its just the second time the Vikings have lost at the Wolstein Center this season.

And they couldn’t have had worse timing.

The loss sends CSU into a tailspin, which could ultimately result in the Vikings going from hosting and grabbing the top seed in the Horizon League tournament to third place. I [Read more...]

Its Go Time For The Vikings

It’s make or break time for the Cleveland State Men’s Basketball team.

With just two games left in the regular season, the Vikings have put themselves in a position to win the Horizon League outright, something that didn’t seem possible two weeks ago. If you haven’t been following, lets recap.

Cleveland State has been on top of the league most of the year, yet their two, two-game losing streaks came at the most in-opportune times. They started 4-0 in the league and threatened to run away with things early, but then came the losses at Butler and at Valparaiso, which brought them back to the pack. Meanwhile, the more CSU would win, deeper that pack would become. Between Valpo, Butler, Wright State, Milwaukee, and at times Detroit, its been a gauntlet. There have been no easy-outs in this league. Just ask Butler, who currently sits 1/2 game behind CSU. Their loss at Youngstown State may be the killer to their season and what costs them hosting the conference tournament. [Read more...]

Dual Performance – Montgomery and Cole Charge CSU To Sole Possesion of Horizon League Lead

I am proud to say I was one of the 4,400 plus that was in attendance last night at the Wolstein Center to watch the best and most well coached team our city has to offer. Yes folks, I am talking about your Cleveland State Vikings who excited the crowd all night during their 76-65 win over Valparaiso, the team that entered only a half game behind them for first place in the Horizon League.

It was the first of a two game homestand that would make or break the chances for a regular season title and hosting the Conference Tournament in early March. [Read more...]

Cleveland State Takes Two: Keeps Pace in Horizon League

As we’ve said before, the Horizon League in 2011 is a minefield. Seemingly on any night, any team can jump up and bite you for an unexpected loss. That is why this past weekend was so important for the Cleveland State Vikings. They returned home after a three-game road trip for two games against teams jockeying for upper tier position in the standings. First was Detroit, followed by Wright State.

The UDM Titans boast one of the best starting fives in the league and have a ton of talent. They landed the league’s first McDonald’s All-American straight out of High School, Ray McCallum Jr, along with a couple of high major transfers that have turned them into a tough out. The Vikings knew how pivotal this game was and turned up the heat defensively. [Read more...]

WFNY Exclusive: Cleveland State’s Gary Waters Discusses Brown’s Status, Cole’s Future and the NCAA Tourney

There is a lot of losing going on around Cleveland lately, and we – as sports fans in this town - could all do ourselves a collective favor by turning some attention towards Gary Waters and his CSU Vikings Hoop Squad.

To say they’re on a tear would be putting it lightly.  Through sixteen games, the Vikings’ record reads 15-1 (4-0 within the Horizon League), and they are heading to Hinkle Field House for a game against the team who lost to Duke in the NCAA finals last season.

Whether they win that one at Butler or not, the national attention on the Vikings has been generated across the college basketball landscape.  Recent (January 2nd) RPI rankings had the Vikings at No. 27 overall, and they have been ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Major Polls for several weeks. Both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Polls have noticed as well, placing the Vikes at Nos. 37 and 38, respectively.

A win on Friday could vault Cleveland State into the Top 25, but the winning hasn’t been an accident, per head coach Gary Waters, who was kind enough to take some time with WFNY this week. Per Waters, it is a result of a commitment to be better, made by his team this past summer. [Read more...]

CSU Vikings Continue To Roll Opponents

While the Browns were being disgraced by the Steelers and the Cavs were being rolled by the Bulls and the Mavericks, the Cleveland State Vikings spent their days leading up to the New Year by pounding two different conference opponents into submission. Both Horizon League Chicago schools, Loyola and Illinois-Chicago left the Wolstein Center battered, bruised, and impressed by CSU’s overall game.

Last Thursday, Loyola was overwhelmed by a balanced Vikings attack. Four CSU starters were in double figures, led by Center Aaron Pogue, who is rising into one of the best big men in the Horizon League. Point Guard Norris Cole, who took a season low nine shots (hit four of them), kept feeding the beast in the post all game long and the Ramblers couldn’t stop him. Pogue finished with a double-double – 16 points and 12 rebounds. After the 73-55 win, he was brimming with confidence. [Read more...]

It’s Cedric: Former Viking to Fill PG Void

cedric-jacksonYesterday, Rick wrote a piece examining the options at PG to fill the void created by injuries to Mo Williams and Delonte West.  The seriousness of Delonte’s finger injury is still unknown.  In the interim, the Cavs, due to the broken finger, have ruled him out of tonight’s challenging match-up against the Thunder and categorized him day-to-day going forward.  That specific injury status is particularly nebulous and cause for anxiety in some instances as David Halberstam articulated in Breaks of the Game where Bill Walton’s distaste for the possibly misleading day-to-day status was evident.  Delonte is obviously a different case in a different time.  He is one of the toughest players on the team and in the league when it comes to playing with pain.  Cavs fans, however, should not expect to see him on the floor for at least the next two games with the potential for an extended hiatus.

Rick wrote that immediate help would most likely be sought in the form of a 10 day contract for a worthy D-leaguer.  He linked to D-League authority Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside.  In his piece examining the Cavs’ options for a D league PG, Schroeder nailed his analysis and prediction and called former CSU Viking Cedric Jackson a darkhorse among the group of potential call ups.  Many Cavs fans should be familiar with Jackson’s work on the collegiate level at CSU.  He was the sparkplug leader of the Viking team last year that upset Butler in the Horizon Conference tournament and dominated fourth seeded Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament.  Jackson was tremendous all season but his play in that Wake game garnered national attention.  How has he been doing so far at the pro level?

[Read more...]

The Top 10 Moments/Stories in Cleveland Sports in 2009

This is part two in our ten-part series chronicling the top 10 moments/stories in Cleveland sports during the 2009 Calendar year. We started yesterday with The Indians 10 run comeback win over Tampa Bay, and we will continue with today’s selection.

clevelandstatebasketball2009Champs!#9 Cleveland State’s run to the NCAA Tournament and their upset over fourth seeded Wake Forest

1986 was a long, long time ago for followers of the Cleveland State basketball program. The success of Kevin Mackey’s “Run and Stun” teams produced a new building in the Convocation Center, now known as the Wolstein Center. The thought was that the program would take off after the run of great teams that always competed for the AMCU-8 title. However, that success never sustained.

Cleveland State had become an after-thought under Mike Boyd, Rollie Massimino, and Mike Garland. When former Kent State and Rutgers head coach Gary Waters took over, he vowed to have the Vikings back at the top of the Horizon League. He followed through on his promise in 2009. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… LeBron’s Football Shot, Gary Waters, and Braylon Drops Another One

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at

LeBron James drains a full-court shot…with a football. [The Baseline]

[Read more...]

CSU’s Bullock Aims to be the Next Antonio Gates

jnathanbullockIn 2002, the mid-major Kent State Golden Flashes wreaked havoc on plenty of brackets by making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.  A big reason for this success was the play of forward Antonio Gates.  At 6’4″, 260 pounds, Gates had a relatively successful career at the collegiate basketball level by averaging 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds between his one season at Eastern Michigan and the two that followed at Kent State.  He ultimately made First Team All-MAC as a Senior.

The rest of Gates’ “career” is now well known as he switched sports by signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent.  Since then, he has broken the NFL record for tight end touchdowns within a season with 13 and has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, three times as a First Team All-Pro.

And now with his senior basketball season behind him, Cleveland State’s J’Nathan Bullock has a decision to make.  He will widely be considered too small to succeed at the next level on the hardwood.  But as it stands right now, Bullock would like to follow Gates’ lead and give it a shot in the NFL.

[Read more...]

Cleveland State Recap: The Dream Ends In a Hail of Bricks

MooreArizona 71, Cleveland State 57 (box

During Friday night’s upset blowout over fourth-seeded Wake Forest, the Cleveland State Vikings came out a house of fire, jumping to a 9-0 lead and knocking down the three ball from all angles. The same recipe would have to be used if the Vikings were going to pull off back to back stunners and advance to the Sweet 16.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans crashed in a hail of misfires and bricks. Arizona’s full court pressure and suffocating zone never allowed the Viking shooters to get into any sort of rhythm in the 71-57 Wildcat win. Shooting has been the bugaboo for this tough, physical group all year long. It is one thing to shoot 3-23 from deep against Youngstown State. It’s quite another to do it against an extremely athletic and talented Arizona club, that boasts three potential NBA first round picks (Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Nic Wise). [Read more...]