Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vikings try to spoil Rick Pitino’s milestone

Cleveland State could be short-handed for tonight's game at No. 6 Louisville (7 ET, ESPN3).

Sophomore guard Andre Yates injured his left wrist in CSU's 87-83 overtime loss to Savannah State on Saturday and is "questionable."

Vikings head coach Gary Waters said on his radio show Monday that Yates' wrist is not broken, but they don't know if he tore any ligaments. If he has torn ligaments and needs surgery, Yates could be out "four to six weeks."

CSU is already playing without starting point guard Charlie Lee, who is suspended for the first six games for "a violation of team rules." Lee's suspension ends Sunday.

The Vikings blew a 13-point second half lead against SSU.

With 23 seconds left, CSU was holding on to a 77-72 lead, but couldn't make their free throws down the stretch. Marlin Mason and Anton Grady each split a pair at the charity stripe, while SSU's Jarvis Jenkins knocked down two three-pointers to send the game into overtime.

"The last five minutes were brutal," Waters said at his media gathering on Monday. "We didn't make our free throws at the end and you got to make your free throws."

The upset-minded Vikings, who are a 22-point underdog against UL, will try to spoil Rick Pitino's career milestone day as the 30-year veteran coach is going for career-win No. 700.

"They are a different team then years past," Waters said. "They go about eight deep and play a lot more zone. They got an inside presence and good guard play. We got our work cut out."

UL is 68-9 all-time at the KFC Yum! Center and have won 30 straight home games against nonconference opponents and 31 in a row there against unranked foes.

"I like to play the best so I know what we are," Waters said.

If the Vikings are going to have a chance to pull off the upset they will have to be ready to defend against Pitino's uptempo style of play.

The Cardinals' offense is averaging 85.2 points per game and are outscoring opponents by an average of 35.2 points.

CSU is holding opponents to 66.8 points per game and 44.8 percent from the field.

A key for the Vikings will be to defend without fouling. CSU averages 22.75 fouls a game and are allowing 28.5 free throws a game.

"We got to understand this fouling situation," said Waters. "The officials are calling it like they did last year and really making a commitment to the hand checking rule."

In the loss to SSU, the Tigers went to the line 41 times, making 31, while CSU was 23-for-29.

In the loss to Iona, the Gaels attempted 37 free throws, making 22, while CSU was 9-for-13.

The Cardinals will be playing their third game in six days, while the Vikings are well-rested and haven't played a game since Saturday.

UL (4-0) crushed SSU on Monday, 87-26. The Tigers missed their first 23 shots from the field as the Cardinals built a 29-0 lead and never looked back.

"They press you into making errors and mistakes and they capitalize on your errors and mistakes,"  Waters said. "[Rick Pitino's] the best at it."

Pitino's full court press and their length caused SSU all kinds of problems as they turned it over 26 turnovers.

The Vikings will need to do a better job of handling the press. They turned it over 20 times against SSU.

"Against their press, we probably turned it over between five and eight times," said Waters. "One of the things we need to do a better job is attack it to score. In the last game, we didn't attack it to score, we just beat the press."

CSU also needs to get more production from its bench. The reserves only scored 11 points in the loss to SSU. Waters wants the bench to provide between 15-20 points a game.

"The one who has to help us is Vinny Zollo," said Waters. "He can make a difference for us."

Zollo went scoreless against the Tigers and is averaging 4.0 points in 10.5 minutes per game.

Four Cardinals are averaging double-figures, led by Montrezl Harrell (18 points and 7.8 rebounds). Shaker Heights native Terry Rozier is averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The others are Chris Jones (12.5 points) and Wayne Blackshear (12).

The Vikings are 5-14 against ranked teams under Waters - including CSU's lone win over a top-10 team came on Nov. 13, 2011 against No. 7 Vanderbilt (71-58).

Last year, CSU put a scare into No. 3 Kentucky - holding a 10-point lead with seven minutes left - but they couldn't close out the game and fell, 68-61.

However, only three players remain from last year's squad that faced Kentucky - Trey Lewis, Grady and Mason.

There are three things Waters wants to see from his young team: "I want to go in there and compete. I want to go in there and execute against the press and [the newcomers need to] trust the system."

Friday, November 21, 2014

CSU Basketball Notebook: Kaza Keane makes SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day

Cleveland State junior guard Kaza Keane's spectacular 3/4 court shot at the buzzer to end the first half against Jacksonville State on Wednesday was featured as one of ESPN's SportsCenter's Top 10 plays on Thursday morning.

Keane's 70-footer was ranked No. 9.

"I don't think that had much to do with me," said Keane, who had a game-high 13 points in CSU's 60-46 victory over the JSU Wednesday at the Wolstein Center. "I think it had a lot to do with god was just in my favor at that time."

The Illinois State transfer has been solid replacing Charlie Lee (suspension) in the starting line-up. In three games, Keane is averaging 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 34 minutes a game.

"A lot of people don't get second chances in life and coach gave me a second chance. So I don't want to let him down," said Keane.

Johnny football sighting:  Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel visited CSU's basketball team after Tuesday's practice and shot hoops with some of the players.

Next D'Aundray?: Freshman guard Terrell Hales was expected to red-shirt this season, but when Lee was suspended for the first six games for a violation of team rules, Hales was needed as an extra guard.

CSU head coach Gary Waters is so glad he decided not to red-shirt him.

The Detroit native grabbed six offensive rebounds against JSU and also had three steals in 18 minutes.

"He is a game possessioner. He will go get the ball for your team," said Waters. "When you find a guy who just doesn't care about [offense] and wants to get the ball, so you can shoot and score, that is a special guy. D'Aundray [Brown] was good at it, and [Terrell] has those same instincts."

Change of plans: German import Tim Hasbargen was also expected to red-shirt this season, but made his collegiate debut this week - playing 13 minutes against Tiffin and two minutes against JSU.

"The one thing I knew Tim would do is wouldn't hurt you when he got on the floor," Waters said after the CSU's 85-56 victory over Tiffin on Monday. "I thought he did a good job defensively and played good solid basketball."

Rogers signs: Three-star recruit Jeron "Budda" Rogers, the son of former NBA player Carlos Rogers, signed with the Vikings on Monday.

Rogers is a 6-foot-7 small forward from North Farmington High School in Michigan. He is rated the No. 6 overall prospect and No. 1 small forward in Michigan's 2015 class by Prep Hoops Michigan.

"Budda in my estimation is one of the top recruits in the Midwest," said Waters. "He can play the three or four, can shoot the ball well and defend.  He is a complete player who handles and passes the ball like a guard."

Waters said Rogers qualified last week.

"He may be a little bit better [then Junior Lomomba] because he can score, "said Waters. "He can shoot from the outside and also score from the inside. I think his upside is really high"

Rogers joins Jibri Blount and Rob Edwards in CSU's class of 2015.

"Rob's upside is just as high as [Jeron]. He has high-major athleticism," said Waters. "I love Jibri. There is not a better kid you will find and he is just as athletic as his dad."

Blount is the son of former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer, Mel Blount.

Waters said that they could still add another big for next season.

Forbes list: Former Viking Bryn Forbes (Michigan State) was forced into a starting role due to injuries. Waters was one of the viewers who tuned in to watch Tuesday's MSU-Duke game on ESPN.

"He hit some shots," said Waters.

Forbes, who transferred to MSU this summer to be closer to his family, had nine points against Duke. He was 3-for-8 from three-point range.

In three games (two starts), Forbes is averaging 7.3 points while shooting 31.8 percent from the field. He is 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) from three-point range.

Gary Waters radio show: The Gary Waters Radio Show returns to the airwaves beginning on Nov. 24. The one-hour call-in show, hosted by CSU play-by-play announcer, Al Pawlowski, airs between 7-8 p.m on WHK, AM-1420.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Postgame Press Conference vs. Jacksonville State

Video Courtesy of The Cleveland Leader

Cleveland State Basketball Highlights vs. Jacksonville State

Courtesy of Cleveland State athletics

Cleveland State 60, Jacksonville State 46: Vikings' defense devours Gamecocks

Cleveland State won its first Division I game of the season, knocking off Jacksonville State, 60-46, Wednesday night at the Wolstein Center in the opening game of the Global Sports Showcase.

The Vikings' (2-1) offense remains a work in progress as they struggled through a 20-for-50 (40 percent) shooting night from the field, including 6-of-19 from three-point range (31.6 percent).

"When I look at the stat sheet and see we shot 40 percent, that was an ugly game," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters.  "The only positive thing is I thought we played really tough defense. When you hold them to 35 percent and 20 percent from three, that is good defense."

CSU's defense was in mid-season form as they held the Gamecocks (0-3) to only 16 field goals and 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from three-point range.

It was a rough night for CSU's two all-league players as Trey Lewis and Anton Grady shot a combined 5-for-15, for only 18 points.

"The execution isn't there," said Waters. "I know part of it is that Charlie (Lee)'s not on the floor, but the others got to learn to get it right even though he's not on the floor."

Lewis, CSU's leading scorer at 15.5 points a game, only took four shots from the field and finished with six points.

"I think physically he was a little worn," Waters said about Lewis' struggles.

Lewis has been averaging a team-high 35.5 minutes per game through the first two games.

The upset-minded Gamecocks kept the game close for the first 12 minutes as CSU, a 13-point favorite, held a 22-19 lead with six minutes left.

CSU started off making eight of its first 24 shots (33.3 percent).

The Vikings would start to pull away as they clamped down on defense, holding JSU without a field goal for the final 6:20.

"Coach always emphasizes getting five stops in a roll," junior guard Kaza Keane said. "That's what we [did.] [We] went out and executed what coach said."

Keane closed the half with a 70-foot buzzer-beating 3-point basket that gave the Vikings a 34-21 lead at the half.

"I don't think that had much to do with me," said Keane, who had a game-high 13 points. "I think it had a lot to do with god was just in my favor at that time."

Junior forward Anton Grady scored eight of his 12 points in the first half. He was 3-for-5 from the field. Vinny Zollo came of the bench and scored all of his eight points in the opening period, knocking down a pair of three-pointers.

CSU's aggressive man-to-man defense held the Gamecocks to just seven field goals in the first 20 minutes.

The Vikings started the second half on a 19-11 run as Andre Yates, Keane and Marlin Mason all nailed three-pointers to extend the lead to 53-32 with nine minutes left.

Unfortunately, for the Vikings, they went through some more growing pains.

CSU went scoreless for the next four minutes as JSU went on a 10-0 run to cut it to 53-42, forcing Waters to put back the starters in. That would be the closest the Gamecocks would get for the rest of the game.

"The thing that was kind of disappointing was that we didn't finish again," said Waters. "That's killing me. The last game we missed 11 layups. This game, I went into the locker room and told them who missed a lay-up. Six hands went up. I know a couple of them did it twice. Add six shots to that, then now we're shooting about 50 percent."

After shooting 0-for-8 against Tiffin on Monday, Keane, an Illinois State transfer, was 5-for-10 against JSU.

"I was just trying to stay confidence,' said Keane. "After I had that day a lot of guys were trying to talk me up on the team and get me through that."

Mason contributed 10 points and eight rebounds for the Vikings.

DJ Felder led JSU with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Darion Rackley added 10.

Scary moment: With about 12 minutes left in the game, Grady "tweaked" his knee and stayed down on the court for several minutes. He eventually walked back to the locker room on his own.

Grady checked back in the game with 5:51 left.

"He said he was okay," said Waters. "I was trying not to play him for the rest of the game, but when they came back, he came to me and said: 'coach, I can play.' So I put him back in the game."

Next up: CSU travels to Savannah State Saturday for the second game of the Global Sports Showcase.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CSU Basketball Highlights vs. Tiffin

Courtesy of Cleveland State athletics

Anton Grady's Career Night Powers Cleveland State Past Tiffin

Anton Grady did it all in Cleveland State's 85-56 victory over Division II Tiffin Monday night at the Wolstein Center.

The junior forward from Cleveland Central Catholic had a career-high 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four steals. Grady also made one inspirational speech at half-time.

"He said we are going out in the second half and get the first five stops of the game," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters.

The speech most have inspired the Vikings as they came out more focused in the second half.

After struggling in the first half,  CSU (1-1) got stops on seven of their first eight defensive possessions of the second half, while the offense went on a 17-2 run to take a 37-31 halftime lead and turn it into a 54-33 advantage.

"The only time they scored was when [Andre] Yates fell down on the ground, tried to pick it up and threw it to the other guy for a score," said Waters. "I told them, I consider that a stop."

It was Grady who also provided the offensive spark, scoring eight points during that decisive 17-2 run. CSU also got three-pointers from Yates, Trey Lewis and Marlin Mason.

Grady had 16 of his career-high 26 points in the second half. He was 9-for-13 from the field and 8-for-11 at the line.

"Trey told me this was my career-high," said Grady. "I told him my freshman year I had  37 (points) and 17 (rebounds) and he was convinced."

Grady was joking of course. His previous career-high was 23 points at Green Bay as a freshman. Lewis was a freshman at Penn State when Grady set his previous career-high.

"I wish he would have done that the other night," Waters joked, as Grady had a rare off night against Iona, shooting just 2-of-9, for four points. "He can do this every night because he has that ability. He is now shooting the ball much, much better."

Lewis added 15 points and dished out four assists for the Vikings, while Marlin Mason contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.

"I think this has the potential to be the best team that I played with at Cleveland State so far," said Grady. "Just because of the mindsets and attitudes that everybody has. Nobody wants to give up and everybody wants to work [hard] and we all communicate with each other."

The Vikings scored the first seven points of the game and never looked back.

That's when Grady went to work - scoring five points during that run - getting a free throw, a putback and a fade-away hook shot to get into an early rhythm.

CSU built a lead as much as eight in the opening half as a Yates' steal and lay-up made it 19-11.

Tiffin (1-2) would make a run, using a 11-4 run over the next four minutes, to cut it to 23-22 on Ashton Khan's lay-up.

However, the Vikings closed the half strong.

A couple of Zollo three-pointers were part of a 10-5 run to close the half and gave CSU some breathing room at the break.

"The one who came off the bench and gave us some light was Vinny Zollo," said Waters. "He hit some shots."

After going scoreless against Iona in his CSU debut Friday, Zollo made all three of his shots against Tiffin and finished with eight points in 13 minutes.

CSU shot 44.8 percent in the opening half (13-for-29), but struggled from the three-point line (3-for-11, 27.3 percemt) and at the line (8-for-12, 66.7 percent).

"In the first half, we were a little tentative," said Waters. "We are still in the phase where we are still trying to learn each other and everyone is hesitate to make that next move. I thought as the game went on we started to figure it out."

Grady paced the Vikings with 10 first half points, while Lewis added nine.

The Dragons were led by Khaleal McCormick with 10 points, while Khan added nine and Andy Bachman contributed eight.

Next up: CSU opens play in the Global Sports Showcase as Jacksonville State visits the Wolstein Center on Wednesday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jeron Rogers Signs NLI To Attend Cleveland State

CLEVELAND, Ohio (press release) - Jeron Rogers (North Farmington, Mich.), the top-rated small forward in the state of Michigan, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Cleveland State and play basketball, beginning in the fall of 2015.

Rogers joins Jibri Blount (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Robert Edwards (Detroit Cass Tech) who signed NLI's to attend Cleveland State last week.

"I am very excited about the signing of Jeron," head coach Gary Waters said. "We have been looking for a wing player with the ability to score and take a game over and believe that we have found that person to help take this program to the next level."

The 6-foot-7 Rogers averaged 21.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game for North Farmington H.S. last season, earning third team all-state honors from the Detroit Free Press and first team All-Metro North accolades. Rogers was also selected to the MLive Detroit Dream Team - Third Team.

Ranked the No. 6 overall prosect in Michigan, Rogers has been a standout at North Farmington's varsity squad since he was a freshman. He earned first team all-league honors as a sophomore and junior, leading the team to a district title.

Rogers is the son of former NBA player, Carlos Rogers.

Courtesy of Cleveland State athletics

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cleveland State basketball Lands Three-Star Recruit

Three-star recruit Jeron "Budda" Rogers has committed to Cleveland State, the high school senior tweeted Friday.

Rogers, the son of former NBA player Carlos Rogers, is a 6-foot-6 small forward from North Farmington High School in Michigan. He is rated the No. 6 overall prospect and No. 1 small forward in Michigan's 2015 class by Prep Hoops Michigan.

"I think it's a great fit for him. He has a chance to play immediately and be an impact player for three years," North Farmington's head coach Todd Negoshian told Prep Hoops Michigan. "Gary (Waters) and Larry (DeSimpelare) have a history of not only developing great players but turning out great men as well."

Prep Hoops Michigan's evaluation of Rogers says he brings a balanced inside/outside game with a strong basketball IQ and good athleticism.

Rogers is coach Gary Waters’ third commitment for the recruiting class of 2015. He joins forward Jibri Blount and guard Robert Edwards, who signed with CSU Thursday.

He also had offers from Tennessee State, Buffalo, Toledo, Oakland, and Detroit.

CSU Basketball Notebook: Charlie Lee Suspended First Six Games of 2014-15 Season

Cleveland State will be without its starting point guard tonight when the Vikings open the season at Iona (7 p.m.).

Charlie Lee, a senior from Milwaukee, has been suspended for the first six games of the season for a violation of team rules. He will be eligible to return to action against Toledo on Dec. 3.

"I'm still contemplating [who will start in place of Charlie Lee]," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said Thursday at his media gathering. "I've been toying with it, [should we] either go big or go small with quickness. At our scrimmage, we went big and in our exhibition game we went small."

Illinois State transfer Kaza Keane got the start in CSU's 69-48 exhibition game against Malone on Monday.

"The only reason why I will not go small is because it gives us more bench with Kaza coming off," said Waters. "That's important because we need the lift from the bench."

CSU only scored seven points from the bench against Malone. Waters prefers the bench to provide 15-20 points.

Waters said Trey Lewis will be the primarily ball handler and freshman Kenny Carpenter could see an increase in minutes played at the one.

"Kenny handles the ball well and understands what's going on out there," said Waters. "He's pretty astute for a freshman."

Carpenter, a 6-foot-4 guard from Detroit, can play the 1, 2 or 3. He averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists last season for Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

"I think we will go there and perform," said Waters. "Even without Charlie, I think we will play pretty good."

Friday's matchup features two of the top mid-major programs in the country. CSU is ranked No. 11 in the initial CollegeInsider Mid-Major poll, while Iona comes in at No. 17.

A veteran-squad, Iona, picked to win the MAAC, features three all-league players in David Laury (preseason Player of the Year), A.J. English (first team) and Isaiah Williams (third team).

"They are the same team as last year," said Waters. "They are only missing one guard and have added two guards. And they are at home and feel they owe us one from last year."

CSU holds a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series against Iona, including a 73-69 win at the Wolstein Center last year.

In last year's meeting, CSU had to rally from a 44-29 deficit at the half.

The Vikings are 0-1 all-time at Iona, dropping a 98-63 contest in the 1996-97 season.

Signing day: On Thursday, CSU also announced the signings of Jibri Blount and Robert Edwards to National Letters of Intent.

"These two kids can both add to our program," said Waters. "When you get great kids in your program great things happen."

A 6-foot-6 forward, Blount is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer, Mel Blount. He averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds a game for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.

"He's an athlete like his dad," said Waters. "He blew us away with his personality and attitude. The positive thing is he can play as well."

Edwards, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Cass Tech, is ranked as a top-five guard in Michigan.

"Robert is a very, very talented guard. He's athletic, can pass, shoot and handles the basketball," said Waters. "I think he has the chance to be a great defender for us. I expect him to play for us early."

Cass Tech pipeline: Edwards is the third student-athlete from Cass Tech to play for Waters, joining current CSU senior Marlin Mason and Carpenter.

"We have a great relationship with them. I'm from Detroit and Larry [DeSimpelare] is from Michigan, so we know a lot of people there," said Waters. "They play a style similar to us, which I like."

More recruiting: CSU still could add one more recruit for next season.

"I would like a bigger guy, but sometimes you got to take the best player," said Waters. "I like the direction we are going in recruiting because now we are getting the kind of athletes that can lift you [to the next level]."

Hasbargen to red-shirt, Hales?: Walk-on Tim Hasbargen from Germany "probably be red-shirted," while Waters still has not made a decision on Terrell Hales.

"I can see Tim someday playing here if he last it out and doesn't want to go to another place for a chance to play more," said Waters. "He has good size, has good knowledge of the game and can shoot a little bit."

As for Hales, Waters said he doesn't want another situation like Mason's freshman year where he red-shirted for 3/4 of a season and then was forced to play because of injuries.

X-factor: Waters said Mason could be the "X-factor."

"Marlin has got to be a 10 and 6 guy," said Waters. "If he does that then we will be okay."

CSU women: The CSU women's basketball team also opens the season Friday at home against Toledo.

Kate Peterson Abiad's squad was picked to finish third in the Horizon League. They return nine letterwinners and four starters from last year's squad that went 14-16.

"The plan is we would like to go 9 or 10 deep [this year,]" said Peterson Abiad.

Signing Day II:  Peterson Abiad announced the signings of Sierra Davidson, Nicolete Newman and Emily Stoller to National Letters of Intent.

Davidson, a 6-foot forward from Avon High School, averaged 7.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game as a junior, and was named to the Morning Journal All-Star Team.

"Sierra has great size and length and will provide a big presence for us," said Peterson Abiad. "She will be vocal and hold people accountable and will strive for excellence."

Stoller, a 6-foot-2 guard from Fairmont High School in West Virginia, averaged 19.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.9 rebounds per game as a junior.

"We call her our Larry Bird," said Peterson Abiad. "She's long and thin and a very good scorer. What really separates her apart is her ability to pass the ball."

Newman, a 5-foot-7 guard from Seton-La Salle High School in Pennsylvania, will join the Vikings after leading the Rebels to two State Championships.

Peterson Abiad didn't receive Newman's Letter of Intent as of her press conference and couldn't comment on her.

The CSU women's basketball team has one more scholarship to offer for next year.