Friday, February 5, 2016

Detroit 71, Cleveland State 63: Zone defense stymies Vikings again

Flannigan scores career-high 25 points

By Tom Mieskoski

Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters is never afraid to tell it like it is.

Following CSU's 71-63 loss to Detroit on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center, Waters said he plans to "clean the house" after this season and bring in some more shooters.

"When you see our team a year from now, you're going to see about five other guys who can hit threes," he said after the game.  "I already told them (in the locker room) we are cleaning this house. (Right now), we have about 1 1/2 shooters."

The Vikings (7-17, 2-9 Horizon League) tied season-lows in three-point field goals made (3) and three-point percentage (15 percent) in the loss to the Titans (11-11, 5-6 HL).

Chris Jenkins made six of Detroit's 10 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 20 points.

"We let Jenkins get away. That's on us," said Waters. "I'm a believer if you allow a team to hit (10) threes you have a great chance of losing. Think about the Cavaliers, when they beat teams, they hit their threes. If they don't hit their threes, they have a chance to lose. That's why the three has become a viable weapon today."

It was only two years ago, that CSU finished second in the nation in three-point percentage (.409) during the 2013-14 season.

But recent transfers of Bryn Forbes and Trey Lewis have left CSU thin on shooters.

Entering Thursday game against Detroit, CSU was ninth in the HL in three-point percentage (.323), trailing only UIC (.304).

With freshmen walk-on Daniel Levitt still out with a knee injury, CSU is down to only one consistent shooter in Rob Edward.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, Edwards struggled against the Titans and missed all six of his attempts from long range. He finished with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.

It was a tail of two different shooting halves for the Vikings.

CSU got off to a slow start, making only one of its first nine shots from the field. But the Vikings finished the half strong, making 14 of its last 23 shots and trailed 33-31 at the break.

The Vikings also started the second half strong, making two of its first five shots, but then Detroit switched to a 2-3 zone and their shooting woes started.

They made only one of its next seven shots, while Detroit started to pull away.

With the game deadlocked at 36-36, a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, capped off by back-to-back three-pointers from Jenkins, gave the Titans a 51-38 lead and they never looked back.

"They knew they couldn't guard us inside, so they stayed in the (2-3) zone and dared us to shoot it," said Waters. "They usually don't run a 2-3 zone. That tells you they knew how bad we were (at shooting from the perimeter). They usually run a 3-2 zone. When you run a 3-2 there is only two guys on the baseline, then you can get it in (down low). But with three on the baseline, they (wanted) our guards to shoot it."

Waters' young squad struggled to attack the zone and kept settling for outside shots in the second half.

Almost half of CSU's shot attempts in the second half, came from beyond the three-point line, where they were 3-of-13 shooting.

"This team was beatable today," said Waters. "We just couldn't hit any shots. Think about it. They played man-to-man in the first half and we shot 47 percent. They played zone all the second half and we shot 37 percent. That's the difference in the game."

Demonte Flannigan had his best game as a Viking, scoring 19 of his career-high 25 points in the first half.

"He (Flannigan) came in to my office yesterday and before the game and said, "I'm going to be a beast today." said Waters. "They couldn't stop him in there. You can't beat a team with just one guy. I told them (in the locker room) if we had four people in double-figures we will be in every game to win."

Flannigan, a Villa Angela-St. Joseph product, had his way against Detroit's man-to-man defense in the first half, shooting 9-of-12 from the field. But in the second half, Detroit's 2-3 zone limited Flannigan to just three shots in the final 20 minutes.

Vinny Zollo was the only other Viking in double-figures, finishing with a career-high 16 points. He made two of CSU's three 3-pointers and finished 6-of-9 from the floor.

Detroit posted four players in double-figures. Carlton Brundidge added 12 points for the Titans, while Jaleel Hogan and Gerald Blackshear had 10 points a piece.

"It comes down to can we hit some shots and that's what we can't do," said Waters. "Until we do a better job of (shooting), it's going to be hard for us to win games. Some days we hit shots, some days we don't."

In remembrance: The Titans wore a large decal with the letters "TR" on their jerseys in honor of Reggie Hall, a sports producer for WXYZ in Detroit who died in a car crash in December.

Hall, who was known as "Titan Reggie," played baseball at UD and was a huge Titans fan.

Yates returns: Andre Yates returned after missing the previous two games with high ankle sprain and plantar faciatis.

Yates, who came off bench, had four points in 26 minutes. He started the second half in place of Terrell Hales.

"He is still struggling (with the injuries) a little bit," said Waters.

Buddha sighting:  Yates wasn't the only change Waters made at the half. Freshmen forward Jeron "Buddha" Rogers started the second half in place of Jibri Blount.

"We didn't have anyone to guard Paris Bass," said Waters. "That's why he started (the second half).

Next up: CSU host the Oakland Grizzlies men and women's basketball teams in a double-header on Saturday. The CSU men tip-off at 1 p.m., followed by the women's game.

Prior to the men's game, former CSU standout Norris Cole will be honored by having his jersey number, 30, retired.

Then at half-time, Kailey Klein will be honored by having her jersey number, 23, retired.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Yates doubtful for Saturday's game vs. UIC

Cleveland State point guard Andre Yates is "doubtful" to play in Saturday's game at UIC due to a high ankle sprain and plantar faciatis, according to CSU Sports Information Director Greg Murphy.

Yates injured his foot in Sunday's loss to Youngstown State at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Dayton native did not play in CSU's 77-52 loss at Valparaiso on Thursday and was spotted wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

Yates is the Vikings' second leading scorer, averaging 10.5 points per game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cleveland State's Daniel Levitt does not need surgery for knee

The MRI on Daniel Levitt's left knee revealed "no tear of the ACL or MCL," Vikings head coach Gary Waters announced on his radio show on Monday.

Levitt, a freshmen walk-on, will not need surgery and will be out "four to six weeks" with an "outside chance" that the Montreal native could return this season.

He injured his left knee in the final minute of CSU's 86-68 road loss to Oakland in the Horizon League opener on Jan. 2.

Levitt has appeared in 14 games with the Vikings, averaging 4.5 points in 13.8 minutes off the bench.

The sharp-shooter is third on the team in three-pointers made (16) and is fifth in three-point percentage (34.8).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Youngstown State 70, Cleveland State 55: Vikings take a step back with loss to Penguins

So much for a homefield advantage?

For the Cleveland State men's basketball team, playing its home games at the Q has been anything but a homefield advantage this season.

With a 70-55 loss to Youngstown State on Sunday afternoon, the Vikings dropped to 0-3 at Quicken Loans Arena this year and are 2-8 all-time at the home of the Cavaliers.

CSU head coach Gary Waters called Sunday's loss to YSU, “a step back.”

"I felt we have taken some steps forward (with wins against Northern Kentucky and UIC), but we didn't take it today," he said. "We will get back to the drawing board and make some adjustments and get them to play hard again."

Demonte Flannigan led the Vikings (7-14, 2-6 Horizon League) with 18 points and also grabbed six boards. Rob Edwards added 16 points, but struggled from the field, making just 5 of 16 shots. No one else had more then seven points for CSU, which had its season-high two game-winning streak snapped.

Matt Donlan led the Penguins (8-13, 3-5 HL) with 16 points, all came in the first half. Cameron Morse, YSU's leading scorer, was held to 14 points, four less then his scoring average of 18.9.

Cleveland native Francisco Santiago also had a strong game for the Penguins with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals against the team he always grew up wanting to play for.

The Vikings couldn't overcome cold shooting in the second half. They shot 26.9 percent after the half and were just 2 of 10 from long range.

"They hit our Achilles heel. We just can't shoot it," said Waters. "They played that (2-3) zone and stuck inside of us. We can hit it at certain times, if we work it by going inside. If we don't have were we can attack the basket, it's hard for us to score.

"I got to give them credit, they played the zone well. In the first half, they played very little (zone), that's why it was a close game and we had the lead, but when they went to the zone (in the second half) it stymied us."

The Penguins weren't much better shooting. With starters Bobby Hain (foot) and Sidney Umude (leg) out with injuries, YSU shot just 40 percent (22-of-55) from the field, including 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from long range.

But the Penguins had a huge edge at the free throw line, going 19-of-25, while CSU was 14-of-20.

"My concern has been our defense all year and they only shot 40 percent, that's a good defensive percentage," said Waters. "I thought what hurt us in the second half was the rash of free throws down the stretch. It's going to be hard to catch a team when they hit so many free throws."

YSU made 14 of 20 free throws in the second half, while the Vikings got to the line 10 times, making only eight.

In a surprise move, YSU opened the game playing man-to-man defense and the Vikings took advantage.

CSU took an early 16-9 lead, but once YSU switched to the 2-3 zone, its offense struggled.

The Vikings made only two field goals in the final 6:25 as the Penguins closed the half on a 15-7 run to take a 35-31 advantage at the break.

"I thought (Donlan) was the key in the first half," said Waters. "When he plays the four its a mismatch for most teams because when you put your four on him, he's out there shooting it (from three-point distance). In the second half, we put a guard on him and he didn't score a point.'

Donlan made 6 of 10 shots from the field in the opening half, including 4 of 7 from long range. In the second half, Waters had Terrell Hales guard the 6-foot-7 Australian native and he limited him to just one shot in the final 20 minutes.

For all of the second half, YSU stuck with its 2-3 zone and the Vikings had no answers for it.

In the first four and a half minutes of the second half, the Penguins were held to just one point, but the Vikings couldn't capitalize on the offensive end. CSU made just one of its first five shots and never got closer then 36-35.

With 15:44 to go, a lay-up from Santiago was YSU's first field goal in the second half and pushed the lead out to 38-35, but CSU responded with a Vinny Zollo three-pointer to close within 42-40.

But that was as close as CSU would get.

During the next seven minutes, CSU made only 1 of 8 shots and turned the ball over four times, as the Penguins took control of the game with a 16-2 run that pushed the lead out to 58-44.

The Vikings were never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cleveland State 70, UIC 53: Vikings win second straight

Edwards has 24 points

By Tom Mieskoski

Improving defense and hot shooting from three-point distance and the foul line led Cleveland State to a 70-53 win against Illinois-Chicago Monday night at the Wolstein Center.

Rob Edwards scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half — finishing 4 of 7 from 3-point distance and making all six of his free throw attempts.

Andre Yates added 11 points, Vinny Zollo 9 and Demonte Flannigan 8 for CSU (7-13, 2-5 Horizon League), which won its second straight conference game.

The Vikings shot just 37.7 percent overall, but were 9 of 16 from long range and 15 of 18 from the foul line.

UIC (2-15, 0-6 HL) also shot 37.7 percent, but were just 2 of 7 (28.6 percent) from long range. They missed 17 shots from the charity stripe.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Milwaukee 65, Cleveland State 62: Vikings rally falls short

Early deficit proves to be too much for Vikings

BY TOM MIESKOSKI

Before Saturday's postgame press conference, Demonte Flannigan asked the media how they were doing? Then a reporter asked Flannigan how he was doing?

"Not good," he said. "We should have won that game."

An 18-point deficit proved to be too much for Cleveland State to overcome Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.

CSU got within three with eight seconds to go and had a chance to tie the game, but they couldn't get a shot off as Milwaukee held on to a 65-62 victory at the Wolstein Center in front of 1, 805 fans.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cleveland State guard Myles Hamilton dismissed from the team

BY TOM MIESKOSKI

Reserve guard Myles Hamilton, who leads Cleveland State in assists, has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team policies, head coach Gary Waters announced Friday afternoon.

In Thursday's 87-67 lost to Green Bay, Hamilton was pulled out of the game after turning the ball over and committing a foul on the other end.

Hamilton was upset that he was pulled from the game after playing only a minute and got into a heated conversation with Waters on the sidelines. Waters then kicked Hamilton off the bench and he spent the rest of the first half in the locker room.

The Kennessaw State transfer and St. Edward product returned to the bench for the second half, but didn't play in the final 20 minutes.

After the game, Waters didn't want to talk about what was said during that heated conversation, but he had this say about the incident:

"That's a lot of stuff. You may not see that boy out there ever again," he said. "We got to have a discipline ship. I don't know (if he will return), I need to sit and think about it. Right now I don't feel good about it."

Green Bay 87, Cleveland State 67: Vikings squander 15-2 lead, fall to Phoenix

Season-high 23 turnovers cost Vikings

BY TOM MIESKOSKI

Cleveland State couldn't hold on to an early 13 point lead as the Vikings turned it over a season-high 23 times in a 87-67 victory Thursday night at the Wolstein Center in front of 1, 471 fans.

"That was the game." Vikings head coach Gary Waters said about the 28 points Green Bay scored off of 23 CSU turnovers. "You can't beat anybody like that. That's called you need a point guard."

It was CSU's third straight loss, all have come in conference play, and fourth defeat in the last five.

CSU (5-11, 0-3 Horizon League) turned it over only one time in the first five minutes and took an early 15-2 lead.

The next 15 minutes were a completely different story.

They turned it over 14 times in the final 15 minutes of the first half, as Green Bay outscored CSU 39-15 and took a 41-30 lead at the break and never looked back.

"After the first five minutes, we stunk today," said Waters. "We gave up too much easy stuff."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Preview: Green Bay vs. Cleveland State

Following a rough weekend away in the Motor City, the Cleveland State men's basketball team returns to the Wolstein Center looking for its first conference win.

CSU (5-10, 0-2 Horizon League) have dropped three of its last four and will look to end their two-game conference losing streak on Thursday night, hosting Green Bay in the second game of the day. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.and the game will be shown on Time Warner Sports Channel and ESPN3. On radio, it will be simulcast on WHK-AM 1420.

The Vikings are coming of a valiant effort, losing a shootout 88-80 at Detroit on Monday.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Waters: Daniel Levitt may be out for the season

On Tuesday, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters said that freshmen guard Daniel Levitt may be "out for the year" with a knee injury.

"They (team doctors) are thinking that he may have torn (both) his ACL and MCL," Waters said on his radio show Tuesday night. "If that happens, he is out for the year. He hasn't had a diagnosis yet, that is only the in house diagnosis."

Levitt, a walk-on from Montreal, visited the doctor on Tuesday, but hasn't had an MRI yet.

He injured his left knee in the final minute of CSU's 86-68 loss at Oakland on Saturday.

A three-point specialist, Levitt is averaging 4.5 points in 13.8 minutes off the bench. He is tied for second on the team in three-pointers made (16) and is shooting 34.8 percent from long range.

A year ago, Levitt tore his ACL in the same knee and missed his entire senior season at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire.