Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cleveland State men’s basketball bounces back with win over Bethune-Cookman

After a winless four game road trip, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team got back on track Saturday.

The Vikings took a quick lead over Bethune-Cookman and never looked back, pulling away for a 73-62 win at The Q.

"We were happy to be back in Cleveland," said CSU coach Gary Waters. "It was not a very good looking game, but when you are trying to get back on track you take what you can get."

Demonte Flannigan paced the Vikings (2-5) with a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds, while Rob Edwards scored 19.

Quinton Forrest led the Wildcats (2-6) with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Tabb added 18.

CSU found its identity on defense against the Wildcats as they held them to 37 percent from the field. The Vikings also had seven steals and held a 22-9 edge in point off turnovers.

 "I thought we played hard, especially on the defensive end," Waters said.

The Vikings defense was particular good in the first half. They held Bethune-Cookman to just eight field goals in the first 20 minutes.

Edwards had his best game since injuring his right hand in a loss to Kentucky on Nov. 23. Friday was the first time that Edwards said he was able to shoot a basketball.

"It's getting better, just take it day-to-day and keep icing it and [using] heat pads before going out to the court," Edwards said.

Edwards opened the game with a steal and dunked it with his injured hand to give CSU a quick 2-0 lead.

B-CU tied it 2-2 on a pair of free throws from Brandon Tabb. Then it was all CSU.

CSU built a 12-4 lead six minutes into the game and entered halftime leading 38-24. B-CU never got closer then 11 in the second half.

The Vikings outscored the Wildcats 40-36 inside the paint and CSU also held a 16-11 advantage in second chance points.

"We did a good job of attacking the basket in the first half and getting the ball inside," said Waters. "We knew if we could get the ball inside that we could score."

Homecoming: B-CU head coach Gravelle Craig played basketball at CSU from 1991-94.

Injury updates:  Junior forward Anthony Wright (ankle) and sophomore walk-on guard Nelson Maxwell (hamstring) did not dress.

Wright was injured in the second half of CSU's loss to Arkansas State on Wednesday. Waters is hoping Wright will be back for Wednesday's game against Western Michigan.

Waters said Maxwell has a "bad, bad sprain" and is out a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The latest on Flannigan, Hales & Peppers

At a news conference, Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said center Demonte Flannigan, guard Terrell Hales and point guard Gavin Peppers remain out.

Flannigan, a product of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, hasn't played in a game since CSU's exhibition game against Tiffin on Nov. 7.

The day before CSU's season-opener against Kent State, Flannigan collapsed on the court during CSU's shootaround and was taken to a Youngstown hospital for evaluation.

It was originally thought to be a possible heart-attack, but was later diagnosed as "stress."

"His heart is good," said Waters. "(He was dealing with) five different things all on one day and it traumatized his muscles. All the muscles on one side of his body had shut down, Everything hit him at once."

Waters said there is no timetable for when Flannigan will return.

Hales, CSU's top defender, hasn’t played this season because of a "hamstring pull."

"He's still bringing it along slowly," said Waters. "We could shoot him in there and hope everything is okay, then reinjures it and (is out) another long period. We want to make sure he's completely healthy."

Peppers, who was expected to open the season as CSU's starting point guard, is out 3-5 weeks after suffering a right foot injury in practice during the preseason while attempting a lay-up. His foot remains in a walking boot.

"We found out it's not the Achilles, but a bad bone bruise," said Waters. "It's almost to the effect as its broken. So you got to let it heal by itself."

Waters is hoping Peppers will be back for the start of conference play.

Next up: The Vikings (1-2) will continue its play in the Bluegrass Showcase Wednesday with a 1 p.m. game at No. 1 Kentucky.

The Wildcats (4-0) are coming off a 93-59 victory over Duquesne on Sunday.

"What I'm looking for is that we play well," said Waters. "I remember three years ago we went to Kentucky and I told them forget about the game and go out and play your basketball and they did it and had a chance to win it."

Slow starts: A common theme in CSU's two losses, have been what Waters calls "major slow starts" in the first half.

Against KSU, the Vikings made only one of its first 16 shots and fell behind by 21 points in the opening half. CSU rallied in the second half to send the game into overtime.

On Friday against UT Martin, the Vikings fell behind 30 points in the opening half as they went through a stretch where the made just 2-of-17 shots.

Waters said without Flannigan's presence down low teams have been playing a 1-3-1 zone and forcing CSU to shoot from the perimeter,

"We got to get Rob (Edwards) going earlier," Waters said. "In the first 15 minutes (against UT Martin), he took only three shots. We also got to find ways to get inside and get some inside presence."

Return of the press: In the second half against UT Martin, Waters switched to a full court press for the entire half and the Vikings nearly pulled off the comeback, closing within four with 2:27 to go.

"They were hot and I had to get them off their shooting and get us back in the game," Waters said. "It really took a toll on them. The timing was perfect for us to have a chance to win the game, but we missed some shots down the stretch."

Waters said he plans to continue to press more.

"We had so many new guys. When you have that many new guys they have to learn the fundamentals of defense first," he said.  "My whole time in the preseason was teaching them how to play defense in the halfcourt."

CSU women update: Kate Peterson Abiad's CSU women's squad stands at 1-2 on the season.

The Vikings opened the season with a road win at Evansville and a very competitive loss at No. 8 Ohio State (96-78), but a 33-point loss to Toledo at the Wolstein Center had Peterson Abiad scratching her head.

"I was really disappointed in the way we came into the game," Peterson Abiad said. "Just the effort. Toledo came after us and were physical and aggressive. It looked like it took us by surprise."

CSU will look to rebound at home on Wednesday against a Niagara (1-3) team that has lost three straight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shorthanded Cleveland State holds off Canisius

With three players out with injuries, Cleveland State’s men’s basketball team still managed to hold off Canisius 67-64 on Tuesday in their home regular-season opener at Wolstein Center.

CSU (1-1) used a balance scoring attack with five players in double-figures.

"It's back to back games that we had four or five guys in double-figures. That means we are all contributing," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said.

Rob Edwards led the Vikings with 17 points, while Bobby Word added 14 points and seven rebounds and Derek Sloan, Jibri Blount and Kash Thomas each contributed 10 points.

Jermaine Crumpton led Canisius (0-2) with 21 points, including 3-of-6 three-point shooting.

The Vikings shot 51 percent in the second half to erase an eight-point deficit.

"What won this game down the stretch was our defense," said Waters.

CSU's aggressive man-to-man defense held the Golden Griffins to 41 percent in the second half and outrebounded them 17-10 in the final 20 minutes.

"That was the key," Waters said about CSU's advantage on the boards. "That's all we worked on in practice yesterday was rebounding. I drilled them real hard at halftime [about rebounding]."

The Vikings were playing without Demonte Flannigan, Terrell Hales and Gavin Peppers.

Flannigan, CSU's starting center, collapsed on the court during CSU's shootaround before Saturday's game against Kent State in Youngstown and was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

"It was a traumatic thing. Everyone thought he had a heart attack," Waters said. "[The doctors] are still testing his heart and testing for asthma."

Hales, CSU's best defender, missed his third straight game with "a high hamstring pull." His status still remains day-to-day.

Peppers won the starting point guard competition during the preseason, but suffered a Achilles injury in practice, a couple days before CSU's exhibition game, and remains out indefinitely. He still has to undergo an MRI and X-rays.

Thomas started in Pepper’s place and had his second straight solid outing with seven assists and six rebounds to go along with 10 points.

"He showed me somethings," Waters said about his 20 year old freshmen point guard.

Kassius Robertson hit his fourth three-pointer in four attempts to give Canisius a 39-31 lead with 19:42 left

The Vikings used an 8-1 run to tie the game at 40-40.

Thomas' second three-point of the half gave CSU the lead for good 56-53. CSU would push the lead out to as much as four.

Crumpton's  third three-pointer of the game closed Canisius within 65-64 with 1:48 to go.

The Vikings would close out the game with a tip-in from Word with 15 seconds left to give CSU some breathing room and big defensive stop.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cleveland State basketball: Gavin Peppers out 3-5 weeks with foot injury

Gavin Peppers
Cleveland State head men’s basketball coach Gary Waters has announced that junior point guard Gavin Peppers will miss 3 to 5 weeks due to a right Achilles injury.

Peppers suffered the injury during practice last week and it was announced Monday he’d miss significant time.

"He was attempting a lay-up and came down awkwardly," Waters said at his media gathering Thursday. "They feel he did not tear his Achilles. [It's] more of a strong, hard bone bruise at the bottom of his foot."

Freshmen point guard Kash Thomas started CSU's exhibition game against Tiffin on Monday in place of Peppers, who was projected to open the season as the starter.

Thomas, a native of Montreal Canada, had a solid debut with the Vikings, contributing four points, four assists and four steals in 29 minutes. He only turned it over two times.

"He didn't seem to be rattled," Waters said. "He's got more experience then what you think because he's a 20 year old freshmen. In Canada, they allow you to go over grade 13, so he has more experience beyond the normal freshmen would have."

Sophomore walk-on Nelson Maxwell and Kenny Carpenter will back-up Thomas. Waters said Rob Edwards could also see some time at the point.

Maxwell, a product of Orange High School, appeared in 16 games with the Vikings last season, averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 assists in 14.8 minutes per game.

Carpenter will open the season as CSU's sixth man. The 6-foot-4 swingman from Detroit can play all three guard positions.

CSU opens regular-season play Saturday against Kent State in Youngstown as part of the Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Signing day: Waters also announced the signing of Garfield Heights shooting guard Shawn Christian on Thursday.

One of the top shooters in the state, Christian averaged 13 points per game as a junior.

"Shawn is a very good shooter and he's going to be a good defender," Waters said. "One of the things he said to me was 'Coach, I want to stay home and make our home great again.' "

Christian is the only player CSU is expected to sign during the early recruiting period.

The Vikings are still looking to add a center during the late signing period.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cleveland State's starting lineup for season opener still undecided, Gary Waters says

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters says there is an open competition with 10 players competing for starting spots. 
With just over 15 day remaining before their 2016-17 season opener, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters has yet to determine his starting lineup.

"It will probably be at the end of next week before I make that final decision (on the starting five)," Waters said after CSU's Green and White scrimmage on Saturday. "We have about nine guys that can be starters."

The nine in contention for starting spots include Jibri Blount, Jamarcus Hairston, Demonte Flannigan, Rob Edwards, Kenny Carpenter, Gavin Peppers, Kash Thomas, Bobby Word and Anthony Wright.

Derek Sloan has also joined the conversation.

"The one that has really played well is Derek Sloan," Waters said. "He has been added to the process."

Last week, Waters said that Peppers was the "frontrunner" for the starting point guard competition, with Thomas and Carpenter also in the mix.

The starting two guard competition is between Edwards, CSU's leading scorer last year at 12.4 points per game, and Word, an Oral Roberts transfer.

The competition for the small forward/wing includes Wright, Sloan and Carpenter.

And Blount, Flannigan and Hairston are competing for two frontcourt positions.

"We really haven't had starters yet," said Waters. "Each Saturday we have had a scrimmage game and I change (the lineups) around because I want to see what they look like together."

On Saturday, Edwards, Flannigan, Sloan, Carpenter and Thomas played on the white team, while Peppers, Wright, Blount, Word and Hairston were on the green squad.

The starters should be in place for CSU's lone exhibition game of the season on Nov. 7 against Tiffin.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cleveland State basketball: Gavin Peppers is emerging as the frontrunner to be the Vikings' starting point guard

Gavin Peppers
Although Gary Waters has not yet had an actual starting lineup in practice, a leader has emerged in Cleveland State’s ongoing point guard competition.

Junior college transfer Gavin Peppers has the inside track, with junior Kenny Carpenter and freshmen Kash Thomas also in the mix.

"Right now, Gavin Peppers would be the frontrunner," Waters said at Tuesday's media gathering. "I'm going to split that time up. If we could go 25 and 15 (minutes) that would be good."

Peppers, a transfer from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, has impressed the coaches in practice with his ability to score the basketball - something the Vikings are desperate in need of after finishing 346th in scoring (out of 351 division I programs) last year, averaging just 60.8 points a game.

"He's a look to score first point guard," Waters said about Peppers, who averaged 18.7 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game last year for LCCC. "He can score (the basketball) as well as anyone out there."

A Brookeville, Md. native, Peppers had 10, 20-point games last year for LCCC, including two 30-point performances. He's a 37-percent shooter from three-point distance.

Carpenter, who started eight games last year and averaged 6.8 points, has showcased a much improved shot during the first two weeks of practice. His offseason regimen included making 30,000 shots a day.

"Kenny has really stepped up to be a scorer," said Waters. "We had our first (intrasquad) scrimmage and he took 27 shots."

While Peppers and Carpenter look to score first, Thomas is more of a traditional pass first point guard.

Thomas, a Chateauguay, Quebec native, led the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association in assist-to-turnover ratio last year. He averaged 18.4 points and 4.9 assists as a senior.

"The kid I've been really excited about is Kash Thomas," said Waters. "He has done a really good job of running the show. He has instincts that you look for in point guards. He's such a great kid, too."

Green and white scrimmage: CSU basketball fans can get their first look at the 2016-17 Vikings squads on Saturday, with a free public scrimmage at 11 a.m in the Wolstein Center.

Yates update: Former Viking point guard Andre Yates, who briefly attempted to start a pro career overseas, has transferred to Benedictine College, an NAIA school in Kansas.

"Andre made a decision that he wanted to move on," said Waters.

Date change: CSU's men's basketball exhibition game against Tiffin has been moved to Monday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.. The contest was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 8.

Tickets now on sale: Single-game tickets for CSU's men's basketball home games are now on sale.

Tickets for games at the Wolstein Center are $10 for the end zone, $15 for seats between the baseline or $20 for center court.

For the two games at the Q, it is $22 for center court, $17 between the baseline and end zone seats are $12.

Tickets can be ordered online at CSUVikings.com,  in-person at the Wolstein Center or Quicken Loans Arena Box Offices or by calling 216-420-2970 or 888-894-9424.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Three questions as Cleveland State basketball team opens practice

Monday marks the unofficial kickoff to college basketball season at Cleveland State.

The men’s basketball team held its first of 27 allotted official preseason practices this afternoon.

"We got a lot of new faces," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said Saturday after CSU's annual alumni game. "The guys that are coming back are excited about moving forward this year and I really feel that we are going to have a pretty good year."

Coming off a 9-23 season, the Vikings have plenty of questions that need to be answered before its Nov. 12 opener against Kent State. Here’s a look at some of the questions the Vikings may be looking at:

1. WHO WILL Score?

A year ago, only five other DI programs scored less points then the Vikings who averaged just 60.8 points a game during the 2015-16 season.

Sophomore guard Rob Edwards (12.4 points a game) and senior forward Demonte Flannigan (11.4) should carry most of the scoring load, but the question remains who will help them out.

"I think we can add another 20 points because we brought in players that can put the ball in the basket," said Waters.

Waters believes Bobby Word, an Oral Roberts transfer who sat out last year, can be the third go to guy. Word impressed in practice last year and could give the Vikings a much needed perimeter threat. The Lancaster, Tx. native averaged 8.4 points for the Golden Eagles as a sophomore and scored double-digits 14 times. He's a 38.4 percent shooter from downtown.

"We have two junior college players that are pretty good players," said Waters. "Jamarcus (Hairston), he was a 16 point scorer and Gavin Peppers averaged 18 points per game."

Peppers is a natural scorer who is expected to compete for the starting point guard spot. The Brookeville, Md. native had 10, 20-point games last year for Laramie (Wy.) County Community College, including two 30-point performances. He's a 37-percent shooter from three-point distance.

Hairston, a versatile forward, can play both the four or five. The Danville, Va. native can also play inside or on the perimeter. He posted 27 double-digit scoring games and 15 double-digit rebounding game last year at Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina.

2. WHO’S THE POINT GUARD?

The Vikings return four starters from last season, but starting point guard Andre Yates decided to give up his final year of eligibility in order to start a pro career overseas. That leaves the Vikings with an open competition for the starting lead guard spot.

"We have about three guys that have the potential to play that position - Gavin Peppers, Kash Thomas and Kenny Carpenter," said Waters.

Carpenter, who started eight games last year, could be the favorite entering the preseason. Waters tends to open practice with two teams - the veterans vs. the newcomers. With Carpenter being the only veteran at the position, he'd likely open practice with the other starters.

Waters is also high on Thomas, a freshmen from Montreal, Canada. He's more a traditional pass first point.

"Kash Thomas will get a chance to play as a freshmen at one of the point guards," said Waters.

3. Can CSU play faster?

The Vikings played at the nation’s 36th-slowest tempo last year, a grind-it-out style that limited offensive possessions. With more length, athleticism and depth this season, CSU is hoping to pick up the pace a bit.

"What I want to do is increase the pace a little bit and get our guys out and going because we're going to have a lot of numbers," said Waters. "I don't want guys to play 40 minutes, I need guys who can play 24 minutes."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cleveland State men’s basketball to play at Kentucky on Nov. 23

The Cleveland State men’s basketball team will play Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Nov. 23, according to the Wildcats’ nonconference schedule released Monday.

The game is part of a tournament called the Bluegrass Showcase. The other teams in the tournament include Canisius, Duquesne, and Tennessee-Martin.

Each team will play four games. The Vikings are expected to play three games on the road and host one at the Wolstein Center.

Canisius will visit the Wolstein Center on Nov. 15.  The Vikings will also play road games at UT-Martin on Nov. 18 and a trip to Pittsburgh to face Duquesne on Nov. 27.

CSU's full non-conference schedule has not yet been released.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cleveland State basketball team back on campus for summer school

Andre Yates will not be returning.
Summer school classes begin this week for 10 Cleveland State men's basketball returning players and six newcomers, CSU spokesperson Greg Murphy confirmed.

Murphy also confirmed that Andre Yates, Aaron Scales, Jeron Rogers, and Jono Janssen are no longer with the program.

Yates has decided to forego his final season of eligibility and pursue professional opportunities.

Scales, Rogers and Janssen transferred to other schools.

Yates is the most prominent of the departees.

The Dayton native started 29 of 30 games last season for the Vikings, leading the team in assists (2.1) to go along with 9.1 points a game.

Yates' departure leaves CSU with not much DI experience at the lead guard position. Only Kenny Carpenter has started a game at the DI level.

Carpenter, a junior from Detroit, started eight games for the Vikings last season. He averaged 6.8 points and 1.5 assists a game.

The Viking also brought in a couple of recruits to compete with Carpenter - including junior college transfer Gavin Peppers and freshmen Kasheem "Kash" Thomas.

Scales graduated from CSU in May and is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows graduates to transfer to be immediately eligible. The High Point, North Carolina native is transferring closer to home and will spend his final season of eligibility at North Carolina A&T.

The 6-foot-9 center played sparingly with the Vikings in his three-year career, averaging 1.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 72 games.

Janssen is transferring to Division II Hawaii Pacific. The redshirt freshmen forward from Mountain Creek, Australia, appeared in 11 games with the Vikings, totaling nine points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.

Rogers, a Detroit native and son of former NBA player Carlos Rogers, is transferring to Oakland (Mich.) Community College. The freshmen forward appeared in 25 games with the Vikings last season, averaging 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds.

Demonte Flannigan is CSU's lone returning senior on the roster. Cal State Bakersfield transfer Ravonn "PJ" Posey, is also a senior, but he will have to sitout the 2016-17 season because of NCAA transfer guidelines. He is the only player not on campus.

The Vikings have eight juniors on the roster: Derek Sloan, Bobby Word, Carpenter, Terrell Hales, walk-on Tim Hasbargen are the returnees. Sloan and Word are redshirt juniors. Junior college transfers Jamarcus Hairston, Anthony Wright and Peppers are now on campus.

Rob Edwards, Jibri Blount, and walk-ons Daniel Levitt and Nelson Maxwell are now sophomores, while Evan Clayborne, Thomas and preferred walk-on Andy Lucien round out the roster as the freshmen.

The Vikings will also begin its summer workouts.

Under NCAA guidelines, teams can hold summer workouts for eight hours per week — two with coaches, six without for weight training and conditioning.

Teams can officially begin practice 42 days before the first regular season game, meaning the Vikings can hold its first practice on Sunday, Oct. 2.

CSU's season opener is Nov. 12 against Kent State in Youngstown as part of the second annual Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheader.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cleveland State basketball targeting Iona transfer Jahaad Procter

Jahaad Procter
Cleveland State is one of several schools that Iona transfer Jahaad Procter is considering, according to a tweet from CBS Sport’s Jon Rothstein.
Procter averaged 5.1 points per game for the Gaels last season as a freshmen. He had seven double-digit scoring games, including a season-high 20 points in a win over Fairfield and 18 points in a loss to Akron.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Harrisburg, Pa., is also reportedly considering Valparaiso, High Point, Wright State, UNC Greensboro, Drexel, Towson, and Louisianna Tech.

Procter will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 season.

As a prep, Procter was a three-time all-state selection playing for Kirk Smallwood at Harrisburg High School.

The all-time leading scorer at Harrisburg High, Procter averaged 24.4 points per game as a senior, leading the Cougars to a Mid-Penn Commonwealth-championship and an appearance in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals.

CSU is also reportedly in the running to land Ohio State transfer AJ Harris.