Monday, March 2, 2015

Cleveland State's Grady, Lewis and Lee earn All-Horizon league honors

For the first time in 22 years, Cleveland State has placed two players on the all-league first team. 

Junior forward Anton Grady and junior guard Trey Lewis were named to the all-Horizon League first team, the league announced on Monday.

Grady and Lewis are the first CSU duo named to the first team in the same season since Gravelle Craig and Sam Mitchell were named to the All-Mid-Continent first team in 1993.

CSU also placed Grady and Charlie Lee on the all-defensive team. They are the first CSU players named to the all-defensive team since 2012 when D'Aundray Brown and Trey Harmon earned the honor.

Grady, a Cleveland Central Catholic High School product, averaged 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds this season and led the conference in double doubles (eight). In league games,  Grady was the only player to rank in the top six in scoring (sixth; 15.5), rebounding (first; 9.4), field goal percentage (fourth; .541), steals (second; 1.8) and blocked shots (third; 1.9).

Lewis, a Garfield Heights High School product, was fourth in the league in scoring (16.9) and 10th in assists (2.9). He set the CSU single season school record in three-pointers made with 87 and had 11 20-point games this year.

Green Bay's Keifer Sykes was named the Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Valparaiso took home the coach of the year (Bryce Drew), sixth-man of the year (Jubril Adekoya), and defensive Player of the Year (Vashil Fernandez) awards. Detroit's Paris Bass was named the Freshman of the Year,

CSU earned the No. 4 seed in the Horizon League tournament and will face the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between Youngstown State and Detroit in the quarterfinals on Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Valparaiso, Ind. The winner of that game faces No. 1 seed Valpo Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

All-League First Team

Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (Sr., G)
Kahlil Felder, Oakland (So., G)
Alec Peters, Valparaiso (So., F)
Anton Grady, Cleveland State (Jr., F)
Trey Lewis, Cleveland State (Jr., G)

All-League Second Team

Juwan Howard, Jr., Detroit (Sr., F)
Corey Petros, Oakland (Sr., C)
Greg Mays, Green Bay (Sr., F)
Matt Tiby, Milwaukee (Jr., F)
Steve McWhorter, Milwaukee (Sr., G)

All-Freshman Team

Paris Bass, Detroit (G/F)
Tevonn Walker, Valparaiso (G)
Jalen Hayes, Oakland (F)
Grant Benzinger, Wright State (G)
Nick Daniels, Oakland (G)

All-Defensive Team

Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso (Sr., C)
Jordan Fouse, Green Bay (Jr., F)
Dante Williams, Oakland (Sr., F)
Anton Grady, Cleveland State (Jr., F)
Charlie Lee, Cleveland State (Sr., G)

Player of the Year: Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (Sr., G)
Defensive Player of the Year: Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso (Sr., C)
Freshman of the Year: Paris Bass, Detroit (G/F)
Sixth Player of the Year: Jubril Adekoya, Valparaiso (So., F)
Coach of the Year: Bryce Drew, Valparaiso

Friday, February 27, 2015

CSU Basketball Notebook: Vikings still Alive for No. 1 seed

Despite Sunday's devastating loss to Milwaukee, Cleveland State is still very much alive for the No. 1 seed and a chance to host next week's Horizon League tournament quarterfinals and semifinals.

With Valparaiso's 63-60 loss at Detroit on Wednesday, the No. 1 seed is up for grabs heading into the final weekend of HL play.

Valpo (25-5, 12-3 HL) leads the HL with one game to go.

However, Cleveland State (17-12, 11-4 HL), Green Bay (22-7, 11-4 HL) and Oakland (16-14, 11-4 HL) are a game back of the Phoenix.

The top four seeds will be determine on the court as CSU host Valpo (ESPNU, 10 p.m.) on Friday and Green Bay host OU on Saturday (ESPN3, 2 p.m.).

Here are the remaining seeding scenarios for the top four seeds:

If Valpo wins and Green Bay wins. The final standings would have Valpo at 13-3, Green Bay at 12-4, and CSU and Oakland would be tied at 11-5. Valpo would host the tournament. Green Bay would get the No. 2 seed. OU would get the No. 3 seed over the Vikings because the Golden Grizzlies went 1-1 against Valpo, while CSU is 0-2 against the Crusaders.

If Valpo wins and Oakland wins. The final standings would have Valpo at 13-3, OU at 12-4 and CSU and Green Bay would be tied at 11-5. Valpo would host the tournament, while OU would get the No. 2 seed and double-bye into semi-finals. CSU would get the No. 3 seed over Green Bay because of the season sweep of the Phoenix (2-0).

If CSU wins and Green Bay wins. The final standings would have CSU, Valpo and Green Bay tied at 12-4. CSU would get the No. 1 seed, Valpo would be No. 2, Green Bay is No. 3 and OU is No. 4. CSU holds the tie-breaker between Valpo and GB because of head-to-head records between the three schools. CSU would go 3-1 against Valpo/GB, while Valpo is 2-2 and GB 1-3.

If CSU wins and Oakland wins. The final standings would have CSU, OU and Valpo tied at 12-4. CSU and OU would get the top two seeds because of they swept GB, while Valpo went 1-1. The top two seeds would be determined by who had the highest RPI. As of Thursday, CSU had a RPI of 121 and OU 139, per College Basketball News. Valpo is No.3, while GB is No. 4.

Blackout Valpo: All fans who attend Friday's CSU-Valpo game are encouraged to wear black. The first 1,000 fans will receive a "1 team, 1 goal" t-shirt.

Free parking: CSU is offering free parking to the first 300 cars in the CSU south garage on East 21st street and Carnegie Ave..

Keane questionable: Kaza Keane (right knee sprain) had an MRI on Friday and has a "slim chance" to play against Green Bay.

Keane injured his knee in the first half of CSU's 66-60 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday.

If Keane can't play against the Crusaders, freshmen Terrell Hales and Kenny Carpenter could see an increase in playing time.

"They have to step up and play if Kaza can't go," Waters said about Hales and Carpenter at his weekly media gathering on Tuesday.

Make up date?:  CSU's final nonconference game at Western Carolina last week was cancelled because of the weather.

The game could be possibly made up next year.

"We are looking at playing it a year from now," Waters said.

New home: Former CSU Viking Norris Cole has played well with the New Orleans Pelicans since being traded from the Miami Heat on Feb. 19.

In his first three games with the Pelicans, Cole is averaging 12.7 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds. He's shooting 55.6 percent (15-27) from the floor, including 44.4 percent (4-9) from three-point range.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cleveland State Game at Western Carolina Cancelled

Tuesday night's Cleveland State-Western Carolina basketball game has been cancelled due to weather and travel conditions.

The nonconference game will not be made up.

CSU released the following statement:
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Due to poor travel and weather conditions in North Carolina, the Cleveland State men's basketball game at Western Carolina scheduled for Tuesday (Feb. 17) has been cancelled.
CSU was scheduled to fly out on Monday afternoon, but the charter flight was cancelled. The Vikings were rescheduled to fly out on Tuesday morning, but poor travel conditions also cancelled that flight.
The Vikings return to action on Friday (Feb. 20) when CSU plays at Green Bay at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cleveland State 67, UIC 59: Vikings Down Flames, Keeps Pace in Horizon League race


That was the one word Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters used to describe the Vikings' defensive effort in the second half against the Illinois-Chicago Flames on Sunday.

Trailing by four at the half to an upset-minded UIC squad that had won its previous two games on the road, Waters challenged his team at halftime to pick up their intensity on defense.

The Vikings clamped down on defense in the second half, holding the Flames to just eight field goals in the final 20 minutes and pulled out a 67-59 victory at the Wolstein Center to keep pace with the top teams in the Horizon League.

CSU (16-11, 10-3 HL) trails first-place Valparaiso (24-4, 11-2 HL) by one game with three games to go. Green Bay is one-half game behind CSU for the No. 2 seed and Oakland is a game and a half back of the Vikings.

In the HL, the top two seeds receive double-byes into the semifinals and only needs to win two games to claim the championship. The No. 1 seed also gets homefield advantage throughout the tournament.

Seeds No. 3 and No. 4 get a bye into the second round and only needs to win three games in five days to claim the championship.

Sunday's win over UIC guaranteed that CSU will finish no worse then fourth in the HL.

CSU outscored the Flames 37-25 in the final 20 minutes.

The Vikings shot 65.2 percent (15-of-23) in the second half, while holding the Flames to 24.2 percent (8-of-33) shooting in the final 20 minutes, including 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from three-point range.

"I thought our pressure caused them problems in the second half," Waters said. "They had only two turnovers in the first half, but we turned them over seven times in the second half."

A key for the Vikings was keeping Anton Grady and Marlin Mason on the floor together in the second half.

Grady (six) and Mason (three) protected the rim in the second half, combining for nine of CSU's season-high 11 blocked shots, 10 of them came in the second half.

"I thought the biggest key in the loss to Detroit was Anton getting in foul trouble in the first half and only playing five minutes," said Waters. "This game Marlin was in foul trouble in the first half and he only played three minutes. I thought that stopped our momentum. I thought we were able to use them well in the second half."

Trey Lewis led the Vikings with 18 points. The Garfield Heights product made his first three three-pointers and shot 7-of-14 from the field. He also had five rebounds, three assists, a blocked shot and a steal.

Grady just missed his seventh double double of the season, finishing with nine points and 13 rebounds. The Cleveland Central Catholic product missed his first five shots from the floor, then made four of his last six.

CSU also had strong games from Mason (11 points), Charlie Lee (nine points, eight assists), Andre Yates (eight points) and Vinny Zollo (eight points).

UIC (7-20, 3-9 HL) was led by Ahman Fells and Paris Burns who each added 17 points.

The Vikings took control of the game mid-way through the second half.

CSU used a 19-6 run that turned a 37-34 deficit into a 53-43 advantage.

During the decisive run, six different Vikings scored.

A Lee jumper started the run and CSU scored eight straight field goals to take a 49-41 lead on Lewis' layup.

Lewis capped off the run with a jumper, then a driving lay-up to extend the lead to 53-43.

Defense also keyed the decisive run for the Vikings as they caused three turnovers and held the Flames to just 2-of-9 shooting from the floor during that seven minute stretch.

A Lee to Mason alley-opp gave CSU its largest lead of the afternoon 60-47 with five minutes to go.

But the Flames would make one last run. They made three straight three-pointers to cut the lead down to 60-56 with 2:22 left.

However, CSU closed out the game making 5-of-6 free throws to stay undefeated at home in conference play.

The Vikings improved to 7-0 at the Wolstein Center in league games and are 12-2 at home overall.

It's the seventh time in eight years that CSU has reached double-digits in league wins.

CSU took an early 23-18 lead as they made its first seven three-pointers - Lewis and Zollo each had three of them.

But the Flames closed the half on a 16-7 run that gave them a 34-30 lead at the half.

The Flames only shot 32.3 percent (10-of-31) from the floor in the first half, while CSU shot 45.8 percent (11-of-24).

The difference in the first half came at the free throw line where UIC shot 10-of-12 (83.3 percent), while CSU made 1-of-3.

Senior day: Before the game, CSU honored its two seniors, Lee and Mason.

It was only fitting that both seniors played key roles in CSU's second half comeback.

Mason scored eight of his 11 points in the second half, while Lee scored all nine of his points in the final 20 minutes.

Lee's only three-pointer of the day gave CSU a 39-37 lead early in the second half. His eight assists tied a season-high.

"Charlie was playing on sure will out there today," said Waters. "He could barely move because his legs were tired. I thought he made just enough plays to give us what we needed to win this game."

Hales update: Terrell Hales missed Sunday's game with "a sore ankle." He injured his ankle in the first half of CSU's 66-65 loss to Detroit on Friday.

"I think the earliest we will get him back is against Green Bay," said Waters.

Familiar face: CSU recruit Rob Edwards, a standout at Cass Tech High School in Detroit, watched Friday's CSU-Detroit game from the stands.

Up next: CSU travels to Western Carolina for a non-conference game on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cleveland State 88, Wright State 72: Vikes Look to Finish Strong

Gary Waters is hoping that history doesn't repeat itself again this year.

With an 88-72 victory over Wright State on Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center, Cleveland State became the first Horizon League school to win nine games.

CSU (15-10, 9-2 HL), which have won three straight and six of its past seven, hold a half-game lead on both Valparaiso (21-4, 8-2 HL) and Green Bay (19-5, 8-2 HL), while Oakland (12-12, 7-2 HL) is a game back.

Once again, CSU enters February in control of its own destiny to host next month's HL tournament, but they will most likely need to win their remaining five league games in order to secure the No. 1 seed.

In the HL, the No. 1 seed gets to host the conference tournament quarterfinals and semifinals (March 6 and 7). The highest seed remaining after the semifinals will host the championship game (March 10).

CSU has never hosted the conference tournament since the league went to its current format for the 2002-03 season.

The importance of hosting the HL tournament means more this year because the top four teams - CSU, Valpo, Green Bay and OU - are a combined 21-0 at home in league play.

Three of CSU's next four league games are on the road, including a Feb. 20 rematch at Green Bay. They close out the season hosting Valpo at home in a nationally televised game on ESPNU, which could be for all the marbles.

"We have been in this place, maybe four times. Four times that we had this same case scenario [and didn't finish strong],  Waters said. "One year we were up two games going into [February] and we lost a key player, but I can't use that as an excuse. [This year] we want to finish strong."

What Waters is referring to is CSU's late season collapses in the month of February.

Three years ago when Anton Grady and Charlie Lee were freshman, the 2011-12 CSU squad started out 10-2 and held a half-game lead on second-place Valpo, then collapsed down the stretch.

They lost four straight conference games - including an embarrassing 59-41 loss to Valpo at the Wolstein Center and finished in second-place, two games back of the Crusaders.

The Vikings were upset by eventual HL tournament champion, Detroit in the semifinals.

Why does Waters think this year could be different?

"What I can say is we have had multiple lineups now," said Waters. "So you can use different people now to help you in games and that will help us in the long run because it gives us more numbers."

Another reason this could be a different year is the emergence of Grady.

Grady, an undersized 6-foot-8 forward who plays the five for CSU, dominated WSU's 6-foot-10 center Michael Karena, scoring 22 points in just 29 minutes due to foul trouble.

Sixteen of Grady's points came in the second half that helped hold off the Raiders late rally. He shot 10-of-13 from the floor.

"Anton was unbelievable inside," said Waters. "They couldn't handle him in there. He was scoring at will."

In CSU's 11 league games, Grady is averaging 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 58.1 percent from the floor.

The last time CSU went to the NCAA tournament they had a dominate big man in J'Nathan Bullock.

Lee led the Vikings with a season-high 27 points, 16 of them came in the second half. The Milwaukee native was 7-of-11 from the floor and made all 12 of his free throws.

"Charlie had one of his phenomenal games," said Waters. "He controlled the tempo, hit his free throws and hit some big shots."

Trey Lewis added 15 points, while Andre Yates (10 points) and Marlin Mason (six) provided all 16 points from the bench.

WSU (11-13, 3-7 HL) had five players in double-figures, led by Joe Thomasson who had 17 points off the bench. Karena, Reggie Arcenaux and Grant Benzinger each added 13 points for the Raiders, while Chrishawn Hopkins added 10.

CSU had its best offensive performance of the season. They had season-highs in points (88) and field goal percentage (61.2).

Midway through the first half, CSU made nine straight field goals and scored 13 straight points to take a 23-10 lead on a three-pointer from Lewis.

With Karena sitting on the bench with three fouls, WSU switched to a five-guard lineup late in the first half that gave CSU some matchup problems.

A 10-3 run over the next three minutes closed WSU within 26-20.

"They tried some things out there running five guards and that's hard to guard," said Waters. "At one point, we had to go away from what we do just so we could keep them in front of us because they are great drivers."

Back-to-back threes from Lee and Yates capped off an 18-9 run and gave CSU its largest lead of the half, 44-29.

However, WSU scored the last four points to cut the lead down to 44-33 at the half.

CSU shot a blistering 66.7 percent (16-of-24) from the floor in the first half, while WSU shot 41.7 percent (10-of-24), including 2-of-10 (20 percent) from three-point range.

The second half was a different story.

WSU made seven of its first nine field goals in the second half, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, to pull within 56-50 on Benzinger's second three of the half.

"We had some breakdowns," said Waters. "Our matchups were kind of mixed up at the time. We kind of broke down a little bit."

CSU answered back with five straight points from Grady to push the lead back into double figures, 61-50.

"We got to feed our horse," said Lee. "They were too little inside."

Three times, the Raiders closed within four, but CSU was there to answer back each time.

A three-pointer from Arcenaux cut the lead to 66-62 with 9:58 left, but that was the closest they would get. CSU answered back with a layup from Lewis and a jumper from Grady to push the lead out to 72-64.

With CSU leading by nine late in the game, Waters took some advice from his coaching staff and switched to an amoeba zone defense.

The gamble worked as WSU scored only two field goals in its final nine possessions.

"Coach Larry [DeSimpelare] said to me 'coach can we try the amoeba'. I was hesitate because I didn't want [Benzinger] to run around hitting threes, but I gave in," said Waters. "I thought it really did a good job [of slowing them down]."

CSU closed the game out making 12 of 13 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win. Lee made 9-of-9 from the line in the final 5:48.

The Vikings shot 56 percent (14-of-25) in the second half, while WSU shot 66.7 percent (16-of-24), including 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from three-point range.

Up Next: CSU travels to Detroit on Friday night. ESPNU will televise the game. Tipoff is 8 p.m.

CSU Basketball Notebook: Anton Grady Quietly Having POY-Worthy Season

As we begin to head into the homestretch for the Horizon League basketball season, the buzz surrounding individual awards is certainly going to start picking up.

Several names have already emerged as top contenders to take home the Player of the Year award.

Green Bay's Keifer Sykes is there, as is Valparaiso's Alec Peters and Oakland's Kahlil Felder. Cleveland State's Trey Lewis and Detroit's Juwan Howard, Jr. should also be in the mix.

One player who could almost be a little bit overlooked in the discussion, however, is CSU redshirt junior Anton Grady.

Grady, a 6-foot-8 forward, is averaging 13.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

In his first 14 nonconference games, Grady averaged just 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, while shooting 42.1 percent. The Vikings went 6-8 in those games.

But since conference play began, Grady has taken his game to another level.

In CSU's 11 league games, Grady leads the Vikings in scoring (16.2) and rebounding (8.9), while shooting 58.1 percent from the floor.  His improved play is one of the biggest reasons that CSU have won nine of its first 11 league games and are in first place in the HL.

In league games only, Grady is the only player in the HL in the top five in scoring (fourth), rebounding (second), field goal percentage (fourth), blocked shots (three) and steals (first).

Heading into Saturday's game against Wright State, Grady had five double doubles in his previous six games. The only game he didn't have a double double was against Green Bay when he went for 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

On Saturday, Grady did not get another double-double, but was too much for WSU's 6-foot-10 junior center Michael Karena to handle. He scored 22 points in only 29 minutes due to foul trouble and was 10-of-13 shooting from the floor.

"Anton was unbelievable inside," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said after CSU's 88-72 victory over WSU. "They couldn't handle him in there. He was scoring at will."

Sixteen of Grady's points came in the second half.

"You got to feed our horse," CSU senior guard Charlie Lee said. "They were too little inside."

Grady has overcome three knee surgeries on both knees to become the most dominate big man in the HL.

"I thought he was going to dominate the league [as a sophomore]. How athletic he was and how he was moving," Waters said. "I remember when we played at Green Bay [his freshman year] he literally took them apart with 27 [points] and 18 [rebounds]. Then the knee [surgeries]."

After his freshman year, Grady had his second knee operation (his first knee surgery happened during his junior year at Cleveland Central Catholic).

"He really rehabbed during the summer and came back ready to go again," said Waters. "He was really dominating in there [as a sophomore], I think we started out 5-1, then he went down. From that point on, he had struggles with his knees."

In the six games Grady played as sophomore, he was averaging 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocked shots per game.

He had his third knee surgery and redshirted the 2012-13 season.

Grady played in 31 games last year, averaging 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game. But he wasn't fully recovered.

He told the media after a game last year that he still had pain in his knees.

But before the season began, Grady told the media his knees felt the best that they have been in his four years at CSU.

"I think this is the best offseason since I've been here," Grady said after the WSU game. "[Strength coach] Tim [Bilbrey] and [athletic trainer] Max [Benton] have made a game plan and after every game and every practice we do certain things to make sure my legs are feeling good."

Waters said CSU has also cut practice time by an hour.

When Grady heard Waters mention about practice being cut short, he shouted out: "And is has been working. Nine and two [CSU's record in conference play]."

Milestone for Waters: Saturday's game was Gary Waters 600th career game as a head coach.

"That means I'm getting old," Waters, CSU's all-time winnegest coach, said laughing.

In his 19th season as a head coach, Waters has compiled a record of 343-257 at Kent State, Rutgers and CSU.

Waters is 172-122 in nine seasons at CSU.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cleveland State 76, Green Bay 62: Vikings Return the Favor, Rout Phoenix

Before Cleveland State's game against Green Bay on Saturday afternoon, Trey Lewis reminded Anton Grady about what happened in last year's first place showdown.

"I was telling Anton right before the game started, 'do you remember what happened last year.' They came here and dominated us and that left a bad taste in our mouths," Lewis said. "So we came out here with the mindset that we are going to return the favor."

Last year in February, Green Bay came to Cleveland leading the Horizon League and holding a game lead on the second-place Vikings.

But on the day before the game, CSU's leading scorer Bryn Forbes came down with the flu and was hospitalized the next morning prior to the game.

Without Forbes, CSU never recovered.

Green Bay jumped out to a 24-5 lead and never looked back. They wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League tournament with a 68-54 victory at the Wolstein Center.

On Saturday, Green Bay came back to Cleveland leading the HL again and holding a half-game lead on the second-place Vikings.

And once again, CSU had to find a way to win without one of its top players in Marlin Mason, who missed his third straight game with a viral infection.

But this time, CSU was ready for the Phoenix.

They jumped out to an early 25-8 lead and never looked back. CSU moved back into a share of first-place in the HL with a 76-62 victory over Green Bay at the Wolstein Center in front of its largest crowd of the season.

"We could have played in an empty gym and would have been ready to play," Grady said.

CSU (13-10, 7-2 HL ), winners of nine of its last 11 games, are tied with Valparaiso (20-4, 7-2 HL) for first-place in the HL standings.

The loss drops Green Bay (17-5, 6-2 HL), the preseason favorites to win the conference, to second place, a half-game back in the standings.

CSU is off to their best start in the conference play after nine games, tying the 2007-08 and 2011-12 squads.

The Vikings' big three of Lewis, Grady and Charlie Lee combined for 61 points.

Lewis scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. He shot 9-of-15 from the floor, including four three-pointers and was 3-of-4 at the foul line.

Grady continued his dominance in HL play and contributed 24 points and six rebounds. He shot 8-of-13 from the floor and was 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.

In CSU's nine league games, Grady is averaging 14.4 points and a conference-best 9.4 rebounds per game.

Lee added 12 points and dished out seven assists.

A key for the Vikings was keeping Keifer Sykes and Jordan Fouse in check.

Sykes, the HL's leading scorer at 19.2 points per game, was held to 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Fouse had six points and eight rebounds.

Junior guard Kaza Keane took on the challenge of guarding Sykes and held the HL's preseason Player of the Year without a shot attempt from the floor in the first half.  Sykes scored nine of his points in the second half, most of them came when the game was already decided.

Waters pointed out that two of Sykes field goals came on break away steals and dunks.

"So we really held him to just two field goals," he said. "We shut him down."

Lewis took on the challenge of guarding Fouse and held the 6-foot-7 swingman to 3-of-8 shooting from the floor.

"This is the first time we controlled Fouse," Waters said. "Fouse has been the biggest nemesis for us. We lost to them twice last year and both times he had big games. I thought we did a great job on him."

Carrington Love led Green Bay with 14 points. Greg Mays added 13 and Daeshon Francis 10.

It was only fitting that CSU's defense played a key role in the game.

The Vikings held Green Bay, the highest scoring team in the HL, to 10 points under their scoring average of 72.1 points per game.

"We wanted to control the tempo," said Waters. "I think we did a good job of that."

The Vikings were able to control the tempo by walking the ball up the court.

Green Bay, who likes to get out and score in transition, had only six fast break points.

It was a close game for the first five minutes as CSU led 11-8 at the first media timeout.

Both teams got off to good starts shooting the basketball. CSU made five of its first six shots, while Green Bay made 4-of-8.

But the next five minutes were dominated by CSU.

By the second media timeout, the Vikings pushed the lead out to 20-8. The Phoenix got careless with the ball and turned it over five times during that five minute stretch, which led to seven points for the Vikings.

Grady scored eight of CSU's first 20 points as he made his first four shots from the floor.

"Coach [Waters] came up with about three new plays against the zone and we executed them to perfection," said Grady. "I was really happy because two of the three [plays] were for me."

A three-pointer by Lewis and a layup from Demonte Flannigan put CSU up by 17.

However, CSU would let Green Bay back into the game as it went through another long scoring drought.

The Vikings would score only two field over the final 8:46 of the first half as Green Bay used a 10-2 run to close within 30-21.

But a Flannigan lay-up just before the half gave CSU a 32-21 lead at the intermission.

CSU shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the floor in the opening half, while the Phoenix were held to 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) shooting.

Lewis (10 points) and Grady (nine) combined for 19 points in the first half. Mays led Green Bay with eight points. No other Phoenix player had more then three points in the first 20 minutes.

The Phoenix scored the first six points of the second half to close within 32-27, which led to a timeout by CSU.

Coming out of the timeout, CSU responded with a 14-4 run - 10 of those points coming from Lewis - that pushed the lead out to 46-31 with 12:32 left.

However, Green Bay would make one last run. A three-point play by Sykes cut the deficit to 47-39.

But a three-point play from Andre Yates pushed the lead back to double digits.

The Vikings closed out the game by making 18-of-23 free throws down the stretch for their biggest home win in six years.

Mason update: Waters said Mason had another spinal tap on Thursday and he "instantly felt better."

Mason sat on CSU's bench Saturday and could return next week.

Up next: The Vikings host in-state rival Youngstown State on Wednesday, while Green Bay travels to Wright State on Monday.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cleveland State 70, Detroit 66: Vikings Overcome Adversity, knock off Titans

The Cleveland State men's basketball team has faced its fair share of adversity this season.

The season started out with a six game suspension to starting point guard Charlie Lee for a violation of team rules.

Then they dealt with blowing leads late, early season fouling issues, and there was even a 90-minute post-game team meeting after the Bowling Green game where players opened up about issues they were going through at the time.

On Friday, they had to win a key conference home game without two starters.

So when they fell behind nine points early in the second half that didn't really phase them.

"I don't think we ever expected to lose [this game]," Anton Grady said. "We had two starters down, but us as a unit we knew what we had to do. We had to give more and had to do more, but we never doubted we could win this game."

CSU outscored Detroit 36-23 the rest of the way and pulled out a 70-66 victory Friday night at the Wolstein Center.

With the win, the Vikings (12-9, 6-1 HL) remain tied atop the HL standings with Green Bay (17-4, 6-1), which defeated Valparaiso on Friday.

The Vikings played without Andre Yates (ankle) and Marlin Mason (illness).

With two starters out, CSU head coach Gary Waters gave his "big three" of Trey Lewis, Grady and Charlie Lee a pep talk in the locker room about stepping up.

"I talked to them [in the locker room] and told them you have to come [today] because we can't overcome this team unless you three get it done," he said. "You take San Antonio [Spurs] their big three have to come if they want to win a game."

CSU's "big three" were up for the challenge and combined to score 60 of CSU's 70 points. Only four other Vikings scored in the game and no one else scored more then four points.

Lewis led the Vikings with a game-high 30 points. He shot 5-of-11 from three-point range and was 7-of-11 at the free throw line. He also grabbed eight rebounds.

Grady had his third straight double-double and 14th of his career. The Cleveland Central Catholic product contributed 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"That's big time," Waters said about Grady's performance.

Lee scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He was 4-of-9 from the floor, including a three-pointer and made all six of his free throw attempts.

Detroit (10-11, 3-3 HL) was led by Paris Bass with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Juwan Howard, Jr. added 14 points for the Titans who lost for only the second time in their last six games, while Chris Jenkins contributed 12 points and Jarod Williams 10.

The Vikings shot 50 percent (11-of-22) from the floor in the first half and held a 30-28 lead at the intermission.

CSU could have easily lead by double figures at the half, but they made only 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) free throws in the opening half.

The Titans opened the second half on a 15-4 run to take a 43-34 lead, which led to a timeout by CSU.

"Coach [Waters] jumped on us," Grady said about what Waters said during the timeout. "He gave us that look in his eye and we came out and reacted to it."

Waters added: "I said we are not losing this game in our house. This is our house. I think the fire was lit then."

The Vikings responded with a 19-9 run over the next 10 minutes to take a 53-52 lead on Lewis' driving lay-up.

Once CSU regained the lead, they never relinquished it.

On CSU's next possession, Lee drained a three-pointer for some breathing room that extended the lead to 56-52 with 4:13 left.

"Down the stretch, teams start to wear out and we have another level we can take it to because of the way we practice," said Grady.

The Vikings closed out the game making its final 11 free throws for its six win in the past seven games.

"Coach told us this game was going to come down to free throws," said Lewis, who made five of CSU's 11 free throws in the final six minutes. "We focused in at the end and came together."

Injury updates: Waters said that Yates could be out "two to three weeks."

"It's a high ankle sprain," he said. "It's still swollen."

Yates sprained his ankle in the second half of CSU's 74-61 victory at Youngstown State Saturday.

As for Mason, Waters said he came down with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday and was hospitalized. He was released Friday morning.

"He had a spinal tap because they thought he had meningitis," said Waters. "The doctor said he could play as soon as he's healthy."

Sneakers and suits: Both coaching staffs wore tennis shoes with a suit as part of Coaches vs. Cancer’s “Suits and Sneakers Awareness Week" to raise awareness about the fight against cancer.

Up next: CSU travels to Oakland on Monday.

The Golden Grizzlies (8-11, 3-2 HL) are undefeated at home in Horizon play - including wins against both Green Bay and Valparaiso.

"That's going to be a tough game," said Waters.

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.