Monday, January 26, 2015

Cleveland State-Oakland preview

Cleveland State at Oakland

7 p.m. at the O'rena in Rochester, Mich.

Records: Cleveland State 12-9, 6-1 HL

TV/live game feed: None / ESPN3 (Free)

Radio1420-AM WHK - The Answer

Series: CSU leads, 6-0.

Line: Cleveland State -2

Oakland probable starters: G Kahlil Felder (16.8 ppg, 7.3 apg), G Dante Williams (10 ppg), G/F Tommie McCune  (9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), F Jalen Hayes (6.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg), C Corey Petros (13.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg).

Cleveland State probable starters: G Kaza Keane (4.1 ppg), G Trey Lewis (17.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.2 apg), F Anton Grady (12.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg),  G Charlie Lee (11.8 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Marlin Mason (8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

Notes: The Vikings, winners of six of the past seven games, hit the road again to face Oakland.... CSU defeated the Golden Grizzlies 65-61 at the Wolstein Center on Jan. 8..... The Golden Grizzlies have won six straight at the O'rena - including wins against Green Bay and Valparaiso.... CSU has never lost to Oakland in six games....The Vikings are coming off a gritty 70-66 victory over Detroit Friday at the Wolstein Center, in which CSU played without two starters....Against the Titans, CSU's "big three" of Trey Lewis, Anton Grady and Charlie Lee combined for 60 of CSU's 70 points.....Lewis was named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the second consecutive week... OU has won three straight and are coming off  a 66-53 win over Milwaukee at the O'Rena....The 53 points allowed against Milwaukee were the second fewest point total OU has ever allowed in the history of the O'Rena....OU is 7-3 at home, while CSU is 4-7 on the road, but the Vikings have won three of its last four road games.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

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

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

It started out with a 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 postgame team meeting after the Bowling Green game where the players opened up about issues that they were going through at the time.

On Friday night, CSU had to deal with trying to win a key conference game with two starters out and had to overcome a dismal first half shooting from the foul line.

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

"I didn't think we ever expected to lose [this game]," said Anton Grady.

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

The Vikings, winners of six of its last seven games, improved to 12-9 overall and 6-1 in the Horizon League, while the Titans dropped to 10-11 overall and 3-3 in the HL.

With the win, CSU remains tied for first place in the HL standings with Green Bay (17-4, 6-1 HL), who defeated Valparaiso Friday, 51-50.

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

With two starters out, Vikings head coach Gary Waters approached CSU's "big three" before the game for a pep talk.

"I told them you three have to come [today]," he said. "We can't overtake this team without you three getting it done."

CSU's "big three" of Trey Lewis, Anton Grady, and Lee were up to the challenge and combined for 60 points in the win against the Titans. No other Viking scored more then four.

UD was led by Paris Bass with 19 points. Juwan Howard, Jr. added 14 points for the Titans, while Chris Jenkins contributed 12 and Jarod Williams 10.

CSU took a 30-28 lead at the half. The Vikings could have easily led by double-digits at the intermission, but they missed 10 free throws in the opening half.

The Titans opened the second half on a 15-2 run, knocking down three three-pointers, to take a 43-34 lead on Williams' lay-up. That led to a timeout by Waters.

"He jumped on us," Lee said on what Waters said during the timeout. "He gave us that look in his eye and we reacted to it."

Waters added: "I told them we are not losing this game in our house. This is our house. I think it lit a fire in them."

CSU responded with a 19-9 run and took the lead back 53-52 on Lewis' lay-up with 4:53 left.

Once CSU got the lead back, they never relinquished it.

Williams turned the ball over on UD's next possession and Lee drained a three-pointer for the Vikings for some breathing-room.

CSU closed out the game making 11 straight free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

"Coach [Waters] told us this game was going to come down to free throws," said Lewis. "We focused at the end and came together."

After shooting 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from the foul line in the first half, CSU shot 16-of-19 (84.2 percent) in the second half.

Lewis led the Vikings with a game-high 30 points. The Garfield Heights product shot 9-of-19 from the floor, including five three-pointers. He shot 7-of-11 from the charity stripe.

Grady had his third straight double-double, posting 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. He also had four blocked shots.

Lee added 15 points. The senior from Milwaukee shot 4-of-9 from the floor - including a three-pointer - and made all six of his shots from the line.

"Our freshmen helped us today," said Waters. "I thought Kenny Carpenter came in a did a few things and I thought Terrell Hales played hard on defense."

Carpenter had four points in 12 minutes off the bench.

Injury updates:  Waters said that Mason came down with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday and was hospitalized. He was released Friday.

"They gave him a spinal tap because they thought he had meningitis," Waters said on Mason. "They said he could play as soon as he's healthy.

As for Yates, Waters said he has a high ankle sprain. Yates injured his ankle in the second half of CSU's 74-61 victory at Youngstown State last Saturday.

"It typically takes 2-3 weeks to recover from a high ankle sprain," said Waters.

Suits and sneakers: Both coaching staffs wore tennis shoes as part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches "Suits and Sneakers" week to raise cancer awareness.

Up next:  CSU travels to Rochester, Mich. to face Oakland on Monday.

The Vikings defeated OU 65-61 on Jan. 8 at the Wolstein Center, but it is expected to be a much tougher game at the O'rena.

Already the Grizzlies have knocked off both Green Bay and Valpo on its home court and have won six straight at the O'rena.

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Detroit-Cleveland State Preview

Detroit at Cleveland State

7 p.m. at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio

Records: Detroit 10-10, 3-2 HL; Cleveland State 11-9, 5-1 HL

TV/live game feed: None / ESPN3 (Free)

Radio1420-AM WHK - The Answer

Series: Detroit leads, 37-20.

Line: Cleveland State -6

Detroit probable starters: G/F Paris Bass (11.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg), F Juwan Howard, Jr. (18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), G/F Chris Jenkins (7.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Jarod Williams (5.1 ppg), F Youssoupha Kane (2.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg).

Cleveland State probable starters: G Kaza Keane (4.3 ppg), G Trey Lewis (16.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.3 apg), F Anton Grady (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg),  G Charlie Lee (11.6 ppg, 4.2 apg), F Marlin Mason (8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

Notes: After opening HL play with four of its first six games on the road, CSU will play four of its next five conference games at the Wolstein Center where they are 7-2 on the season....The Vikings are currently tied for first place in the HL standings with Valparaiso (18-3, 5-1 HL) and Green Bay  (16-4, 5-1 HL).... Tonight's matchup features two of the hottest teams in the HL, CSU has won five of its past six games, while Detroit has won four of its last five.....Andre Yates (ankle) is doubtful and Terrell Hales (ankle) is questionable for the Vikings....CSU junior guard Trey Lewis was named the HL Player of the Week. Lewis, a Garfield Heights product, averaged 21.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in CSU's two road wins last week against Wright State and Youngstown State....The Vikings swept Detroit last season and have won five of the past seven meetings in the series....CSU has won four straight against the Titans at the Wolstein Center....The Titans are 3-6 on the road and have won two straight away from Calihan Hall - including an impressive 81-69 overtime victory against Northeastern on Monday....Against Northeastern, Paris Bass (19 points) scored the first nine points in overtime for the Titans, who outscored the Huskies 21-9 in the OT period.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cleveland State-Youngstown State preview

Cleveland State at Youngstown State

7 p.m. at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, Ohio

Records: Cleveland State 10-9, 4-1 HL; Youngstown State 9-11, 0-5 HL

TV/live game feed: None / ESPN3 (Free)

Radio1220-AM WHKW

Series: CSU leads, 42-39.

Line: Cleveland State -6

YSU probable starters: G Marcus Keane (16.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg), G DJ Cole (9.1 ppg, 5.5 apg, 2.6 apg), G Osandai Vaughn (4.9 ppg), F Fletcher Larson (2.4 ppg), C Bobby Hain (15.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg).

Cleveland State probable starters: G Andre Yates (6.8 ppg), G Trey Lewis (15.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Anton Grady (12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg),  G Charlie Lee (11.4 ppg, 3.4 apg), F Marlin Mason (8.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

Notes: Cleveland State is playing the final of a three-game road swing. The Vikings are 3-7 on the road, but have won two of its first three road games in the conference.... The Vikings are 1-1 on its current road trip and are coming off a 54-50 upset victory at Wright State on Wednesday... Against the Raiders, CSU closed out the game on a 10-1 run to win its second road win in conference. No other HL team has won more then one road game in league play....The Vikings held WSU without a field goal for the final 7:13....Dayton native Andre Yates made his only basket of the game with 1:19 left, but it was a big one and put CSU up for good 51-50. CSU closed out the game with a three-point play from Trey Lewis and a free throw from Charlie Lee for the final score....Youngstown State is still looking for its first win in league play (0-5)....The Penguins opened HL play with four of its first five games on the road....YSU is 5-3 at the Beeghly Center, but three of those wins came against non-Division I programs....YSU has won the past two games in the series at the Beeghly Center, including a 67-66 nail-bitter last year....Both teams have split the last six games in the series.

CSU Basketball Notebook: Vikings look for third road win in league play

The Cleveland State men's basketball team has won four of its first five conference games and sit a top of the Horizon League standings after a Green Bay loss at Oakland on Thursday.

CSU (10-9 overall, 4-1 HL) leads Green Bay, Valparaiso and Detroit, who are all 3-1 in the HL, by a half-game.

The Vikings, which won only one of its first seven road games, have suddenly become road warriors in conference play.

They have won two of its first three HL road games and will look for its third road win in conference play Saturday at rival-Youngstown State, who are still looking for its first win in the league (0-5).

No other HL school have won more then one road game in league games (Green Bay, Detroit, Wright State each have one road win).

The Vikings have won road games at UIC and stole a victory Wednesday night at Fairborn, Ohio against Wright State. 

Against the Raiders, CSU trailed 49-44 with 6:43 to play. But the Vikings held WSU without a field goal for the final 7:13.

The Raiders couldn't close-out the game as they went 1-of-4 at the line down the stretch. Michael Karena twice missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Kendall Griffin split a pair at the line.

CSU closed the game on a 10-1 run.

With 1:19 left, Dayton native Andre Yates made his only basket of the game and it was a big one. His three-pointer put the Vikings up for good, 51-50.

CSU closed-out the game with a three-point play from Trey Lewis and a free throw from Charlie Lee for a 54-50 victory.

The Vikings could have easily been 3-0 on the road in conference games, but they were unable to close out Valparaiso last Saturday.

Against the Crusaders, CSU held a 54-51 lead with 2:27 left, but only managed two free throws down the stretch and fell to Valpo, 58-56.

"We should have won that game," CSU head coach Gary Waters said at his Media Gathering this week. "We had every opportunity to pull that one out, but just didn't complete it. All we had to do is make our free throws and the game was ours."

YSU (9-11) has opened HL play with four of its first five league games on the road. They have played CSU tough in recent years. Both teams have split the past six games in the series.  The Penguins have won the last two meetings at the Beeghly Center, including a 67-66 nail-bitter last year.

The Penguins are 5-3 at the Beeghly Center this season, but three of those wins have come against non-division I opponents.

"We have to hit some shots. If we don't hit shots it will be tough for us," Waters said. "We can't let them excel in transition."

Here is what Waters had to say on some other topics:

On Lewis' recent struggles: "What is happening is they are literally engulfing him on the outside and there is a bigger guy on him and now he has to take that guy and get him off of him. I don't see this as a season long situation. I think he is learning something that he has to pick up himself. This is not a team thing, but an individual thing he has to figure out. Trey can't settle for the outside shot. He's got to drive the ball and that will give him better opportunities [to score]"

After two sub par performances, Lewis had a bounce back game against Wright State, scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor.

In his previous two games, Lewis had been struggling as teams have been guarding him with a much taller defender. The Garfield Heights product scored a total of five points against Oakland and Valparaiso, while shooting 1-of-11 from the floor, including missing all six shots from three-point range.

On Grady:  "Anton [Grady] has been playing a complete game inside. He's rebounding and defending in there."

After struggling in the non-conference season, Grady has picked up his game during HL play. Grady is averaging 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game during league games, while shooting 58.5 percent (31-of-53) from the floor.

The Cleveland Central Catholic product has already posted two double-doubles in league games.

On the bench: "I'm a believer that your bench is what makes you and gives you that lift. We are so reliant on our starting five. One of the reasons why our bench is so important is because we pressure, so we got to give our starters some rest. Somebody needs to step up."

In five conference games, CSU's bench is averaging just 13 points a game. Waters typically wants his bench to provide between 20-25 points.

Waters said that Vinny Zollo (3.6 points) and Kaza Keane (4.4 points) needs to step up.

"I'm still a believer that Vinny can bring that production. I got to get him to do more then shoot threes," said Waters. "I got to get Kaza to give us more offensively."

Zollo and Keane have struggled in conference games and are averaging 3.2 and 0.7 points respectively in league games.

So far the most productive bench player in league games has been Demonte Flannigan, who is averaging 4.8 points in CSU's last five games.

Flannigan is shooting 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the floor in league games. Against Wright State, Flannigan scored six points in six minutes. He tied a career-high with eight points against Oakland on Jan. 8.

"His energy has really picked up," said Waters. "For us to be able to compete for a league title, Demonte has to be a key factor. He can score on the block, he just needs to take his time."

On recruiting: "We are going to bring in another big kid. We got to have some [big] bodies."

What CSU is looking for are true centers who are roughly 6-9, 240-pounds.

The Vikings only have one true center on the roster in 6-9, 260-pound Aaron Scales.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cleveland State-Wright State preview

Cleveland State at Wright State

7 p.m. at the Nutter Center in Fairborn, OH

Records: Cleveland State 9-9, 3-1 HL; Wright State 10-7, 2-1 HL

TV/live game feed: Time Warner Sports Channel / ESPN3 (Free)

Radio1420-AM WHK

Series: Tied, 31-31.

Line: Wright State -2

Valpo probable starters: F JT Yoho (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg), C Michael Karena (6.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg), G Reggie Arcenaux (7.7 ppg), G Chrisawn Hopkins (9.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg), G Joe Thomasson (10.9 ppg, 5.9, rpg, 3.2 apg).

Cleveland State probable starters: G Andre Yates (7.1 ppg), G Trey Lewis (15.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Anton Grady (12.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg),  G Charlie Lee (12,3 ppg, 3.8 apg), F Marlin Mason (7.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

Notes: Cleveland State hits the road again for the second game of a three-game road trip....The Vikings dropped the opening game of the road swing, a 58-56 loss at Valparaiso on Saturday.... Against the Crusaders, the Vikings took a 54-51 lead with 2:27 left, but were unable to closeout the game again.  CSU managed just two free throws down the stretch, while Valpo finished the game on a 7-2 run.... Trey Lewis has struggled in CSU's last three games, scoring a total of 16 points. Lewis, CSU's leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, has had difficulties scoring as teams have been guarding him with a much bigger guard....While Lewis has struggled, Anton Grady and Charlie Lee have found their grove....In Horizon League games, Grady and Lee are both averaging 15.3 points per game.... Wright State has won four of the last five contests against the Vikings, including taking 2-of-3 last year...The Raiders are coming off an impressive 70-61 victory at Youngstown State on Thursday night...In the win against the Penguins, four Raiders finished in double-figures....WSU is 5-1 at home, while CSU is 2-7 on the road....Billy Donlon is 4-6 all-time against the Vikings.... This will be a homecoming game for CSU's Andre Yates, a Dayton native who starred at Dayton Dunbar High School....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cleveland State-Valparaiso Preview

Cleveland State at Valparaiso

8 p.m. at the Athletics & Recreation Center

Records: Cleveland State 9-8, 3-0 HL; Valparaiso 15-3, 2-1 HL

TV/live game feed: none / ESPN3 (Free)

Radio1220-AM WHKW

Series: Cleveland State leads, 30-13.

Line: Valpo -5.5

Valpo probable starters: F Alec Peters (17.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg), C Vashil Fernandez (7.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G E. Victor Nickerson (5.4 ppg), G Tevonn Walker (10.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg), G Darien Walker (10.1 ppg, 4.2, rpg).

Cleveland State probable starters: G Andre Yates (7.0 ppg), G Trey Lewis (16.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Anton Grady (12 ppg, 6.1 rpg),  G Charlie Lee (12,1 ppg, 3.5 apg), F Marlin Mason (8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

Notes: Both schools are off to good starts in Horizon League play as CSU (3-0) leads the conference, while Valpo (2-1) is a game back....CSU has won three straight, while Valpo has won two in a roll....The Vikings swept the series last year, but the Crusaders had won six of the previous eight....Valpo's Keith Carter (dislocated toe) and David Chadwick (knee) have been ruled out of tonight's game...CSU is 2-6 on the road, while Valpo is 7-1 at home....The Vikings are coming off a 65-61 win over Oakland Thursday at the Wolstein Center, despite Trey Lewis going scoreless (0-2 FG)....With Lewis struggling, it was Andre Yates (14 points), Marlin Mason (11 points), Terrell Hales (nine points) and Demonte Flannigan (eight points) who stepped up and picked up the scoring slack....The Crusaders are coming off a 85-56 route of Illinois-Chicago Thursday at the arc....Saturday's match-up is between one of the best scoring teams in the league against one of the best defensive teams...Valpo is the top scoring team in the HL, averaging 74.4 points per game, while CSU is third in scoring defense, allowing only 61.9 points per game.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cleveland State 65, Oakland 61: Late Defensive Stand Seals Vikings Win

The Cleveland State men's basketball team was in another familiar situation on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

They had a 59-47 lead with seven minutes left, then went to another long scoring drought and nearly blew the game.

CSU only made three field goals the rest of the way as Oakland used a 14-2 run to close within 63-61 with 2:15 left.

But CSU made a late defensive stand to hold off the Golden Grizzlies, 65-61.

OU had four chances to tie the game, or win it with a three-pointer, but the Vikings were there to make the stop every time.

"That last four possessions, Anton [Grady] and Marlin [Mason] put a glove around the basket," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said. "They wouldn't let you get a basket."

It was Grady and Terrell Hales who saved the Vikings coming up with the two biggest defensive plays of the game.

With 20 seconds left, OU's star Kahlil Felder drove down the lane, but he was met by Grady who swatted his shot out of bounce.

Then with 15 seconds left, OU was inbounding the ball under their own hoop and tried to get the ball to the 5-foot-9 Felder on an alley-oop pass.

Felder was quickly swarmed by three Vikings defenders and Hales blocked his shot.  Then Hales snatched the ball in mid-air, and went coast-to-coast for a layup for the final score.

"He cuffed it," Waters said about Hales game-winning block. "That was a big time block."

The Vikings, who have won three straight, improved to 9-8 overall and 3-0 in the Horizon League, while OU dropped to 5-11 overall and 1-1 in the HL

CSU is off to its best start in league play since 2010-11 season when they won its first four conference games. That was Norris Cole's senior year.

"This was an important win for us," said Waters. "We had to hold serve at home because now we got three straight road games and four of the next five are on the road. Now we got to try to steal some on the road."

The Vikings travel to Valparaiso on Saturday, then head to Wright State on  Jan. 14 and closeout their longest road trip in HL play on Jan. 17 at Youngstown State.

Valpo and WSU are both 2-1 in the conference, while YSU is 0-3.

It was a total team effort for the Vikings. They won despite Trey Lewis and Grady combining for just six points.

OU's defensive ace Dante Williams held Lewis scoreless and limited CSU's leading scorer (17.6 points per game) to just two shot attempts from the floor.

"He did a fabulous job. His height was causing Trey trouble," Waters said about the 6-foot-6 Williams who was guarding the 6-foot-2 Lewis.

As for Grady, he struggled with foul trouble and had six points in 24 minutes.

With Lewis and Grady struggling, it was Andre Yates, Mason, Hales and Demonte Flannigan who stepped up and picked up the scoring slack.

Yates scored all 14 of his points in the second half - including a huge lay-up and jumper down the stretch to help CSU preserve the lead.

"Without Andre's contribution, this might have been a different outcome," said Waters.

Mason scored seven of his 11 points in the second half, while Hales (nine points) and Flannigan (eight points) had their best scoring outputs of the season.

"I thought Demonte had his best game," said Waters. "He did a very good job on offense and did a decent job on defense."

CSU's bigs helped hold Corey Petros (six points, six rebounds) to seven points under his scoring average of 13.9 points per game.

"I thought our big guys stepped it up today," said Waters. "What was good for our team was to see them defend the post because we haven't done a great job there."

Charlie Lee and Hales also did a good job of holding Felder (17.5 points per game) to 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

"I thought the pressure we applied to him, tired him later in the game," Waters said on Felder.

CSU scored the first 14 points of the game and held a 19-2 lead nine minutes into the game.

However, CSU was unable to hold on to the lead. The Golden Grizzlies used a 22-6 run over the next six minutes to close within 25-24 on Jalen Hayes' jumper.

Two minutes later, a layup by Hayes gave OU its first lead of the game, 28-27.

The Vikings closed the half on a 6-2 run and took a 34-30 lead at the half.

"I told them at halftime that we are pretty fortunate right now to be up four and our top two scorers [Grady and Lewis] have two points between them," said Waters. "Our benched stepped up and allowed us to stay in the game."

Lewis and Grady shot a combined 1-of-5 from the floor in the first half.

Lee scored all 13 of his points in the first half - including three three-pointers, while Hales added seven in the opening half.

CSU opened the second half with a three-pointer from Mason that started off a 17-10 run over six minutes and was capped off by back-to-back threes from Yates to extend the lead to 51-40.

But back-to-back-to-back threes by OU would cut the lead down to 61-57 with five minutes left.

Then a Hayes lay-up cut it to 63-61, but that was the last points the Golden Grizzlies scored.

Williams led the Golden Grizzlies with 15 points, while Hayes added eight points and seven rebounds.

Video courtesy of Cleveland State athletics

Thursday, January 8, 2015

CSU Basketball Notebook: Cleveland State Hoops looks to go 3-0 in HL

A change in philosophy has changed Cleveland State's season around.

CSU's once struggling offense has had a complete face lift. 

Entering the start of Horizon League play, Vikings head coach Gary Waters has made an emphasis for his players to attack the basket. 

In CSU's first two conference games, the results have been positive. They are averaging 79.0 points per game, while shooting 58.3 percent from the floor in the opening weekend of HL play.

"The difference has been night and day," Waters said at his media gathering on Wednesday. "When you are sitting out their shooting threes, they are controlling the tempo. But when you take it to the basket, you have options: you have lay-ups, you have fouls and free throws, and potential kick outs for threes."

After starting the season 6-8, CSU has won two straight to start HL play and are off to its best start in conference since the 2011-12 season. They have also won two straight against Division I opponents for the first time this season.

"For us, [starting off 2-0 in conference play] was vital," said Waters, "Why, because in our first eight [conference] games, we play five of them on the road. If we had lost those first two we still have four on the road. That would made it real tough."

CSU (8-8, 2-0 Horizon League) will look for its third straight conference win tonight when Oakland (5-10, 1-0 HL) visits the Wolstein Center. The Vikings have never lost to the Golden Grizzlies (6-0), who joined the HL last year.

"Now we have to hold serve at home because Green Bay is not going to lose many games. And Valparaiso is not going to lose many games," said Waters.

The Vikings have not started 3-0 in conference play since the 2010-11 season when they won their first four league games. That was Norris Cole's senior year.

Oakland is coming off a 89-75 upset victory over Valparaiso last Friday.

"You don't look at this team as a 5-10 team. You look at them as a 5-4 team because they played six high-majors, and came close to winning two of them," said Waters. "They beat teams that we lost to. They beat Toledo."

Waters said that OU is the biggest team CSU will play in the league this year.

The Golden Grizzles start 6-10 center Corey Petros (13.9 points, 8.5 rebounds), 6-7 forward Jalen Hayes (5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds) and 6-8 wing Tommie McCune (10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds), a West Virginia transfer.

"They rebound the ball well," said Waters. "In the six high-majors they played, they outrebounded four of them. That's scary for us."

Rebounding and defending the post have been weaknesses for the under-sized Vikings. They were outrebounded by 24 by UIC Sunday, including 23-1 on the offensive boards.

"The key is we got to turn people over," said Waters. "When we haven't turned people over its been a tough game for us,"

What could have been: Waters said he now regrets not taking Oakland's Kahlil Felder, Jr. when his father, Kahlil Felder, Sr. wanted his son to play at CSU.

Felder Sr. played for Waters at Eastern Michigan.

"At the time, we had Charlie [Lee]. I didn't need another little point guard." said Waters. "He may be the premier point guard in the league."

Felder, Jr., the HL Newcomer of the Year last season, is having a Player of the Year type of season. The sophomore is averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 assists a game.

HL expansion:  As for HL expansion, Waters said the league will likely add another school after this season. The HL currently stands at nine teams.

"They are going to do it this year," Waters said about Horizon League expansion. "Definitely one."

The HL could add up to three schools in the future.

Schools that have been rumored as possibilities include: Belmont, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, IUPUI, IPFW and Lipscomb.

HL-WCC Challenge?: Waters said HL coaches have discussed the possibility about taking part in a "conference challenge" as early as next season.

Possibilities could be with the West Coast Conference or the Colonial Athletic Association.

"We really want to do that,"Waters said about the HL taking part in a conference challenge. "We got to find a way to play the WCC next year. I will promote this [at our next coaches meetings]. That is something that can help our league."

Travel partners:  Another thing Waters, the chairman of the HL coaches, plans to bring up during meetings is going back to travel partners.

"Not a great travel situation," said Waters. "I still think they need to stay with partners."

Waters prefers that the league play its games on Wednesday and Saturday, rather then the current model that plays game on Thursday and Saturday and Friday and Sunday.

"That would give teams an extra day to prepare," he said.

Vikings in Hawaii?: Waters also said that he hopes that CSU gets invited to play in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii next year. The Puerto Rico Tip-off could also be a possibility.

Both tournaments are owned by ESPN.

Waters said there are no money offered in these type of tournaments and it cost the schools up to $150,000 to participate.

Bracketology: With CSU leading the conference after the first week, ESPN's Joe Lunardi and Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller had CSU representing the HL in their latest Bracketology.

Lunardi has CSU as a No. 15 seed in the Midwest Region (facing No. 2 seed Louisville), while Beller has the Vikings as a No. 14 seed in the West Region (facing No. 3 seed Maryland).