By Tom Mieskoski
Cleveland State's struggling offense could get a boost Tuesday as Myles Hamilton could make his Vikings debut against Rider in the opening game of the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico (12:30 p.m., YouTube).
"He should be ready to go for the Rider game," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said last week at his media gathering.
Hamilton, a Kennessaw State transfer, has been suspended for the first three games for a violation of team rules.
He started 39 of 54 games with KSU, averaging 6.0 points, 2.4 assists in 21.9 minutes in his two-year career with the Owls.
If Hamilton returns Tuesday, he should help provide stability at the point guard position where play has been inconsistent.
As a team, CSU is averaging just 6.7 assists per game (ranked 350th out of 351 DI schools).
"[It's a work] in progress," said Waters of the point guard play. "Myles Hamilton has the biggest strength to do that."
Sophomore Kenny Carpenter and freshmen Rob Edwards have been handling the point guard duties, with junior Andre Yates, the starting shooting guard, also seeing time at the one.
Carpenter (3.7 points, 1.3 assists) started the first two games, while Edwards (8.7 points, 1 assists) started the last game.
In his first collegiate start, Edwards scored a team-high 16 points (on 6-of-12 shooting) in CSU's 73-45 loss to Rhode Island on Saturday. He also had one assist and two turnovers in 35 minutes.
"We are going to need his offensive power," Waters said about Edwards, whose best position is shooting guard. "He brings offensive power that the others don't have."
Lead dawgs: One of the biggest question marks Waters had entering the season was who was going to score the ball?
As of Monday, CSU's offense is averaging 53.3 points per game (ranked 350th out of 351 DI schools), only American University (46 points per game) is averaging less points then the Vikings.
"In order to have a pretty good team offensively, you have to have at least 40 to 45 points from your lead dogs [top three scorers]."
So far this season, CSU's top three scorers - Demonte Flannigan (12.3 points), Edwards and Yates (7.7) are averaging a combined 28.7 points per game.
Waters is hoping Flannigan, Vinny Zollo and Yates can become his "lead dawgs."
"If a person like Demonte steps up and averages 14 to 15 points, and we get 10 from Vinny and 10 from Yates, if get those three to be more consistent, then everyone else can filter in."
Unfortunately, Flannigan, Zollo and Yates struggled against Rhode Island, going a combined 1-for-19, for six points.
After having one of his best career games against Malone (22 points, 17 rebounds), Flannigan had one of his worst games against URI (four points, 1-10 FG).
'I'm glad that Demonte stepped forward against [Malone] because he always had the potential," Waters said.
Zollo, the lone senior on the team, has scored a total of six points in two division I games against Akron and URI. He scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting against Malone.
"I need Vinny to step forward and hit some shots," said Waters.
Yates has been the most consistent scorer through the first two games. He scored 13 points against Akron and 10 against Malone, but struggled against URI going scoreless in 18 minutes.
"I need Andre to be more consistent." Waters said.