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.