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.

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