Thursday, December 6, 2018

Vikings Gain Much Needed Win

Stuck in a five-game losing skid, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team were in dire need of a win.

The Vikings got exactly what they needed on Wednesday night: a solid performance on both sides of the ball to get back in the win column with a 82-64 victory over Bowling Green at the Wolstein Center.

On offense, CSU shot 50 percent, including a school-record 15 three-pointers. On defense, the Vikings limited the the Falcons to 32.9 percent shooting, including 5-of-23 from three-point distance.

Tyree Appleby hit seven three-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points to lead CSU (3-7) to its second Division I win of the season.

Appleby was 13-of-19 from the field. He also added eight assists and eight rebounds.

"I was feeling it from the beginning of the game," said Appleby. "My teammates kept finding me and that helped me get into my groove."

Stefan Kenic was the only other Viking player to reach double figures with 15.

The Vikings got off to a slow start.

By the second media timeout, CSU trailed by 10 as they made just 2 of its first 10 shots.

However, second-year CSU head coach Dennis Felton would switch the defense up, using a 2-3 match-up zone to stymie the BGSU attack.

An Appleby steal and layup kicked started a 30-8 run to close the first half that saw CSU built a 37-26 lead at the intermission.

"We just put the zone in the last two days," said Felton. "It allowed us to string together some stops that led to some easy transition points that took the lid out of the basket for us."

The Falcons (4-5) opened the game making 6 of its first 13 shots to built an 11 point advantage in the first half, but struggled against the zone, making 4 of its last 23 shots to trail by 11 at the half.

BGSU made one final run, closing within 47-43, but CSU answered back with a three-point play from Appleby and back-to-back three-pointers from Rashad Williams and Appleby pushed the lead back to 12.

"We had to come together as a team," said Appleby.  "They were getting rebounds and we had to calm ourselves down, run our offense and play defense."

The Vikings closed out the game by shooting 55.2 percent in the second half, including 7-of-12 from three-point distance.

Appleby made all four of his three-point attempts in the second half and scored 26 of his 37 points in the final 20 minutes.

Popovic update: Freshmen forward Aleksa Popovic was spotted on the bench wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

Felton said that Popovic suffered a "high-ankle sprain" in practice this week and does not know how long he will be out.

Next up: CSU host Division II Notre Dame College Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Slow start, cold shooting dooms Cleveland State in loss to Samford

For long stretches of the second half, the Cleveland State's men's basketball team could not buy a bucket. Quality looks, open three-pointers, high-percentage layups. None of them seemed to fall.

The Vikings opened the second half making just two of its first 18 shots and couldn't overcome a slow start falling to unbeaten Samford 73-60 Sunday at the Wolstein Center.

"We had plenty of good looks and they weren't going in," said Vikings head coach Dennis Felton. "It was a make or miss game and they were making them and we were missing them."

CSU (2-3) overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half to close within one, 35-34, at the half.

Eleven seconds into the second half, a pair of free throws from Dontel Highsmith gave CSU a brief 36-35 lead.

And then it was all Samford.

The Bulldogs scored the next 14 points as CSU missed its first 11 shots of the second half.

By the time CSU made its second field goal, they were down 13 with nine minutes to go.

When CSU finally made a three-pointer, there was only 17 seconds to go and the game was well in hand.

CSU shot 27 percent in the second half and were 1-of-12 from three-point distance. Samford shot 57.1 percent in the final 20 minutes.

"They did a better job of moving and sharing the ball," said Felton. "We didn't have enough grit to string together enough stops to be able to win and the composure and patience to grind it out on offense."

The lone bright spot for the Vikings were that they made eight of its first 11 free throws in the second half to keep them in the game.

A three-point play by Tyree Appleby closed CSU within 58-49 with 5:21 to go.

But CSU went through another long scoring drought. They didn't make another field goal until the 2:26 mark when they were down 18.

Stefan Kenic lead the Vikings with 15 points, while Dibaji Walker had 10 off the bench.

Former Alabama transfer Brandon Austin led the Bulldogs with 21 points. He was 5-of-9 on three-pointers. Rueben Guerro, a grad transfer from South Florida, added 14 points for Samford (5-0) who are off to their best start since 1996-97.

Next up:  The Vikings visit Ohio State on Friday.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cleveland State basketball team closes with 16-6 run in final six minutes to beat South Carolina State

One of Cleveland State's consistent problems last year was the inability to close out games.

Dennis Felton's young revamped roster had its first opportunity to close out a game and passed the test.

CSU shot 53 percent in the second half and made 11 of 16 free throws to close out an 84-69 victory over South Carolina State Friday night at the Wolstein Center in the opening game of the Buckeye Basketball Classic.

Stefan Kenic scored 19 to lead five Vikings (2-2) players in double figures.Tyree Appleby and Algevon Eichelberger each had 15, while Rashad Williams contributed 11 and Jalaam Hill 10.

"Everybody that played made good contributions to the game," Felton said. "I think our depth helped us against them. Being able to play more people then them, I think that helped factored in the second half as the game wore on."

CSU held a 30-7 advantage in bench points. They also held a 38-22 edge in points in the paint as Eichelberger and Hill combined to go 11-of-15 from the field.

"Al and Jaalam had some big buckets in the paint to separate ourselves," Felton said.

Leading, 37-31 at the half, CSU withstood several late rallies from the Bulldogs who closed within 46-44, 56-53 and 68-63 with six minutes to go.

The Vikings closed the game on a 16-6 run in the final six minutes to pull out its first Division I win of the season.

"Our defense was good enough to string together some stops and hold them at bay," Felton said.

SCSU made just one field goal in the final six minutes. That was a Damni Applewhite layup that made it a nine-point game. The Bulldogs missed its final five shots of the game.

Applewhite, SCSU's leading scorer who came in averaging 20.7 points a game, was held to 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting.

Janai Raynor-Powell led the Bulldogs (1-3) with 23 points.

CSU held its own on the boards as SCSU won the rebounding - 35-34 - both teams had 15 offensive boards.

"They had too many offensive boards, but we competed much better," Felton said. "We got half our misses back with 15 offensive rebounds."

The Vikings should get another test on Sunday when Samford comes to the Wolstein Center. The Samford Bulldogs (4-0) are off to their best start since 1996-97.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Felton not concerned with free throw woes

Second year head coach Dennis Felton is not concerned about Cleveland State's early free throw woes.

"[I know] we are a better free throw shooting team then that," Felton said following CSU's 83-79 loss to Kent State in which the Vikings missed 15 free throws. "I just chalk that up as inexperience and going through the pains of anxiety of playing at this level for the first time."

In two games this season, the Vikings are shooting just 54 percent (28-54) from the charity stripe.

A year ago, the Vikings struggled at the foul line shooting 62 percent during the first two months of the season, but shot a respectable 76 percent in conference play.

Rebounding a concern:

One area, Felton is concerned about is the struggles on the boards. CSU has been outrebounded 94-59 (including 33-8 offensive) through two games.

"Going into the [Kent State] game our biggest challenge was rebounding. That was our first, second and third emphasize [in practice]," Felton said. "In the first half, I thought we held them down pretty good. Then late in the first half and in the second half, we started to get away from our discipline and our toughness in boxing out."

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood: Sophomore point guard Tyree Appleby broke out of his shooting slump to score 28 points in the second half against KSU.

Appleby, CSU's leading returning scorer from last season (11.8 points last year), scored just four points in CSU's 83-63 opening day loss at Davidson on Tuesday, missing all seven shots from the field.

His slump continued in the first half against KSU as the Arkansas native missed his first five shots. He missed his first shot in the second half, then made six straight shots, including five straight 3-pointers.

"In our two games so far, Tyree has not been quite himself. He's been pressing a little bit. You could see that in the first half," said Felton. "It's a huge step going from a freshmen that can go out there and play to a sophomore when everything is on your shoulders. I think he's working through that.

"There's been times that he's over dribbled and times when he's trying to make it all happen on each touch. And I'm working with him to get him relaxed. In the second half, he didn't do that. He was just determine to make it happen and made some incredible shots."

Kenic struggles:

Another player that CSU needs to get back on track is Stefan Kenic. The sophomore forward from Serbia was CSU's second leading scorer returning (9.5 points last year), but has scored a total of six points in two games.

"We expect Stef to have a very productive year. Even more productive then last year when he averaged almost 10 points a game," Felton said. "We are kind of clunky right now as a team offensively. We don't have that flow yet, but it will come. It's going to take experience and practice and time to settle in."

National signing day: The early signing period officially begins on Wednesday. CSU has two scholarships to offer, but are not expected to sign anybody.

"We haven't been overly aggressive about recruiting because we have so many new guys and so many good players now," Felton said. "We are being patient to evaluate the players that we have [and see how] the year plays out. There is no great sense of urgency to sign players because we don't have many scholarships [to offer]."

Monday, July 2, 2018

Cleveland State hires Sam Ferry as assistant coach

Cleveland State men’s basketball head coach Dennis Felton announced Monday that Sam Ferry has been hired to fill the program’s assistant coaching vacancy.

"We're excited to have Sam join our program," Felton said in a news release. "He is a sharp, hard-working coach who is tireless when it comes to helping players develop on and off the court. Sam also enjoys tremendous relationships that will serve our recruiting efforts well. Most importantly, he's a leader that will help inspire our players to greatness on a day-to-day basis."

Ferry joins CSU after a one-year stint as assistant coach at Pittsburgh. Before coaching the Panthers, he spent the previous six years as part of King Rice’s staff at Monmouth.

Ferry replaces Drazen Zlovaric, who left the program in March to pursue other opportunities.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cleveland State men's basketball to play at Ohio State as part of Buckeyes Basketball Classic

For the ninth time in its history and first time in the past eight years, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team will take on Ohio State as part of the Buckeyes Basketball Classic.

Other teams participating in the Buckeyes Basketball Classic are South Carolina State, Fort Wayne and Samford.

The Vikings will face OSU on Nov. 23 at St. John Arena, which served as the home of the Buckeyes from 1956-1998.

This is the first meeting between the two schools since the Buckeyes defeated the Vikings, 72-59 in 2009 in Columbus.

OSU leads the series 7-1, with the Vikings only win coming on Dec. 17, 1994 when they defeated the Buckeyes 75-73 at the Q in the inaugural Rock-N-Roll Shootout.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 25-9 season and NCAA tournament appearance under first-year coach Chris Holtmann.

CSU is likely headed for a youth movement in Dennis Felton's second season. The Vikings return only three players from last year's 12-23 squad that included a surprising run in the Horizon League Tournament, advancing to the title game before losing to Wright State.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Juco transfer Marvin Cannon will visit Cleveland State this weekend, per report

With the start of the regular signing period beginning next week, Cleveland State still has three scholarships to fill.

The Vikings will host one of the top junior college prospects still available on campus this weekend.

According to, Marvin Cannon will take his first official visit to CSU beginning Friday.

Cannon, a 6-foot-5 freshmen forward from Barton Community College in Kansas, received a scholarship offer from CSU on March 22. He also holds offers from Washington State,  Southern Miss, South Alabama, Portland State, Appalachian State,  St. Bonaventure,  Georgia State, New Mexico and North Texas.

Coming off a stellar freshmen season, Cannon averaged 15.8 points and 7.1 rebounds this past season, earning a spot on the all-tournament team at the NJCAA Div. I national tournament.

Cannon is a qualifier and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The Richmond, Va. native will take his second official visit to Washington State next weekend, according to his AAU program.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Uros Plavsic decommits from Cleveland State

Seven-foot-one center Uros Plavsic announced his decommitment from Cleveland State today.

Plavsic committed to CSU on September 26, but did not sign with the Vikings during November's early signing period.

A native of Ivanjica, Serbia, Plavsic was recruited by assistant coach Drazen Zlovaric, who has left the program to pursue other opportunities.

Plavsic's decommitment gives CSU three scholarships to fill.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cleveland State offers Juco forward Marvin Cannon

Cleveland State extended a scholarship offer to class of 2018 junior college forward Marvin Cannon today.

Cannon reported the offer on his Twitter account on Thursday evening.
Cannon averaged 15.8 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshmen for Barton Community College in Kansas. He is a qualifier and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The Richmond, Va. native also holds offers from Appalachian State and Washington State.

Cleveland State's Dontel Highsmith to transfer, per report

Dontel Highsmith will not return to the Cleveland State men's basketball program next season, as the redshirt junior will play his final season of eligibility elsewhere, according to a report by

Highsmith appeared in 26 games in his lone season with the Vikings and averaged 4.9 points per game.

In February, he saw his minutes and production diminish and fell out of the rotation. Highsmith only appeared in three of CSU's last nine games and didn't appear in CSU's semifinals win over Oakland or its championship lost to Wright State in the Horizon League tournament.

As a graduate transfer, Highsmith will be immediately eligible to play next season. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Highsmith becomes the second CSU player to announce his departure since the season's end.

Sophomore forward Evan Clayborne announced Sunday that he also will transfer.

The departures of Clayborne and Highsmith means CSU now has two available scholarships.