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What Was The Reason Behind Cleveland State’s Five Game Losing Streak?

by - Published February 26, 2012 in Conference Notes
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Why did the Cleveland State Vikings recently have a five game losing streak?

It’s simple–whenever a team loses their most valuable player, they’re going to suffer.

The Cleveland State Vikings have had their fair share of above-average talent on the roster over the past few years. Cedric Jackson played briefly for multiple teams in the NBA and is currently playing overseas. Both J’Nathan Bullock and George Tandy have also played overseas. Norris Cole, the best known Viking alum, was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft and is currently a major contributor for the Miami Heat. Some of the Vikings’ talented freshmen such as Anton Grady and Marlin Mason also have the potential to play professionally after their careers at Cleveland State have been completed.

However, a strong case could be made for the claim that the Vikings’ most valuable player over the past few years is senior D’Aundray Brown.

Brown’s contributions on the court and importance to the Vikings often go unnoticed to fans because he is not a prolific scorer or flashy player in general. Nevertheless, Brown’s intense defense, leadership on the court, and constant hustle have helped propel the Vikings into the victory column on countless occasions. The Vikings’ press—which is the key to their success—operates much more effectively when Brown, who is among the NCAA leaders in steals, is on the court.

Unfortunately, Brown’s promising career at Cleveland State has been derailed multiple times over the past few seasons because of injuries. During each of his absences, the Vikings’ performance on the court has declined dramatically.

In the 2009-2010 season, Brown suffered an eye injury that caused him to miss the Vikings’ final game in the Horizon League Tournament. The Vikings lost by seven points to a Milwaukee Panthers team who rode a great shooting performance into the tournament semifinals. Brown’s defensive intensity could have easily made a difference in that game.

Brown missed the entire 2010-2011 season with a wrist injury. The effects of Brown’s injury were not seen at first, as the Vikings raced out to a 21-3 record. However, the Vikings’ bench failed to produce all season long, and the Vikings’ starters were forced to log major minutes for much of the season. The heavy minutes took their toll towards the end of the season, as the Vikings struggled down the stretch and lost four of their final seven regular-season games. These losses cost the Vikings the opportunity to host the Horizon League Tournament, and the Vikings ultimately lost to Butler in the tournament semifinals. Towards the end of the season, Vikings coach Gary Waters was quoted as saying that the Vikings would have won the Horizon League Tournament if Brown had been on the roster. Any Vikings fan who watched the exhausted Vikings towards the end of the season would easily agree with Waters’ statement.

This season, the Vikings sprinted out to yet another successful start to the season. With Brown fully healthy and contributing lockdown defense and hustle, the Vikings won several close games early in the season and defeated several quality opponents. Beginning the year with an upset of the nationally-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, the Vikings appeared to be poised to win the regular season Horizon League Championship until Brown suffered a groin injury against the Loyola Ramblers.

Brown’s injury sent the Vikings into a tailspin that nearly derailed their season. The Vikings lost five straight games, including two blowout losses to the Valparaiso Crusaders and Drexel Dragons, and were in major danger of falling to third place in the Horizon League and losing the opportunity to receive an automatic spot in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament. Without Brown, the Vikings looked nothing like the intense, focused, and crisp team that had dominated many of their previous opponents and effortlessly won buzzer-beater games. The Vikings looked lost on offense, were unable to impose their turnover-producing defensive pressure on opponents, and played nothing like the team that had dominated opponents earlier in the season. Fortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Vikings righted their ship and managed to secure the second seed in the Horizon League Tournament after they won their two final conference games without Brown and were aided by a crucial Valparaiso win over the Butler Bulldogs.

Sure, other Vikings have put up more stats and make more headlines. However, when the impact on the play and record of the Vikings is taken into consideration, Brown’s enormous impact on the Vikings cannot be disputed. If one defines Most Valuable Player as the player who has the biggest impact on his team’s fortunes, Brown surely must be mentioned in the conversation for the Vikings’ most valuable player.

Cleveland State Vikings Use Solid Contributions By Freshmen To Defeat Detroit Titans, 77-64

by - Published February 24, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The Cleveland State Vikings and Detroit Titans squared off on Thursday evening at the Wolstein Center in a matchup with major ramifications for seeding in the Horizon League Tournament. Both the Vikings and the Titans headed into Thursday’s matchup riding drastically different five-game streaks. Picked by many preseason analysts to win the Horizon League, the Titans have recently begun to live up to their lofty preseason expectations and came to Cleveland with a five-game winning streak. In contrast, the Vikings limped into Thursday’s game looking to shake a five-game losing streak that has been the result of a groin injury to talented senior D’Aundray Brown and the Vikings’ inability to adjust without their best defender in the starting lineup.

Many of the Vikings’ recent losses have come from their inability to score points in the first half. After the Vikings fell behind by a score of 14-4 with slightly more than 13 minutes left in the first half, the Wolstein Center crowd became somewhat nervous as they understandably began to worry that the Vikings were in the process of yet again falling behind by a sizable deficit that could not be overcome in the second half. Sensing the urgency of the situation, the Vikings rallied to narrow the Titans’ lead to three points with slightly less than six minutes left in the first half. The Titans fought back and expanded their lead to nine points towards the end of the first half. Unlike in previous games, though, the Vikings refused to give in. Following a Vikings timeout with approximately one minute remaining, freshman Ike Nwamu drained a 3-pointer that cut the Titans’ lead to six points and brought the Wolstein Center crowd to their feet despite the fact that the Titans headed into the locker room with a 38-32 lead.

In the second half, the Vikings played the style of basketball that propelled them to the top of the Horizon League standings earlier in the season and wore out the Titans. The Vikings’ relentless pressure defense and hustle limited the Titans to 21.7% shooting in the second half. Surprisingly, the Titans did not exploit the fact that the Vikings’ key big men—freshman Anton Grady and senior Aaron Pogue—were in foul trouble during the second half. Eli Holman, the Titans’ talented senior center who possesses NBA-level talent, only finished with six points. On offense, the Vikings shed their recent pattern of relying on jump shots and instead patiently worked the ball around and frequently wound up with easy baskets near the basket.

After initially retaking a one-point lead with 11 minutes left on another Nwamu 3-pointer, the Vikings briefly lost the lead before retaking it for good with 7:22 left in the game. The Vikings proceeded to steadily extend their lead and ultimately won the game by a score of 77-64. With their win, the Vikings snapped the five-game losing streak that had threatened to sink the team’s chances of postseason success.

As previously mentioned, the loss of Brown has been an immense blow for the Vikings and the Vikings have struggled to replace his defense and rebounding. Tonight, the young core who will lead the Vikings next season and beyond—Grady, Charlie Lee, Marlin Mason, and Nwamu—delivered down the stretch and played some of their best basketball of the season. In fact, some of the Vikings’ best play of the game occurred when the Vikings had three freshmen on the floor. Lee’s final stat line of 12 points and 5 assists does not reflect the major impact that he had on this game, as he ran the Vikings’ offense for much of the game and did not turn the ball over while dealing with the Titans’ full-court pressure. In his second career start, Mason—who was initially slated to redshirt this season and who was pressed into action only because of an injury to Sebastian Douglas—nearly ripped off a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 9 boards. Nwamu’s 8 points, two of which came on 3-pointers, all came at key moments in the game. Although Grady was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, many of his 8 rebounds were pulled down while the Vikings were battling back into the game.

The Titans’ Chase Simon led all scorers with 17 points. Trevon Harmon led the Vikings with 16 points. Every Vikings player who played in Thursday’s game scored, providing the Vikings with a balanced attack that had been missing in recent games.

With a win on Saturday against the Wright State Raiders, the Vikings can finish no lower than third in the Horizon League standings. If the Butler Bulldogs lose to the Valparaiso Crusaders on Friday evening, the Vikings can clinch the second seed in the Horizon League Tournament with a win on Saturday. Vikings fans should be prepared for their fair share of scoreboard watching and nailbiting as the final few games of yet another hotly contested Horizon League campaign play out and last-minute jockeying for tournament seeding ensues!

Much Is At Stake In The Final Week Of Horizon League Play

by - Published February 21, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The last week of conference play has arrived in the Horizon League. Over the past few years, the battle for the top seeds in the Horizon League has not been decided until the final game of conference play. This year is no exception, with multiple teams having a legitimate chance of securing one of the two top seeds in the Horizon League Tournament and the extremely important double-bye that gives the two top seeds an automatic spot in the semifinals.

The Valparaiso Crusaders currently sit at the top of the Horizon League with a 12-4 record in conference play, over two games ahead of the second place Cleveland State Vikings. A win tonight over the Loyola Ramblers will allow the Crusaders to clinch at least a share of the school’s first-ever Horizon League regular season championship and allow the Crusaders to host the Horizon League Tournament. The Crusaders will battle the Butler Bulldogs to end the season in a game that has major ramifications for the Bulldogs’ seeding in the Horizon League Tournament.

The Cleveland State Vikings are in second place with a record of 10-5 in Horizon League play. Currently in the midst of a four game losing streak, the Vikings are only one half-game ahead of the Detroit Titans and Butler Bulldogs. The Vikings will square off tonight against the Green Bay Phoenix and return home for two games against the Detroit Titans and Wright State Raiders. Coach Gary Waters has struggled to replace the contributions of the injured D’Aundray Brown, who has missed multiple games with a groin injury. The Vikings will need to win each of their last three games in order to maintain their grip on second place.

The Detroit Titans and Butler Bulldogs both possess conference records of 10-6 and are battling for third place. Butler is playing the UIC Flames this evening and will end the year with a contest against Valparaiso. Detroit will travel to Ohio for two road games against Cleveland State and the Youngstown State Penguins. Both teams have recovered from rough starts to the season and currently possess major winning streaks. Even if neither of these teams secures a double bye in the Horizon League Tournament, both of these teams could easily win four more consecutive games in the Horizon League Tournament in order to secure the Horizon League’s automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Milwaukee Panthers and Youngstown State Penguins are currently battling for fifth place. Sporting conference records of 9-7, both the Panthers and Penguins will seek to keep the seventh-place Green Bay Phoenix at bay in order to have the opportunity to host a game in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. Both the Panthers and the Penguins had solid starts to the season, and they could easily surprise an unsuspecting team in the Horizon League Tournament and send a higher seed home far earlier than expected.

The Wright State Raiders currently sit in eighth place with a conference record of 7-9. Although most teams would be displeased with this spot in the standings, their performance this season has been a pleasant surprise given that the Raiders are an extremely young team.

The UIC Flames are in ninth place, and the Loyola Ramblers are in tenth place. Despite their low standing in the conference, the Ramblers’ talented tandem of Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler can pose problems for any team in the Horizon League.

Needless to say, the last week of Horizon League play will be as hard-fought and as intense as the past few months of action, and fans should enjoy the great week of action that lies ahead!

Cleveland State Loses To Drexel Dragons 69-49 In ESPN BracketBusters Matchup

by - Published February 18, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The Cleveland State Vikings and Drexel Dragons squared off on Saturday morning at the Wolstein Center as part of ESPN’s BracketBusters series. Saturday’s contest marks the second straight year in which the Vikings have participated in the BracketBusters series. Last season, the Vikings dropped a hard-fought contest to Old Dominion on the road in which the now-departed Norris Cole set a new BracketBusters record for points scored when he dropped 35 points on the Monarchs.

The Vikings took the floor on Saturday morning looking to shake a three game losing streak, having lost three straight games against some of the toughest teams in the Horizon League—the Valparaiso Crusaders, Butler Bulldogs, and Milwaukee Panthers. In contrast, the Dragons headed into Saturday’s contest with a 14 game winning streak.

In an attempt to reverse the Vikings’ recent struggles and cope with the loss of senior D’Aundray Brown, who has been described by Vikings coach Gary Waters as the team’s best player, Waters replaced freshman Anton Grady in the starting lineup with Marlin Mason, another talented freshman. This move should not be viewed as a statement about the play immensely talented Grady, but rather as an attempt by the Vikings to slow down the Dragons’ three-guard attack and to provide the Vikings with more offensive firepower off the bench.

Unfortunately, this move did not work. Saturday morning is quickly proving to be no friend to the Vikings, who struggled from the outset for the second straight week in a nationally televised Saturday morning game. The Dragons stormed out to a 19-3 lead with slightly more than 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Damion Lee’s nine points helped the Dragons silence the Wolstein Center crowd.

The Vikings’ tenacious defense allowed them to claw back into the game and cut the Dragons’ lead to 8 points with approximately six minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Dragons responded with a 15-7 run to end the first half that allowed them to head into the locker room with a commanding 38-22 lead.

Lee and the Vikings’ Trevon Harmon led their teams with 13 points in the first half. No other player for the Vikings scored more than four points, who only had four players enter the scoring column during the first 20 minutes of play.

The Dragons came out breathing fire in the second half, using a dazzling display of outside shooting to rip off a 13-5 run and take a 51-27 lead in the first five minutes of the second half. The Dragons’ lead steadily grew throughout the second half, and the Vikings were down by as many as 29 points.

Despite the deficit, the Vikings refused to quit, and they used an 18-9 run to cut the Dragons’ lead to 20 points by the end of the game. Nevertheless, the Vikings lost by a score of 69-49. Saturday’s loss marked the Vikings’ fourth straight loss and their third loss in a row at home.

However, Vikings fans who are feeling uneasy about the team’s postseason chances should not panic. In his postgame comments, Waters still sounded optimistic about the Vikings’ chances for the rest of the regular season. Waters stated that the Vikings will “keep fighting until we get it right” and expressed the belief that the Vikings will be in good shape once they are able to restore the high-pressure defense that helped them race out to a successful start to the season.

The Vikings will travel to for a Tuesday evening matchup with the Green Bay Phoenix in what should be another intense Horizon League conference game. The Vikings will need to approach each of their last three remaining games with the intensity of a postseason matchup if they intend to maintain their tenuous hold on second place in the Horizon League standings and secure an automatic spot in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament.

Butler Bulldogs Hang On To Defeat Cleveland State Vikings, 52-49

by - Published February 11, 2012 in Conference Notes
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Although the rivalry between the Cleveland State Vikings and Butler Bulldogs may not be as nationally known as the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina, the intensity that is in the air whenever these two Horizon League rivals square off is just as strong. In fact, the animosity between these two teams may be even stronger than many major conference rivalries due to the fact these two teams often square off with the Horizon League’s automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament at stake. In 2009, the Vikings upset the Bulldogs on their floor to secure their first tournament appearance in decades. The Bulldogs exacted some measure of revenge in 2011, when they defeated the Vikings in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals on their way to winning the league’s automatic bid and their second straight appearance in the NCAA Championship Game.

Anyone who thought that the intensity of this year’s second matchup between the two teams would be diminished because the Bulldogs are somewhat of a long shot to repeat at Horizon League champions was sorely mistaken. After a disappointing loss on Thursday night to the Valparaiso Crusaders, the Vikings took the floor looking to begin another winning streak and to remain in contention for first place in the Horizon League. Coming off a road victory over the Youngstown State Penguins, the Bulldogs headed into Saturday’s morning contest looking to position themselves for yet another surprising postseason run.

After the Vikings notched a quick 4-2 advantage early in the first half, the Bulldogs used a 20-6 run to take a 10 point lead with slightly less than seven minutes left in the first half. Although the Vikings whittled away slightly at the Bulldogs’ lead, they were never able to come closer than seven points and the Bulldogs headed into halftime with a 28-18 lead. The Vikings’ Thursday night shooting woes continued into Saturday’ s contest, as the Vikings only shot 24.1% in the first half and were 0-9 from 3-point range. The Vikings would have been in serious trouble if not for the play of freshman Anton Grady, who replaced the injured D’Aundray Brown in the starting lineup and 12 points in the first half while contributing solid defense inside against the Bulldogs’ tall front line.

A concerned Wolstein Center crowd had much to cheer about early in the second half, as the Vikings stormed out of the locker room and immediately got to work erasing the Bulldogs’ lead. Powered by the 3-point shooting of senior Trevon Harmon, the Vikings used a 19-8 run to retake the lead with slightly more than 11 minutes left in the game.

The last 11 minutes played out in the usual style of Vikings\Bulldogs game, with the outcome not determined until the final buzzer and with both teams refusing to give an inch. The Bulldogs’ height advantage ultimately proved to be the difference, as they were able to pull down several key offensive rebounds late in the second half that led to important second shot opportunities for the visiting Bulldogs.

Ultimately, the Bulldogs escaped with a 52-49 victory when Grady missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that could have tied the game for the Vikings.

Grady led all scorers with 18 points. Roosevelt Jones paced the Bulldogs with 17 points.

Although the Vikings still maintain a solid grip on second place in the Horizon League, which will allow them to receive an automatic spot in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals, Saturday’s loss means that the Vikings will need to win the majority of their remaining games if they intend to remain in second place. The Bulldogs’ win on Saturday allowed them to move into contention for third place in the Horizon League, allowing them to be in position for a favorable opening-round matchup if they continue their winning ways.

Valparaiso Crusaders Dominate Cleveland State Vikings 59-41

by - Published February 9, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The Cleveland State Vikings and Valparaiso Crusaders squared off on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center in one of the most important games of the season for both teams. While the Vikings’ season-opening victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores may have been extremely important with regards to quality wins that are considered by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the Vikings’ best route to the NCAA Tournament is to win the Horizon League Tournament. In order to maintain their hold on first place in the Horizon League, have the opportunity to host the Horizon League Tournament, and secure an automatic spot in the tournament semifinals, the Vikings needed to defeat the Crusaders, who currently are in second place in the Horizon League.

Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Crusaders used a barrage of outside shooting to defeat the Vikings on their home floor by a score of 59-41.

The large Wolstein Center crowd was silenced early in the game as the Crusaders ran out to an 11-1 lead. Ryan Broekhoff scored all of the Crusaders’ points while the Vikings missed multiple layups and played nothing like the team who has dominated the Horizon League in recent weeks. The Crusaders gradually extended their lead throughout the middle of the first half as the Vikings missed several shots from close range.

After the Crusaders extended their lead to 20 points, the Vikings rebounded with a 9-1 run to close the half and head into the locker room trailing by 12 points. Tim Kamczyc scored four of the Vikings’ points during this run and contributed to the Vikings’ solid defensive effort against Broekhoff, who only scored three points in the first half following his 11 point barrage to open the game.

Anticipation of a Vikings comeback filled the air when the Vikings took the floor in the second half. However, the Crusaders simply refused to back down. Two quick 3-pointers by the Crusaders pushed their lead to 16 points within the first minute of the second half. Although the Vikings continued to battle, the Crusaders slowly extended their lead throughout the course of the second half. With slightly more than 12 minutes remaining, the Crusaders had built a seemingly insurmountable 21 point lead. Undaunted, the Vikings narrowed the gap to 13 points with 7:43 remaining in the second half.  Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Vikings were able to pull no closer. Despite the fact that the Vikings forced the Crusaders into 17 turnovers, the Vikings’ abysmal 25.9% shooting kept them from earning a comeback victory.

Both teams dealt with major injury issues during the game. The Vikings’ D’Aundray Brown, one of the team’s best defenders, was only able to play eight minutes as he could not overcome a painful groin injury that kept him out of action on Sunday. Kevin Van Wijk, one of the Crusaders’ best players, only played 7 minutes before he departed with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

Broekhoff led all scorers with 24 points. Jeremy Montgomery led the Vikings with 15 points. No other player for the Vikings scored in double figures.

The Vikings will need to forget this loss and recover quickly if they intended to maintain their hold on second place in the Horizon League, as the Butler Bulldogs will be coming to the Wolstein Center for a nationally televised contest on ESPNU that will tip off at 11:00AM. The Crusaders will travel to Youngstown for a matchup with the improved Youngstown State Penguins on Saturday night.

Cleveland State Vikings Overwhelm Milwaukee Panthers 83-57

by - Published January 22, 2012 in Conference Notes
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In a game with major implications for the regular season Horizon League championship and seeding for the Horizon League Tournament, the Cleveland State Vikings dominated the Milwaukee Panthers by a score of 83-57 in a game in which the Panthers never led.

The Vikings and Panthers began the day in a tie for second place with conference records of 6-2. The winner of today’s matchup would be in a tie for first place with the Valparaiso Crusaders, who began Sunday with a 7-2 conference record after a win on Saturday against the UIC Flames.

These teams’ last matchup was a memorable one. Last season, the Panthers defeated the Vikings in the Wolstein Center in a late-season Horizon League matchup that ultimately denied the Vikings the chance to host the Horizon League Tournament and obtain an automatic spot in the semifinals. The Vikings were thus forced to play two games before facing the Butler Bulldogs in the semifinals, and the Vikings’ fatigue may have ultimately been the difference in their loss to the Bulldogs.

The bitter memory of these teams’ last meeting at the Wolstein Center may have been on the Vikings’ minds at the start of the game as the Vikings burst out to a 19-9 lead. Jeremy Montgomery’s seven points led the Vikings’ balanced attack.

After the Vikings extended their lead to 13 on a dunk by freshman Anton Grady with slightly less than five minutes remaining in the first half, the Panthers used a 9-4 run to narrow the Vikings’ lead to eight by the end of the half. Paced by their blistering 57.7% shooting performance in the first half, the Vikings headed into the locker room with a 36-28 lead.

In the second half, the Vikings once again came out looking for revenge against their conference rivals. Paced by six quick points from senior D’Aundray Brown, the Vikings quickly stretched their lead to 45-30. The Vikings extended their lead to 51-30 following an Anton Grady block and a fast break layup by Trevon Harmon.

Although the Panthers rallied at various points in the second half, the Vikings never allowed the Panthers to narrow their lead to less than 16 points. The Panthers’ dismal 26.9% shooting performance in the second half kept them from substantially cutting into the Vikings’ lead.

Vikings coach Gary Waters emptied his bench with approximately three minutes left in the game, allowing Ike Nwamu, Devon Long, and Marlin Mason to receive playing time.

The Panthers’ James Haarsma and Harmon led all scorers with 15 points. Haarsma was the only Panther in double figures. All five Viking starters scored in double figures.

The Vikings’ win ensures that they will continue to have a solid chance of hosting the Horizon League Tournament in March, as well as obtaining the two-game bye that will allow the Vikings to rest and recover before the tournament semifinals. The Vikings will have the week off before traveling to Youngstown State on Saturday for a rematch against the Penguins, who defeated the Vikings at the Wolstein Center on New Year’s Eve. The Panthers will return to Milwaukee for an important matchup against the Butler Bulldogs on Thursday.

As the Horizon League begins the second half of conference play with several teams having a realistic chance of finishing at the top of the league, each game will be pivotal and Horizon League fans should look forward to a month of competitive basketball.

Cleveland State Use Barrages from Outside to Defeat Loyola

by - Published January 7, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The Cleveland State Vikings started 2012 off on a winning note with a 69-48 victory at home on Saturday afternoon over the visiting Loyola Ramblers.

In his pregame radio comments, Vikings coach Gary Waters stated that the Ramblers’ 5-10 record heading into Saturday’s matchup was deceiving and that the Ramblers were much better team than their record indicated. The Ramblers’ performance in the first half reflected Waters’ statements, as the Ramblers hung tough for most of a low-scoring first half. After falling down by a score of 3-1 early in the game, the Ramblers regrouped and took a 5-3 lead with slightly more than 14 minutes left in the first half.

The Ramblers did not relinquish this lead until Vikings guard Trevon Harmon sunk a 3-pointer to give the Vikings a 13-11 lead with approximately eight minutes left in the first half. Harmon’s perfect shooting performance from 3-point range in the first half helped the Vikings head into the locker room with a 32-17 lead at halftime. Harmon, who missed Thursday’s game with a concussion suffered during the Vikings’ matchup against Youngstown State on New Year’s Eve, led all scorers in the first half with 12 points. The Vikings’ solid defense held Ramblers standouts Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler to five points each.

In the second half, the Ramblers refused to quit and narrowed the Vikings’ lead to 13 with slightly more than 13 minutes remaining. The Vikings pushed back and extended their lead to 19 on a 3-pointer from senior D’Aundray Brown with approximately 12 minutes remaining. Although the Ramblers refused to allow the Vikings to pull away, they were never able to narrow the Vikings’ lead to less than 13.

After the Vikings extended their lead to 23 on a fast-break layup from Brown, Waters was able to empty his bench with 2:36 remaining in the game. Freshman Marlin Mason, who made his collegiate debut on Thursday night, quickly brought the crowd to their feet with a powerful two-handed dunk. Mason later converted an impressive 3-point play to finish the game with five points. Although Waters had frequently stated that he intended to redshirt Mason this season and only played him because of Sebastian Douglas’ injury, Mason’s solid play in his first two games of action make it clear that he will be a valuable contributor to the Vikings this season and beyond.

The Vikings ended the day with a 69-48 victory, raising their record to 14-3. The Ramblers fell to 5-11.

Harmon, who only missed one shot all game long and sank a career-best six 3-pointers, led all scorers with 20 points. Gibler, Averkamp, and Denzel Brito led the Ramblers with 10 points each.

Next weekend, the Vikings will travel to Indiana for two Horizon League conference games. On Friday, the Vikings will battle the Butler Bulldogs in a highly anticipated matchup that will be televised on ESPNU. The Vikings will end the weekend with a contest against Valparaiso on Sunday. The Ramblers will return to Chicago for a home matchup with UIC.

Around the Horizon League: Week 7

by - Published December 28, 2011 in Conference Notes
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The holidays made for a relatively quiet week around the Horizon League, with each team only playing one game.

Butler Bulldogs (6-7): Butler continued their road trip with a visit to Stanford. After being down by five points at halftime, the Bulldogs rallied for a 71-66 victory over the Cardinal. Butler was fueled by Ronald Nored’s career-best 15-point performance, which included several clutch free throws in the final minute of the game to seal the Bulldogs’ victory. The Bulldogs return to action on Thursday at home against the Green Bay Phoenix and end the year with a home game on New Year’s Eve against the Milwaukee Panthers.

Cleveland State Vikings (11-2): After suffering a disappointing loss earlier in the week to South Florida, the Vikings rebounded with a solid 65-43 victory at home over the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The Vikings forced 23 turnovers and used a balanced attack to defeat the visiting Bearkats. On Wednesday, Cleveland State will travel west to  Toledo to battle the Rockets. The Vikings will end the year with a home contest against the Youngstown State Penguins on New Year’s Eve.

Detroit Titans (6-8): Detroit hosted the Alabama State Hornets last Thursday. The Titans used a 32-13 second-half run and a double-double by Doug Anderson to defeat the Hornets by a score of 80-56. Detroit will end the year with two consecutive road games in Chicago. The Titans will square off against UIC Thursday and finish the year with a game against Loyola Saturday.

Green Bay Phoenix (6-6): The Phoenix evened their record with a 63-61 victory over Idaho last Thursday. Sparked by a 19 point, 19 rebound performance by Brennan Cougill, the Phoenix overcame foul trouble to standout sophomore Alec Brown and secured their sixth victory of the season. Cougill’s performance helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Phoenix will travel to Butler on Thursday before ending the year against the Valparaiso Crusaders on New Year’s Eve.

Loyola Ramblers (5-7): In their only game of the week, Loyola traveled to Buffalo to square off against Canisius. The Ramblers earned their fourth straight win by defeating Canisius by a score of 59-45. Loyola was once again powered by Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler, who helped them overcome a four point halftime deficit. Averkamp chipped in with 22 points while Gibler scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Loyola will look to extend their winning streak when they host Wright State on Thursday and Detroit on Saturday.

Milwaukee Panthers (9-4): The Panthers traveled across Milwaukee to battle the nationally ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. Although the Panthers were only down by five points at halftime, Milwaukee’s poor shooting performance ultimately sunk their upset effort, and the Panthers lost by a score of 64-50. The Panthers will close out the year by traveling to Indiana for two road games. Milwaukee will battle Valparaiso on Thursday before squaring off against Butler on New Year’s Eve.

UIC Flames (4-8): UIC traveled to Dayton for a road contest against the Dayton Flyers last Thursday night. Although the Flames ended the first half with a two-point lead and remained within two points late in the game, UIC lost to the Flyers by a score of 64-57. UIC will host Detroit on Thursday before ending the year with a matchup on New Year’s Eve against Wright State.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-5): Despite being down by 17 points at halftime to IUPUI, the Crusaders refused to quit and managed to tie the score eight minutes into the second half. However, IUPUI used a 17-4 run to defeat Valparaiso by the score of 97-88. The Crusaders will end the year at home with two games against Wisconsin teams. Valparaiso will battle Milwaukee on Thursday before squaring off against Green Bay on Saturday.

Wright State Raiders (6-8): The Raiders hosted Central Michigan last Thursday. The Raiders headed into the locker room at halftime with a nine-point lead and defeated the Chippewas by a score of 60-42. Junior guard Julius Mays’ 28 points and game-winning basket earlier in the month against Nevada helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Raiders will end the year with a trip to Chicago for two games against Horizon League conference opponents. Wright State will play Loyola on Thursday before matching up against UIC on New Year’s Eve.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-6): The Penguins’ losing streak extended to four games with a 59-56 loss at home to the Robert Morris Colonials. Although the Penguins led by one point at halftime and led for most of the second half, a turnover by Kendrick Perry with the score tied 56-56 gave the Colonials one last chance to win the game. Coron Williams proceeded to nail a 3-point basket to secure the win for Robert Morris. Youngstown State will look to end its losing streak when they travel to Cleveland State on New Year’s Eve for a road contest against the Vikings.

Cleveland State messes with Texas, defeats Sam Houston State Bearkats

by - Published December 22, 2011 in Conference Notes
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Although the Cleveland State pep band created an atmosphere full of Christmas cheer as they belted out a large number of Christmas tunes on Tuesday night at the Wolstein Center, the Cleveland State Vikings played the role of the Grinch as they defeated the visiting Sam Houston State Bearkats by a score of 65-43.

Powered by seven 3-point shots in the first half, the Vikings led 37-25 at halftime. The Vikings continued to control the game in the second half, outscoring the Bearkats 26-20.

Vikings coach Gary Waters was in a giving mood tonight as he doled out generous minutes to nearly every player on the roster. The Vikings’ young bench received significant minutes, with most of the Vikings’ freshmen playing at least 10 minutes. Senior center Aaron Pogue was limited by a thigh contusion that he reaggravated against South Florida, opening the door for sophomore Devon Long to receive 13 minutes of action.

The Vikings compensated for being outrebounded 30-29 by using their “Water Pressure” defense to force 23 turnovers and force the Bearkats into a 41.2% shooting performance. D’Aundray Brown led the Vikings’ balanced attack with 12 points. The Bearkats’ Demarcus Gatlin led all scorers with 13 points.

The Vikings will take the next week off and celebrate Christmas before returning to the Wolstein Center on New Year’s Eve for an afternoon match up against the Youngstown State Penguins.

Avery Bradley Skills Academy

August 11-13, 2014 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

More information is available by clicking here.

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

bigten

The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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