Feb. 12, 2008
Contact: Brian McCann
Cleveland State (16-10, 9-5) at Valparaiso (14-10, 5-7)
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2008
Time: 7:05 p.m. CST
Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000), Valparaiso, Ind.
TV: Live Video Streaming Available on-line through the Horizon League Network. Links to video available on CSUVikings.com
(Highlights available on The Viking Basketball Report, which airs weekly on SportsTime Ohio.
Radio: WJMO, 1300 AM (Al Pawlowski)
(Streaming available at CSUVikings.com)
Series: CSU Leads, 22-7
Last Meeting: @CSU 69, Valpo 63 (1/19/08)
SETTING THE SCENE: Cleveland State embarks on its most-important road trip of the season this week, playing a pair of games in the State of Indiana that will impact CSU's seeding in the upcoming Horizon League Championship. The Vikings open the week with a Thursday night (Feb. 14) contest at league newcomer Valparaiso that will tip off at 7:05 p.m. CST in the Athletics-Recreation Center on the Valpo campus. CSU enters the week with a 16-10 overall and 9-5 league record, standing in third place in the Horizon League race, a half-game ahead of UIC (8-5) and a game ahead of Milwaukee (7-5) in the very tight league standings.
PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: The Vikings are a totally different team from the one that went 10-21 a season ago. With five returners and 10 newcomers on the squad, second year head coach Gary Waters has depth available at every position on the floor. Junior forward J'Nathan Bullock (14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) leads the returners after becoming only the third player in CSU history to lead the team in scoring as both a freshman and sophomore. All five returners figure prominently in the rotation this season with senior Breyohn Watson (4.7, 2.0) and sophomore Joe Davis (9.2 ppg) sharing time at the off-guard and senior Kevin Francis (5.0, 4.4) and junior Renard Fields (2.3, 1.7) seeing time inside. The Vikings have benefited from the addition of transfers Cedric Jackson (St. John's), Chris Moore (UC Santa Barbara) and George Tandy (Eastern Illinois). Jackson (14.0, 4.8, 4.8 apg) starts at point guard with Moore (5.6, 3.2) and Tandy (4.5, 4.6) sharing the center duties. Freshmen D'Aundray Brown (5.0, 3.2), who has started the last three games, and Norris Cole (4.0 ppg) have each impacted the rotation.
HEAD COACH Gary Waters: A 33-year collegiate coaching veteran, Gary Waters took over as the head coach of the Vikings in the spring of 2006, bringing with him to Cleveland a head coaching history that included six trips to the postseason in his first 10 years as a head coach. He posted a 92-60 record in five seasons at Kent State, making NCAA appearances in both 1998-99 and 2000-01 and becoming the third coach in Mid-American Conference history to be named league coach of the year in successive years. Waters moved to Rutgers in 2001-02, compiling a 79-75 mark in five seasons, including three trips to the NIT. Waters is 26-31 in his second season at CSU, giving him a 197-166 record in 12 seasons.
VIKINGS DRAW MARIST IN ESPNU BRACKETBUSTERS: Cleveland State will host Marist College of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Saturday, Feb. 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. as part of the ESPNU BracketBusters. The game was selected as one of the 14 TV games and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. This will be the second meeting all-time between CSU and Marist with the Vikings claiming a 52-49 decision on Jan. 20, 1987 at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. It was a triumphent return for CSU to the building that had seen the Vikings fall to Navy in the NCAA Sweet 16 round the year before. CSU won despite a 22-point, 10-rebound effort from Marist's Rick Smits.
J'NATHAN'S BIG NIGHT: After struggling offensively for most of the Horizon League season, junior J'Nathan Bullock broke out of it in a big way on Monday, scoring 39 points in the win over Green Bay. He was 13-for-14 from the field and 11-for-14 from three-point. Here are a couple of notes on Bullock's performance: * The fifth-highest single game scoring total in CSU history and the most by a Horizon League player this year. * The 11th highest point total by a Division I player in the nation this year. * The highest scoring total by a Viking in the Wolstein Center. * The .928 field goal percentage was the fourth-highest effort in CSU history and the highest by a Horizon League player this season. * The .928 field goal percentage was the fourth highest percentage among Division I players this year. * He entered the game ranked second on the team in scoring, 18 points behind Cedric Jackson. He surpassed Jackson early in the second half and finished the night with a 12-point lead.
. . . AND BULLOCK APPROACHES RARE SCORING: When J'Nathan Bullock exploded for 39 points against Green Bay, he took over the team scoring lead from Cedric Jackson and put himself into a position to lead the team in scoring for the third straight year, an accomplishment achieved by only three other players in school history. Weldon Kytle (1962-65) and Franklin Edwards (1978-81) each lead the team in scoring during all four years in the program while Ken McFadden (1987-89) achieved it as a sophomore, junior and senior.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Gary Waters said when he was hired that one of the first steps towards building a championship program was to make the home court a tough place to play. After a 6-8 mark in the Wolstein Center last season, the Vikings have improved to 10-2 this year, the third-highest season win total in the 17-year history of the building. With at least two home games to go, CSU has a chance to break the arena record of 11 wins, set in both 1992-93 (11-1) and 2000-01 (11-2).
JACKSON IS A STEAL: A four-steal effort against Green Bay on Monday allowed junior Cedric Jackson to become the first Viking in 18 years to break into the single season top 10 list for steals. With 68 steals, Jackson passed Franklin Edwards (63 in 1980-81), Ken McFadden (66 in 1987-88) , Mike Sweeney (66 in 1981-82) and Clinton Ransey (67 in 1985-86) and into seventh place on the single season chart.
. . . JACKSON MAKES HIS MARK NATIONALLY: Not only does Cedric Jackson lead the Horizon League in steals, but the latest NCAA statistics has him ranked 11th nationally.
DAVIS HAS CAREER NIGHT: The loss at UIC on Jan. 31 spoiled a career night from sophomore Joe Davis, who came off the bench to set career highs for points (27) and assists (5). Davis, whose previous career best was a 20-point effort against Geneva, was 10-for-16 from the field and four-for-seven from three-point.
A FOUL CALL: When D'Aundray Brown was forced out of the game with his fifth personal foul against Green Bay on Monday, it marked just the second time this season that CSU had a player disqualified from a game because of fouls. With at least six games to go, the Vikings are on a pace to set the school record for fewest DQ's in a season, which was five set in 1985-86. The only other player to foul out this year is Cedric Jackson, who did not make it through the game at Kent State on Dec. 29.
TANDY SWATS HIS 100TH: Junior George Tandy has seven blocked shots in the last five games to raise his career total to 105. The 6-8 junior ranks second in the Horizon League this year with 34 blocks (1.42 bpg), having nine multiple block games. Tandy had 42 blocks as a freshman (2004-05) at Eastern Illinois and added 29 the following year before transferring to CSU.
. . . AND CLOSES IN ON CSU TOP 10: With 34 blocked shots this season, George Tandy is just two rejections away from breaking into the CSU single season list for blocks. Tandy needs just two blocks to catch Shawn Fergus, who is currently in 10th place with 36 blocks.
VIKINGS REBOUND TO REBOUND: It has been six seasons since Cleveland State finished the year with a positive rebounding margin, but based on the rebounding performance of the Vikings, the streak may well come to an end this year. In 26 games, CSU has averaged 35.4 rebounds a game while limiting its opponents to 32.1 boards to lead the Horizon League with a +3.3 rebounding margin. The Vikings have out-rebounded their opponent in all but seven games. The last time that CSU was able to hold the rebounding edge for an entire season came in 2000-01 when the Vikings had a +3.1 rebounding margin.
. . . FROM WORST TO FIRST, A LEAGUE FIRST: Not only are the Vikings near the top of the Horizon League after finishing in last place a year ago, but CSU is also attempting to become the first team in league history to go from last in rebounding margin in one year to first the next. The Vikings were out-rebounded 33.1 to 36.6 last year for a -3.5 margin.
. . . BUT DO THEY HAVE TO BE SO OFFENSIVE ABOUT IT? Part of the reason for CSU's success on the boards this season has come at the offensive end of the floor where the Vikings lead the Horizon League with an average of 12.85 offensive rebounds a game. CSU has two of the top six individuals in offensive rebounds with J'Nathan Bullock (2.23) and Kevin Francis (2.04), ranking third and seventh, respectively.
BIG CROWDS: The 5,352 fans that attended the Jan. 17 Butler game marked the largest crowd in the Wolstein Center since the curtain was added four years ago on the west side to trim the capacity of the building to approximately 8,500. The last time CSU had a larger crowd in the Wolstein Center came on Nov. 29, 2003 when 11,534 saw the Vikings drop an 82-76 decision to North Carolina.
. . . AND THE SEASON AVERAGE IS UP: With at least two games remaining in the Wolstein Center this year, the Vikings are approaching some attendance high marks for the decade. With 42,916 attending the first 13 homes games, CSU is averaging 3,301 per game, the most since 1998-99 when the Vikings played in front of an average of 3,668 fans. CSU stands a good chance of reaching the 50,000 mark for season attendance for the first time since 1998-99.
FINALLY: The win over 12th-ranked Butler on Jan. 17 marked only the second time in school history that the Vikings defeated a ranked opponent and the first during the regular season and the first at home. The only other time that CSU knocked off a ranked team came on March 14, 1986 when it upset 14th-ranked Indiana, 83-79, in an NCAA first round game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. The Butler win improved CSU to 2-26 all-time against ranked opponents, snapping a 19-game losing streak.
JACKSON & BULLOCK REACH FREE THROW MILESTONE: The junior tandem of Cedric Jackson (103 free throws made) and J'Nathan Bullock (119) hold the distinction of being just the fourth pair of teammates in school history to each make 100 free throws in the same season. The milestone was previously achieved in 2003-04 (Jermaine Robinson, 141, & Omari Westley, 124), 1989-90 (Brian Parker, 119, & Steve Givens, 104) and 1986-87 (Ken McFadden, 177, & Clinton Ransey, 100).
. . . AND AN EVEN BIGGER ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR JACKSON: The 100th free throw made of the season also made Cedric Jackson just the fourth player (and sixth time) in school history to make 100 field goals, 100 free throws and hand out 100 assists in the same season. He joins Damon Stringer (195 FGM, 113 FTM & 108 assists in 1999-00), Ken McFadden (159, 144 & 146 in 1988-89 & 205, 177 & 177 in 1987-88) and Franklin Edwards (265, 134 & 142 in 1980-81 & 253, 131 & 117 in 1979-80). In 26 games, Jackson has made 114 field goals, 103 free throws and handed out 124 assists.
CSU HAS BLOWN PAST LAST YEAR'S RECORD: With a 16-10 overall and 9-5 league record, Cleveland State has significantly improved its record from a season ago. The Vikings enter the week with six more overall and league wins then CSU posted during all of last season. Cleveland State was 10-21 overall and 3-13 in the Horizon League a year ago.
BULLOCK MAKES 61ST CONSECUTIVE START: J'Nathan Bullock enters the week as one of 12 Viking players who have started 50 consecutive games in their career. Bullock, who earned the honor when he started against UIC on Jan. 5, currently ranks eighth on the list with 61 straight starts. He needs two more starts to catch Warren Bradley (1983-88), who made 63 straight starts. If Bullock stays healthy, he could catch record-holder Ken McFadden (1985-89), who started 86 straight games, early next year.
A REVERSAL OF FORTUNES: Over the course of the last eight seasons, Cleveland State has recorded its top five season totals of three-point field goals made, including a school-record 198 last year. The record is safe for at least another year as the Vikings enter the week having made just 108 three-pointers in their first 26 games. The 4.15 three-pointers per game is the sixth-lowest season average in the 22 years since the three-pointer was created. The marksmenship isn't much better as CSU's current .285 effort from three-point is the worst in program history, surpassing the previous low of .301 in 1993-94.
. . . BUT THE FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE IS UP: CSU enters the week shooting .438 from the field this season, the highest shooting performance by the Vikings in five seasons. CSU shot .446 as a team in 2002-03.
VIKINGS POST THIRD CONSECUTIVE WINNING MONTH: Despite losing their last three games in January, the Vikings finished the month of January with a 6-3 record. It allowed CSU to post its third consecutive winning month for the first time since the Vikings put together six consecutive wining months between February, 1992 and March, 1993. CSU went 4-3 in November, 4-2 in December and 6-3 in January this year.
. . . BUT ARE JUST 1-2 IN FEBRUARY: The loss at Loyola on Feb. 2 may have been a bad omen as the Vikings lost the first game of the month for the first time this season. CSU previously won the first game in November (at USF), December (Geneva) and January (Loyola) en route to three straight winning months. The Vikings enter the Valparaiso-Butler road trip with a 2-2 mark this month with five contests remaining.
THREE-POINT DEFENSE: The Viking perimeter defense has been outstanding in league games to date as CSU leads the league in three-point field goal defense in conference games. In the 14 games, Viking opponents have shot .295 from behind the arc, making 62 of their 210 three-point attempts. The percentage is 32 points ahead of second-place Youngstown State, who has allowed .327 shooting, and the 62 treys allowed is the fewest in the league, two less than the 64 allowed by Milwaukee, which has played two less games.
GOING FOR A RARE DOUBLE: Junior Cedric Jackson, who leads the Horizon League in steals (2.62) and is second in assists (4.77), is attempting to become just the fifth player in league history to lead the league in both categories. Jackson's 2.62 steals per game is significantly ahead of Detroit's Woody Payne (1.96) while his assist total is slightly behind Butler's Mike Green (4.83). Jackson is attempting to join Loyola's Darius Clemens (1980-81) and Earl Brown (1997-98), Detroit's Roy Simms (1982-83) and LaSalle's Paul Burke (1993-94).
. . . BUT DON'T FORGET HIS REBOUNDING: Although he leads the team in assists and steals, the part of Cedric Jackson's performance that has been overlooked this year has been his rebounding. Jackson enters the week second on the team and 15th in the Horizon League averaging 4.8 boards a game. He has turned up his performance over the last seven games, averaging 7.0 rebounds a game, including a career-high 11 against Milwaukee and 10 vs. UIC.
BULLOCK PASSES 1,000 POINT MARK: An 11-point effort in the win over Valparaiso on Jan. 19 allowed junior J'Nathan Bullock to become the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career. Bullock went over the mark when he scored on a three-point play with 9:39 left. He is the first Viking to accomplish the feat since Jermaine Robinson ended his career in 2003-04 with 1,408 points. Bullock enters the week ranking 15th with 1,111 career points, needing 13 points to pass Anthony Reed (1,123 points from 1990-93) and move into 14th place and 19 points to catch 13th-ranked Andre Battle (1,129, 1990-93).
. . . AND BREAKS INTO FREE THROW TOP 10: J'Nathan Bullock is also making his mark on the free throw charts, entering the week ranked sixth in school history in free throws made (324) and seventh in free throws attempted (444). He needs 30 more free throws made to reach fifth place and 27 more attempts to move up into sixth place.
BULLOCK'S FREE THROW IMPROVEMENT CONTINUES: J'Nathan Bullock continues to show improvement at the foul line, going 119-for-142 this season to improve his career free throw percentage to .730 (324-444). He struggled from the line as a freshman, making only 83-of-139 (.597), including just .511 (47-92) in the first 22 games. Bullock improved to .748 last year (122-163) and is fifth in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.838) this season.
MOORE ENJOYS PLAYING WITH BLOCKS: Junior Chris Moore has added a weapon to his defensive arsenal this year, entering the week ranking fifth in the Horizon League with 26 blocked shots this season. That is quite a total, especially when you consider that in two seasons at UC Santa Barbara, Moore blocked just seven shots (in 30 games).
NEXT UP: The Vikings close out their final two-game road swing of the season by playing a rematch against ninth-ranked Butler on Saturday (Feb. 16) at 2:00 p.m. The contest will be televised regionally on SportsTime Ohio.