Vikings Close Regular Season At Youngstown State

Vikings Close Regular Season At Youngstown State

Feb. 25, 2008

Contact: Brian McCann

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Cleveland State (19-11, 11-6) at Youngstown State (9-19, 5-12)
Date: Saturday, March 1, 2008
Time: 7:05 p.m. EST
Site: Beeghley Center (6,400), Youngstown, Ohio
TV: SportsTime Ohio (Mike Cairns & Franklin Edwards)
(Game will be replayed at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday (March 1), at 12:00 noon on Sunday (March 2) and at 5:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon on March 3.)
(Highlights available on The Viking Basketball Report, which airs weekly on SportsTime Ohio.)
Radio: WJMO, 1300 AM (Al Pawlowski)
(Streaming available at
Series: YSU Leads, 35-33
Last Meeting: @CSU 77, YSU 54 (12/8/07)

SETTING THE SCENE: Cleveland State (19-11, 11-6) closes the 2007-08 regular season this week when the Vikings travel to Youngstown to face Youngstown State on Saturday, March 1 beginning at 7:05 p.m. in the Beeghley Center on the YSU campus. The game will be televised regionally by SportsTime Ohio with Mike Cairns and Franklin Edwards providing the commentary. The Vikings enter the final week of the season assured of finishing no lower than third in the Horizon League this year, a quantum leap from the last place finish of a year ago. CSU is one win away from recording the sixth 20-win season in school history and first since 1992-93. Youngstown State is 9-19 overall and in ninth place in the standings with a 5-12 mark. CSU opened the league schedule with a 77-54 win over the Penguins on Dec. 8

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 (14.6 ppg, 6.3 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 (5.1, 2.0) and sophomore Joe Davis (8.5 ppg) sharing time at the off-guard and senior Kevin Francis (4.5, 4.1) and junior Renard Fields (2.1, 1.6) 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 (14.2, 4.9, 4.9 apg) starts at point guard with Moore (5.3, 2.9) and Tandy (4.4, 4.5) sharing the center duties. Freshmen D'Aundray Brown (4.9, 3.4), who has started the last seven games, and Norris Cole (4.3 ppg) have each impacted the rotation.

TV TIMEOUT: Saturday's game will be the eighth game being televised this year by SportsTime Ohio. The second-year all-sports channel has already broadcast the wins over Youngstown State (12/8), UIC (1/5), Detroit (1/10), Valparaiso (1/19) and Detroit (2/9) and the Dec. 18 loss to Ohio State and road loss at Butler (2/16). The YSU game will be replayed on Saturday night (March 1) at 11:00 p.m., on Sunday (March 2) at 12:00 noon and on Monday (March 3) at 5:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon.

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 29-32 in his second season at CSU, giving him a 200-167 record in 12 seasons.

VIKINGS CLAIM THIRD: With just one game to go in the Horizon League season, the Vikings have clinched no worse than a third place finish in the league this year. With an 11-6 mark, CSU could still finish tied with Milwaukee for third, but the Vikings have the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over Butler this season.

. . . BUT STILL EYE SECOND: At the other end of the spectrum, CSU still has a chance to grab the No. 2 seed, even though they begin the week a game-and-a-half behind Wright State. With the Raiders having two tough road games remaining (at Butler & Valpo), the Vikings need to win at Youngstown State and WSU to drop both games so they finish tied with CSU with a 12-6 record. The Vikings would earn the tiebreaker if Valparaiso finishes tied with or ahead of UIC in the final standings (UIC would have to lose at Green Bay and Milwaukee while Valparaiso defeats both Wright State and Detroit).

WATERS REACHES 200-WIN MARK: The win over Marist on Saturday allowed second-year head coach Gary Waters to win the 200th game in his head coaching career. Waters is 29-32 in two seasons at CSU, raising his 12-year head coaching record to 200-167.

"FLIP THE SCRIPT": One of the Viking battle cries this season, which had remained amongst the team until last week, is "Flip The Script" which references CSU's desire to put last year's 10-21 record behind them by flipping it around, to 21-10 this year. Although CSU will fall just short of achieving that goal directly, entering the final game with a 19-11 record, the Vikings can achieve the 21-win goal by defeating Youngstown State this week and by winning a game in the Horizon League Championship.

A 20-20 VISION: A win at Youngstown State on Saturday will allow the Vikings to achieve the rare distinction of going from 20 losses in one season to 20 wins in the next. Although the NCAA Basketball record book doesn't track exactly how many times this has been accomplished, it does list 15 teams (each of whom improved by 13 or more wins from one season to the next) with a small window existing for several other teams to accomplish it as well. Xavier is the only Horizon League school to earn the honor, going from 8-20 in 1981-82 to 22-8 the following year.

A HOMECOMING FOR BROWN: Saturday's game at Youngstown State will serve as a homecoming for Viking freshman D'Aundray Brown. Brown, a Youngstown native who earned first team All-Ohio honors as a senior at Ursuline High School, is the son of Aundra Brown (1987-91) and Sharella Thomas (1990-93), both of whom played collegiately at Youngstown State. Brown excelled in his first meeting against the school he followed for his entire life, scoring eight points, on four-for-four shooting, with two rebounds and three assists.

. . . AND GEE REVISITS SOME OF HIS COACHING ROOTS: D'Aundray Brown won't be the only person on the Viking bench with an emotional tie to YSU this weekend. Associate head coach Jayson Gee received his first full-time collegiate coaching position from Youngstown State, serving as assistant coach for the Penguins from 1989-93 under head coach John Stroia. He left YSU in 1993 to become an assistant coach at Ohio University, but not before coaching Aundra Brown, D'Aundray's father, during his final two seasons.

GOING FOR 20 WINS: A victory on Saturday at Youngstown State will allow the Vikings to record their 20th win of the season for just the fifth time in school history. CSU reached the win total in four consecutive seasons under Kevin Mackey, going 21-8 in 1984-85, 29-4 in 1985-86, 25-8 in 1986-87 and 22-8 in 1987-88. Four seasons passed before the Mike Boyd-coached Vikings went 22-6 to reach the 20-win plateau for the final time.

. . . AND 31 GAMES: Saturday's game will be the 31st game played by the Vikings this season, a total reached for just the fourth time in CSU basketball history. The school record is 33 games, which was set in both 1985-86 (29-4) and 1986-87 (25-8), with the only other time that CSU played more than 30 contests coming last year when the Vikings went 10-21. If CSU wins a first round game in the Horizon League Championship, the Vikings could equal the record for games played in the quarterfinals.

JACKSON FLIRTS WITH TRIPLE-DOUBLE HISTORY: Junior Cedric Jackson came within one assist and one rebound of becoming the first player in school history to record a triple-double in a game when he scored 18 points with nine rebounds and nine assists in the win over Milwaukee on Feb. 20. Jackson, who had eight points, five rebounds and four assists at half, appeared to have the milestone within his reach before picking up his fourth personal foul with 4:55 left, sending him to the bench for the next three minutes.

VIKINGS PROVE THE EXPERTS WRONG: With no worse than a third-place finish assured in the Horizon League this year, the Vikings have officially proven the preseason prognosticators wrong this season. After all, CSU was picked to finish ninth in the Horizon League this year in the annual preseason poll of the coaches, SIDs and media. CSU received 118 points in the poll to be solidly behind eighth-place UIC (171 points) and slightly ahead of 10th place Youngstown State (81 points). Of the 46 ballots cast, CSU was picked to finish higher than sixth on one ballot, that being a fourth-place finish.

CSU SETS MARK WITH 11TH HORIZON LEAGUE WIN: The win over Milwaukee on Feb. 20 was CSU's 11th against a Horizon League opponent this year, the most league wins since the Vikings joined the Horizon League in 1994-95. The previous high was nine wins in both 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

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 12-2 this year to break the arena record for most wins in a season. Cleveland State previously won 11 games in both 1992-93 (11-1) and 2000-01 (11-2).

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 Feb. 11, scoring 39 points in the win over Green Bay. He was 13-for-14 from the field and 11-for-14 from the foul line. 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 J'NATHAN HAS STAYED HOT: No player in the Horizon League is playing better right now than J'Nathan Bullock, who is averaging 20.3 points and 7.0 rebounds over his last six games, shooting .545 from the field (42-77). Bullock scored 21 vs. Detroit, 39 against Green Bay, 19 at Valparaiso and 19 vs. Marist to raise his season scoring average by over a point a game.

. . . AND BULLOCK APPROACHES RARE SCORING ACHIEVEMENT: 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. Bullock enters the YSU game with 437 points this year, 11 more than Jackson (426).

1,000 POINTS & 500 BOARDS FOR BULLOCK: A six-rebound performance at Butler on Feb. 16 allowed junior J'Nathan Bullock to become just the 10th player in CSU history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds during a career. Bullock enters the week with 1,173 points and 519 rebounds.

JACKSON IS A STEAL: A three-steal effort vs. Marist on Saturday allowed junior Cedric Jackson to move into fourth place on the CSU single season steal list with 79 steals this year. He is the first player in 18 seasons to break into the top 10. Jackson needs four steals to equal Ken McFadden (83 in 1986-87) for third place.

. . . JACKSON MAKES HIS MARK NATIONALLY: Not only does Cedric Jackson lead the Horizon League in steals, but the latest NCAA statistics has him ranked 10th 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 Feb. 11, it marked just the second time this season that CSU had a player disqualified from a game because of fouls. With at least four 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 10 blocked shots in the last nine games to raise his career total to 108. The 6-8 junior ranks second in the Horizon League this year with 37 blocks (1.28 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 BREAKS INTO CSU TOP 10: With 37 blocked shots this season, George Tandy has passed Shawn Fergus and moved into 10th place on the CSU single season list for blocks. Tandy needs three more blocks to catch Sam Mitchell, who is currently in ninth place with 40 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 30 games, CSU has averaged 35.1 rebounds a game while limiting its opponents to 31.8 boards to lead the Horizon League with a +3.3 rebounding margin. The Vikings have out-rebounded their opponent in all but eight 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.

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 the possibility of as many as two more game remaining in the Wolstein Center this year, the Vikings are approaching some attendance high marks for the decade. With 49,063 attending the first 15 homes games, CSU is averaging 3,307 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 2-27 all-time against ranked opponents, snapping a 19-game losing streak.

JACKSON & BULLOCK REACH FREE THROW MILESTONE: The junior tandem of Cedric Jackson (122 free throws made) and J'Nathan Bullock (129) 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 30 games, Jackson has made 132 field goals, 122 free throws and handed out 148 assists.

. . . JACKSON IS THE ONLY 4x100 PLAYER: If you add Jackson's 148 rebounds to the list, then Cedric Jackson is the only player in CSU history to record 100 assists, 100 rebounds, 100 field goals made and 100 free throws made.

JACKSON ZEROES IN ON SEASON ASSIST CHART: A three-assist effort against Marist on Feb. 23 raised Cedric Jackson's season assist total to 148, vaulting him into sixth place on the CSU single season chart. He needs one assist to catch fifth place Kenny Robertson (149 in 1989-90) and 11 to equal fourth-place Jim Les (159 in 1981-82).

CSU CLAIMS MOST IMPROVED AWARD: With a 19-11 overall and 11-6 league record, Cleveland State has equaled the school records for the most improvement in wins from one season to the next. The Vikings enter the week with nine more overall and eight more league wins then CSU posted during all of last season when the Vikings were 10-21 overall and 3-13 in the Horizon League a year ago. The nine win improvement overall surpassed the previous best of eight wins set in 1985-86 when CSU went from 21 wins to 29. In conference play, the improvement of eight wins was matched in 1992-93 when the Vikings won 15 league games (they won seven in 1991-92).

BULLOCK MAKES 65TH 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 seventh on the list with 65 straight starts. He needs one more start to catch Eddie Bryant (1983-87) and Patrick Tatham (2003-07), who each made 67 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 128 three-pointers in their first 30 games. The 4.27 three-pointers per game is the sixth-lowest season average in the 22 years since the three-pointer was created. The marksmanship isn't much better as CSU's current .294 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 weekend 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.

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 28 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).

VIKINGS POST FOURTH CONSECUTIVE WINNING MONTH: The win over Marist on Feb. 23 0allowed the Vikings to improve to 4-3 in the month of February and extend its streak of consecutive winning months to four. It is the longest winning streak 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.

GOING FOR A RARE DOUBLE: Junior Cedric Jackson, who leads the Horizon League in both steals (2.63) and assists (4.93), is attempting to become just the fifth player in league history to lead the league in both categories. Jackson's 2.63 steals per game is significantly ahead of Green Bay's Terry Evans (2.00) while his assist total is slightly ahead of Butler's Mike Green (4.87). 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 ranked second on the team and 14th in the Horizon League averaging 4.9 boards a game. He has turned up his performance over the last 11 games, averaging 6.5 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 12th with 1,173 career points, needing 131 points to pass Jamaal Harris (1,304 points from 1998-02) and move into 11th place.

. . . 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 (334) and seventh in free throws attempted (459). He needs 20 more free throws made to reach fifth place and 12 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 124-for-151 this season to improve his career free throw percentage to .726 (329-453). 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 (.822) this season.

A'POSTROPHE: Heading into the 2007-08 season, varsity letters in men's basketball have been awarded to 367 different student-athletes. When J'Nathan Bullock earned a letter in 2005-06, he became the first student-athlete with an apostrophe in his first name to earn a letter. Two years later, he is joined by freshman D'Aundray Brown on the squad, giving CSU two players with punctuation marks in their first names. The duo aren't the first with apostrophes in their names though. Those honors go to Bob O'Connell (1954-55), Dan O'Shaughnessy (1962-64) and Mike O'Brien (1964).

NEXT UP: The Vikings begin play in the Horizon League Championship, most likely entering the tourney as the No. 3 seed and hosting No. 10 Detroit on Tuesday, March 4 beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Wolstein Center.