March 2, 2011

Vikings Face Wright State In Horizon League Championship Quarterfinals

March 2, 2011

Contact: Brian McCann

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Game 33: 2011 Horizon League Championship - No. 6 Wright State (19-13) vs. No. 3 Cleveland State (25-7)
Date: Friday, March 4, 2011
Time: 5:00 p.m. CST
Site: U.S. Cellular Arena (10,783), Milwaukee, Wis.
Radio: WHKW 1220 AM (Cleveland) & WHKZ, 1440 AM (Warren) (Al Pawlowski)
TV: Horizon League Network (Will Haskett & Joel Cornette). Game televised locally on Sports Time Ohio.
Series: Series Tied, 27-27
Last Meeting: CSU 74, @WSU 72 (2/16/11)
Tickets: Available At Site

SETTING THE SCENE: Cleveland State moves on to Milwaukee for the next two rounds of the Horizon League Championship, facing No. 6 Wright State on Friday, March 4 beginning at 5:00 p.m. CST (6:00 p.m. EST) in the U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. A win would send the third-seeded Vikings to a semi-final matchup against No. 2 Butler on Saturday (March 5). Cleveland State enters the weekend with a 25-7 overall record, the third-highest single season win total in school history. The Vikings, who defeated UIC, 73-61, on Tuesday night to improve to 6-1 in the tourney over the last three seasons, are attempting to become just the second team in tourney history to win the title by winning four games. Wright State is 19-13 after claiming a 60-50 win over Green Bay in the opening round. This will be the 55th meeting all-time between CSU and Wright State with the series being tied at 27-27. The Vikings swept the season series against Wright State, the most recent meeting being a 74-72 decision in Fairborn back on Feb. 16. This will be the third time that CSU has faced the Raiders in post-season play, but the first since 1994-95.

PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: Gary Waters has the Viking Basketball program back at a level where he is comfortable as the return of all five starters and nine lettermen from last year's team has helped the Vikings to become the fastest CSU team to reach the 20-win mark in school history. The strength of the squad is at the guards where senior Norris Cole (21.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.4 apg), a first team All-Horizon League selection last year, and juniors Trevon Harmon (13.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Jeremy Montgomery (12.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg) each return to once again form the nucleus of the starting lineup this season. Senior forward D'Aundray Brown (8.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) has not played following preseason surgery on his right index finger, leaving the small forward spot to be manned by the sophomore duo of Charlie Woods (2.8, 2.7) and Josh McCoy (4.3, 2.6), who redshirted last season following hip surgery. Junior Aaron Pogue (8.3, 6.0) returns as the starter at center with sophomore Tim Kamczyc (5.7, 3.6) as the starting power forward. Junior Joe Latas (1.8, 2.0) and freshmen Luda Ndaye (1.2, 1.5) and Devon Long (2.0s, 0.9) help to provide CSU with a spark off the bench inside.

CSU IN THE NCAA STATS: Cleveland State received numerous mentions in the most recent NCAA men's basketball statistics, which were released on Monday (Feb. 28). Individually, Norris Cole ranked 10th in the nation in scoring (21.6), 25th in steals (2.2) and 31st in assists (5.5). As a team, the Vikings were in the top 75 in seven categories, ranking 27th in winning percentage (.774), 28th in turnover margin (+2.8), 41st in turnover (11.9), 44th in scoring margin (+8.1), 58th in scoring defense (63.6) and 74th in free throw percentage (.724).

COLE NAMED HORIZON LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Viking senior Norris Cole capped off a championship season on Monday when he was named the 2010-11 Horizon League Player of the Year in a balloting of league coaches, sports infromation directors and media. He is only the second player in school history to be named league player of the year (Ken McFadden in 1987-88) but the first since CSU joined the Horizon League in 1993-94. Cole has been nothing short of brilliant this season, scoring 19 points or more 23 times this year to lead the Horizon League with a 21.6 scoring averag. More importantly, he has shown his leadership skills on the court by also leading the league in steals (2.2) and free throw percentage (.836) while ranking second in assists (5.5), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.96) and minutes played (35.3), fifth in defensive rebounds (5.2) and eighth in rebounding (5.9). He has sixteen 20-point games this year, giving him 35 in his career, to raise his CSU career scoring total to 1,894 points to rank fourth on the CSU chart.

...AND VIKINGS DOMINATE DEFENSIVE AWARDS: In addition to earning league player of the year honors, Norris Cole was also tabbed as the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year while Trey Harmon was named to the five-player all-defensive team. Cole, the first player in league history to earn player of the year and defensive player of the year honors in the same season, led the league in steals with 67 while Harmon was fourth with 48 steals. In addition, the duo was the focal point of the Viking defense with Harmon routinely shutting down the opposing point guard and Cole covering the top player among the guards. Cole joins Cedric Jackson (2009) as the only Vikings to earn defensive player of the year honors in the Horizon League.

VIKINGS CLAIM HORIZON LEAGUE CROWN: The win over Green Bay on Feb. 26 allowed the Vikings to finish the regular season atop the Horizon League standings with a 13-5 record to give CSU its first regular season title since joining the league for the 1994-95 season. This is the fourth league title in program history, the others coming in 1984-85, 1985-86 and 1992-93 when CSU was part of the Mid-Continent Conference.

...AND SET A RECORD FOR WINS: The Vikings won 13 Horizon League games this season en route to claiming the regular season crown, the most league wins as a member of the Horizon League. The 13 wins marks only the second time that CSU had won 10 or more league contests in four straight seasons. With a 47-25 record over the last four years, it breaks the school record of 45 league wins over a four-year span set from 1984-85 to 1987-88.

CSU IN HORIZON LEAGUE TOURNEY PLAY: This is the 15th year that the Vikings have taken part in the Horizon League Championship, owning a 10-14 record in those games. The win over UIC on Tuesday improved CSU to 6-1 over the last three seasons.

...AND CSU VS. Wright State: This will be the third time that the Vikings will face Wright State in a tourney game, but you have to go back to when CSU last changed conferences to find when it happened. The Vikings won, 70-67, in a Mid-Continent quarterfinal game played in Chicago on March 6, 1994. Both schools moved to the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (which later changed its named to the Horizon League) the following year. The two teams met in the opening round with the Raiders claiming an 88-81 win in Dayton on March 3. 1995, and have not played in the postseason since. The 16 years between games is the second longest for CSU as the Vikings have played every league team except Youngstown State since.

CSU IN ALL CONFERENCE TOURNEYS: The Vikings will carry a 21-21 record in 23 years of conference tournament postseason play into the Friday's game. CSU has claimed two tournament titles (1985-86 & 2008-09) and finished second twice (1983-84 & 1986-87).

TOURNAMENT DEJA VU: It was just two years ago that the Vikings defeated Detroit, UIC, Green Bay and Butler to become the first team since the Horizon League Championship format changed in 2003 to win four games to claim the league title. The Vikings will have to go that route again to claim their second league title and the NCAA bid that goes with it.

TAKING GOOD CARE OF THE BALL AT THE RIGHT TIME: After an uncharacteristic string of having double figure turnover numbers in 12 of 13 games (13.0 per game), the Vikings have taken care of the ball much better lately, stringing together three straight games of single digit turnovers. CSU is averaging just 7.0 turnovers during the current stretch, including just five in the win over UIC. The Vikings had a +6 turnover margin (169-163) and were outscored in points off turnovers, 199-191 during the 13-game stretch but has bounced back to be +23 in turnover margin and outscore opponents, 46-20, in points off turnovers.

COLE BREAKS SECOND FREE THROW MARK: A nine-for-nine performance at the line vs. UIC allowed Norris Cole to break the school record for free throws attempted in a season. Cole, who is now 200-for-237 from the stripe this season, broke Ken McFadden's record of 233 attempts, which was set in 1987-88. Cole has shattered Ken McFadden's school record of 177 free throws made, which he set in both 1986-87 and 1987-88. Cole needs 13 free throws made and 32 attempts to break the Horizon League records of 212 free throws made and 268 attempted, which were both set by Milwaukee's Shannon Smith in 1994-95.

...COLE AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS IN ACCEPTING CHARITY: Averaging 7.4 free throw attempts a game this year, Norris Cole enters the weekend ranking second nationally this year in both free throws made (200) and attempted (237) this season. He trails only Xavier's Terrell Holloway, who is 218-for-250 from the stripe this season.

VIKINGS APPROACH WIN MARK: The win over UIC was the 25th victory of the year for the Vikings, tying them for the third-highest single season win total in school history. It is the eighth 20-win season in program history, and the third in the last four years. The 1985-86 Vikings set the record by winning 29 games with CSU winning 26 games in 2008-09 and 25 in 1986-87.

COLE EYES SCORING RECORD: The 26-points against UIC on Tuesday raised Norris Cole's season scoring total to 696 points, the second-highest single season total in school history. Cole needs 13 points to break Ken McFadden's single season record of 708 points, which was set in 1986-87. Cole, who had 539 points last year, joined Franklin Edwards, Ken McFadden and Clinton Ransey to become the fourth player in program history to score 500 points or more in multiple seasons.

COLE BREAKS HOME WINS MARK: The UIC victory on March 1 allowed the Vikings to break the school record for home wins in a season with 16 this year. It broke the old mark of 15, which was set in both 1985-86 and 1987-88. CSU played every game in Woodling Gym in 1985-86 and 11 of the 15 games in Woodling in 1987-88 with the other four contests being held in Public Hall. The 16 wins in the Wolstein Center breaks the old mark of 13 wins, which was sent in 2008-09.

...AND VIKINGS CREATE A HOME COURT EDGE: When Gary Waters took over as head coach at CSU, he talked about the importance of creating a home court advantage by winning at home. Waters has done that as the Vikings have won 12 or more games in the Wolstein Center in each of the last four years, going 54-11 (.831) at home during that span.

COLE MEETS PRESIDENT OBAMA, GAINS SUPPORT FOR HIS HI-TOP FADE: Norris Cole added another first to his resume on Feb. 22 when he was one of a handful of Cleveland State students selected to take part in the Winning the Future Forum on Small Businesses in the Wolstein Center. As part of the event, Cole was able to meet and shake hands with President Obama and several of his staff. Although he did not make a public declaration, President Obama did voice his private support for Coles' retro hi-top fade hair style.

VIKES BREAK STARTING RECORD: The Viking are one of three teams in the nation this year who have used the same starting lineup combination in every game. The lineup of Norris Cole, Jeremy Montgomery, Trevon Harmon, Tim Kamczyc and Aaron Pogue have started all 32 games to break the old CSU record of 23 straight games set by the 1992-93 group of Craig Caldwell, Gravelle Craig, Shawn Fergus, Sam Mitchell & Anthony Reed. The only other teams to start the same lineup in every game are Missouri State (30 games) and St. Bonaventure (27).

COLE DIALS THREE FROM LONG DISTANCE: The Old Dominion contest featured an eight-for-15 shooting performance from three-point by Norris Cole, leaving the Viking senior just short of a pair of CSU single game records. The eight treys was one short of Percell Cole's school record of nine at Duequesne (11/27/02) while the 15 attempts was one away from Percell Coles' record of 16 vs. North Carolina (11/29/03).

NORRIS' BIG DAY:Norris Cole turned in a once in a lifetime kind of performance in the win over Youngstown State on Feb. 12, setting career highs with 41 points and 20 rebounds while adding nine assists and three steals and playing all 40 minutes. Cole:
• recorded only the second 40-20 game nationally in the last 15 years (Blake Griffin vs. Texas Tech, 2/14/09).
• actually had a double-double in each half, totalling 21 points and 10 rebounds in the first half and 20 points and 10 rebounds in the second half.
• set a CSU single game record with 18 defensive rebounds (old record 16 by Sam Mitchell vs. Saginaw Valley State, 12/4/93).
• had the first 20-rebound game in 22 years, recording the most since Warren Bradley had 23 vs. Clarion on Nov. 25, 1988.
• recorded the 12th highest single game scoring total in the nation this year.
• posted the 9th highest single game rebounding total in the nation this year.
• had the third-highest single game scoring total in CSU history and the most since Damon Stringer had 47 at Milwaukee on 1/29/00.
• came one assist short of the first triple-double in school history (1,826 games).
• had his sixth double-double of the season (4th with points-rebounds) and the ninth of his career.
• used the effort to win the Horizon League Player of the Week award for the fourth time this season (and sixth of his career), averaging 34.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the two games last week.

...AND A SEARS BRACKETBUSTERS ENCORE: The 35-point outburst by Norris Cole in the Sears BracketBusters game against Old Dominion On Feb. 20 was the most by a single player in a televised game during the nine-year history of the event. Cole broke the old record of 33 points set by Ball State's Chris Williams in 2003. The scoring total was the most by an opposing player in the history of ODU's Constant Center.

LOOKING FOR BENCH RELIEF: One of the key statistics that has helped to determine the difference between a win and a loss this season has been he performance of the Viking bench. In the 25 CSU wins, the Viking reserves have averaged 11.9 points a game. In the seven losses however, the bench is averaging just 5.0 points a game, being shutout twice. With four regulars missing time because of injury, the CSU bench has been depleted of late, scoring 27 points in the last eight games, including being held scoreless three times.

MONTGOMERY PASSES CENTURY MARK: The UIC game was the 102ndgame in the career of Jeremy Montgomery, giving the Viking junior the 10th longest streak of consecutive games played in school history. Montgomery, who has played in every game during his career, made his 51st straight start vs. the Flames.

MONTGOMERY & HARMON ARE CHASING 1,000: With the 2010-11 season winding down, juniors Jeremy Montgomery and Trey Harmon are working their way towards becoming the 19th and 20th players in school history to score 1,000 career points. Montgomery enters the weekend with 957 points while Harmon has 877 points.

ATTENDANCE ON THE RISE: Just like CSU's winning percentage, attendance at Viking games this season is on the rise. In 18 home games, CSU averaged 3,261 fans, the largest since a 3,668 average in 1999-2000. Included in that total was a crowd of 8,490 for the Butler game on Feb. 5. It was the fifth-largest crowd in building history -- and first capacity crowd -- in building history and the largest crowd since 11,534 saw CSU face North Carolina on Nov. 29, 2003. (The building seats 13,610 but has a capacity of approximately 8,500 when configured using the curtain in the east end). The total attendance of 58,693 this year was the second highest in school history, trailing the 60,681 in 1992-93, the year the building opened.

COLE A FINALIST FOR THE BOB COUSY AWARD: Norris Cole received good news on Feb. 7 when the Viking senior was named as one of 11 finalists for the 2011 Bob Cousy Award, which is presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation's top collegiate point guard. Cole has survived two cuts this year, making it from one of 72 candidates in December to 20 in January and then to 10 in early February. The list will be trimmed to five on March 8 with the winner being named on April 4th at the Final Four in Houston. One aspect of this round of the selection process is that fans are able to vote for their favorite. A link to the fan voting site is available at CSUVikings.com.

COLE SETS IRON MAN MARKS: Nobody has played more games and more minutes at Cleveland State than Norris Cole. Cole broke the records for games played and consecutive games played in the Feb 12 win over Youngstown State and toppled the minutes played mark against Milwaukee on Thursday. Cole enters the weekend having played in all 136 career games, totalling 3,964 minutes played. He broke the school records of J'Nathan Bullocks, who had 3,872 minutes while playing in all 130 games in his career. A fixture in the Vikings lineup during his career, Cole has also set a school-record third season of 1,000 minutes or more (1,135 this year). Cole also ranks second in consecutive games started (102), just four games away from Bullock's school record.

COLE EYES THIRD PLACE ON THE SCORING CHART: With 110 points in the last four games, senior Norris Cole passed former roommate J'Nathan Bullock (1,800 points from 2005-09) and moved into fourth place on the CSU career list with 1,894 points. He is 53 points from passing Clinton Ransy (1,946 points from 1983-87) and into third place.

COLE KEEPS HEADING TO VICTORY LANE: The win over UIC on March 1 was the 88th victory in the CSU playing career of Norris Cole, giving him the fourth-highest wins total in school history. Cole is now three wins short of tying the school record of 91 wins set by Ken McFadden from 1985-89. Cole came off the bench in all 34 games as a freshman, helping CSU to a 21-13 record. He then started all 37 games as a sophomore in 2008-09, winning 26 times, and won 16 times as a junior last year.

THE TREY TRIO: The Vikings have achieved a statistical first this season as Jeremy Montgomery (147 three-pointers), Norris Cole (134) and Trevon Harmon (133) are the first active trio in school history to play together on the same team after each has made 100 career three-pointers. Montgomery (147-410) ranks fifth in school history in three-pointers made and eighth in attempts while Cole (134-412) is 10th in makes and seventh in attempts and Harmon (133-413) is 11th in makes and sixth in attempts.

FINISHING IT IN REGULATION: The UIC game extended Cleveland State's school-record streak of consecutive games without an overtime contest to 132. The last time CSU played an overtime tilt came on Nov. 17, 2007 when the Vikings toppled Florida State, 69-66, at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. In the 132 games since, Cleveland State has gone 86-46 (.651).

FREE THROWS: After setting a school record by shooting .749 from the foul line last year, the Vikings have come back to shoot .727 (529-728) this year, the second-best effort in program history. Included in that total was a 22-for-23 (.957) performance against Iona on Nov. 13, the fourth-highest single game percentage in school history, and a .920 performance (23-25) vs. Wright State on Jan. 22. For the year, CSU ranks fourth in the league.

...AND FOUL SUCCESS DURING CRUNCH TIME: CSU continues to perform well from the foul line in the last five minutes of games, shooting .800 as a team (160-200) this year. Norris Cole leads the way by making 78 of his 87 free throws down the stretch (.897). Success down the stretch is nothing new as CSU shot .826 last year (147-178). Cole is one of eight players on the team shooting .700 or better, including Josh McCoy (14-15, .933) and Tim Kamczyc (13-17, .765).

...WHEN THE GAME IS AT STAKE, COLE IS AT THE LINE: Senior Norris Cole has made a name for himself by making free throws down the stretch, shooting .861 for his career (167-194) including a .897 effort this year (78-87). Cole has had some dominant efforts in games this year, going six-for-six in both the three-point win over Kent State and 10-point win at Youngstown State, a five-for-five showing at Akron and by making all eight attempts in the five-point win at Louisiana. On Dec. 2, he was 11-for-12 at Green Bay. Cole was 56-for-63 (.889) last year.

SUCCESS 401: The fifth edition of Success Class under Gary Waters is utilizing the book Winning With People, by John Maxwell as the course text, marking the third time in five years that a Maxwell text has been used as the text book. Instituted at CSU in the summer of 2006, Waters uses Success Class to teach the Viking players the finer points of what it takes to succeed, both on the basketball court and in life. Success Class 101 used John Wooden's book, The Pyramid of Success. Waters relied on John Maxwell's book Talent Is Never Enough in 2007-08, turned to former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength in 2008-09 and returned to Maxwell in 2009-10, using 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player as the course text. The non-credited class is taught weekly by Waters to the Viking players over the summer and preseason months.

GETTING THE THIRD DEGREE: Usually when you get the third degree about your performance in the classroom, it isn't a good thing. But for Viking junior Joe Latas, it is a compliment as the Viking center has already earned undergraduate degrees in both communications and religious studies and is currently finishing up the requirements for a degree in philosophy as well.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: A couple of little tidbits about the Vikings during the 2010-11 season:
• CSU went a perfect 8-0 in November, the first undefeated month (of more than two games) since the Vikings went 8-0 during February of 1986.
• A 14-1 record in November and December helped CSU to complete the 2010 calendar year with a 26-8 record, the second best record in school history. CSU was 4-10 heading into January of 2010 but went 12-7 the rest of the year. The effort trails only the 29-4 record amassed in 1986.
• The Vikings set a program best when they defeated Loyola on Jan. 29 to reach the 20-win mark faster than any other team in school history. (Old record Feb. 17 in 1985-86)
Norris Cole has been tabbed the Horizon League Athlete of the Week a league record tying five times, earning the honor on Nov. 15 after averaging 23.3 points to lead CSU to the title of the World Vision Classic. He won again on Dec. 6 after averaging 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.0 steals in wins over Robert Morris, Green Bay & Milwaukee and for the third time on Jan. 24 for posting back-to-back double-doubles in wins over Detroit and Wright State. His most recent honor was on Feb. 21.
• Trey Harmon has also earned a Horizon League Athlete of the Week honor, receiving it on Jan. 3 after averaging 19.0 points and 4.0 steals in wins over UIC and Loyola.
Norris Cole was tabbed as the CSU Student-Athlete of the Month in November after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.4 steals in leading CSU to an 8-0 record. He repeated the honor in December after averaging 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
• Nov. 27-Dec. 4 was Revenge Week for the Vikings as CSU defeated four teams -- St. Bonaventure (69-51), Robert Morris (58-53), Green Bay (83-75) and Milwaukee (82-59-- that it went 2-5 against last season.
• The wins at Green Bay and Milwaukee in early December marked the first sweep of the road games sine the 1999-2000 season and the fourth time in program history. The win at Green Bay was just the second since the 2001-02 season (2-9 total) while the win at Milwaukee snapped a 10-game CSU losing streak in Milwaukee.
• The CSU wins over Akron and Kent State marked the first time since 1997-98 that the Vikings swept the two games and just the fifth time in the 31 years that CSU faced both opponents in the same year.
• Junior Trey Harmon had his string of 29 consecutive free throws made snapped against Kent State (Nov. 14), the second longest streak in school history (three short of Damon Stringer's record set in 1999-2000).
• The Vikings were the busiest team in America during the opening weekend of the season, winning four games in 74 hours (Bryant, Iona, Kent State & Urbana).
• The Vikings made 10 or more three-pointers in four straight games for the first time in program history when CSU went 45-for-86 (.523) from three-point in wins over Green Bay (10-14, .714), Milwaukee (14-22, .636), West Virginia Tech (11-29, .379) and Sam Houston State (10-21, .476). The effort vs. Green Bay was the third highest percentage in CSU history while the 14 treys vs. Milwaukee tied a school record.
• CSU set a school record by turning the ball over just four times in the Dec. 22 win over South Florida. What made the record even more impressive is that the Vikings forced 24 turnovers that night for a +20 turnover margin.
• With 14 wins in November and December, the Vikings shattered the old school record of 11 wins before January 1, which was set in 1992-93.
• CSU opened the 2010-11 season with 12 straight wins to easily break the old record of four wins, which came in both 1963-64 and 1985-86.
• The 12 straight wins to open the season was the third longest winning streak in school history and two short of the 14 straight wins set in both 1985-86 and 1992-93.

NEXT UP: A victory over Wright State on Friday would send the Vikings into the tourney semi-finals for the third time in four years. CSU would face Butler on Saturday (March 5) beginning at 5:00 p.m. CST (6:00 p.m. in Cleveland) in a game that would be shown tape delayed on ESPNU starting at 10:30 p.m. EST.

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