Vikings To Face Milwaukee In Second Round Game In Indianapolis
March 3, 2010
Contact: Brian McCann
2010 Speedway Horizon League Championship
No. 5 Cleveland State (16-16) vs.No. 4 Milwaukee (19-13)
Date: Friday, March 5, 2010
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000), Indianapolis, Indiana
Radio: WHKW 1220 AM (Cleveland) & WHKZ, 1440 AM (Warren) (Al Pawlowski)
TV: None live. Video Streaming online available through HLN.
(Highlights available on The Viking Basketball Report, which airs weekly on SportsTime Ohio.)
Series: Milwaukee Leads, 19-14
Last Meeting: @UWM 69, CSU 59, (2/18/10)
Tickets: Available at Site
SETTING THE SCENE: After defeating Loyola, 80-66, in an opening round game on Tuesday, Cleveland State continues play in the 2010 Speedway Horizon League Championship when the fifth-seeded Vikings travel to Indianapolis, Ind. to face No. 4 Milwaukee (19-13) on Friday, March 5 beginning at 8:00 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus. A victory would send CSU to a semi-final matchup with regular season champion Butler on Saturday (March 6) at 8:00 p.m. The Vikings played well in their opening round game, building a 20-point first half lead and then fending off a rally down the stretch to advance to the second round for the third straight year. Milwaukee had to rally from a first half deficit to get by No. 9 UIC, 73-67. Cleveland State and UWM split the season series with each team winning on its own campus. This will be the first time that the Vikings will face the Panthers in post-season play.
PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: Gary Waters finds himself in a bit of a rebuilding season for the Vikings after posting the first back-to-back 20 win seasons since the late 1980's. With just two starters and four players back who saw significant action last year, Waters has had to incorporate eight new players into the lineup this season. The starting lineup is built around guard Norris Cole (16.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.4 apg), a first team preseason all-league choice this year who ranks fourth in the league in scoring, and small forward D'Aundray Brown (8.6, 5.6), the lone returning starters from a season ago. The strength of the returners is at guard where sophomores Jeremy Montgomery (12.7, 2.3 apg) and Trevon Harmon (10.7, 1.7) are back with each landing a spot in the starting lineup. Injuries to sophomore Josh McCoy (0.8, 1.0) and JC transfer Lance James (3.0, 0.7 apg) have hurt the depth at guard, allowing freshman Anthony Wells (1.4, 1.0) to see his first playing time. Brown is firmly entrenched at small forward with redshirt freshman Charlie Woods (1.9, 0.9) and redshirt freshman Tim Kamczyc (3.2, 2.5 rpg) also capable of seeing time at the position. Sophomore Joe Latas is the lone returner inside and he, along with JC transfers Jared Cunningham (5.3, 2.7) and junior Kevin Anderson (1.5, 0.6) spell sophomore Aaron Pogue (6.5, 5.5) at center.
CSU IN THE NCAA STATS: Cleveland State received several mentions in the most recent NCAA men's basketball statistics, which were released on Monday (March 1). As a team, the Vikings are 15th nationally in steals (8.9) and free throw percentage (.746), 20th in turnover margin (+3.7) and 63rd in turnovers per game (12.3). Individually, D'Aundray Brown ranks 16th nationally in steals (2.5 spg).
COLE & BROWN EARN HONORS: The junior tandem of Norris Cole and D'Aundray Brown were each represented when the Horizon League released its post season honors. Cole was one of five players named to the all-league first team while Brown was selected for the all-defensive team. Cole earned the honor after ranking third in the league in scoring (16.3), assists (4.4), steals (1.8) and minutes played (34.0) and 10th in free throw percentage (.804). Brown, who is averaging 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, leads the league and is ranked 16th in the nation with 79 steals.
SOMETHING ABOUT MILWAUKEE: Although the Vikings have done a great job of taking care of the basketball this season, ranking 63rd nationally in the latest NCAA stats by committing just 12.4 turnovers a game, there is something about Milwaukee that makes them do an even better job. In the two games against the Panthers this year, CSU has tied the school record for fewest turnovers in a game in both contests, committing just five each night. The total equals the previous mark set against both Utica (1/5/85) and Brooklyn (12/30/82).
WATERS LIKES TOURNEY PLAY: The Vikings head to Indianapolis owning a 6-2 record in Horizon League Championship play in the four seasons under head coach Gary Waters. Included in that record is a 2-0 record at home, claiming first round games over Detroit in 2009 and Loyola this season. Last year, CSU became the first Horizon League school to win four games en route to claiming the tournament title.
WOLSTEIN CENTER. . . HOOSIER STYLE: Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse is quickly becoming a home away from home for the Vikings as Cleveland State's Friday game against Milwaukee will be the ninth game for CSU in the facility over the last three seasons with the Vikings owning a 4-4 record in those games. Five of the games have come against Butler with the Bulldogs winning four of the five, the lone CSU win being in the title game in the 2009 tourney. CSU is 3-0 against other opponents, defeating Valparaiso, 78-73, to reach the title game in 2008, and then knocking off UIC (67-64) and Green Bay (73-67) to make the title game last season.
COLE PASSES CONSECUTIVE GAME MILESTONE: The Milwaukee game will mark the 104th consecutive game in the playing career of junior Norris Cole, the ninth-longest streak in school history. The streak covers his entire career as he played in 34 games off the bench as a freshman and has started 69 straight games over the last two seasons (7th longest starting streak in program history).
. . . AND HE PASSED THE 1,000 MINUTE MARK: With 112 minutes played in the the last three games, junior Norris Cole became only the third player in school history to record multiple seasons playing 1,000 minutes or more. Cole, whose 1,213 minutes played last season was the second highest single season total in CSU history, has played 1,087 minutes in 32 games this year, joining Cedric Jackson and J'Nathan Bullock, both of whom accomplished the feat in 2007-08 and 2008-09. The 1,087 minutes are the fourth-highest total in CSU history. He needs 83 more minutes to reach third place.
. . . AND BROWN TOPS THE 1,000 MARK AS WELL: When D'Aundray Brown played all 40 minutes in the win over Wright State on Feb. 27, the junior became just the 12th player in school history to play 1,000 minutes in a season. With 1,042 minutes this year, Brown is eighth on the list, but he can move up to fifth if he plays 29 minutes or more on Friday against Milwaukee.
COLE MOVES INTO 13TH PLACE ON SCORING CHART: With 15 points against Loyola on Tuesday, junior Norris Cole moved past Dave Kyle (1,168 points from 1974-77) and into 13th on the CSU career scoring list. Cole enters the Milwaukee game with 1,182 points, 122 points short of catching 12th place Jamaal Harris (1,304 points from 1998-2002). Cole, the 18th player in CSU history to score 1,000 points in a career, reached the milestone in the Jan. 24 win over Milwaukee. He is only the eighth player to accomplish it as a junior. In 32 games, he leads the team and ranks third in the league, averaging 16.3 points a game (523 total).
. . . AND PASSES 500 POINT MARK: With 26 points in his last two games, junior Norris Cole has become just the 14th player in school history to score 500 points or more in a season. Cole, who has 523 points this year, needs 10 points to break into the top 10 and 12 points to reach ninth.
MONTGOMERY EYES THREE-POINT RECORD: Sophomore Jeremy Montgomery knocked down a pair of three-pointers against Loyola on Tuesday to move into fifth place on the CSU single season list with 67 treys this year. Montgomery now needs just three treys to tie the school record of 70 held by Damon Stringer (1999-2000) and Theo Dixon (2000-01).
KAMCZYC CASHES IN: With Trey Harmon on the sideline with a concussion, freshman Tim Kamczyc has stepped up and started the last four games with the results being positive. In those four games as a starter, he has averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds, shooting .684 from the field (13-19) and .875 from the line (10-13). Included in those totals are a career-high 12 points in the win over Toledo and 11 points and seven rebounds against Wright State.
BROWN CONTINUES CLIMB UP STEALS LIST: With two steals against Loyola, junior D'Aundray Brown increased his league-leading season total to 81. In the process, he moved past Kenny Robertson (1989-90) and into sixth place on the single season steals chart.
COLE PICKS UP 63RD WIN AS A VIKING: The win over Loyola on Tuesday marked the 63rd time (in 103 career games) that Norris Cole has emerged victorious as a Viking. Just a junior, Cole is four wins away from breaking into the career top 10 list in the category and 28 wins shy of Ken McFadden's school record of 91 from 1985-89.
JAMES IS BACK: The Vikings got a little good news on the medical front on Feb. 21 when junior guard Lance James returned after missing the previous 21 games following surgery to repair a broken foot. He suffered a Jones fracture of the left foot in practice on Dec. 2 and had surgery on Dec. 11. His return against Toledo was a strong one as he scored seven points in 11 minutes, going two-for-three from the field, making his only trey and both free throw attempts. In the three games he has played since returning, he has averaged 5.3 points a game, shooting .500 from the field (5-10) and .667 from three-point (2-3) in 11.3 minutes a game.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE: Although coaches always claim that turnovers are a key to winning and losing, a look at the trends that have developed this year show that turnovers have no role in a games outcome. The two items that have played a role in determining wins and losses this year for CSU is halftime score and shooting percentage. The Vikings are 13-3 in games it led at halftime, losing leads to Virginia, at Butler and at Green Bay, and 1-13 in games it trailed at halftime, coming back from a 39-30 deficit to defeat Milwaukee in Cleveland. The shooting stats have a similar outcome as CSU is 14-1 in games it has shot a higher percentage than its opponent, losing only to Virginia. The Vikings are also 3-14 in games in which was out-shot, claiming both wins over Loyola and the home victory over Milwaukee.
HARMON NAMED HORIZON LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: After averaging 15.5 points in the Viking wins over UIC and Loyola, sophomore guard Trey Harmon was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Feb. 8. In the two games, Harmon shot .500 from the field (11-22), .273 from three-point (3-11) and a perfect six-for-six from the line, adding eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He scored 17 points with five assists in the win over UIC and then came back to tally 14 points with a career high six rebounds as CSU rallied to edge Loyola. Harmon is the second Viking to earn the honor this year, joining Norris Cole (Jan. 25).
HARMON FROM THE STRIPE: Sophomore Trey Harmon has developed into one of the top free throw shooters in the league, making 61 of his 72 attempts to lead the league shooting .847. After starting the year making 22 of his 32 attempts in the first 16 games (.688), he has come back to make 39 of his 40 attempts over his last 12 games (.975), including 23 straight.
. . . AND COLE WARMS UP AS WELL: After going just two-for-six at the foul line in the win at Loyola on Feb. 6, junior Norris Cole regrouped to find the shooting form that made him one of the most accurate shooters in the Horizon League. Over his last six games, Cole has made 41 of his 45 free throw attempts (.911). He had a streak of 23 consecutive makes snapped with a second half miss vs. Detroit on Feb. 25. Cole has raised his season percentage to .804 (127-158), good for 10th in the Horizon League.
A TOUGH SCHEDULE: The 2-8 record that CSU put up against non-conference Division I teams this year is a little misleading. After all, not only were four of the teams ranked in the top 15 at the time CSU played them (Kentucky No. 5, West Virginia No. 6, Ohio State No. 12 & Kansas State No. 12), but the 10 opponents have combined to post a 94-37 (.718) record in non-conference games. The College Basketball RPI ranks CSU's non-conference schedule the third-toughest in the nation, trailing only California (1) and Long Beach State (2).
DEGREE WORK: Sophomore center Joe Latas began the spring semester on Jan. 18 needing just 24 hours to graduate and when he finishes his coursework at the end of summer, he will have done so in just three years. Latas, who is taking 16 hours this semester, will take the final eight during the summer to earn his degree in both communications and religious studies.
CHARITY STRIPE HAS BEEN KIND: One strength of the Vikings this year has come at the foul line where CSU is on pace to break the school record for free throw percentage. Through 32 games, the Vikings have gone 460-for-617 from the line (.746), which is ahead of the record .724 set in 1979-80. Trey Harmon (61-72, .847), Jeremy Montgomery (77-91, .846), and Norris Cole (127-158, .804), rank first, third and 10th in the league, respectively, in free throw percentage. D'Aundray Brown (42-53, .792), Jared Cunningham (24-32, .750) and Tim Kamsczyc (29-40, .725) are each above 70-percent but have not taken enough free throws to qualify for the league stats. CSU ranks 15th in the nation in free throw percentage in the latest NCAA stats.
. . . BUT THEN WHAT DO YOU EXPECT: It is no concincidence that the Vikings are shooting at a record pace from the foul line this year, especially when you consider the track record of teams coached by Gary Waters. A quick check of the CSU record book shows that CSU entered the year with just five seasons of shooting .700 from the line or better. The school record of .724 came in 1979-80 with the next three efforts all coming during Waters first three years at CSU. CSU shot .713 in Waters' first season in 2006-07 to rank second all-time. In 2007-08, the Vikings shot .702 to rank third and then followed that up with a .701 effort last year to rank fourth.
. . . AND THE VIKINGS HAVE FARED WELL DURING CRUNCH TIME: Although the Vikings have performed well from the foul line this season, it is when the game is on the line when they have really stepped up their play. In 32 games this season, CSU has made 145 of its 174 free throws attempted in the final five minutes of games (.833). Kevin Anderson has been a perfect six-for-six to lead the team and Tim Kamczyc is nine-for-10 (.900), but the lion's share of the work has been done by Norris Cole and Jeremy Montgomery, who have combined to take 88 of the 174 attempts. Cole is connecting on .889 of his shots (56-63) while Montgomery is 21-for-25 (.840). Cole is a .841 shooter for his career (90-107), improving each season. He was 11-for-15 as a freshman (.733) and 23-for-29 as a sophomore (.793). Montgomery's improvement is significant after he made just seven of his 15 attempts in crunch time last year (.467). Last year, CSU shot just .695 from the line during this period (130-187).
COLE KEEPS STARTING STREAK GOING: When Norris Cole takes to the court against Milwaukee on Friday, he will be starting his 70th consecutive game at CSU, which is good for seventh place on consecutive starts list. Cole became the 14th player in Viking history to start 50 straight games when he started the Dec. 22 game at Ohio State. One of three players to start a school-record 37 games last year, Cole is the only player to go from playing in every game as a reserve in one season (34 games as a freshman in 2007-08) to starting every game the next in school history. Cole has played in all 103 games in his career (9th in school history).
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? Junior forward D'Aundray Brown has returned to the floor this season, showing no ill effects from the two injuries that sidelined him for 13 games last season, including the final five games of the postseason. In the 32 games since coming back, Brown is averaging 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. He leads the team and ranks ninth in the league in rebounding and is ninth in minutes played (32.6). More importantly, he keys the Vikings' pressure defense, leading the league with 81 steals.
HOME COOKING: Gary Waters believes that in order to have a championship program, the team first needs to be successful at home. The Vikings have heeded Waters' advice, going 37-8 in the Wolstein Center over the last three years, a significant improvement from the 25-42 record in the Wolstein Center over the previous five seasons. The success started in 2007-08 when CSU tied the Wolstein Center record for wins in a season with a 12-2 mark. The Vikings did that mark one better, going 13-2 at home last season. CSU finished its home slate with a 13-5 record this season at home, including 12-5 in the Wolstein Center.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Another area in which the Vikings have excelled this season is in turnovers where CSU ranks second in the Horizon League (and 20th nationally) with a +3.7 turnover margin. In 32 games, the Vikings have committed 392 turnovers (12.3 tpg), including 16 games of 12 or fewer. The Vikings tied the school record with just five turnovers in the win over Milwaukee (Jan. 24) and then again at Milwaukee on Feb. 18, had seven vs. Loyola on Feb. 6 and against Butler on Feb. 13 and also made just eight miscues against Wichita State on Nov. 28 and twice vs. Loyola (Jan. 7 & March 2). At the other end of the spectrum, CSU has forced 509 miscues (15.9 tpg), including 17 or more 14 times.
A BIG NIGHT FOR NORRIS: Despite playing on a senior-dominated team as a sophomore, Norris Cole showed the ability at times to take over a game. Now the unquestioned leader of a young and generally inexperienced Viking squad, Cole is getting much more attention this year by opposing defenses but at no time in his past has he ever taken over a game like he did in the win over Florida A&M. Cole obliterated his career scoring high by 12 points, totalling 38 points against the Rattlers, the eighth-highest single game total in school history. He was 11-for-16 from the field, three-for-four from three-point and made all 13 of his free throw attempts. He fell one point short of equalling J'Nathan Bullock's Wolstein Center scoring record (39 vs. Green Bay) but did tie Bullock's 13-for-13 free throw effort against South Florida in 2007-08 as the third-most free throws made while shooting 100% from the line.
NEXT UP: A victory over Milwaukee on Friday would advance the Vikings to a semi-final matchup in the tournament against regular season champion Butler on Friday (March 5) at 8:00 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus in Indianapolis, Ind.