Oct. 7, 2008
GARY WATERS INTERVIEW FROM MUNCH ON SPORTS (Oct. 7, 2008)
Contact: Brian McCann
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Cleveland State is the favorite to win the 2009 Horizon League Championship in a preseason poll of head coaches, sports information directors and media from the 10 Horizon League schools.
The Vikings return four starters and eight lettermen from the 2007-08 squad that went 21-13 and finished second in the regular season and second in the post-season tournament. CSU advanced to post-season play for the first time in 21 seasons, earning a bid to play in the NIT.
"This is a big honor for our program but it is one that we need to keep in perspective," CSU head coach Gary Waters said. "On one hand, it is always nice when your peers take notice of the hard work that is taking place in the program and single you out for it.
"Realistically however, this award doesn't mean anything because it is based on what we have done in the past and it doesn't help us to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Horizon League and playing in the NCAA Championship.
"There are a number of teams that are capable of winning the Horizon League title this year so it is important that we continue to work hard and get ready for the season. This is just another sign that we aren't going to sneak up on anybody this year and that we'll have to be ready to face every opponent's best effort this winter," Waters added.
Cleveland State received 40 of the 49 first place votes and 478 total points, 12 points less than the maximum score of 490 points. Wright State was picked second, receiving three first place votes and 412 points total, and were followed by UIC in third with two first place votes and 361 points.
Green Bay was selected fourth with 335 points. Defending Horizon League champion Butler received three first place votes and 326 points to rank fifth and the Bulldogs were followed by Milwaukee (216 points) in sixth, Valparaiso (207) in seventh, Loyola (189, 1 first place) in eighth, Detroit (98) in ninth and Youngstown State (73) in 10th.
The projection is a considerable improvement over a year ago when the Vikings received 113 votes to be picked to finish ninth with only one voter picking CSU to finish higher than sixth.
The complete preseason poll follows:
1. Cleveland State (40 first place, 478 points)
2. Wright State (3, 412)
3. UIC (2, 361)
4. Green Bay (335)
5. Butler (3, 326)
6. Milwaukee (216)
7. Valparaiso (207)
8. Loyola (1, 189)
9. Detroit (98)
10. Youngstown State (73)
After going 3-1 during a tour of Spain in August, the Vikings will resume practice for the upcoming season on Friday, Oct. 17 with the annual Viking Madness event at 7:00 p.m. in the Wolstein Center.