Vikings Face Butler in Horizon League Championship

Vikings Face Butler in Horizon League Championship

March 9, 2009

Contact: Brian McCann

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Game 35
2009 Speedway Horizon League Championship (Championship Game)
No. 3 Cleveland State (24-10) at No. 1 Butler (26-4)

Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST
Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) - Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: ESPN - (Ron Franklin & Fran Fraschilla)
Highlights available on The Viking Basketball Report, which airs weekly on SportsTime Ohio.
Radio: WHKW 1220 AM (Cleveland) & WHKZ, 1440 AM (Warren) - (Al Pawlowski)
Westwood One - (Mark Champion & Pete Gillen)
Series: Butler Leads, 25-6
Last Mtg.: @Butler 58, CSU 56 (2/28/09)
Tickets: Available At Site

SETTING THE SCENE: Cleveland State will play in the title game of the 2009 Speedway Horizon League Championship when the Vikings face top-seeded and 22nd-ranked Butler (26-4) on Tuesday, March 10 beginning at 9:00 p.m. in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla providing the commentary. CSU (24-10), the No. 3 seed in the tourney, became the first team in the seven years under the current tournament format to reach the championship game without the benefit of at least one bye. The Vikings defeated No. 10 Detroit, 56-43 on March 3 in the Wolstein Center and both No. 7 UIC, 67-64 on Friday and No. 2 Green Bay, on Saturday, at Butler, to advance to the championship game for the second straight season. The 24 Vikings wins this year are the third-highest single season total in program history. CSU will face a familiar foe in Butler. The Vikings played the Bulldogs in the regular season finale on Feb. 28, falling 58-56 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler was also CSU's opponent in the title game last year with the Bulldogs claiming a 70-55 victory.

PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: After last year becoming one of at least 16 teams in NCAA history to go from losing 20 games in one season to winning 20 the next, the Vikings are playing their best basketball of the year to claim the school's seventh 20-win season and advance to the Horizon League Championship for the second straight year. The lineup is centered around the group of seven returning players who keyed the success last year, including the duo of forward J'Nathan Bullock (15.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and point guard Cedric Jackson (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.4 apg), both of whom were named to the five-player Preseason All-Horizon League first team this year. Earning spots in the starting lineup are the sophomore duo of off-guard Norris Cole (13.2, 2.6, 2.4) and small forward D'Aundray Brown (7.4, 5.7, 2.5). Senior Chris Moore (5.3, 2.9) has started each game at center with seniors George Tandy (5.8, 5.2) and Renard Fields (1.1, 1.0) each factoring significantly into the playing rotation. The final three spots in the rotation come from the group consisting of freshmen guards Jeremy Montgomery (3.9, 1.0 assists), Trevon Harmon (5.2, 1.2), who became eligible at the semester, and Josh McCoy (1.0, 1.0).

HEAD COACH Gary Waters: The reigning Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year, Gary Waters has needed just three seasons to convert Cleveland State into one of the top programs in the Horizon League. A 34-year collegiate coaching veteran, he owns a 225-179 record in 13 seasons as a head coach and a 55-44 mark in his third season at CSU, taking seven of his first 12 squads to post-season play. 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, who led the Vikings to a 21-13 mark last year, earned his 200th career win on Feb. 23, 2008 when the Vikings defeated Marist.

. . . WATERS TO COACH 100TH GAME AT CSU: The Horizon League Championship game against Butler will be the 100th game for Gary Waters as head coach at CSU. With a .556 winning percentage (55-44), he ranks second in school history, trailing only Kevin Mackey (142-69, .673).

TV TIMEOUT: Tuesday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN, making it the 11th game that was televised either nationally or regionally this year. CSU is 5-5 in televised games this year, winning road contests at Syracuse (SportsTime Ohio), Detroit (STO), UIC (STO), Loyola (STO) and vs. Green Bay (ESPNU) and falling twice to Butler (ESPNU & ESPN2) and in road games at Green Bay (STO), Milwaukee (STO) and Youngstown State (ESPNU).

CSU IN THE NCAA STATS: Senior Cedric Jackson, the Horizon League leader in both assists (5.5) and steals (3.1), ranks fourth nationally in steals and 25th in assists in the latest NCAA statistics, which were released on Friday (March 5). As a team, CSU is in the top 20 nationally in three categories, ranking 10th in scoring defense (58.7), 11th in steals (9.0), 19th in turnover margin (+3.7).

. . . JACKSON IS SECOND NATIONALLY IN TOTAL STEALS: With 101 steals this season, senior Cedric Jackson is second in the nation in total steals, trailing VMI's Chavis Holmes. Holmes had four steals against Liberty in the championship game of the Big South Tourney on Saturday, to raise his season total to 105.

CSU IN HORIZON LEAGUE TOURNEY PLAY: This is the 14th year that the Vikings have taken part in the Horizon League Championship, owning a 7-12 record in those games. The Vikings, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in the tourney last year, are 4-2 in tourney play under Gary Waters. This is CSU's second consecutive trip to the title game after the Vikings won in the semi-finals for the second time in five appearances.

. . . AND CSU VS. BUTLER: The Horizon League Championship matchup with Butler will be a repeat of last year's finale which Butler claimed, 70-55. It is not only be CSU's second title appearance since joining the league in 1994-95, but it will also be the second time that the Vikings will meet Butler in post-season play.

CSU IN ALL CONFERENCE TOURNEYS: The Vikings will carry a 17-18 record in 20 years of conference tournament postseason play into Tuesday's Horizon League title game. This will be the fifth time that CSU played in a conference tournament title game with the Vikings claiming one tournament title (1985-86) and finishing second three times (1983-84, 1986-87 & 2007-08).

VIKINGS ACCOMPLISH A FIRST: The win over Green Bay on Saturday allowed the Vikings to become the first team to reach the championship game of the Horizon League Championship game without the benefit of at least one bye since the tourney was changed to its current format following the 2001-02 season. In fact, in the six tournaments under the current format, the top two seeds have met in the title game five times with the No. 1 seed winning three times. The only time one of the top two seeds did not make the title game came in 2005 when third-seeded Detroit, which had received a first round bye, lost, 59-58, at Milwaukee in the title game.

EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE D: Keeping to his word, Gary Waters has built the 2008-09 Vikings around defense and the results of late have really been spectacular. CSU has held 18 of its 34 opponents to under 40-percent shooting from the field. In 34 games, only seven teams have shot better than 44-percent from the field.

. . . AND NOT A BAD START TO TOURNEY PLAY: In claiming Horizon League Championship victories over Detroit, UIC and Green Bay last week, the Vikings allowd their opponents to shoot just .370 (57-154) from the field. The tourney started with Detroit being held to under 40-percent shooting for the third time this season, going 18-for-47 (.383). On Friday, UIC made just 16 of its 50 field goal attempts for the fourth-lowest shooting percentage by a CSU opponent this year (.320). Green Bay snuck above the 40-percent mark in the final moments, going 23-for-57 (.404).

VIKINGS TO SET GAMES PLAYED MARK: The Butler game will be the 35th contest of the year for CSU, breaking the school record for most games played in a single season. The record hasn't stood very long, being set last year when the Vikings went 21-13. Six players have seen action in all 34 games to date.

VIKINGS TRYING TO SURVIVE ANOTHER BROWN OUT: When sophomore D'Aundray Brown left the Detroit game with a grade three sprain of he medial colateral ligament in his knee, it marked the second time that the Youngstown, Ohio native was knocked out of the lineup this year because of injury. Brown left early in the Dec. 30 game at Wright State with a stress fracture of the rib cage on his right side, causing him to miss eight games during which time CSU went just 5-3.

FOUR (FOR) STARTERS: The running joke in the CSU camp is that it takes an act of congress for CSU head coach Gary Waters to change his starting lineup. Athough funny, the joke does run true as Waters has utilized just three starting lineups this season with the only changes being made because of injury. The quartet of J'Nathan Bullock, Cedric Jackson, Norris Cole and Chris Moore have each started all 34 games, becoming the first foursome to start every game since 1987-88 (Ken McFadden, Eric Mudd, Kenny Robertson & Warren Bradley). When healthy, D'Aundray Brown has started 23 times with George Tandy (5 starts) and Trevon Harmon (6) also starting this year. For the record, congress is not in session right now.

BULLOCK & JACKSON EARN LEAGUE HONORS: Seniors J'Nathan Bullock and Cedric Jackson were each named to the 2009 All-Horizon League team, which was released on March 2. Bullock earned first team honors for the second straight season while Jackson repeated as a member of the second team. Bullock earns the honor after ranking third in the league in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (7.1) and ninth in offensive rebounding (2.0). Jackson picks up the award after becoming the fifth player in league history to lead the conference in both assists (5.4) and steals (3.0) while also being the top rebounding guard in the loop (5.7).

. . . AND JACKSON EARNS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR KUDOS: Senior Cedric Jackson earned an additional league honor, being singled out as the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year in balloting of the league's 10 head coaches. Jackson, who was an all-defensive team choice last year, ranks fourth in the nation in steals this season with a league-record 101, the second-highest single season total in CSU history. He has a steal in all but two games this year, making multiple thefts in 29 of CSU's 34 games. His 101 steals this year and 83 last year are the top two single season steal totals in Horizon League history.

1,000 MINUTE MEN: Cedric Jackson, Norris Cole and J'Nathan Bullock head into the Horizon League Championship game having accomplished something that no Viking trio had ever done. . . each play 1,000 minutes in a season. In fact, the trio ranks first, second and third all-time in minutes played in a season. Jackson leads the way with a school record 1,117 minutes, 46 more than the old CSU single season record of 1,071 minutes set by Theo Dixon in 2000-01. Cole is second on the list with 1,106 minutes while Bullock (1,085) is third. The accomplishment is nothing new to Jackson and Bullock, who are two of the three players with two 1,000-minute seasons.

. . . AND NOBODY HAS PLAYED MORE THAN BULLOCK: Senior J'Nathan Bullock has definitely made his mark in Viking basketball annals. By playing 34 minutes against Wichita State on Feb. 21, he broke the school record for career minutes played, which was formerly held by James Madison (3,576 from 1996-00). Bullock enters the Butler game owning school records with 127 games and 3,773 career minutes played. He also needs one more start tie the school record for career starts with 122.

JACKSON REACHES 1,000 POINT MARK: An 11-point effort against Butler on Feb. 28 allowed senior Cedric Jackson to surpass the 1,000 point mark for his collegiate career. He enters the Butler game with 1,053 career points. A fifth-year senior, Jackson totaled 231 points in his two seasons at St. John's and then scored 473 points in his Viking debut last season. He has 349 points this year, raising his CSU total to 822 points.

VIKINGS SET WOLSTEIN CENTER WIN RECORD: The win over Detroit on March 3 allowed the Vikings to set the Wolstein Center record with their 13th win in the building this year. With a 13-2 record, CSU surpasses the old mark of 12 wins (12-2 record) set last year. The victory over Detroit was also CSU's 11th straight in the building, an ongoing school record (old record was seven, done three times).

. . . AND BUILDING A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: When Gary Waters took over as head coach in the spring of 2006, he made note of the team's 5-10 home record the year before and indicated that for the program to succeed, the Wolstein Center would have to become a much more difficult place to play. The Vikings accomplished that goal in 2007-08 when CSU set a school record for wins in a season by going 12-2 in games played in the Wolstein Center. CSU was also 8-1 in league games, falling just short of the perfect 9-0 home league record in 1992-93. With a 13-2 home mark this year (8-1 in league play), CSU is now 25-4 on campus over the last two seasons, a considerable improvement over the 25-42 over the previous five seasons.

20-20: The win over Youngstown State on Feb. 18 allowed the Vikings to claim the seventh 20-win season in school history. More important, combined with the 21 wins last year, CSU has posted back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since the Vikings had four straight 20-win years from 1984-85 to 1987-88.

. . . AND GET NO. 24 VS. GREEN BAY: The win over Green Bay on Saturday gave the Vikings their 24th victory of the season, the third-most wins in a season in school history. The school record is 29 wins set in 1985-86 while the 25 victories in 1986-87 is second best. CSU won 22 games in both 1987-88 and 1992-93.

. . . AND VIKINGS GUARANTEE WINNING MARK: With only post-season tournament play left, the Vikings have assured themselves of finishing the season with a winning record. Combined with a 21-13 record last year, it marks the first back-to-back winning seasons since going 16-14 in 1999-00 and 19-13 in 2000-01.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO SHOOTING: The statistic that jumps off the page when talking about the Vikings this year is that CSU is a perfect 22-0 when it shoots a higher field goal percentage than its opponents this year and is just 2-10 when their opponent shoots higher from the field. The lone games that CSU was out-shot in but still managed to win came at Syracuse when the Orange shot .540 (27-50) while the Vikings were just 30-for-68 (.441), and at home against Youngstown State on Feb. 18.

COLE NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore guard Norris Cole was named the Horizon League Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Feb. 16. The Dayton, Ohio native he earned the honor after averaging 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in wins over Milwaukee and Green Bay, shooting .522 from the field (12-23), .833 from three-point (5-6) and a perfect six-for-six from the line. He scored 21 points against Green Bay, 15 coming in the second half. This is the third time a Viking has been honored this year. J'Nathan Bullock also received the honor twice.

BULLOCK REACHES 1,500 POINTS & 750 BOARDS: A seven-rebound effort against Youngstown State on Feb. 18 allowed senior J'Nathan Bullock to become the first player in school history to score 1,500 points and grab 750 rebounds in a career. Bullock, who started the year as one of 10 players in CSU history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds during a career, went over the 1,500-point mark vs. UIC on Jan. 10 and hit the 750-rebound mark against the Penguins. He enters the Butler game ranking fourth in school history with 1,762 points and sixth with 795 rebounds. He needs 186 points and 112 rebounds to move up a spot.

JACKSON ZONES IN ON A TRIPLE-DOUBLE: The Viking basketball program has played 1763 games in 78 seasons of basketball and not once during that time has a player recorded a triple-double or double digit totals in three of the five major stat categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots or steals). Cedric Jackson has flirted with the accomplishment several times during his career, but he has never come closer than he did three weeks ago. In the win over Milwaukee (Feb. 12), he needed just one more rebound and one more assist, totaling 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Two days later vs. Green Bay, he fell two assists shy, scoring 11 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

JACKSON BREAKS ASSIST MARK, EYES STEAL TOTAL: With only post-season play to go in his collegiate career, senior Cedric Jackson is approaching the CSU school records for steals and assists in a season. His 13 assists in the Horizon League Championship allowed him to raise his assist total to 182, breaking Ken McFadden's school record of 177 assists in a season, set in 1987-88. Jackson also owns the third-highest total of 168, set last year. With 101 steals (4th nationally), Jackson is in second place on the CSU single season, 13 steals ahead of the 88 thefts he had last year and 10 steals behind Kenny Robertson's school record of 111 set in 1988-89.

. . . AND JACKSON OWNS LEAGUE STEAL MARK: With 12 steals over the last four games, Cedric Jackson has broken his own Horizon League record with 101 steals this season. He surpassed the 88 steals that he had last year, giving him the top two seasons in conference history.

. . . AND JACKSON HAS DONE IT WITH CONSISTENCY: Jackson's ability to create steals has allowed the senior to enter the Valparaiso game with multiple steals in 55 of the 68 games that he has played in at Cleveland State. Even more impressive is that he has made a steal in all but four of those games. He had his streak of 47 consecutive games with at least one steal snapped in the loss at Wichita State On Feb. 21.

FIELDS PLAYS IN HIS 105TH GAME & SET MARKS: With J'Nathan Bullock setting the school record for career games played, Renard Fields is also quietly making his mark in the record book. Against Green Bay, the senior played in his 105th game, all coming in a reserve role. It is the most games played by a player without a start in school history, more than doubling up the previous high of 50 games set by Walter Evans from 1991-93. Among players who have played in at least 100 games at CSU, Greg Allen previously held the mark for fewest starts with five in 112 career games.

ACCEPTING CHARITY: After ranking second in school history with a .713 team free throw percentage last year, it seemed likely that their performance at the foul line would be a strength again this season. Unfortunately, CSU could manage just .634 shooting from the line in the 13 games before the holiday break, making 137 of its 216 free throws. Since the short break for the holidays however, the Vikings have come back to shoot .738 from the line, making 343 of their 465 free throws. CSU enters the Butler game ranked fifth in the league, shooting .705 (480-681).

JACKSON DOES THE LITTLE THINGS: When Cedric Jackson's scoring dropped at the start of the season, mostly due to the increased scoring ability of the players around him, head coach Gary Waters could only shake his head when he was asked, "What is wrong with Cedric?" Besides a drop in field goal percentage, there was nothing wrong. Jackson leads the league in assists (5.4) and steals (3.0), is fifth in defensive rebounding (4.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (182 assists, 123 turnovers) and seventh in rebounding (5.7). He is the top rebounding guard in the Horizon League.

BULLOCK RECORDS 103RD CONSECUTIVE START: When J'Nathan Bullock took the court for the Green Bay game on Saturday, it was his 103rd consecutive start, an ongoing school record. The old mark was 86 set by Ken McFadden from 1985-89.

. . . AND GAME 128 IS NEXT FOR BULLOCK: When J'Nathan Bullock played in the Green Bay game on Saturday, he set the CSU school record for games played in a career and consecutive games played with 127, surpassing the mark formerly held by both Eddie Bryant and Clinton Ransey with 125 games played from 1983-87. The Green Bay game will be Bullock's 127th career game.

HARMON MAKES A BIG DEBUT: In the 23 games since becoming eligible at the semester break, freshman guard Trevon Harmon has averaged 5.2 points, supplying CSU with a much-needed scorer off the bench. On Jan. 8 vs. Loyola, he celebrated his first career start by scoring a career-high 17 points, 14 coming in the first half to help break open the game. On Jan. 3 at Detroit, he scored eight of his 10 points during a decisive 9-1 Viking run in the final five minutes that held off a late Detroit rally. Harmon, a 6-0 guard from Pasadena, Calif., was named the All-CIF Division II Player of the Year as a senior after averaging 28.0 points and 8.0 assists per game.

KEEPING IT TO 50: A better example of how strong the Viking defense has been this year is that CSU has held a school-record 11 opponents to 50 points or less in a game this season, the most since the then Fenn Foxes equaled the accomplishment in both the 1933-34 and 1935-36 seasons. The 40 points scored by Notre Dame College on Dec. 27 was the fewest allowed by CSU since Milwaukee scored just 34 points on Jan. 27, 2001. You'd have to go back to Jan. 11, 1967 (42 seasons) to see another game in which the Vikings allowed fewer points (24-22 win over Walsh). CSU's 58.7 scoring defense is 16th in the nation in the latest NCAA stats.

. . . AND KEEPING IT UNDER 20: Further proof of the success of the CSU defense is that the Vikings have held eight opponents to 20 points or less in the first half of games this season. Toledo was the first team kept under the mark when it scored just 16 points. Valparaiso scored a season-low 14 points on Dec. 2 with Butler tallying just 20 two days later. It has also happened against La Roche (19), Notre Dame College (17), Kent State (17) and Detroit (20). On Jan. 31, Wright State was held to just 17 points in the opening half, including just two over the final nine minutes. CSU is 16-3 in games in which it has either led or been tied at half and is outscoring its opponents by 5.5 points in the first half (32.0-26.5).

. . . AND UNDER 20 IN THE SECOND HALF: Although the Vikings have done a good job of limiting opponents in the first half, it wasn't until the Feb. 28 game at Butler that it accomplished the feat in the second half. After scoring 38 points in the first half, CSU limited the Bulldogs to just 20 in the second stanza.

GOING FOR A RARE DOUBLE: Senior Cedric Jackson, who is the Horizon League leader in both assists (5.4) and steals (3.0), is attempting to become just the fifth player in league history to accomplish the feat. Jackson's 3.0 steals per game ranks fourth in the nation and is well ahead of Detroit's Woody Payne (2.2) in the league race while his 5.5 assists per contest, good for 25th in the nation, is well ahead of UIC's Spencer Stewart (4.8). 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).

. . . AND JACKSON IS THE ONLY 4x100 PLAYER: Another example of the versatility of Cedric Jackson came last year when he became the first player in school history to make 100 field goals and 100 free throws, hand out 100 assists and grab 100 rebounds in a season. He finished the year with 148 field goals, 131 free throws, 166 rebounds and 168 assists. He has achieved three of the four this year, entering the Butler game with 115 field goals, 194 rebounds and 182 assists, but he has made just 93 free throws to date.

. . . BUT JACKSON IS CLOSING IN ON FREE THROW TOTAL: To say that Cedric Jackson is very focused while playing right now is an understatement. A .588 shooter from the line in the 31 regular season games (77-141), the senior has connected on 16 of his 17 attempts in the three tourney games (.941).

J'NATHAN IS ON A ROLL: Senior J'Nathan Bullock is playing some of the best basketball of his Viking career of late. After averaging 12.5 points in the first 10 games, the senior has turned up his game, tossing in an average of 16.6 points over the last 24 contests to raise his season average to 15.4 ppg, good for third in the league. Named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Dec. 1 after averaging 16.0 points in three wins in Florida, he received it again on Dec. 22 after scoring 18 points in wins over both Syracuse and La Roche. He came back on Dec. 23 to tally 24 points in the win over Kent State.

A TURNOVER TALE: One area of continued improvement for the Vikings this year has been turnover margin where CSU leads the Horizon League with +3.6 turnovers a game. The improvement has come at both ends of the court. After averaging 14.0 turnovers a season ago, the Vikings have done a better job taking care of the ball, turning it over just 12.6 times a game, including 10 or fewer turnovers nine times this year. Defensively, CSU has turned up the heat, forcing 16.1 turnovers a game, 1.2 more than last year's 14.9 turnovers a game. CSU is ranked 19th nationally in turnover margin in the latest NCAA stats.

BULLOCK GOING FOR A 4TH SCORING CROWN: It took him six games into the season, but senior J'Nathan Bullock is in a familiar position, taking over the team lead in scoring (he is averaging 15.6 ppg entering the UIC game). Bullock is attempting to become only the third player in CSU history to lead the team in scoring in four straight seasons. He started the streak as a freshman in 2005-06 when he was one of three Vikings in double figures for the year, averaging 11.3 points a game, the lowest average ever by a player who led the team. Bullock improved his average to 13.5 points in 2006-07 and trailed Cedric Jackson for most of last season until exploding for 39 points against Green Bay to take over the scoring lead for good. Bullock would join Franklin Edwards (1977-81) and Weldon Kytle (1961-65) as the only four-time scoring leaders.

SUCCESS 301: The third edition of Success Class under Gary Waters is utilizing the book Quiet Strength by Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy as the course text. Instituted at CSU in the summer of 2006, Waters used Success Class to teach the Viking players the finer points of what it takes to succeed. Success Class 101 used John Wooden's book, The Pyramid of Success while last year, Waters relied on John Maxwell's book Talent Is Never Enough to instruct the Vikings. The non-credited class is taught weekly by Waters to the Viking players over the summer and preseason months.

THE HEAVENLY HEAVE: When Cedric Jackson tossed in a 60-footer at the buzzer to give Cleveland State a 72-69 win at Syracuse on Dec. 15, it gave CSU its third ever win against a ranked opponent (3-27 overall). After snapping a 19-game losing streak to ranked opponents against Butler last year, the Vikings have now won two of their last three meetings against ranked teams. The victory also came against CSU's highest ranked opponent ever. Syracuse was ranked 11th with the previous wins coming over 14th-ranked Indiana in 1986 and 12th-ranked Butler last year.

JACKSON MAKES A KING-LY FIGURE: As part of the pre-season opening Viking Madness event during the preseason, Viking senior Cedric Jackson and women's basketball junior Angel Roque were selected CSU's 2008 Homecoming King and Queen, respectively.

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).

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER: Instead of spreading to the different parts of the United States to spend the final week before school started in August, the Vikings hopped a plane to Spain as part of an 11-day tour of the country. From Aug. 14-24, CSU soaked in the culture of the Spanish cities of Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. Designed as a team-bonding trip, it was just that as the Vikings toured the scenic sites and museums of the three cities while learning something about a country that none of them had ever visited before. The trip did have a basketball purpose as well as the Vikings went 3-1 playing games against two high professional teams and two of the best club programs in the country.

NEXT UP: A victory against Butler will send the Vikings to the NCAA Championship for only the second time in school history. A loss will send CSU somewhere. . .to be determined on Sunday, March 15. Stay tuned to for complete details.